The consortium partners of the Lifeline Embattled CSO Assistance Fund stand in solidarity with the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao sub-Region (RMP-NMR) and condemn the continuous surveillance, harassment, violence, and arbitrary detention targeting members of the organization. As one of the leading human rights organizations in Mindanao, RMP-NMR has played a critical role representing and advocating the rights of the rural communities, farmers, and members of the Lumad community in Mindanao through peaceful means since its establishment in 1969.
With the government’s declaration of Martial Law in May 2017, the space for human rights organizations in Mindanao has been further restricted; despite the law’s ostensible focus on counter-terrorism, it has been abused to target peaceful CSOs. The need for independent monitoring and reporting on human rights violations has never been more vitally important. Since the declaration of Martial Law, RMP-NMR faces increased risks in continuing its work, and the Lifeline consortium, dedicated to supporting CSOs under threat expresses its full support to RMP as a trusted and valued partner.
Members of the Lifeline Consortium are deeply concerned about the status of civic space in the Philippines and troubled by the increased frequency and intensity by which authorities are targeting CSOs in Mindanao. We condemn the arrest of RMP staff member, Julito Rivera Otacan, and five other human rights defenders on 27 October 2017, who were engaging in peaceful human rights monitoring work and have been held on what appear to be politically motivated charges. RMP-NMR staff members have been placed under surveillance by the authorities while conducting their human rights work, intimidated in their homes, subjected to confiscation of their personal items, and faced with arbitrary detentions. We condemn this ongoing repression, call upon the military and civilian authorities in Philippines to cease such harassment and violence.