Police arrest 25-year-old activist Renalyn Tejero in Cagayan de Oro

Police arrested in Cagayan de Oro a prominent human rights activist on their list of "priority targets," as the Duterte government steps up its campaign against suspected communist rebels. 

Renalyn Tejero, 25, paralegal officer of human rights watchdog Karapatan, was arrested in Barangay Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro, at 5:30 am on Sunday, March 21. She was on the government's list of "communist-terrorist group priority targets" in Caraga region.

For hours, no one could say where Tejero was, nor could anyone identify the group behind her disappearance. 

Sought for confirmation at 11:30 am on Sunday, local police spokesperson Major Ivan Vinas said he was unaware of the arrest and would check. 

But by 11:37 am, Cagayan de Oro police director Henry Dampal confirmed Tejero's arrest by a group led by law enforcers from neighboring Caraga region. He said Tejero is now under the custody of the police in Caraga region.

Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno was clueless, however, when sought for confirmation. "No idea," Moreno told Rappler at 12:23 pm on the same day.

Dampal said Tejero was arrested based on a warrant for murder and multiple attempted murder cases in Caraga, and her arrest was in line with the police's "Oplan: Kabataan." He said no bail was granted by a court in connection with Tejero's murder case.

He said Tejero, also known as Tiray and Lyn, serves as the secretary of the Kabataang Makabayan and spokesperson of the Student-Christian Movement of the Philippines in Caraga. She is also a member of other groups seen by the government as communist rebel fronts.

Dampal said her arrest was a result of a joint operation, led by the intelligence division of the Caraga police, that was carried out together with the police and soldiers in northern Mindanao.

Tejero was among the activists red-tagged in Caraga in November 2020 by a group called "Movement against Terrorism."

The group mounted tarpaulins that included her in a long list of alleged "communist-terrorists" in Caraga. The same list included Bayan Muna Representative Eufemia Cullamat, and another Karapatan worker, Naty Campos-Castro. – Rappler.com