Appeal for Action: Cagayan Valley leaders, activists falsely charged with kidnapping and homicide

Dear Friends, 

Pease join us in our call to stop the criminalization of human rights work, a tactic that the BS Aquino regime has repeatedly used against activists and leaders of progressive people’s organizations. 

The same tyrannical act the BS Aquino regime used in Mindanao, among leaders of people’s organizations in Davao City and General Santos City, is now used against the 69 leaders and activists in the Cagayan Valley region in an attempt to suppress the people’s voice against the rising cases of military abuses in the region. 
 
 
The filing of trumped-up criminal charges was used during Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya through the Inter-agency Legal Action Group (IALAG). Years since the IALAG was abolished, the practice continues under Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan. Aquino is using the same legal offensive against those who expose the abuses of State security forces. 

Charges vs activists and leaders of people’s organizations

In July 2015,  29 individuals, mostly from the Aggay and Malaweg tribes, were charged with three counts of kidnapping with homicide merely based on the suspicion that they are members/supporters of the New People’s Army. Sgt. Arsenio Villar Capili of the 17th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) accused the 29 of kidnapping and killing two army intelligence agents and a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) on February 25, 2015.

Three of the 29 individuals were abducted on July 20, 2015 by elements of the 17th IB-PA. Marlon Baganay, Mendo Bisiotan and Lando Daryuin were surfaced three days later, on July 23, at a military camp in Lasam, Cagayan Valley. The 70-year old Daryuin is partially blind. Currently, they are detained at the Cagayan Provincial Jail. 

On September 21, Romella Liquigan, regional coordinator of Karapatan-Cagayan Valley, reported that when they filed the counter-affidavits of seven of the 29 persons charged at the Tuguegarao prosecutor’s office, they learned that 40 more individuals were falsely charged in the same case. Liquigan was among them. 

Aside from Liquigan, included in the 40 individuals who were charged of the same crime were: Isabelo Adviento, chairperson of Kagimungan peasant organization and Anakpawis partylist nominee; Femie Galapon, chairperson of National Union of Students in the Philippine-Cagayan Valley and convenor of Rise for Education alliance; Randy Malayao, convenor of Bayan Cagayan Valley and Makabayan vice president for Luzon; and, Agnes Mesina, regional coordinator of Save the Valley network and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. 

A number of the accused are unknown to the leaders of people’s organizations, while some were participants in the two fact-finding missions held in the town of Rizal in Zinundangan Valley. Elements of the 17th IB-PA under the 5th Infantry Division have been conducting military operations in the communities since February 2015. 

The operations resulted in abuses and human rights violations such as extrajudicial killing, torture, abduction and illegal detention, illegal searches, encampment in barangay halls, health centers and civilian houses. The indigenous groups of Aggay, Malaweg, and Kalinga are among the most affected by the military operations. 

Prior to the filing of charges against the leaders and activists in Cagayan Valley, participants of the the two fact-finding missions conducted in Rizal town already experienced military harassment as they were blocked by members of the Cagayan Provincial Public Safety Company, 3rd Manuever Platoon. The men took pictures of the vehicles used by the mission participants. 

Abducted member of Aggay tribe

On October 1, Mennong Danao (earlier reported as Lenor Danao), an Aggay, was abducted by about 25 elements of the 17th IB-PA in the presence of his family. The soldiers brought Danao with them, after they illegally searched his hut. A few minutes later, the soldiers claimed they found a rifle outside Danao’s hut. 

Danao was found on October 3, in the custody of the Philippine National Police-Rizal, Cagayan after he was turned over by the military. He now faces charges for violation of RA 10591 or illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

Danao  was with his wife and three children when he abducted. 

The regime has been filing false charges against members of progressive organizations in an attempt to silence opposition and prevent them from amplifying the people’s demand for justice amid intensifying human rights violations in the country. 

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages to call on Pres. Benigno Aquino to: 

1. Withdraw the false charges against the 69 leaders and activists of people’s organizations in Cagayan Valley.
2. Immediately pull out the 17th Infantry Battalion in the Zinundungan Valley. 
3. Form an independent investigative body composed of representatives of human rights groups, churches, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into the series of human rights violations in Zinundungan Valley due to military operations. 
4. Withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians. 
5. Respect and observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all other human rights instruments that it is signatory to. 
You may send your communication to:

 
H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email: osnd@philonline.com, dnd.opla@gmail.com

Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-1908 
Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.211/214
Fax: (+632) 523-9548
Email:  lmdelima@doj.gov.ph, lmdelima.doj@gmail.com
lmdelima.doj@gmail.com

Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex 
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, (+632) 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
E-mail: comsec@chr.gov.ph
 
Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., 
Brgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org Website: www.karapatan.org

 

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