ASEAN Group denounces the arrest of humanitarian mission in the Philippines

ASEAN Group denounces the arrest of humanitarian mission in the Philippines



The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) group today denounced the detention in the Philippines of the 18 people who were part of a humanitarian mission trying to assist indigenous communities on the island of Mindanao (south).

The Philippine deputy France Castro, member of APHR, commanded the team, arrested on November 29 and charged the day after the abduction of minors, because he was transporting 14 students without the consent of their parents, according to the authorities.

The group was released this Saturday.

"These unfounded charges against Congresswoman France Castro and 17 others appear to be politically motivated and have to be withdrawn immediately," APHR president, Malaysian parliamentarian Charles Santiago, said in a statement.

The detainees explained to the authorities that they were bringing to a safe place the students, members of the Lumad, a group of non-Muslim indigenous people from the south of the Philippines, after a paramilitary band harassed their school.

"Instead of attacking those who try to help troubled indigenous communities, the Filipino authorities should do much more than they do to end the abuses of paramilitary groups in Mindanao," Santiago added.

The mission was stopped at a security checkpoint outside Talaingod, a town in the province of Davao del Norte, located 915 kilometers southeast of Manila, and was released on bail yesterday, Saturday.

APHR denounced that the Government has increased the "judicial harassment" of the parliamentary opposition since President Rodrigo Duterte began his term on June 30, 2016.

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