Philippine military

Military says rights leader surrendered in Quezon; Karapatan says she did not

Jairo Bolledo
Military says rights leader surrendered in Quezon; Karapatan says she did not

RIGHTS LEADER. Genelyn Dichoso, Secretary General of Karapatan Quezon was reportedly arrested in Calauag on April 5, 2021.

Photo from Genelyn's Facebook Account

NUPL says her affidavit of surrender is invalid because the Constitution requires a presence of legal counsel for documents she will sign

A week after the simultaneous arrest of activists during the Holy Week raids in Central and Southern Luzon, a rights leader reportedly surrendered to the military in Quezon province. 

However, this claim was immediately refuted by rights group Karapatan, which said it was “highly questionable.”

The Philippine Army’s 201st Infantry Brigade (201IB) said Genelyn Dichoso, secretary general of Karapatan Quezon, surrendered on April 6 in Camp General Alfredo M. Santos in Calauag town in Quezon.

Actually hindi siya arrest, surrendered siya. Kusang-loob siya na sumurrender dahil sa maraming kadahilanan. In-assess siya ng barangay captain nila doon, dinala rito sa headquarters ng 201st Infantry Kabalikat Brigade,” 201IB Civil Military Operations officer Lieutenant Colonel Danny Escandor said in a phone interview with Rappler. 

(Actually, it was not an arrest, she surrendered. She voluntarily surrendered because of many reasons. She was assessed by the barangay chairman and she was brought here in the headquarters of 201st Infantry Kabalikat Brigade.)

Kasalukuyan ay ini-interview siya, nagbibigay siya ng salaysay niya at nandito siya temporarily sa headquarters ng 201st brigade (She was being interviewed, she is giving a narrative, and temporarily staying here in the headquarters of 201st brigade),” Escandor added. 

However, lawyer Ephraim Cortez, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer (NUPL) said Dichoso’s surrender was invalid. 

“Any documents she signs, whether a confession or an affidavit of surrender, even if acknowledged before a notary public, is inefficacious, because the Constitution requires that such documents should be signed with the assistance of a counsel of choice,” Cortez said in a message to Rappler. 

Cortez added that if ever Dichoso signed any document, it was because she was coerced. 

“Besides, the signing of such documents is obviously coerced, especially if acknowledged before a notary public surrounded by her captors,” NUPL secretary general added. 

According to human rights group Karapatan Timog Katagalugan, Dichoso was arrested by the 201st IB on April 6. 

The rights group added that Dichoso was scheduled to visit a doctor with her daughter for a medical check-up on April 5. The following day, a staff member of Karapatan Quezon reportedly received a call from Dichoso who said that she was arrested by the military in Calauag, Quezon.

Before joining Karapatan, Dichoso was a peasant leader who served in Catanauan town in Quezon. She was charged with attempted murder on 2020, accusing her of involvement in a previous encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the rebel New People’s Army.

Dichoso’s ordeal came a week after 3 rights leaders were also arrested on March 30. 

In the early morning of March 30, the police arrested Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) vice chairperson and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) leader Joseph Canlas in Mexico, Pampanga. 

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In a simultaneous operation, Karapatan Central Luzon paralegal May Arcilla and Bayan Central Luzon chairperson Pol Viuya were arrested in Bamban, Tarlac. Arcilla was eventually freed for further investigation. 

The same day, joint operatives of Philippine National Police Calabarzon and the Crime Investigation Detection Group busted the former union house of Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Engklabo in Barangay Market View in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. – Rappler.com