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MANILA, Philippines – Front Line Defenders, an international group organized to protect human rights defenders, urged Philippine authorities to find Honey Mae Suazo, the former Karapatan secretary general who was reported missing amid the government’s massive crackdown on progressive groups.
“(Front Line Defenders) urges the authorities to take all necessary steps to investigate Honey Mae Suazo’s missing persons case and ensure she returns safely to her family,” the group said on Saturday, November 9.
Suazo, the former secretary general of Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region, was last seen on November 2 on her way home to Davao City from Panabo, Davao del Norte. “She was last seen onboard a motorcycle on her way home,” said Karapatan.
Suazo’s disappearance comes amid a crackdown on progressive groups as raids in Bacolod and Manila yield the arrests of more than 60 activists and rights workers. (READ: CJ Peralta defends QC judge who issued search warrants vs activists)
In April, Suazo was accused by Army Major General Antonio Parlade Jr of bailing out a communist rebel. Suazo clarified that the “rebel” being referred to was Zaldy Cañete, a political prisoner whose case was being handled by rights groups including Karapatan.
“Being the bondsman in behalf of the family is part of fulfilling my duty before as a paralegal worker handling Cañete’s case,” Suazo said then.
Front Line Defenders said “Suazo has been frequently attacked for her peaceful work in defense of human rights.”
“Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in the Philippines to, in accordance with Philippine and international laws, refrain from all harassment and surveillance activities against Honey Mae Suazo,” said the group.
Front Line Defenders, in its website, defined its role as protecting “people who work, non-violently, for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).” The international group based in Dublin, Ireland said it also protects those identified by human rights defenders as needing protection. – Rappler.com