Prolonged detention questioned

Prolonged detention questioned

UNITED NATIONS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression Irene Khan questioned the prolonged detainment of two Filipino human rights defenders and a journalist.

“We were (the) only international visitors so far allowed by the Philippine government to visit them,” Ms. Khan said in an X post on Sunday, after visiting human rights defenders Marielle Domequil and Alexander Abinguna as well as journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio at the Tacloban City Jail.

“Arrested in 2020, [and the] trial [is] still dragging on,” she noted. “How long must they wait to be free!?”

The three had been arrested in 2020 on illegal firearms charges which they dispute as allegedly fabricated.

Official records from the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division said raiding teams recovered pistols, live ammunition, two grenades, and a flag of the Communist Party of the Philippines from the accused.

On Sunday, the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) also called for their release, saying they are victims of fabricated charges.

“NUJP asserts that the three should not wait any minute longer to be free,” it said in a statement. “The evidence against them were planted and the testimonies against them falsified.”

Ms. Khan arrived in Manila on Jan. 23 for a 10-day visit that involves discussions with state officials, civil society groups and other human rights groups on freedom of expression issues and challenges in the Philippines. — John Victor D. Ordoñez