The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Thursday expressed alarm over the raid of a crisis intervention center of Gabriela women’s group in Capiz by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
CHR executive director Jacqueline Ann de Guia slammed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Panay, Roxas City that implemented a search warrant, and arrested Gabriela’s secretary general Marivie Bartolome Arguelles and community leader Lenilyn Jaynos for alleged possession of explosives found “behind the curtains of a window.”
“CHR maintains that if corroborated, planting evidence is criminal liability,” she said.
The women’s group denied the allegations of the authorities, saying Jaynos was just staying at their shelter for post-operative medical check-ups.
De Guia invoked Section 4-A of Republic Act No. 9516 stating that “Any person who is found guilty of ‘planting’ any explosive or incendiary device or any part, ingredient, machinery, tool or
instrument of any explosive or incendiary device, whether chemical, mechanical, electronic, electrical or otherwise, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.”
“The Commission, likewise, notes that government and non-government protection shelters like that of Gabriela’s serve as a refuge for women in crises, particularly those who were victims of gender-based violence and human rights abuse. Therein, they can avail of services
such as medical or legal assistance and counseling,” she said.
According to De Guia, crisis shelters are also generally undisclosed to the public to ensure the safety of victims.
“It is thus concerning that a raid was carried out in such a location in the first place. CHR hopes that the security of other occupants remains uncompromised,” she emphasized.
To establish the truth behind the arrest and seek justice, the CHR Regional Office VI is already conducting an independent investigation on the matter.
“Concurrent to our monitoring of cases of aggression against individuals affiliated with progressive groups, we stress the urgent need for legal measures to protect the rights and welfare of human rights defenders. We reiterate that calls for unity must include all citizens regardless of ideological beliefs and political backgrounds,” the CHR official said.