Tag Archives: extrajudicial killings

Philippine state security forces resume attacks vs. activists

By Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila and Axel Pinpin in Calamba City

MANILA, Philippines- Barely 26 days before apparent Philippine President Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III assume the presidency from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, alleged members of a death squad operated by the Philippine military assassinated an active trade union officer South of Manila.

In a report filed by the left-leaning multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog chapter or New Patriotic Alliance in Southern Tagalog, the umbrella alliance of activist groups said on Wednesday night, around 6 PM, labor leader Edward Panganiban a union officer was brutally gunned down by unidentified men in Brgy. Caingin, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Bayan-ST said victim is a worker at Takata, a car-parts factory in the nearby town of Biñan, Laguna. The group said Panganiban’s union and the management of the factory are undergoing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations.

The extrajudicial killing of Panganiban was followed by the violent demoliiton of 21 farmer’s houses by private security guards of the Manila South Coast Dev’t Corp. in Hacienda Looc, Nasugbu, Batangas which is about several hours after the killing of the trade union activist.

In a separate report, a copy of which was obtained by http://www.allvoices.com, peassant leader Guillermo Bautista, chairperson of the peasant group Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK or the Association of Farmers Organizations in Southern Tagalog) said perpetrators made it sure the demolition of houses will take place while farmers were away and out in the fields.

Bautista said prior to the demolition of farmer houses in the hotly disputed 10,000 hectare agricultural estate, previous threats against other farmers’ communities started in May 21, when policemen, security guards and representatives of landowners of the Hacienda Yulo in Calamba violently dispersed and illegally arrested protesting farmers.

“With this series of incidents, we cannot help but wonder if the recently concluded election has created a scenario where land owners, big businesses felt comfortable and free in attacking the rights of the marginalized farmers and workers. Have they found an ally in Sen. Noynoy Aquino?” the peasant leader asked.

The fresh wave of attacks against Filipino activists in Southern Tagalog region coincided with the issuance of a statement by United Nation Special Rapporteur Philip Alston who said extrajudicial killings in the Philippines because the incoming president is also heavily dependent on the AFP.

“The President-elect will likely be reminded that he is heavily dependent on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), not to cause problems and that any prosecution will alienate the military,” Alston said at a gathering of UN human rights officials in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Manila-based human rights watchdog Karapatan claimed that 1,118 extra-judicial killings and more than 200 enforced disappearances were documented in the Philippines between 2001 and October 2009.

According to Alston, “impunity is a serious issue that characterized extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in the Philippines.”

Alston, was in the Philippines for a fact-finding mission in 2007 to investigate complaints of grave human rights violations and left and right killings of political activists. He had denounced the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration for failing to put an end to extra-judicial killings, which he said has decreased in recent years, but has continued due to lack of substantial measures to address the problem.

The UN special rapporteur said not a single member of the military, whom he earlier blamed for many killings and forced disappearances, has been punished over their involvement in political killings, enforced abductions and filing of trumped up charges against activists all over the Philippines.

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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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CHR asked to probe brutal eviction of Laguna farmers

By Billy Javier Reyes

Southernt Tagalog farmers stormed the gate of military HQ in Lucena City to demand justice to victims of human rights

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna-Supporters of striking farmers in Hacienda Yulo in Calamba City on Tuesday appealed to Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Atty. Lilia de Lima to lead an investigation on the brutal dispersal of agrarian reform beneficiaries inside the 7,100 hectare Hacienda Yulo in Sitio Buntog, Barangay Canlubang, Calamba City in Laguna province.

In a press statement, the activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged CHR chair de Lima to personally lead the proposed investigation regarding the brutal eviction of farmers on Friday by 50 members of striking force composed of Laguna SWAT team, the local and regional PNP and the private security guards of Yulo landed clan.

“We appeal to CHR chair Atty. de Lima to personally attend to reports about grave human rights violations perpetrated by the local and regional police force of Laguna against striking farmers of Hacienda Yulo. The situation merits an urgent CHR probe with or without the formal filing of cases before the CHR chief office,” Pamalakaya vice chair Salvador France said in a press statement.

France said the terrifying incident in Hacienda Yulo also merits the immediate suspension and investigation of the PNP Southern Tagalog chief, as well as the chiefs of PNP- Calamba City and PNP-Laguna and the 50 members of the composite police force who were with the private goons of the Yulo during the violent dispersal of the peasant camp-out and the illegal arrest and detention of 10 peasant activists.

The Pamalakaya official said the incident in Hacienda Yulo might also be brought to the House and Senate committees on Human Rights for investigation in aid of legislation.

“The Senate and the House committees on human rights should entertain and pursue their respective parallel probe on the Hacienda Yulo carnage that led to the injury of more than 100 farmers and illegal arrest of 10 farmers pursuing their rights to land,” France said.

Reports from the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) said Dan Calvo, land surveyor and architect of Yulo owned Laguna Estate Development Corp. and San Cristobal Realty Corp., refused to honor the peasants’ document on a pending petition for revocation of DAR Exemption Order.

With the surveyor were 50 combined members of the SWAT, the local and regional PNP, and private security guards all with high-caliber rifles who violently pushed the residents blocking their path and illegaly arrested the peasants at their protest camp.

Kasama-TK said of the 10 peasants who remain behind bars at a local police station, 4 of them are women (including an old-aged) while 3 minors namely: Maria Garcia (39 yrs old); Dorotea Mangubat (46 yrs old); Annabel Natanauan (28 yrs old); Francisca Mangubat (71 yrs old); Mario Mangubat (36 yrs old); Gilbert Caraan (25 yrs old); Lamberto Caraan (40 yrs old); Roger Nedia, (16 yrs old); Jhefe De Leon, (15 yrs old); and Melvin Natanauan , (16 yrs old). Twelve-year old Jorge Mangubat was also illegaly detained but was released Friday night at around 8 pm.

The peasants were also charged with direct assault, alarm and sacandal, serious resistance and disobedience and grave coercion.

Eric Laurel, secretary general of Samahan ng mga Mamamayang Nagkakaisa sa Buntog (SAMANA-Buntog), demanded to the police to at least spare the 3 minors from the dispute. A prosecutor suggested to bring the 3 minors to “rehabilitation” but Laurel countered it could only lead to “brainwashing” these minors away from their legal struggle.

The Hacienda Yulo, 7,100 hectares of land owned by the Jose Miguel Yulo clan, is to be converted into a subdivision and golf course instead of granting ownership to the farmers. Laurel said that the land ownership to the farmers should have been granted as early as the 1960’s.

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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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(UPDATE)Pinoys in US opposed restrictions, taxes on relief aid for storm victims

By Jonna Baldres, contributor

Washington, D.C.–On Sunday, October 25, 2009, close to 100 Filipinos gathered in front of the Philippine Embassy to protest Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s directives on restricting and imposing taxes on relief aid for Typhoon Ondoy and other similar disasters. Protesters also condemned GMA for the documented 2,300+ state sanctioned human rights violations in the Philippines under her presidency.

The mobilization was organized by The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON–US) as a community action component to their annual national conference which carried the theme “Strengthen and Broaden the Rights and Welfare of Filipinos in the US.” The mobilization was followed by a Lobby Day on Monday October 26.

The rally included a march around the perimeter of the Philippine Embassy. Washington DC residents and visitors read placards such as “People First! No Tax on Relief Aid!” and “Stop the Killings! No US Tax Dollars for Military Aid that Supports Violators of Human Rights!” Speakers at the rally spoke on these issues and called on US Filipinos and allies to join NAFCON’s efforts.

President of NAFCON-US, Father Ben Alforque, underscored the historical significance of the October 25th mobilization, “This October 25th mobilization is a significant moment in US Filipino American History and Filipinos organizing our communities here in the US, in that not since the height of the anti-martial law movement in the 1980s, have Filipinos in such large numbers gathered in front of the Philippine Embassy in the nation’s capital to demand justice. Even more of an accomplishment is the strength of our alliance and the unity that members have in relation to the Philippine issues we are addressing.”

People First: No Tax on Relief Aid

There has been a national outpouring of aid and support from US Filipinos for the over 1.8 million victims of Typhoon Ondoy and other similar disasters in the Philippines that are linked to multinational corporations’ illegal mining and logging, deforestation, and land conversion. NAFCON-US has lead relief efforts under our BAYANihan campaign, raising over $15,000 in monetary aid and packing several hundred balikbayan boxes of donated relief goods through our regional offices. But, once again there is corruption in the Arroyo government’s profiting from disaster-prone policies as GMA imposed taxes on relief goods coming from the US and restricted the distribution of aid in the Philippines, causing a backlog.

In this time of urgent need for the vast majority of Filipinos impacted by Ondoy and other natural disasters, NAFCON-US appeals to supporters in the US to join us in our demand that GMA rescind her directives taxing and restricting disaster relief. The lives of the Filipino people should be her first consideration, not government profit.

No US Tax Dollars for Military Aid that Supports Violators of Human Rights

Philippine Attorney Rex Fernandez of Karapatan gave these facts to participants: “To date, there are over 1090+ extrajudicial political killings and assassinations, over 1000+ cases of torture, and over 250+ abductions of political, labor and environmental activists, religious leaders, and journalists that have been perpetrated by the Philippine military under the US backed presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Dozens of reports by international human rights groups such as Amnesty International, UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston’s findings, and even the yearly US State Department Report on Human Rights, and concrete cases including that of US citizen Melissa Roxas and Father Ben Lucero expose this situation.

Attorney Fernandez congratulated NAFCON-US for bringing together so many Filipino organizations to Washington, D.C. to address and take action on this urgent Philippine Issue. He encouraged NAFCON-US members to stand strong in their demand that the US should be ensuring that any military and direct aid contains restricted language and justice for the victims.

Overall those who participated in the NAFCON-US mobilization at the Philippine Embassy were pleased with the outcome. “The solidarity statements from NAFCON member organizations and analysis of the Philippine situation provided by speakers affirm the need for a national alliance of Filipinos that can address and support community organizing and advocacy work in our communities.

In order to strengthen and broaden the struggle for rights and welfare of Filipinos in the US, we must continue efforts to educate and work with our community, our allies, and our government representatives,” ended Mara Ibarra, NAFCON Vice President of Membership and Chapter Building.

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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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