Press Statement
March 31, 2021

Trumped up charge vs. Karapatan’s Lubi and Apiag aims to cripple human rights advocacy in the Philippines

The ridiculous attempted murder charge against Karapatan National Chairperson Elisa Lubi and its Southern Mindanao region Secretary General Jayvee Apiag is the latest attack on the country’s human rights movement and should not have been entertained by government prosecutors or the court.

The trumped up case accuses the Metro Manila-based Lubi, who is 76 years old and suffering from hypertension and arthritis, of ambushing fully armed army soldiers in Davao City on May 20, 2018. The charge is so ridiculous and bereft of basis that it should have been summarily dismissed.

It also accuses Apiag of joining Lubi in the armed attack when in fact, he was interviewing a human rights victim at the date and time when he was supposedly exchanging gunfire with government troops.

Worse, both Lubi and Apiag were not even notified of the charges nor given an opportunity to air their side to the public prosecutor, as the case was immediately filed in court and a warrant of arrest issued in gross violation of due process. Is it mere coincidence that the case was filed in Davao City that is ruled by the Duterte dynasty?

It bears emphasizing that Lubi chairs Karapatan, an alliance of human rights advocates that has consistently called out the government, especially the Duterte regime, for its atrocious human rights record. This trumped up case is clearly an attempt to cripple Karapatan, terrorize the human rights community in the country and render human rights victims defensless.

We call on the Davao RTC to allow a reinvestigation of the case and to recall its arrest warrants on Lubi and Apiag. We demand that the Duterte government cease the unjust and illegal practice of filing trumped up cases against human rights defenders and activists.#


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