Cavite student activist decries harassment

May 15, 2024


SANTA CRUZ, Laguna – A human rights group reported cases of harassment and surveillance on Cavite-based student Paolo Tarra.

Karapatan Cavite reported that in February 2024, two people claiming to be members of the National Task Force to End Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), along with village officials from Trece Martires City, approached and intimidated Tarra’s parents. One of them introduced himself as JR and claimed that they were military reservists.

They then tried to get Tarra’s personal information and documents like birth certificate, diplomas and photos by continuously harassing and intimidating his parents.

Tarra is a student leader at De La Salle University-Dasmariñas (DLSU-D). He is coordinator of the Coalition of Concerned Lasallians (CCL) and a human rights worker in Cavite and other parts of the Southern Tagalog region.

On May 3, Tarra’s parents were again approached by people claiming to be from NTF-ELCAC, including a so-called“supervisor. They showed photos of Tarra participating in various activities and insisted on personally speaking to Tarra out of fear that he might “go to the mountains.” They said that on their next visit, they would like to speak to his parents again with forms and documents for them to sign.

In a statement posted by Karapatan-Cavite, they said that “the NTF-ELCAC’s intention is clear – to intimidate and deceive Tarra’s family through blatant red-tagging to justify their surveillance of him,” emphasizing that, “since the establishment of the Executive Order 70, the NTF-ELCAC has continuously proven that it does not truly serve the people. Instead, it aims to suppress the people and silence dissent and activism in the country amid the worsening crisis the Filipino people are facing.”

“It is worth noting that on May 8, the Supreme Court declared in a ruling that red-tagging poses a significant threat to the constitutional rights of Filipinos to life, liberty, and security,” the group added.

Prior to the high court’s decision, at least two United Nations special rapporteurs, Ian Fry and Irene Khan, called for the abolition of NTF ELCAC over its gross rights violations.

Karapatan Cavite called for an urgent investigation on Tarra’s case and asked the public to support their campaigns in defending human rights and holding the NTF-ELCAC accountable for its human rights violations. (JJE, RTS, DAA)

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