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Ilocos Sur columnist arrested for 'rebellion'

A community newspaper columnist and human rights advocate was arrested by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday while on board a bus in Bantay, Ilocos Sur.

Sherwin de Vera, a columnist for Northern Dispatch, an Ilocos Sur weekly newspaper, was arrested in Barangay Bulag on his way home from Candon City, the Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights (Karapatan) said in a statement.

De Vera, also a coordinator of Defend Ilocos, a network of environmental advocates in Ilocos Region, is facing charges of rebellion filed in Abra in September 2014.

He said the charges were all fabricated.

Police said de Vera was detained on Tuesday night at Camp Elpidio Quirino in the town of Bantay and was transferred on Wednesday to the Provincial Jail in Bangued, Abra.

De Vera's Defend Ilocos played a key role in leading the Save the Abra River Movement opposing the continued operations of Lepanto Mining Company, which was reportedly affecting downstream communities in Ilocos Sur.

Karapatan said the police asked de Vera for his identification card and invited him to the police station.

"They claim that my case was 'rebellion.' They dragged me down the bus and handcuffed me. I let them search inside my bag in front of other people and they didn't see anything," de Vera reportedly said.

At the police station, the lawmen showed him a supposed copy of the rebellion case. They allegedly took all his personal belongings.

Meanwhile, the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE), also in a statement, demanded the immediate release of de Vera as it expressed indignation over his "illegal arrest."

Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan-PNE, said this is not de Vera's "first brush with the fascistic authorities" and prior to his arrest, he was already receiving threats and intimidation from the military in connection with his work.

Defend Ilocos also opposes the presence of a coal-fired power plant in Luna, La Union.

Similarly, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), an independent federation of grassroots organizations among indigenous communities in the Cordillera also denounced the arrest of de Vera.

"The unwarranted arrest of Sherwin de Vera and the intensified attack on peoples' democratic rights nationwide strongly manifest the tyranny prevailing over our lands and the people must unite to fight," it said in another statement.

[Source: By RJ Carbonell, The Manila Times, Ilocos sur, 13Dec17]

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small logoThis document has been published on 25Jan18 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.