Statement on the Conduct of “Oplan Galugad” and the Murder of Genesis Argoncillo

The Alliance of Progressive Labor-Youth (APL-Youth, an affiliate of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa) condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the continued conduct of Oplan Galugad, which resulted in the death of Genesis “Tisoy” Argoncillo, as well as the unjust incarceration of many others. Clearly, this current drive to “discipline” “vagrants” or “tambays” ended the way many things end up in the Duterte administration—in violation, injury and death. The persistence of the administration of Rodrigo Duterte in enacting and implementing policies limiting and violating the freedom of movement of our citizens—in direct contravention of our constitutional Bill of Rights (particularly our right to presumption of innocence) and basic common sense continue to belie any further claim of good will on the part of this policy. What has been happening, as APL-Youth and many other civil organizations have pronounced and insisted since Duterte’s ascent in 2016, is not a war on criminality and bad behavior. It is a war on the poor, the young and the dissenting.

Genesis “Tisoy” Argoncillo was incarcerated last June 15, 2018, a Friday evening, by elements of Quezon City Police District 4 on allegations of walking around half-naked and causing scandal. His family and neighbors continue to insist on his innocence, saying he rarely even goes out of the house. Yet “Tisoy” will be later found in the holding cell dying from multiple blunt force trauma injuries, eventually ending up dead on arrival in the hospital. Officers of the Quezon City Philippine National Police subsequently issued contradicting claims regarding the nature of how “Tisoy” was arrested (even alleging his fatal injuries were self-inflicted due to “mental illness”). Media coverage would subsequent show documents related to his arrest have been tampered/altered to fit the official narrative.

It is very telling that lying, obfuscating and “policy-based evidence making” has been ingrained in the institutional DNA of the Philippine National Police—a government body who has ably served as hatchet man and executioner of every President willing to make a bid for control and fear over the public. They have perfected the art of extrajudicial killing and double-speak under the tenure of Presidents who have enabled their excesses and disrespect for the very mandate of their office (under Marcos, Estrada and Arroyo). The neglect of further administrations to clean up this rot has left us with this farce of a police force, designed not to serve and protect, but to punish and liquidate. Not even any further episodes of Ang Probinsyano can massage the hate and contempt the public has against these thugs in uniform.

Lest it be said we are merely criticizing the conduct of the PNP, we reiterate, as former Solicitor-General Florin Hilbay recently said: the policy “violates right to liberty, association, due process; it is anti-poor and encourages profiling. The only possible basis for such arrests—vagrancy—has been repealed by [Republic Act] 10158.” The entire premise of the PNP and Rodrigo Duterte’s conduct against the general public—any and all who would dare question their clearly-muddled logic—has been appalling and deserving of ridicule all over the world.

But most importantly, we at APL-Youth find it very distressing that nearly all of the PNP’s operations (supposedly pursued in the protection of the youth and families) precisely victimizes the youth, causing enduring anguish to their families. “Tisoy” Argoncillo joins the ever-growing list of children and adolescents whose blood was offered to the unceasing lust of this regime. Kian delos Santos. Charlie Jean Du. Carl Angelo Arnaiz. Reynaldo de Guzman. Vaughn Carl Dicang. Danica May Garcia. Althea Barbon. And many more.

Much of what we in APL-Youth have said in the past, together with the indignant masses, we will continue to say. Until justice is achieved for “Tisoy” and all the young who fell under the barrel of a police gun, we will shout:

Justice for Tisoy! Justice for the slain youth!

Stop the Killings!

Panagutin! Pagbayarin!

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