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Another artist cries military harassment
By Abigail Kwok
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:23:00 09/22/2009

Filed Under: Espionage & Intelligence, Military, Arts (general)

MANILA, Philippines – A creative writer on Tuesday complained of falling victim to military harassment, days after a trainee intelligence officer was caught conducting surveillance outside the residence of National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera.

Writer and University of the Philippines professor Jun Cruz Reyes said during a press conference that unidentified men were conducting surveillance outside his Bulacan home for two days on September 10 and 13.

At around 11:30 p.m. on September 10, around eight men on board a white van reportedly parked outside Reyes’ home in Sta. Elena, Hagonoy town. The men reportedly stayed outside and surveyed Reyes’ home.

On September 13, a black van again staked out the home of Reyes again late at night. The van left minutes after.

“Nagiging kakaiba ang mga pangyayari sa buhay ko,” Reyes said. “Nanganganib ang buhay ko, may mga nagtatangka, gayong wala naman akong kagalit sapagkat ako’y isang manunulat at pintor lamang.”

Also on September 13, an unidentified man approached Reyes while he was having a snack at a nearby convenience store inside the UP campus. The man reportedly took a picture of the author without his consent.

According to Reyes, the man was wearing a blue pants and stood 5’4” in height.

Reyes is an award-winning literary writer having won various awards including the prestigious Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, National Book Awards, and Catholic Mass Media Awards, among others.

When asked why he was being targeted by the military, Reyes said he could not think of any particular reason.

But Reyes admitted that the incidents were not the first for the writer. On November 2007, unidentified men wearing fatigue reportedly went to the home of his neighbor and offered P20,000 to reveal Reyes’ direction.

On August 2007, unidentified men wearing black jackets also attempted to break into his home in Bulacan. But alert neighbors prompted the men to escape.

Reyes criticized the alleged harassment.

“Their method is primitive. The price of gasoline

is very high. They should have searched the Internet if they want to know more about me,” he said.

Human rights group Karapatan said that the military was targeting artists because of their impact in shaping public opinion.

“They help form public opinion and give a creative analysis of what’s happening. They are telling the story in a precise manner easily understood by the masses,” said Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez.

Reyes’ legal counsel, lawyer Jules Matibag, said they are “seriously considering” filing for a writ of amparo and habeas data for Reyes’ protection.

Enriquez said Karapatan has also asked the Commission on Human Rights to compel the Philippine Navy to reveal its training module, after it admitted that spy training exercises were being conducted.

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