Philippines: community-based defender receives continuous death threatsEvent
- Initial Date
- Aug 20, 2022
- Event Description
uman rights defender Fr. Angelito Andig Cortez, OFM, 37 years old, priest, and resident of Kapanata Community, Cleofas Street, Barangay Bagbag, Novaliches, Quezon City, received threats through phone calls from an unidentified person during two separate occasions.
Fr. Cortez spent nine months abroad as he was assigned to a mission to the General Curia in Rome, Italy. He returned to the Philippines in February 2022.
On May 24, 2022, Fr. Cortez received six missed calls from mobile number 09978339528 at 4:40 p.m., 6:19 p.m., and 6:41 p.m. (four times). At 7:15 p.m., he again received a call from the same number. Fr. Cortez picked up the call but just listened to the other person on the line. It was a male voice that said, “Alam namin, Father, nandito na kayo sa Pilipinas. Kailangan namin ng tulong ninyo.” (“We know, Father, that you are already here in the Philippines. We need your help.”) After ending the call, Fr. Cortez blocked the number from his phone.
On August 20, 2022, a few weeks after Fr. Cortez and another priest returned from Geneva, Switzerland as part of the international lobby mission during the 50th United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), he again received calls from an unidentified person. This time, the calls came from the mobile number 09557153712. There were missed calls at 10:23 p.m. (thrice), 10:35 p.m., 10:38 p.m. (twice), and 10:39 p.m. (twice). Fr. Cortez picked up the call at 10:39 p.m. and listened to the other person on the line. The male voice was the same as the one who called him on May 24. The man said, “Mga taga-Zamboanga kame, inutusan kaming ipapatay kayo! May apat na kaming kasama na nadeploy sa Manila, dalawang babae at dalawang lalake, pero nalaman po namin na pari kayo kaya pinahold muna namin, ayaw namin madamay mga inosenteng tao, lalo na ang pamilya niyo.” (“We are from Zamboanga, we were ordered to have you killed! We already have four companions deployed in Manila, two women and two men, but we learned that you are a priest so we put [the order] on hold, we do not want innocent people, especially your family, to be implicated.”) After ending the call, Fr. Cortez blocked the number from his phone.
On August 26, 2022, Fr. Cortez filed a police blotter of the incident at the Novaliches Police Station 4. His account was put on record and was advised to report at the Quezon City Police District Anti-Cybercrime Group.
According to Fr. Cortez, he started receiving threats and nasty comments on his Facebook posts in 2018. He has been part of the international advocacy mission for the UNHRC sessions for several times. During the missions, he talked about the human rights situation in the Philippines, as well as demanded for accountability through the International Criminal Court. He believed that the threats may have been a result of his international lobby work.
After he returned to the Philippines from Geneva on July 9, Fr. Cortez also had several meetings with diplomats to also talk about the human rights situation in the Philippines.
He said that it may also be related to his work as a religious of providing sanctuary to victims of human rights violations and/or their families.
Fr. Cortez did not pay much attention to the previous threats. He however felt the gravity of the latest threat because the caller already mentioned his family.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Death threat
- Intimidation and Threats
- Reprisal as Result of Communication
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of expression
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Freedom of expression
- Community-based HRD
Case shared by FORUM-ASIA member TFDP
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 20 August 2022, Fr. Angelito Andig Cortez,community-based defender, received repeated death threats via phone call by unknown individuals as result of his recent engagement with the UN bodies and procedures, where he illustrated the human rights situation in the country in Quezon City, the Philippines.