By JUSTIN UMALI
CALAMBA CITY, Laguna – Human rights defender Genelyn Dichoso and her daughter Jennifer were arrested by suspected elements of the 201st Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army on charges of attempted homicide, in Calauag, Quezon province, April 5.
Dichoso is the secretary general of human rights group Karapatan Quezon. The group stated that Dichoso has been the victim of black propaganda and red-tagging for years before the onset of the Duterte administration.
“There is a clear and systemic pattern of vilifying human rights defenders as ‘terrorists’ or ‘subversives’ that has started even before the Duterte regime,” said Kyle Salgado, spokesperson for the group. “Tita Jen’s illegal abduction only proves that Duterte is no different from the fascists that came before him.”
According to initial reports, Dichoso and her daughter were taken while undergoing a routine medical check-up. Karapatan is currently organizing a fact-finding mission to ascertain further details.
Dichoso was charged with attempted homicide last year, with claims that she was involved in a previous encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the revolutionary New People’s Army.
Despite the charge, Dichoso continued performing her duties as secretary general of the organization, assisting in human rights cases such as the murder of Armando Buisan, chairperson of CLAIM in General Luna, Quezon, and the arrest of two CLAIM organizers in Atimonan.
Dichoso’s arrest comes as the latest in a series of attacks against activists and human rights defenders across the Southern Tagalog region. Quezon, in particular, has been the target of focused military operations since February 2021.
Since March this year, no less than nine activists were arrested in Southern Tagalog on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Dichoso marks the tenth.
The Department of Justice has since committed to creating a task force to investigate the spate of arrests and killings in Southern Tagalog, by virtue of Administrative Order 35. However, justice remains elusive for the victims.
Karapatan ST insists that Dichoso’s arrest is another instance of the “state proving its insincerity.”
“While the Department of Justice drags its feet on fulfilling its mandate, state forces continue to act with impunity,” said Salgado. “How can we expect justice from the state when the state blatantly denies it from us?”
Karapatan is demanding that the 201st Infantry Brigade surface Dichoso and her daughter immediately, and to drop all charges against her.