May, 2008

75 years of a life lived in the defense of peoples’ rights makes Ka Bel a most precious gem in Philippine history

We in the Philippine human rights alliance Karapatan join the family and the nation in mourning the untimely death of Crispin ‘Ka Bel’ Beltran.

Indeed, all of us are overwhelmed with grief in his passing away.

But we are consoled by the fact that Ka Bel lived a life in the defense of peoples’ rights and in the service of humankind.

Human Rights Worker Gets Death Threats in Kidapawan, North Cotabato, Mindanao, Philippines

Following the assassination of peasant leader Celso Pojas in Davao City on May 15, 2008, Mr. Kelly Delgado, 31 years old and head of the Karapatan team that responded to the incident, was invited for a radio interview by Mr. Abner Francisco of Charm Radio based in Kidapawan City. He was interviewed on May 16, 2008 at around 8:30 a.m. The interview lasted for about 30 minutes.

An hour and a half later, at around 10 a.m., Charm Radio received three (3) text messages (SMS) through its official mobile phone number.

UPDATE: Abducted Peace consultant for NDFP in Cagayan Valley, Philippines surfaced in PNP-CIDG’s custody

Randy MalayaoOn May 15, 2008 at around 8 o’clock in the evening, Randy Felix P. Malayao, 39 years old, was having dinner with his friends at a restaurant in SM North EDSA in Quezon City when they noticed two men suspiciously looking at them (both were sporting crew cuts and holding high-tech mobile phones with headsets). One of his female companions noticed the men still observing them, and suggested that they transfer to another place. While leaving, another companion of Randy heard one of the men, said ‘positive sir, positive’ while still following them.

They then proceeded to a fast-food chain along Ortigas Avenue in Pasig City. Again, they noticed a burly man also sporting a crew cut, wearing shorts and slippers and a headset, observing them. This man was accompanied by two more men with the same built and gadgets. Randy told his friends not to worry.

Rights group condemns killing of peasant leader in South, scores AFP's bounty offer for soldiers

Celso Pojas speaking at a rally At the 3rd Saturday gathering of families of victims of human rights violations, the human rights group Karapatan today expressed outrage over the extrajudicial killing of peasant leader Celso Pojas down South.

Pojas was killed by motorcycle-riding gun men in Davao City, a method associated with military death squads implementing Oplan Bantay Laya.

"Clearly, the military have not ceased their policy of extrajudicial killings under Oplan Bantay Laya," said Ruth Cervantes, Karapatan Public Information Officer.

Crusade for justice highlighted in a different kind of Santacruzan'

Evangeline, mother of EJK victim Beng Hernandez, as Queen of Justice A different kind of Santacruzan was held today by families of victims of human rights violations to highlight the crusade for justice. The traditional Santacruzan is held in commemoration of Queen Helena's crusade in finding Christ's cross.

"Just like Reyna Elena, we are on a crusade for peace and justice, but unlike her, we do not have our sons or daughters by our side," said Evangeline Hernandez, convener of Hustisya said. "Our daughters and sons have either been killed or disappeared under the watch of a cruel government and justice eludes us until now," Hernandez continued.

Hernandez' daughter Benjaline was killed by state security forces while doing human rights work in 2002. Six years have passed but their case in court has not prospered and those responsible for Benjaline's death are being coddled by their superiors in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

There was no Reyna Elena or Reyna Emperatriz in Hustisya's version of Santacruzan, yet there were Queens who bear the symbols of Light, Struggle, Freedom, Justice and Democracy.

Peasant leader slain in front of farmers' association's office in Davao City, Philippines

Account of Incident:

On May 15, 2008 at around 5:45 in the morning, Celso Pojas, 45 years old, was having coffee with his officemates inside the Farmers Association in Davao City (FADC) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)-Southern Mindanao office. They were to travel to Compostela Valley to visit the Lumad farmers who were victims of forcible evacuation due to massive militarization in their area.

Abelardo Ladera

Armando Javier

Honorio Ayroso

Allan Salgado Ibasan

Alice Omengan Claver


Families of Desaparecidos for Justice!

Our mothers, our defenders: Rights group offer red roses for mothers of victims on mother's day

Karapatan celebrates mother's day by bringing together mothers whose children have been victims of human rights violations under the watch of the Arroyo administration.

Human rights activists joined by children relatives paid tribute to these mothers by offering them red roses as a symbol of solidarity. "We are one with them in the defense of human rights and the fight for justice," said Ruth Cervantes, Karapatan Public Information Officer, a mother herself.

Mothers of human rights violation victims affirm unity against 'terror ma' in Malacañang

Mothers of victims of human rights violations under the Arroyo regime who banded together under the banner of Hustisya! and Desaparecidos today called on the Filipino people to join them "in defending human rights by fighting the terrorist mother that reigns in Malacañang."

They came together to accept the tribute organized for them by human rights group Karapatan for Mother's Day.

Karapatan-Southern Mindanao lambast Army for urging set-up of private armies

DAVAO CITY--Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region lambasted the calls of Colonel Alan R. Luga, commanding officer of the 1001st Brigade urging mining and logging owners in Compostela Valley Province to create Special Civilian Active Auxiliary Units (SCAA) or private armies guided to implement the Investment Defense Force ordered by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today.

This, the group said, the calls of the 1001st Brigade commander will continue military rule and fascism and is responsible for the human rights abuses in the area.

Rights group urged military informants: Testify against masterminds of killings

The human rights group Karapatan urged military informants who bared military covert operations to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, to testify against their superiors who ordered the extrajudicial killings of activists.

Ruth Cervantes, Karapatan Public Information said, “We exhort them to walk the path of justice by testifying against those who masterminded the extrajudicial killings of civilians.”

Karapatan says CHR's high rating for Arroyo rights record is retraction of critical stance

The human rights group Karapatan expressed disappointment over the recent statement made by Chairperson Purificacion Quisumbing of the Commission on Human Rights giving the Arroyo government a high rating on human rights.

Karapatan said that the CHR has previously been exhibiting independence and is saddened that the CHR is now speaking in unison with Mrs. Arroyo's cohorts.

WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY: Arroyo regime is number one threat to press freedom - Karapatan

On the occassion of World Press Freedom Day, the human rights group Karapatan today accused the Arroyo administration of being the number one threat to the people's right to information, freedom of expression and a free press.

"The sheer number of journalists killed with impunity in this country already speaks volumes about the real state of the Philippine press. Here is a country where journalists have to constantl look behind their backs and where the right to a free press is often exercised at the risk of one's life and limb," said Karapatan spokesperson Ruth Cervantes.