“It no longer comes as a surprise that the AFP’s spokesperson has again denied that there are human rights violations in the Philippines. We’ve heard the line several times in the past. Walang pagbabago. We’re used to these lies and denials but we cannot get use to the violations that are committed against the people,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, in reaction to the statement of Armed Forces spokesperson Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. refuting the human rights group’s assertion on the rising rights abuses under the Aquino government.
Karapatan is immensely saddened by the loss of lives of our Moro brethren in the bloody encounter at Lahad Datu town in Sabah as it finds insensitive and reckless, and therefore unforgivable, the handling of the Aquino government of the issue.
Instead of interceding for the Filipino Muslims through an urgent and diligent negotiation with the Malaysian government for a peaceful resolution of the issue, Aquino ordered a pullout of the Sultan’s Royal Army from Sabah, saying “surrender now without conditions.”
Human rights watchdog Karapatan denounce the killing of Cristina Jose, the latest victim of extrajudicial killing under the Aquino government. Cristina Jose was one of the leaders of Barug Katawhan (People Stand Up), an organization of victims of typhoon Pablo in Davao Oriental that led the protest at the DSWD office in Davao City. Jose was killed by three men who were aboard a motorcycle, four days before the world commemorates the International Women's Day.
A year after Jimmy Liguyon’s death
Many things happened after the killing of tribal leader, Jimmy Liguyon, exactly one year ago today. Among them were: his tribe were subjected to threats and harassment by his killers from the paramilitary group New Indigenous People’s Army Reform (NIPAR), led by Alde Salusad, forcing them to leave their community and evacuate in front of provincial Capitol in Malaybalay, Bukidnon; two died at the evacuation center, a 24-day old baby and a 67 year-old man, because of ailments; Julia Malus-ag and her four children were taken hostage by the same group on October 7, 2012 to pressure the evacuees to return to their village.
Kawagib-Alliance for the Advancement of Moro Human Rights denounces the military action being taken by Malaysian security forces against the followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III in Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia.
The assault carried out Friday, which claimed the lives of twelve of those Filipinos, was deplorable and a complete disregard of diplomatic options that were still at hand. Both Malaysian and Philippine authorities fell short of preventing the needless bloodshed and continue to demonstrate callousness towards the lives of the people at stake.
On the 18th year of the Mining Act of 1995, Karapatan-Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights calls for the immediate scrapping of this law because “it is a direct assault on our sovereignty and patrimony as it emasculates our rights as a people," Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said, emphasizing that most of the human rights violations Karapatan had documented, especially in Mindanao, are related to big foreign businesses engaged in large-scale mining.
As the nation commemorates the 27th anniversary of the People Power 1 uprising, human rights group Karapatan today said that “the Noynoy Aquino government’s commemoration is completely an empty exercise meant as a window-dressing for the administration’s dismal human rights record.”
“The AFP should stop weaving its absurd lies on Rolly Panesa, to justify its claim to the P5.6M bounty on his head. Tigilan niyo na ang paglulubid ng kwento, tantanan niyo na si Rolly Panesa. Pinagkakitaan niyo na nga yung pagkaaresto at tortyur nung tao,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of rights group Karapatan.
“To this day, almost five months after they got Panesa, the AFP could neither show proof that Panesa is alleged rebel leader ‘Benjamin Mendoza’ nor repudiate the veracity of the documents submitted by Panesa, as proof that he is not Mendoza,” she said.
Karapatan, with Task Force Panesa, composed of church people from different denominations, today held a picket at the Court of Appeals as the spokesperson of the Southern Luzon Command, Col. Generoso Bolina took the witness stand to defend the AFP’s claim that security guard Rolly Panesa whom they abducted, tortured and jailed, is ‘Benjamin Mendoza’, a high-ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines, with a 5.6 million peso reward.
“We demand the immediate release of Panesa. This detention is difficult for everyone. It is difficult for Panesa who remains clueless of why he is detained; it is also difficult for the government and the AFP to cook up evidences to prove their claim. The whole case is senseless,” said Palabay.
Karapatan claims that the government’s desperation to meet Oplan Bayanihan’s 2013 deadline is the motive behind the arrest of innocent civilians like Panesa. This Oplan Bayanihan deadline also “resulted in an increase in the cases of people who are falsely charged with criminal cases using warrants against John/Jane Does and aliases.” The Department of Justice (DOJ), as early as the 1990’s, issued Circular No. 50, saying that an appropriate description must accompany a particular John/Jane Doe but the practice continues.
Human rights group Karapatan and umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), together with members and leaders of several organizations today condemned in strongest terms the series of attacks against people's organizations and partylist groups, disguised as break-ins and robberies. The groups decried what they described as the "rising and systematic forms of state repression and harassment of government critics". They said that the recent incidents were made to appear as common crimes but were actually targeted attacks on activists and their organizations.
From March 2012 up until last week, Karapatan and Bayan documented twelve(12) cases of break-ins of houses of activists and peace advocates, and offices of progressive organizations; robberies involving items such as laptops, USB/flash drives, video cameras, and the like; and surveillance of known personalities and members of such organizations.
As early as March 2012, the laptop of UP Manila activist Nikki Gamara was stolen inside the university premises. What seems to be an ordinary case of theft turned out to be more than just that. Three weeks after, her father, Renante Gamara, a peace consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), was illegally arrested. Records show that the laptop of Nikki was stolen a week before a warrant based on trumped-up charges was issued against her father.
There was also a series of break-ins in offices of Gabriela Women's Party (June 13, 2012), Health Alliance for Democracy (December 25, 2012), and the offices of Parents Alternative for ECCD Inc. and Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns (January 13, 2013). The most recent incident was the break-in and robbery in the shared office of the chapters of Bayan and Karapatan in the National Capital Region last February 14, 2013. These are all publicly known offices of these organizations. Taken from the offices were desktop computers, laptops, hard disks and similar data storage devices, cameras and cellphones.
Also victims of robberies were persons involved in the peace process such as Atty. Rachel Pastores of the Public Interest Law Center (September 22, 2012) , Rey Casambre, Director of the Philippine Peace Center (February 9, 2013) and Rosie Tumbagahon, a staff working at the Joint Secretariat of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the GPH and NDFP (February 9, 2013).
These incidents are clearly systematic attacks against progressive organizations and individuals, made to appear as isolated cases of common crimes, the groups said. They pointed out that only the military would have the motive and means to carry out these attacks.
"The usual targets of the perpetrators are data storage devices such as flash disks, hard drives and laptops, cellular phones and cameras. It appears that the intelligence operatives are gathering more data on government critics as a prelude to possibly more attacks, especially during the election season," the groups said.