Presidential peace office denies harassing women's group leader

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 18) — The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) denied any involvement in the alleged harassment and intimidation of a women's group leader.

The OPAPRU said the story detailed by the Gabriela Women's Party on Facebook on Friday was a "baseless, irresponsible, and unfounded accusation."

"Moreso, mere allegations not supported by appropriate evidence is considered hearsay and only a ploy to mislead the public," the agency added.

After immediately looking into the matter, the OPAPRU said it found that there was no formal complaint from Gabriela.

"We urge organizations like Gabriela to follow procedures that have long existed when making complaints against our personnel or any official of the government," the office added.

Gabriela earlier said Elizabeth Maynigo, the president of its local chapter in Marikina City, was forced into a vehicle by people claiming to be from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process or OPAPP — which had been renamed into OPAPRU in 2021.

The incident allegedly happened on March 15, when Maynigo was in a hospital to take care of her father, according to the women's group.

Gabriela said Maynigo was questioned about her organization's activities, and was presented with a list of people who will face rebellion complaints.

It added that Maynigo was threatened with an arrest warrant for rebellion if she refused to become a government agent who would report on Gabriela's activities.

"Habang siya ay tinatanong sa loob ng sasakyan, sinabi ni Maynigo na may iba pang mga lalaki na naka-antabay sa labas ng sasakyan," Gabriela said.

[Translation: While she was being questioned, Maynigo said there were other men outside securing the vehicle.]

She was escorted back to the hospital but the individuals were still constantly calling her phone, Gabriela told CNN Philippines.

"Ang iskemang ito ay katulad din ng ginawa sa aming mga lider at miyembro sa Bagac, Bataan na pinilit ng OPAPP at ng NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) na lumantad bilang mga pekeng rebeldeng sumuko," the group said. "Kamakailan, maraming miyembro at pinuno ng Gabriela Women's Party sa Marikina City ang nakaranas din ng harassment mula sa pwersa ng estado, kabilang ang Gabriela Women's Party Deputy Secretary General para sa Luzon at incumbent barangay kagawad Libby Dipon."

[Translation: This scheme is similar to previous incidents in Bagac, Bataan, where our leaders and members were forced by OPAPP and the NTF-ELCAC to pose as rebel surrenderers. Many of our members and leaders in Marikina City also recently experienced harassment from state forces, including Gabriela Women's Party Deputy Secretary General for Luzon and incumbent barangay councilor Libby Dipon.]

"Maghahain kami ng resolusyon upang maglunsad ng isang congressional inquiry hinggil sa insidenteng ito, kasabay ng pagsasampa ng pormal na reklamo sa iba't ibang ahensya hinggil dito," Gabriela added.

[Translation: We will file a resolution calling for a congressional inquiry on this incident, and we will file a formal complaint against various agencies.]