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Break-ins in offices a systematic harassment on human rights defenders

Quezon City- Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) expresses alarm over a series of actual and attempted break-ins in the National Offices of child rights defenders by unidentified perpetrators which happened just this past month.

In a press conference held at the Bambi Conference Hall of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) office, CRC Executive Director Jacquiline Ruiz gave light about the two break-in attempts in the National Office of CRC and its network organizations.

On the early morning of January 13, unidentified perpetrator slinked in the offices of Parents’ Alternative on Early Childhood Care and Development Inc. (PAECCDI) and Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concern in Quezon City. A staff confirmed that the cash contributions intended for the purchase of viands of children’s meals were missing.

Prior to the incident, staff of Salinlahi secretariat and PAECCDI observed an unidentified man standing in front of the gate of their building, watching people going in and out of the office while seemingly taking pictures and texting using his mobile phone. The same person was again seen two weeks after the incident, again observing the office staff and visitors entering and leaving the office.

A week after, a possible break-in attempt happened at the CRC office around 1:30 in the morning. According to the neighbor, she saw a man sitting under the tree inside their compound. A few minutes later, the man climbed up to their roof, then crawled to the roof of the CRC office by entering through the barbed wires that separates the two roofs. As the neighbor ran outside their yard to check who the man is, the man ran out the street, exiting through the CRC gate. At that time, two CRC staff were sleeping inside.

Ruiz further stressed that these actual and attempted break in incidents are not isolated but a patterned and systematic harassment to human rights defenders. According to her, Salinlahi office was also robbed wherein important documents and equipments, including laptop computers, wallets were taken last 2011; and last December 2012 two unidentified men were seen in front of the CRC office and ominously ringing its doorbell in the middle of the night and left the office riding in a motorcycle.

 “In our steadfast advocacy to defend and protect children’s rights and welfare by documenting and exposing state-sponsored child rights violations, we believe that this is a part of the deliberate attempt to harass and silence us and even divert our attention. However, these harassments will not stop us in fulfilling our commitment to provide services and assistance to the children victims of human rights violations” Ruiz ended. ###