An independent citizen-based fact-finding mission, endorsed by the family of the country's top botanist, the late Leonardo Co, and led by the Justice for Leonardo Co Movement, sets off for Kananga, Leyte, today to probe the real cause and circumstances of the death of the renowned scientist and his two companions.
AS THE NATION commemorates the first anniversary of the November 23 Ampatuan Massacre in Maguindanao, the national alliance of human rights groups, KARAPATAN, called for the dismantling of the Citizen's Armed Force Geographical Units (CAFGU) and all paramilitary units used by political warlords as their private armies.
Held in the raid by elements of the Daet Police and the 9th Infantry Division, 902nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army are four activists: Smith Bardon, Denver Bacolod, Mherlo Bermas and Elpidio de Luna.
Bardon is the Chair of KMP (Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Philippant Movement), Bacolod is a KARAPATAN staff member, Bermas is a member of the Kabataan Party List, while de Luna is a former political prisoner just released last October. Latest update from Daet is that Bardon, Bacolod and Bermas, as well as de Luna are now together at the Daet PNP. Bardon is reportedly charged with murder and the three are awaiting inquest tonight as they are held in the police station still without formal charges yet.
"Killing of the Philippines' top botanist, Leonardo L. Co: another case of shoot first, ask questions later?" -- KARAPATANSubmitted on Fri, 11/19/2010 - 12:19
THE KILLING of the country's top botanist, Leonardo L. Co, 56, in Tongonan, Ormoc, Leyte last Monday by Philippine Army soldiers who opened fire on civilians, may be "another case of shoot first, ask questions later," the human rights group KARAPATAN said.
Together with members of the Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance, the national human rights alliance Karapatan, today joined a convoy of vehicles that composed a caravan from the QC Memorial Circle to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City where the Morong 43 community health workers are spending their ninth month of illegal detention.
The caravan participated in by different organizations and sectors is being conducted to express support to the healthworkers in their firm struggle for freedom as well as those of other political prisoners languishing in different detention centers in the country and who are persecurted for their political beliefs. The participants are calling to “Free the 43; Free all poilitical Prisoners!”
It can be recalled that the health workers were arrested by combined police and Philippine Army troops on February 6, 2010 while conducting a health training in a resort in Morong, Rizal using a very defective irregular warrant issued by a judge from Cavite. The named person in the warrant was not even a member of the Morong 43 nor was he a resident of the resort that was raided. The healthworkers were subjected to torture and degrading treatment and their rights are continually violated that even PNoy has declared their arrest and detention as a “fruit of a poisonous tree,” a situation, he said, which “must be rectified” by the court. Five of the Morong 43 were subjected to extreme torture to turn them against their companions, separated from the majority of the 43 and are still under military detention in Camp Capinpin, Tanay.
REACTING to Malacanang’s position that “it will be better for the NDF to visit the Palace with a signed peace agreement,” as announced by Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, and that “the President could not be expected to comment” on the proposed visit,” as stated by Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles, the national alliance of human rights groups in the Philippines, KARAPATAN, called on President Aquino to take a “hands-on action” on the peace process.
“We are very much concerned about the peace process. The President should not pass the buck on this all-important issue. If he closes the door on peace, the gates for more human rights abuses will surely be flung open,” KARAPATAN acting secretary-general Jigs Clamor said.
In his first SONA, the President said that the government is open to resumption of the peace negotiations and in fact, he was asking the CPP-NPA-NDF: “Handa na ba kayong maglaan ng kongkretong mungkahi, sa halip na pawang batikos lamang? (Are you ready with concrete proposals instead of criticism?),” forgetting in the process that there have been several proposals from the NDFP that were never discussed because the previous regime scuttled the peace talks. Even his desire for a ceasefire before talks has been adequately responded to by the revolutionary group.
The national alliance of human rights groups in the Philippines, KARAPATAN, hit President Benigno Aquino III for "double-standard justice" on the case of the detained Morong 43 health workers when he said during the press conference in Malacanang that he leaves it to the court to decide on the fate of the Morong 43.
What we said from the start was right when the President admitted that the evidences were wrongly gotten and the person in the warrant of arrest is not among the arrested health workers.
“No double standards please,” says Karapatan, a national alliance of human rights groups, as it presses for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, including the 43 health workers known as the Morong 43.
“We express our support in granting amnesty for all rebel soldiers, but we are dismayed by the inaction of the President on the plight of almost 400 political prisoners who, like the mutineers, fought the corrupt and repressive Arroyo regime,” said Jigs Clamor, Karapatan acting secretary general.
THE NATIONAL ALLIANCE for human rights in the Philippines, Karapatan, assailed the latest Supreme Court (SC) ruling affirming the constitutionality of the Human Security Act of 2007 (Republic Act 9372) as "paving way for more human rights violations."
Karapatan is one of the SC petitioners against the law.
Karapatan acting secretary-general Jigs Clamor said that human rights violations in the Philippines has continued under the Aquino administration as attested by 16 reported victims of extra-judicial killings, two victims of enforced disappearances, and continued detention of political prisoners like the Morong 43 health workers illegally searched, arrested, tortured and detained by the military.
"If violations were rampant even before the SC ruling, then it would definitely worsen with a strengthened legal framework by which state authorities could suppress civil and political liberties. This is paving way for more violation of human rights," Clamor said.
"We have been opposing the passage of the law since 2001. It could be recalled that U.S. Director for National Intelligence John Negroponte even came to the Philippines in December 2005 to push for the prompt enactment of the law patterned after the anti-terror US Patriot Act. Now, the U.S, had finally found its way under Aquino," Clamor added.
"Based on witnesses and the statements of the arresting police, we have known all along that Bayles was killed by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, though retracted by the police and being denied by the military" said Fred Caña, Karapatan - Negros Secretary General said. "And here is Gazmin's admission at the budget deliberations on Thursday, straight from the horse's mouth!"