Tag Archives: enforced disappearances

Int’l lawyers urged Aquino to prosecute Arroyo

By Gerry Albert Corpuz

MANILA, Philippines- The Netherlands based human rights group International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) asked leading presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III to immediately prepare the grand prosecution of outgoing Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on charges of grave human rights violations which the group said was tantamount to crimes against humanity.

In a press statement sent to this author, the IAPL-a worldwide association of public interest and human rights lawyers, asserted the incoming Philippine administration should “immediately and vigorously pursue” all legal moves to make Mrs. Arroyo and her allies accountable for the crimes of plunder, human rights violations like killings, disappearances, torture, other crimes against humanity and other high offenses against the Filipino people.

Manila based human rights lawyer Atty. Edre Olalia who was in Utrecht, the Netherlands for the two-day IAPL 4th Congress revealed that the lawyers group also passed a resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional release of 43 health workers arrested by members of the Arroyo controlled military sometime early February this year.

Olalia who was re-elected as president of IAPL also told http://www.allvoices.com that another resolution was passed calling for the immediate prosecution of the Ampatuans and the Arroyo government for their active roles in the massacre of 57 people, mostly journalists in Maguindanao last year.

The IAPL congress was attended by some 35 lawyers, judges, paralegals and law students from Afghanistan, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and Turkey.

“As an organization of people’s lawyers, we will make it certain that the outgoing Arroyo government will not escape prosecutions and being accountable for crimes committed against the people,” said Atty. Olalia.

“This is also a litmus test for Noynoy Aquino. His attitude and policy towards human rights will be judged at the first instance on how he will pursue the prosecution and conviction of Mrs. Arroyo, her family members and allies who committed crimes against the people,” Olalia, who is also acting Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), added.

Previously, the IAPL has already denounced the Arroyo government over its human rights record that is marred by the killings of activists, lawyers, judges and journalists.

Carlos Zarate, vice president for Mindanao of the NUPL, said the “culture of impunity” being promoted by the Arroyo government is the culprit behind the Ampatuan massacre that brutally claimed the lives of 57 civilians, including two lady members of the NUPL.

“The prosecution for such monstrous act should not be limited only to the members of the Ampatuan clan and their private army… it should also include police and military officials and other civilian authorities who are equally liable.”

Prior to the IAPL assembly, human rights activists belonging to Karapatan attended the 14th session of the United Nations human rights council in Geneva, Switzerland. The Filipino contingent led by veteran Martial law activist and human rights defender Marie Hilao-Enriquez issued another statement informing the human rights community in Manila that the case of 43 health workers arrested in Morong last February was already brought up to the UN commission on human rights.

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GMA urged to confess crimes ahead of May 2010 polls

By Trinity Biglang Awa and Chocolate Moose Fernandez

Manila, Philippines-Lakbayanis staged a picket rally at the headquarters of Southern Luzon Command of the AFP in Lucena City Leaders of the left-wing fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday advised outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to confess her crimes to the public ahead of the May 2010 national and local elections.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Pamalakaya Vice-chair Salvador France said instead of embarking on three-month publicity offensive, the President should tell the truth on various issues ranged against her like the 2005 Hello Garci scandal, the extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances of political activists and the long-running high crimes of corruption levelled against her nine-year old administration.

“The election season provides President Arroyo the opportune moment to confess her crimes to the public and declare readiness to accept the consequence of her wrongdoings to the Filipino people. The right time is today or anytime before June 30,2010,” the Pamalakaya leaders said.

The President will step down on June 30 to give way to the new elected president. But critics and political analysts say Arroyo is moving heaven and earth to stop the May 2010 polls and keep herself to power.

Pamalakaya along with militant party list group Anakpawis fired the first political salvo against the Arroyo administration this year, when they filed plunder and other criminal and administrative charges against President Arroyo and other agriculture officials in connection with the
P 455 million ovepriced ice-making machines last Jan.6.

Malacanang dismissed the fresh plunder suit against President Arroyo as ideologically driven harassment.

The militant group also supported the formation of a national commission that will try President Arroyo on her crimes against the people. But Pamalakaya said aside from civil society groups, the commission should also include representatives from the Supreme Court, representatives from the new Senate and House leadership including those from the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and several human rights and lawyers groups and anti-corruption watchdogs.

Pamalakaya said President Arroyo wasted people’s money when she spent public funds for the publicity ads initiated by different government offices. According to the group, a two-page full page publicity ad will cost not less than P 380,000 per broadsheet per day.

The group said a broadsheet publishing Palace publicity ad will cost taxpayers some P 2.6 million per broadsheet per week. “This is double jeopardy to the people. Imagine Mrs. Arroyo is using taxpayers money for cover up and super road show publicity offensive?”, said Pamalakaya. #

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Coastal-based group to show Dukot in fishing villages

Coastal-based group to show Dukot in fishing villages
by Gerry Albert Corpuz, Public Information Chief, Pamalakaya

Manila, Philippines- The public information officer of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday said they will ask film director Joel Lamangan and screen writer Bonifacio Ilagan for a free DVD copy of their latest collaboration Dukot, a film on enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, so they could show it to fishing villages in commemoration of human rights week in December.

“We are glad that the film Dukot was approved to be shown for commercial viewing because it would mean larger venue for larger audience. But in the case of the rural people like our small scale fishermen who don’t have the financial means to watch in commercial theaters, we will just ask for a complementary copy in the form of DVD and let it shown for free to the coastal people,” said Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz.

Corpuz, who attended the special press preview of Dukot in My Cinema, Greenbelt-3 last Saturday upon the invitation of Ilagan, said the film should be viewed by the Filipino people for its courageous and powerful position against enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and worsening human rights situation in the country.

Among the activists who attended the special screening were Anakpawis party list Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr., Beng Rivera-Reyes of Health Alliance for Democracy, Kabataan party list Rep. Raymond Palatino, Bayan Deputy Secretary General Ms Rita Baua and Bayan international liaisons officer Norma Binas.

During the open forum, Rep. Mariano congratulated the producers and the entire people behind Dukot, while Rep. Palatino described the film as powerful from the message of the film to the performances of the lead and supporting cast.

Bayan’s Reyes said the film is brave and intense and fast paced. He said veterans Gina Alajar, who played the mother of missing Maricel and Robert Arevalo, who essayed the role of Junix’s father in the movie were exceptionally good.

“ We are glad the MTRCB allowed the public exhibition of Dukot with R-18 rating. It is fine with us. But the sum of all our fears is still there because President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the National Security Council headed by security adviser Norberto Gonzalez might intervene to compel the MTRCB to stop the commercial and even the independent exhibition of Dukot in the name of national security doctrine and politics,” Pamalakaya’s Corpuz added.

According to Corpuz, the film had its world premiere at the Montreal Film Festival in Canada and more international festival groups are inclined to invite Dukot for international exhibitions. He said the film will also be shown in the United States, countries in Europe, Japan and Hong Kong with the help of Migrante International.

“Let’s face it. The film Dukot is all about the worsening human rights abuses in the country and its strength lies on the fact that the independent film without batting an eyelash and pretensions pinpoints the Arroyo administration and the military as the perpetrators of these political crimes since this administration took political power in 2001. The film’s nationwide and international showing will really worry Malacañang and pro-Arroyo military generals,” Corpuz added.

The film is the latest collaboration of Palanca awardee Bonifacio Ilagan and multi-awarded director Joel Lamangan, the same team behind the highly successful and multi-awarded Nora Aunor movie–The Flor Contemplacion Story in 1995 that gave the superstar strings of Best Actress trophies the following year.

In the movie, actors Allen Dizon and Iza Calzado play the role of two young activists who were abducted by government security forces. The two leads were provided with strong support from a deep bench of multi-awarded actors like Gina Alajar, Robert Arevalo, Raquel Villavicencio and Snooky Serna.

The Pamalakaya information officer said the independent film appeared to be an updated version of the late Lino Brocka anti-militarization film “Orapronobis” which was banned during the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino for its scathing views on the military establishment.

“Dukot is the film of the millennium for its courageous and what you see is what you get criticism and denouncement of the Arroyo administration’s policy of silencing its critics through extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearance of leftwing activists and critics. This film is a denouncement of Arroyo’s politically motivated heinous crimes against the activists in particular and the Filipino people in general,” Corpuz stressed.

Citing the consolidated human rights report of the human rights watchdog Karapatan from January 2001 to December 2008, Corpuz said the Arroyo administration is accountable for summary execution and arbitrary killing of 991 activists and the enforced disappearance of 201 activists during the same period.

He said the administration and the military were also accountable for cases involving the torture of 1,010 activists, illegal arrest and detention of 1,852 leftists and critics, physical assault and injury to 29, 976 persons and threat, intimidation and harassment to 79,755 activists and ordinary people during the same period.

Corpuz said a total of 868, 096 people were forcibly evicted and displaced in the countryside in the course of the operations of the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and Oplan Bantay Laya 2 since 2001.#

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US President Barrack Obama dared:

US President Barrack Obama dared:
Denounce GMA over torture of Fil-Am activist

The chairperson of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday urged US President Barrack Obama to denounce President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the military establishment over the alleged torture of Fil-Am activist Melissa Ocampo by military agents of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

In a press statement, Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap said Obama is politically, legally and morally obliged to issue a strongly worded statement assailing President Arroyo and the AFP for the politically motivated abduction and torture of Ocampo, an American by citizenship who came to the Philippines for exposure and research program.

“US President Obama should come to the picture and assail President Arroyo and her national security syndicate in Malacañang to the highest order for torturing Ocampo. The White House made a super political monster out of Arroyo by endorsing its policy of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the name of Washington’s war on terror,” said Hicap.

Hicap said his group is wondering why up to now, the populist US president has yet to issue a statement involving the torture of Ocampo.

“Obama’s silence on the Ocampo torture is really bothering and mind-boggling. We hope Obama would do his assignment and castigate the Washington puppets in Malacañang and the AFP and tell them to stop their madness and eternal thirst for the blood of political activists,” he said.

The Pamalakaya leader said his group is planning to write the US Senate and the House of Representatives to conduct their own investigation on the abduction and torture of Ocampo, who is an American citizen.

“Definitely we will write the American leadership of both chambers of US Congress. This is one way of showing our full support to Ocampo and to all victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration,” said Hicap.

According to Pamalakaya, the letter will be finalized this week by the national executive committee members of the fisherfolk alliance and will be sent not later than Friday through speed mail. Two years ago, Pamalakaya wrote a letter to Speaker of the US House of Representatives, urging top house leaders to address the issue of political killings of activists under the Arroyo administration.

The 31-year old Fil-Am in a press conference last Sunday in Los Angles, California burst into sobs as she publicly recounted on how a group of men she said were military agents tortured her to the point she would die. Ocampo, a member of the US chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said she was planning to sue her torturers before a US court.

CHR (Commission on Human Rights) chair Leila de Lima yesterday asked Ocampo to come back to the Philippines to testify, saying a recent inspection of a military camp tended to validate her physical description of the place where she was tortured last May. #

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Militants slam promotion of 3 Army officers linked to Jonas abduction

Extremely horrible, says Pamalakaya
Militants slam promotion of 3 Army officers linked to Jonas abduction

“Extremely horrible”

This was the immediate reaction of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) after learning yesterday that the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines promoted three Army officers linked to the enforced abduction of activist Jonas Burgos in Bulacan province.

“We were outraged by this latest political escapade of the defense and military officials. The partners in crime of the national security syndicate in Malacañang and retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan got their promotions for terrorizing activists, critics and the people in the communities opposed to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s republic of election fraud, state terror and super corruption,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

“Where is justice here? The three stooges of Palparan—Lt. Cols. Edison Caga, Melquiades Feliciano and Noel Clement were also accused and guilty of terrorizing the coastal and farming communities all over Bulacan province were given military promotions for performing their roles to the hilt as implementers of state-sanctioned terror,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

The three promoted Army officers, according to Pamalakaya, were the point persons of Palparan in orchestrating campaigns in coastal communities accusing the militant fisherfolk group of extorting P 50,000 monthly from fishpond owners, recruiting coastal people to join the New People’s Army and sowing terror among the people in coastal areas.

“Caga, Feliciano and Clement were oriented and trained in the tradition of Palparan. Their mindset were boxed in the political context of the counter-insurgency campaign known as Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and Oplan Bantay Laya 2 and their military mission for the government is to carry out extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances against political activists, critics and opponents of the Macapagal-Arroyo government and the military establishment,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap asserted.

Pamalakaya warned members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) on the serious implications that will arise from the confirmation of the three Army officers implicated in the abduction of Burgos and the number of political killings and enforced disappearances in the province over the last five to six years.

“Definitely there would be a major backlash if the CA will confirm the appointments of these killers, abductors and torturers in military uniform. It will entertain a major political showdown inside the parliament, in the streets and in the court of public opinion. We ask the members of the appointing and approving authority to quash the promotions of these extrajudicial killers and political kidnapping animals,” the militant group said.

Likewise leaders of Pamalakaya took turns in berating Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Arnulfo Burgos for defending the promotions of three Army officers.

“The promotions of the three stooges of the National Security Council and Palparan will further embolden members of Malacañang’s death squad to commit more political killings and enforced disappearances to clinch promotions from the extrajudicial killing republic of President Arroyo. That’s the objective and logical conclusion of this horrible act,” said Pamalakaya. #

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Fishers group will ask SC to expand writ of amparo to cover environmental issues

Fishers group will ask SC to expand writ of amparo to cover environmental issues
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Leaders of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Sunday said they will ask Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno and other SC justices to expand the writ of amparo to cover environmental issues.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Pamalakaya Vice-chair for Luzon Salvador France, they would formally lodge the request for writ on amparo on environmental issues in the upcoming SC forum on environment scheduled on April 2009.

According to SC spokesperson Atty. Midas Marquez, the high court, after spearheading two successful multisectoral summits, will launch a forum that would seek ways the judiciary could take a more active role in protecting the environment.

The first SC summit dealt on extrajudicially killings and enforced disappearances that resulted in the promulgation of writs of amparo and habeas data. The second SC summit focused on the economic, social and cultural rights of the marginalized sectors that resulted in an expanded Justice on Wheels program.

“At this very early stage, we are informing the Chief Justice and other magistrates of the high tribunal that our group is pursuing a writ of amparo for the protection of environment including coastal areas, lakes and rivers being appropriated and sold by Malacañang for its’ short list of preferred transnational and local monopoly clients and all-time highest bidders,” the two leaders said in a press statement.

“The SC can promulgate a writ of amparo in the name of environmental protection. We will actively push for this legal instrument which we can effectively explore and utilize for the defense of our marine and general environment from the vicious attacks of Palace-backed transnational interests,” the Pamalakaya leader added.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap said his group will raise a number of clarificatory issues on the recent Supreme Court ruling on Manila Bay which directed the national government and its agencies to restore Manila Bay to its pristine state and keep it that way.

“Does the high court ruling allow the national government to reclaim thousands of coastal waters in Manila Bay to pave way for Las Vegas style casino and gambling areas, high rise condominiums, theme parks and shopping malls at the expense of the fisherfolk and ordinary people living along the bay?” he said.

Hicap also said Pamalakaya will raise the current development projects being undertaken in Laguna Lake encompassing 9 towns of Rizal, 18 towns of Laguna and parts of the National Capital Region namely Cainta, Pasig, Pateros, Taguig and Muntinlupa.

According to Hicap the national government and the Laguna Lake Development Authority recently announced the reclamation of 3,500 hectares in Taguig City to pave way for ambitious projects such as high rise condominiums and the equally ambitious Rizal International Airport in Taguig City.

“These projects will deliver the death warrant to the already fragile Laguna Lake, aside from the fact these projects will evict and kill the livelihood of not less than 50,000 fisherfolk and urban poor families in the NCR part of Laguna Lake,” Hicap added.

For his part, Pamalakaya’s France said his group will also raise the issue of rampant offshore mining in the country and its impact to fisherfolk livelihood and state of the country’s fishery resources and environment.

As of now, Pamalakaya has monitored active offshore mining activities in Cebu-Bohol Strait, a marine diversity area separating the provinces of Cebu and Bohol, in Palawan Sea, Ragay Gulf, Panay and other parts of Mindanao. #

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