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AFP “Watch” List

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yesterday I was at the BAYAN office in Quezon City, Manila where they were holding a meeting of various organizational leaders from around the Philippines, representing different organizations from BAYAN.  They were going over the preliminaries for a press conference held latter that day to address the issue of their leaders and organizers being targeted by the government.

They wanted to know why they were appearing on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) “Order of Battle List” (essentially a hit list) and on the AFP “Watch List” (WL) when then are part of a legal mass organization.

Some folks were on the National WL while they were at the same time on a regional OBL list.  For example, one person was on the national WL while being on the Davao OBL.

One person introduced me to a peasant organizer and told me he had to flee the area he was organizing in because the authorities were putting up posters of his face saying he was an enemy and needed to be taken care of.

She told me that the AFP is more brazen in the countryside and human rights abuses tend to be more rampant and aggregious; but in the cities, and especially Manila, the AFP has to be more careful and do things slightly different because the Philippine press has a strong presence and would make a big issue out of an abduction or killing of a BAYAN organizer if it was done within Manila.

But with that being said, she told me.  “You know, I could be run over by a car in the street or something like that.”  So the danger is still very present and very real.

As they gathered around some tables in the conference room the same person pointed out an indigenous leader saying, “They nearly killed him two weeks ago.  The vigilantes,” who are civilians, “armed and trained by the military, surrounded his house.  But he was able to escape.”

Another person set to tell his story that day and present evidence to the media and government was a famous neuro-psychiatrist.  “He is on the OBL,” she said.

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