September, 2012

Cybercrime law another affront to human rights

Karapatan today said that the government deserves all the criticisms and protests generated by the Cybercrime Prevention law that was passed on September 12, a few days before the commemoration of the 40th year of martial law imposition.

“Gauging from the reactions of the netizens, the government failed to achieve the chilling effect with the cybercrime law, that now paves the way for e-martial law. Still, citizens and human rights defenders, especially those with advocacies that utilize the internet as a platform, become increasingly vulnerable to harassment by the government; unless the law is junked,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

Karapatan echoed the position of the online users that the Cybercrime law violates the people’s Constitutional rights as the law infringes on the rights to free speech and privacy. “Many people have been killed, disappeared, arrested and tortured under the Noynoy Aquino government because they speak out the truth, they criticize government policies that are detrimental to the people. Now, the government has brought its battle against the people on the cyberspace.” 

Aquino Govt writes off HR violations for $13M US aid

Karapatan today criticized the Aquino government as “it continues to peddle lies on the human rights situation in the international community, through the Universal Periodic Review process at the United Nations and, the recent visit of Dept. of Justice Sec. Leila de Lima at the United States, in exchange for US military assistance.” 

“Human rights defenders, victims and their relatives, and communities under military attack can attest to the prevailing, if not more emboldened, climate of impunity under Aquino. While the GPH officials claimed at the UN and, among US parliamentarians, that the Aquino government is taking concrete steps to address extrajudicial killings and; that they do not promote the culture of impunity, indigenous peoples’ leader Genesis Ambason was shot and tortured to death by paramilitary groups in Agusan del Sur last week,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

According to Karapatan, Ambason is the 112th victim of extrajudicial killings under the Aquino administration. Among these are nine children who were victims of EJK, three of them killed during the AFP operations in Maguindanao this August 2012. Also, rampant military operations are conducted in mineral and resource-rich areas to suppress the opposition mounted by farmers and indigenous peoples against the entry of big foreign mining and business operations. 

Palabay said “this parody of lies by the Aquino government is meant to justify the release of the more than $13 million in US military assistance to the GPH, which was blocked since 2008, when international solidarity groups brought to fore the issues of extrajudicial killings and other rights violations in the Philippines.”

Aquino should correct history of ML rights victims, pass indemnification bill now

“Bongbong’s declaration of his presidential ambition and his statement that he considers himself part of the administration by virtue of the LP-NP alliance are both repulsive signs that the vestiges of the impunity persists from Martial Law up to the present Aquino administration. The Marcoses, up to now, are not held accountable for their crimes during the martial law and thus, they sashayed back to positions of power. This impunity is among the results of the continued denial of the Aquino government to render justice to the martial law victims, even its barest  form—the passage of the Indemnification bill which, has already gathered dust in Congress,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. 

Palabay added that, “if this will be part of history which will be recorded by the Martial Law Historical Advisory Committee that was recently created by Pres. Aquino, he should act now, pass the Marcos Victims Compensation bill and correct part of the history of the martial law victims.”

Guatemala demolition shows bias vs the poor

Human rights group Karapatan today slammed the forced eviction and violent demolition of homes of some 256 families at Guatemala Street, Brgy. San Isidro in Makati City, as they called on Mayor Jejomar “Junjun” Binay Jr. and the Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas to immediately stop such operations in the area, including the arrests of residents who participated in the protests yesterday.

Based on the initial report of Karapatan-National Capital Region, eight individuals were arrested, after the residents barricaded the entrances to their community to prevent the local government’s demolition teams and the police from demolishing their homes. The said eviction was conducted to pave the way for the construction of a multi-million peso community complex and basketball court in the area.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said “the actions of the city government show how inhumane local government officials are in treating urban poor communities, in exchange for such paltry projects at the expense of the people’s rights to livelihood and decent housing.” 

Palparan’s absence in Court tolerated by the Govt

“We fear that Gen. Jovito Palparan’s absence in the court hearings is becoming a habit that is tolerated by the Aquino government. Today’s hearing at the Malolos Regional Trial Court on the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges against The Butcher et al proceeded, again without him,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. 
Raymond Manalo, the farmer who became acquainted with the two missing UP students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, took the witness stand today. Manalo, who was also a torture victim, testified before the court that he saw the abuses that were committed by the soldiers, against the two students, when they were in a military camp in Limay, Bataan.

Karapatan to Noynoy Aquino: Do your father, ML martyrs justice; end impunity, stop human rights violations

Karapatan today said that “It is a shame how Pres. Noynoy Aquino criticized Marcos and martial law when the same things he enumerated in his speech are the same things that are happening under his government, sans the formal declaration of martial law.” 

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said, “it is ridiculous to hear Noynoy Aquino disapprove of the checkpoints during martial law when the same proliferate today, especially in the rural areas; the rounding up and arrests of people who criticized the Marcos government when there are 385 political prisoners to date, 170 of them were arrested and detained under his two year old rule.”

Karapatan said that aside from political prisoners, extrajudicial killings, torture, paramilitary groups, forced evacuation that were highly identified with martial law still exist. “It is the height of hypocrisy and deception for Noynoy to rebuke the Marcos dictatorship for “salvaging” when there are more than a hundred victims of extrajudicial killings under his government. The same Armed Forces of the Philippines and paramilitary groups are the perpetrators. Certainly, there is dissonance between today’s realities and Noynoy’s statement saying, he didn’t want the people to go through the same sufferings his father experienced.” said Palabay. 

Impunity persists, legacy of the Filipino people’s valiant struggle continue

40 years after the imposition of martial Law 

It may not be as visible as it was 40 years ago but, human rights violations that are indelible marks of Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law, continue to this day: illegal arrests and detention, torture, disappearance, extrajudicial killings, bombings and hamletting of communities, forced evacuation, use and proliferation of paramilitary groups, among others. 

Making things worse is that people in the government, specially the President, hide behind their previous involvement in the anti-dictatorship struggle; banking on their being victims of martial law to escape accountability and responsibility on the current state of human rights in the country.  

Thus, the likes of The Butcher, Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. roam freely. Torturers like Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia and Col. Aurelio Baladad are being promoted, despite cases filed against them, similar to Col. Rolando Abadilla, Rodolfo Aguinaldo, and Billy Bibit who were rewarded handsomely by Marcos. 

CAFGU strikes anew, indigenous leader shot and tortured to death

Karapatan today received report of another case of torture and extrajudicial killing of an indigenous leader, Genesis Ambason Saguitan, 23, secretary general of TAGDUMAHAN Lumad organization in the municipality of San Luis, Agusan del Sur. Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay calls the latest incident as “an affirmation of the continuing vestiges of martial law under the Aquino government.”

Genesis Ambason 

Saguitan’s relatives found his body mutilated by the perpetrators, identified as members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) attached to the 26th IB Detachment in Sitio Tambo, Brgy. Binikalan, San Luis Agusan del Sur. His body was on the road side, some 130 meters away from the detachment of the 26th IB in Sitio Tambo. 

According to the report sent to Karapatan, Almira, Saguitan’s wife who is eight months pregnant with their first child, “wept while cleaning his husband’s body” when she saw the two gunshot wounds in his right chest and another two gunshot wounds in the hip area, near his spine. His face and chest were covered with bruises. Ambason’s teeth are all gone. His head was deformed, and his face unrecognizable because of the bruises due to heavy beating. 

Atty. Romeo T. Capulong: people’s lawyer, human rights defender

Karapatan, with all its member organizations and chapters, and victims of human rights violations pay our highest tribute to Atty. Romeo T. Capulong - human rights lawyer par excellence, champion of the Filipino people's struggle for justice and democracy, people's lawyer. 

Capulong, along with Lorenzo Tanada, Benigno Aquino Jr., et al, was arrested upon the declaration of martial law. He was forced to flee the country in 1979, amid the rampant arrests, detention, torture and summary killings, as he was later granted political asylum in the US in 1980. In the U.S., he founded and chaired the Filipino Lawyers Committee on human rights, which imparted the much-needed solidarity of lawyers and human rights organizations in the U.S. to the Philippines. After the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, he went back to the Philippines and established the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), an institution which supported human rights victims from then on.

CHR Chair has historical amnesia

Karapatan today criticized Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Etta Rosales after she rebuked students and youth groups preparing for protest actions leading to September 21, in commemoration of the 40th year of the imposition of martial law.
In an interview over ABS-CBN week-end news last night, Rosales was quoted saying “Stop comparing martial law of yesterday to what they are doing now because if they do that they are merely muddling the issue. Mag-aral sila, naintindihan ba nila ang sinasabi nila.” Rosales added that the students should instead go the libraries instead of joining the protests.
“Rosales' statement simply illustrates the historical amnesia, opportunism, and bankruptcy of those in the Aquino administration. They claim to "remember Martial Law," yet they forget one of the quintessential lessons during those dark years - that when the people and the youth are faced with anti-youth and anti-people programs, rights abuses, and plunder of our lands and resources, we fight back,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

After 40 long years, ML victims still invisible to the government

“Many of the victims of human rights violations under the Marcos dictatorship have left us without seeing justice rendered, 40 long years after the imposition of martial law. Even the barest gesture of justice, the Marcos Victims Compensation bill, remains at the backburner. The governments that followed after the dictatorship, from Cory Aquino to her son Noynoy, showed tolerance and gave concessions to the Marcoses. They all should be held accountable for perpetuating the crimes of the Marcoses.”
Thus said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, as 68-year old Nicolas Sanchez passed away early this week. Sanchez was a victim of torture, illegal arrest and detention during the infamous sona (zoning of communities) in Brgy. Tatalon, Quezon City in July 23, 1985. The sona was conducted by elements of the Marcos’ Philippine Constabulary, when residents resisted the demolition of their community to give way to the development plan of the Aranetas, in-laws of Marcos’ daughter, Irene. Two persons reportedly died during the incident, while many were arrested, including Sanchez.

“HIMAGSIK at PROTESTA” exhibits Filipino people’s continuing resistance and struggle

On the 40th year of the imposition of martial law 

An exhibit of Martial Law memorabilia opens at 4:00 pm today at the University of the Philippines’ Main Library-Filipiniana section as part of the commemoration of the 40th year of the imposition of martial law. 

“This is to remember martial law, the dictator, the terror. But more importantly, we want to give tribute to the “fire-starters”, those imbued with the courage, creativity and daringness of the Filipino people’s struggle, those who led the way and offered their lives in the fight against tyranny, oppression, and for national freedom and democracy. We want the youth to remember them and to keep the fire burning until justice and freedom is achieved. Tuloy ang laban!” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. 

The exhibit, dubbed as Himagsik at Protesta features a collection of magazines, books, underground publications that date as far back as 1964, such as the first handbook of the Kabataan Makabayan, the militant organization in the 1960’s.  Also included in the exhibit are items used by known ML activists and revolutionaries, such as journalist Jose Burgos, former Rep. Satur Ocampo, artists Emman and Pete Lacaba, former political prisoner and Makibaka founder Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, activist Fr. Rudy Romano, national artist Bienvenido Lumbera, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, to name a few.  

Martial Law-style military operations drive away rural folks from their homes

From martial law to Noynoy Aquino: hamletting and forced evacuation remain

Karapatan today held a picket at the Times St. residence of Noynoy Aquino to call the attention of the government on the “military operations especially in the rural areas and on the plight of the evacuees such as those from the Bondoc Peninsula in Quezon Province who left their homes because of these operations.” 

Karapatan secretary general, Cristina Palabay said, “there are now eight military battalions in Bondoc Peninsula, something that has never happened before, even during the time of martial law.” Karapatan has documented several cases of threats and harassment against residents in the area, including those who are members of farmers’ organizations.

The protest action coincided with the birthday of the late Ferdinand Marcos, whose reign was marked by tyranny and terror that resulted to countless human rights violations. “With evacuations going on in many parts of the country such as in the Caraga region, in Bukidnon, and in Bondoc Peninsula, we believe that the Marcos era never left us after martial law. The essential elements of Marcos’ hamletting and forced evacuation happened during Cory Aquino’s time and the succeeding presidents after her; and it is still happening now,” Palabay added.

Lawyer of Palparan’s co-accused Osorio resorts to worn out tactics

“The lawyer of Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, failing to discredit at yesterday’s hearing the testimony of witness Wilfredo Ramos, tried to turn the table around by saying that the witness is testifying only because he is a member of Karapatan. He sounded so much like Palparan, who resorts to blaming the victims of human rights violations to justify the atrocities he committed against them,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
Atty. Jose Cruz called the witness “biased” after Ramos recounted what he saw when the two UP students, Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, along with farmer Manuel Merino, were abducted on June 26, 2006 in Bgy. San Miguel , Hagonoy, Bulacan.  Ramos and his father were hogtied and threatened in the incident. Ramos, who was only 14 years old at that time of the abduction, identified Osorio as one of those who abducted the students and Merino, when the latter accompanied Gen. Palparan during the preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice.
“The issue is not whether Ramos is a member of Karapatan or not. The fact is, Ramos was able to stand by and was consistent with his earlier testimonies, as well as, what was written in his affidavit while he was being cross-examined by Atty. Cruz. He was firm and calm, despite the harrowing experience he and his family encountered. His testimony bolsters the charges against Osorio, Palparan and the others,” Palabay said.

Palparan still at-large as court hearings proceed

From martial law to Noynoy Aquino: “Berdugos” on the loose

Fugitive general Jovito Palparan was still a no-show in today’s hearing at the Malolos Trial Court for the kidnapping and illegal detention case filed against him in relation to the disappearance of UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan. 

“We knew all along that raising the bounty for Palparan’s head is not enough and, in fact, not the solution in arresting the Butcher. The most necessary requisite is the firm resolve of Pres. Aquino to arrest Palparan, regardless of what the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ views on the matter. But as things are, kulang na lang ipagtanggol niya si Palparan gaya nang pagtatanggol niya kay DILG Undersecretary Puno,” said  Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.  
Palparan has been at-large since December 2011 when the warrant of arrest was issued by the Malolos Trial Court. Meanwhile, court hearings started in January without Palparan. 

Palabay said that, “Palparan reminds us of the martial law years, where torturers roamed freely, were tolerated and were even permanent fixtures in the martial law landscape. Palparan calls to mind the likes of Rolando Abadilla and Rodolfo Aguinaldo, the much-hated torturers of activists and oppositionists during martial law. They, together with Palparan, are among the “poster boys” of terror and impunity that span from the martial law years to this day.” 

Karapatan renews call to disband paramilitary groups amid terror in Bukidnon

From martial law to Noynoy Aquino: paramilitary groups as AFP surrogates

Rights group Karapatan today reiterated its call on Pres. Noynoy Aquino to disband paramilitary groups, as “these are not only Martial Law relics that persist to this day, but are mercenary appendages of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that continue to sow terror and violence among the people.”

Cristina Palabay said that the New Indigenous People’s Army Reform (NIPAR), a known paramilitary group under the control of the 8th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, struck anew in Brgy. Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon, as they set up camp, threatened and harassed indigenous peoples in the area, resulting to the forced evacuation of 12 families to Malaybalay, in front of the Provincial Capitol. According to the residents, NIPAR and its leaders Alde and Benjamin Salusad used brute force and harassment to force them to allow large-scale mining in their 52,000-hectare ancestral domain.

Military defies court order to transfer Alcantara to civilian detention facility

From martial law to Noynoy Aquino: political prisoners exist

Free Ka Bart, Free Ka Allan 

The Taguig Regional Trial Court today heard the motion of the counsels of Tirso Alcantara and Alan Jazmines to consolidate the charges of illegal possession of firearms and illegal possession of explosives to rebellion. The counsels again presented arguments  for Alcantara's  immediate transfer from military custody to a civilian detention facility citing, among others, the recent decision of the Gumaca RTC ordering the military to transfer Alcantara to the PNP Custodial Center at Camp Crame. 

The military failed to present Alcantara during the hearing and the Judge Advocate General Office (JAGO), for the second time, did not attend the court proceedings. 





Jazmines prevented from being interviewed

Jazmines pulled away from interview 

“Even without today’s hearing at the Taguig RTC, Alcantara should now be transferred to a civilian detention facility, specifically at the PNP Custodial Center at Camp Crame, because the Gumaca Regional Trial Court already ordered the military,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan chairperson. 

Movement for justice for Geertman launched

From martial law to Noynoy Aquino, killings of missionaries among poor go on

A movement that seeks justice for Wilhelm Geertman will have its launch today, almost two months after Geertman was killed on July 3, 2012. Geertman, a Dutch lay missionary, worked in Central Luzon as organizer, educator, advocate of genuine land reform for the peasant indigenous people’s rights and environmental protection.  

Geertman was killed by two gunmen and another driver riding on a motorcycle. “Despite police claims that the killing was a simple case of robbery, Karapatan believes that the killers were state agents and that Geertman’s case is that of an extrajudicial execution. The pattern that preceded the killing and the manner by which he was killed resembles that of the many cases of extrajudicial killings under Oplan Bantay Laya and now, under Oplan Bayanihan,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan. 

Hilao-Enriquez said that “prior to the killing, Geertman and people around him experienced surveillance; there were also threats and branding of Geertman as supporter of the New People’s Army and a member of the National Democratic Front. It’s not at all new. It has been the practice by the government and the military especially under martial law.”