activist groups in PH

‘Red-tagged’ Gabriela official arrested in Cordillera town

Rambo Talabong

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‘Red-tagged’ Gabriela official arrested in Cordillera town
Gabriela regional council member Beatrice 'Betty' Belen is arrested after cops searched 13 houses in Lubuagan town, Kalinga

A Gabriela official was arrested in a Cordillera town on Sunday, October 25, for illegal possession of firearms and explosives – a charge rights advocates said were “fabricated” after she was red-tagged by the military.

According to a report from the Kalinga Provincial police obtained by Rappler, Gabriela Cordillera council member Beatrice “Betty” Belen was arrested for possession of 3 rifle grenades in Barangay Uma in Lubuagan, Kalinga.

A composite team of intelligence, Special Action Force, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), regional mobile force battalion, provincial, municipal, and special action company policemen served a total of 13 search warrants, which led to Belen’s arrest.

Belen was placed under the custody of the local CIDG and is set to face complaints for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Rights group Karapatan said Belen is a victim of red-tagging by the military before she was arrested. Soldiers allegedly told people in Kalinga that Belen was working for a front of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

Gabriela is a left-leaning women’s rights group but it is not revolutionary.

“The recent arrest of Beatrice Belen is a very clear example of the dangers of red-tagging, resulting in violations to the right to life, liberty, and security of human rights defenders,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Belen’s arrest came after the military, led by Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr, went on a red-tagging spree out of celebrities that triggered condemnation against its propaganda methods for its goal to tend the local communist insurgency, which is the oldest in Asia.

“The Duterte administration’s contempt for women human rights defenders, both publicly-known personalities such as journalist Maria Ressa and Senator Leila de Lima and those who work in communities, is shown through its harmful and sexist rhetoric, including red-tagging, and through judicial harassment by way of trumped-up charges,” Palabay added. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.