Karapatan HR workers, rights violations victims in Southern Mindanao under attack

 

On April 26, 2015, at around 9:50 a.m., a man with military haircut wearing light fatigue shirt and short pants was walking back and forth the road, and would tiptoe to look over what was behind the gates of the Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region office. At the time, those inside the office were Leonora Ricafort and son Jayson; Eduardo E. Regidor and sons Levie, Eduardo Jr. and Jhon Mark; Romnick Talara, wife “Jessa” and son Justin James; Aida Sanduman-Seisa, Primjun ObliandaCabatuan, and Roselyn Tausa (Most of them are victims of human rights violations).They noticed the man because he passed through the road four times. On the 5th time, he stood at the side of the Karapatan office. He looked up to see what was inside the office.

 

UA Date                                 :

 

May 3, 2015

 

UA Case                                 :

Threat, harassment, intimidation, surveillance

 

Victim/s                                 :

 Edessa Sandra Campos, 32, single

Karapatan human rights worker

 

Leonora Ricafort, 49, widow, Karapatan volunteer

 

Jayson Ricafort, 13, son of Leonora Ricafort

 

Aida Sanduman-Seisa, 34, married, Secretary General of Paquibato District Peasants Alliance (PADIPA) and Vice-Chairperson for Internal Affairs, SABOKAHAN Lumad Women Regional Confederation

 

Eduardo Esplaguera-Regidor, Sr., 45, married, Acting Chairperson of Paquibato District Peasants Alliance (PADIPA), and resident of Barangay Paquibato Proper, Paquibato District, Davao City

 

Levie Regidor, 24, single, son of Eduardo Regidor, Sr.; victim of trumped up charges

 

Eduardo Regidor, Jr., son of Eduardo Regidor, Sr.

 

Jhon Mark Regidor, son of Eduardo Regidor, Sr.

 

Primjun Oblianda-Cabatuan, 37, married, resident of Purok Napo, Barangay Paquibato Proper, Paquibato District, Davao City; member of Panabo-Paquibato Motor Operator Drivers’ Association (PPMODA); member of PADIPA; victim of trumped-up charges

 

Roselyn Tausa, 18,, single, student, member of Paquibato District Peasants Alliance (PADIPA) and resident of Purok Mangga, Barangay Paquibato Proper, Paquibato District, Davao City; victim of trumped-up charges

 

Romnick Talara, 23, with common-law wife (“Jessa”)

 

“Jessa” (not her real name, identity kept for security purposes), 18, rape victim from Bukidnon, perpetrator is from the 84th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA)

 

Justin James, 1 year and 2 months, son of Romnick and “Jessa”

 

Place of Incident                  :

Karapatan Southern Mindanao office, Pag-asa corner Lopez Jaena Streets, Davao City

 

Dates of Incident                  :

April 26, 2015, around 10 a.m. and April 27, 2015, at 7:30 p.m.

 

Alleged Perpetrator(s)          :

Three  armed men believed to be elements of the 69th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA, also known as the Palparan battalion) and the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (IDPA)

Account of the Incident:

 

On April 26, 2015, at around 9:50 a.m., a man with military haircut wearing light fatigue shirt and short pants was walking back and forth the road, and would tiptoe to look over what was behind the gates of the Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region office. At the time, those inside the office were Leonora Ricafort and son JaysonEduardo E. Regidor and sons Levie, Eduardo Jr. and Jhon Mark; Romnick Talara, wife “Jessa” and son Justin JamesAida Sanduman-Seisa, Primjun ObliandaCabatuan, and Roselyn Tausa (Most of them are victims of human rights violations).They noticed the man because he passed through the road four times. On the 5th time, he stood at the side of the Karapatan office. He looked up to see what was inside the office.


At around past 10 a.m., Eduardo Regidor Sr. opened one of the windows on the second floor of the office. He saw another man who went out of a neighbor’s apartment. The man, Eduardo said, was 5”6’ to 5”7’ tall, brown-skinned and slightly stout. Eduardo saw the man also making a call through his cellphone. He overheard the man saying, “Hello, PNP, yes, it’s near the house I am renting…Zero.” The distance between the apartment and the Karapatan office is about three meters. Eduardo told Leonora what he heard. He told Leonora he would go back to Brgy. Paquibato Proper, but he was advised against going home until it becomes clear what was going on.


Eduardo did not heed Leonora’s advice and went ahead with his plan. He and his three sons, Levie, Eduardo, Jr., and Jhon Mark, went out. They noticed the man who made the phone call. Meanwhile, the people inside the house noticed a woman whom they believed was also monitoring their office. An hour later, another man passed by the office, grinning and shaking his head. 

 

While Eduardo and his sons were already at the corner of Lopez Jaena St. and Pag-asa Street, they saw three men armed with .45 caliber pistols. One of them told Eduardo and sons, “Aha, dito lang pala kayo nagtatago (So, you are hiding here.)” Eduardo and his sons were alarmed by the man’s statement. One of his sons immediately flagged down a taxi. They instructed the taxi driver to speed up. The three armed men also rode their individual motorcycles and tailed the taxi up to Matina Aplaya. At Matina Aplaya, the three armed men lost track of Eduardo and sons.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

 

On April 27, at around 5:00 p.m., Aida, Roselyn and Primjun arrived at the Karapatan office. They saw two men who took a quick look at the office as they passed by.  

 

At past 7:00 p.m., Eduardo Regidor Sr. arrived at the office. A few minutes later, three men went to the gate beside the Karapatan office. Then they went to the office’s gate, saying “Ayo (Hello).” The men attempted to get in. One of the men, according to Aida, carried with him something that was wrapped with a towel, which Aida surmised was a gun. Aida and Roselyn said they knew that the men did not mean well because they refused to identify themselves and no one in the office knew them. When those inside the Karapatan office did not open the gate, one of the men pushed the gate, which had double locks. The two other men attempted to climb the concrete wall to get inside the compound. One of the men was the same person who, on April 26, at 10 a.m., was conducting surveillance in the Karapatan office.

 

The attempts of the men to barge into the Karapatan office stopped only when a Karapatan staff member called for police assistance and members of the media. Through a call to the hotline 911, the police responded and members of one of the radio stations, Radyo ni Juan. After the media and police interview, the police brought the Karapatan staff to the San Pedro Police Station to file a blotter report of the incident. 

 

On April 28, a press conference was held at the Karapatan-SMR office from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon, to denounce the incident. On the same day, the Commission on Human Rights also sent an investigation team to the Karapatan-SMR office, after it was reported by the Karapatan National Office to CHR National Office. 

 

The human rights violations victims from Paquibato, Davao City and Bukidnon were under the sanctuary program of Karapatan’s Southern Mindanao Region chapter. The peasant leaders from Paquibato, Davao City and their relatives fled from their communities to seek the help of Karapatan on the trumped-up criminal charges against the peasant leaders and residents in the area and on the threats and harassment they experienced during the military operations of the 69th IBPA, which continue to this day. The military unit, under the 10th IDPA of Gen. Eduardo Año, is responsible for several cases of extrajudicial killing, forced evacuation, threats, harassment, among other rights violations. The unit was tagged as the Palparan battalion because its elements were trained and formerly under the command of The Butcher Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who is responsible for the disappearances of several activists including two university students. Gen. Año, who was involved in the disappearance of peasant organizer Jonas Burgos, is leading the military operations in the region. The family of “Jessa,” who was raped by a member of the 84thIBPA in Bukidnon, also sought the help of Karapatan.

 

Karapatan leaders and staff members in the Southern Mindanao region are constantly under attack, as they experience surveillance, threats and harassment from the military. They are tagged by the military as “enemies of the State” and “front organizations of the communists.”

 

Karapatan attributes these violations to the intensification of military operations, especially in Mindanao where 60% of the total troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are deployed, under the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan.   

 

Recommended Action:

 

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

  1. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into the threats, harassment, intimidation and surveillance against human rights workers of Karapatan and the victims of rights violations.
  2. The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”
  3. The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innnocent and unarmed civillians
  4. The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.

You may send your communications 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: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.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

osec@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) 911-9281 / 911-0488

Fax:+63(2) 911 6213

Email: osnd@philonline.com

 

Atty. Leila De Lima

Secretary, Department of Justice

Padre Faura St., Manila

Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721

Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.214

Fax: (+632) 521-1614

Email:  soj@doj.gov.ph

 

Hon.  Loretta Ann P. Rosales

Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights

SAAC Bldg., UP Complex

Commonwealth Avenue

Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188

Fax: (+632) 929 0102

Email:   chair.rosales.chr@gmail.comlorettann@gmail.com

 

 

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., B

rgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES

Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146

Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org

Website: www.karapatan.org


 

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