CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The human rights watchdog Karapatan condemned the arrest of its worker Renalyn Tejero by the police here on Sunday, March 21.
The group said Tejero, who’s working as its paralegal staff in Caraga Region, said the arrest is “the latest in the spate of attacks targeting Karapatan and our human rights workers under this fascist regime, where people like her who stand in the defense of people’s rights either face arrests on trumped-up charges or death.”
Karapatan said Tejero was red-tagged on her being an alumna of Alcadev (Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development), an indigenous people’s school in Surigao del Sur and her work with Karapatan.
It said Tejero is not “a criminal nor a terrorist, and there is no question that these charges against her are fabricated and are meant to threaten her, to silence her from continuing her human rights work.”
Maj. Evan Viñas, the city police spokesperson, said the arresting team is composed of the operatives from the Regional Intelligence Division (RID) in Caraga and Northern Mindanao and officers from Agora police station.
He said Tejero was arrested in Barangay Lapasan in Cagayan de Oro at about 5 a.m. on Sunday. She was arrested for alleged murder, with criminal case number 2020-85, and multiple attempted murder, with criminal case number 2020-116.
Murder is non-bailable, while the multiple attempted murder has a bail of P120,000.
The 25-year-old Tejero hails from Purok 6, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, police said.
“She did not resist arrest although she was surprised when she was served the arrest warrant,” said Viñas.
Viñas disclosed that Tejero was brought to the Caraga regional police office right after she was booked here.
Police report cited that Tejero, who also goes by the nicknames “Tiray” and “Lyn,” is the secretary general of Kabataan Makabayan (KM) in the region, spokesperson for the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) and Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) in Caraga, and an alleged official of the Regional United Front of the Regional White Area Committee.
According to Caraga regional police on its Facebook post on Sunday, Tejero allegedly belonged to a group that killed former communist insurgents.
“Investigation disclosed that Tejero was one of the primary suspects of the brutal incident killing [of] former rebels, Zaldy Acidillo Ybañez and Datu Bernandino M. Astudillo, in Sitio Inadan, Barangay Magroyong, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur on March 19, 2020,” said Maj. Dorothy Tumulak, Caraga regional police spokesperson.
Tumulak also said that based on intelligence reports, Tejero is also a full-time member of the Sub-regional Sentro De Grabidad Southland, Northeastern Mindanao Regional Command of the NPA.
“Tejero, who was involved in organizing the youth and students to become NPA member in the guise of front organizations, actively participated in the underground movement of the NPA and implicated in numerous NPA initiated atrocities,” she said.
For its part, the military in the region have yet to confirm if Tejero is a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).
“We still have to check if she is an official of the NPA,” said Maj. Rodulfo Cordero Jr., spokesperson of the Phil. Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID), in a separate interview on March 22.
Trumped up, ridiculous
But Tejero’s lawyer, Jose Begil, Jr. of the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao, said the charges against the paralegal as “trumped-up” and “ridiculous”.
In an interview with Rappler, Begil said there was no due process for Tejero, who did not receive a subpoena or summon for preliminary investigation on the charges filed against her.
“She was not given the opportunity to respond to the accusations. How can she answer when there was no subpoena, and we have not even seen the charge sheet? How can we answer something we know nothing about?” Begil said in the interview. (davaotoday.com)