Harassment and surveillance of Catherine Dannug-Salucon
Catherine Dannug-Salucon has been under continued surveillance since March 2014. The latest incident, on 12 April 2014, follows a number of other incidents of intimidation and surveillance at both her place of residence and her office, and follows the killing of her paralegal assistant, Mr William Bugatti, on 25 March 2014.
Catherine Dannug-Salucon is an active founding member and National Auditor of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL). She is currently acting as a legal representative to one of two political prisoners on trial on charges of murder and attempted murder in Lagawe, Ifugao.
Front Line Defenders is concerned at the continued surveillance and intimidation of human rights defender Ms Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon since March 2014. The latest incident, on 12 April 2014, follows a number of other incidents of intimidation and surveillance at both her place of residence and her office, and follows the killing of her paralegal assistant, Mr William Bugatti, on 25 March 2014.
Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon has been under the surveillance of the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines since March. Individuals believed to belong to the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) have made repeated visits to the office of the human rights defender, in particular between 31 March and 10 April 2014. On one of these occasions, she was asked to meet the head of the MIG Isabela, allegedly so that they could explain the reasons for her surveillance. At 10 am on 12 April 2014, two men on a motorcycle engaged in surveillance of the human rights defender's home, and a similar incident occured at approximately 7.30 am on 3 April 2014. Previously, on 12, 19 and 21 of March 2014, men on motorcycles, who appeared to be members of the military, patrolled the area around her office and questioned members of the local community as to her whereabouts.
Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon is reportedly included on the Philipino military's Watch List of so-called 'Communist Terrorist' supporters providing legal services. The Regional Intelligence Division of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has allegedly issued a directive to the PNP office in the home town of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon (Burgos, Isabela), ordering to conduct a background investigation into whether the human rights defender is a 'Red Lawyer.'
The surveillance is particularly concerning in light of the killing on 25 March 2014 of Mr William Bugatti, a human rights defender who was also working as a paralegal to Catherine Dannug-Salucon in the above-mentioned case. William Bugatti died after being shot by persons in civilian clothing in Bolog, Kiangan, Ifugao. The human rights defender was a Regional Council Member of both the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance-KARAPATAN and the Cordillera Peoples Alliance. William Bugatti had been the subject of death threats, harassment and surveillance.
Front Line Defenders is concerned at the surveillance of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon and strongly condemns the killing of William Bugatti, as they appear to be solely motivated by the legitimate and peaceful activities of the two human rights defenders, specifically the legal representation of political prisoners.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in the Philippines to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally cease all forms of surveillance and harassment against Catherine Dannug-Salucon, as it is believed that these measures are solely related to her legitimate human rights activities;
2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Catherine Dannug-Salucon;
3. Carry out a thorough, impartial and immediate investigation into the killing of William Bugatti with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the Philippines are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.