October, 2012

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Aquino’s ‘successful’ NZ gab a misinformation to int’l community

Fiddling around the euphoria of pretensions and hubris, President Noynoy Aquino’s gab in New Zealand has sparked intense reactions.  His apologists, Ricky Carandang and Atty. Edwin Lacierda, expectedly, were quick to come to his defense.

Instead of seriously considering the concern of the international community on the human rights situation in the country, particularly, that of the Philippine Solidarity Network Alliance in New Zealand, Mr. Carandang and Atty. Lacierda easily dismissed this as mere “misinformation” and “propaganda of the extreme leftist elements in the Philippines.” 

PSNA repudiated these insinuations, citing reputable institutions and individuals that have raised similar concerns, such as the UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders and extrajudicial killings; parliaments of the European Union, Canada and Italy; Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the World Council of Churches, among others.  

Like the government’s claim that there are no political prisoners in the Philippines or its report to the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights 13th Session in May this year,  Mr. Carandang bragged  of a “significant improvement” in the human rights situation in the country.   But the real situation on the ground belies this claim.  From July 2010 to September 2012, Karapatan has documented 114 cases of extrajudicial killings (EJK), 12 enforced disappearances, 70 torture victims, 224 victims of illegal arrests and detentions, 8,266 victims of forced eviction/demolition and 29,613 internally displaced persons, under  the Aquino presidency.

Rolly Panesa’s kin file petition for habeas corpus before SC

Marites Chioco, common-law wife of tortured and detained security guard Rolly Panesa, and sister Jiose Panesa today filed before the Supreme Court a petition for habeas corpus directing the respondents to produce the body of Rolly Mira Panesa before the Supreme Court and to seek other remedies thereof, including his immediate release. Panesa’s kin are accompanied by counsel Ephraim Cortez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers and Cristina Palabay of Karapatan. 

Rolly Panesa is detained at the Security Intensive Care Area (SICA), Metro Manila District Jail for rebellion and frustrated murder. Panesa was illegally arrested on October 5 by joint elements of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, led by Southern Luzon Commander Maj. General Alan Luga, and the Philippine National Police. He was tortured because the military mistook him for a certain “Benjamin Mendoza,” supposedly the secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Southern Luzon, with a reward of PhP 5.6 million. 

“Panesa’s illegal arrest, torture and continued illegal detention on the basis of trumped-up charges showcases the military’s arbitrariness in the conduct of its counterinsurgency program, the Oplan Bayanihan, and the government’s obsession to meet its self-imposed deadline to end the so-called insurgency,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.     

Chioco and Panesa, through their legal counsel, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) named the following as respondents to the petition: Inspector Bernardino Edgar T. Camus, jail warden of the Security Intensive Care Area (SICA), Metro Manila District Jail; Maj. Gen. Alan Luga, Commanding General of the AFP Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM); Maj. Gen. Eduardo D. del Rosario, Commanding General, 2nd Infantry Division, Philippine Army; P/CSupt. James Andres B. Melad, Regional Director, Philippine National Police Regional Office IV; and, P/SSupt. Manuel M. Abu, Chief of the Regional Intelligence Office of the PNP Regional Office IV.

Army admits real identity of accused in Bayles murder case

Families and friends of Benjamin Bayles and members of the activist organizations KARAPATAN and BAYAN hold protest action on October 25, 2012 in front of the Hall of Justice in Himamaylan City as the court hears the testimonies of a witness officially sent by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the continuing trial of Bayles Murder Case.

After two years, the Philippine Army finally admitted in court that the two accused in Bayles Murder Case are members of the 61st Infantry Battalion and revealed their real names and identity and that the accused have been using pseudonyms / aliases.

Col. Alexis Gopico, Adjutant General of the Philippine Army pinpointed to accuse Roger Bajon as Private First Class Rafael Cordova and accuse Ronnie Caurino as Private First Class Reygine Laus. They were members of the 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company of 61st Infantry Battalion formerly based in Sitio Barasbarasan, Brgy. Manlucahoc, Sipalay City and were discharged from service since May 2011 with the alleged involvement in Bayles Murder Case as the reason.

Think before you speak, Mr. President, the ball is in your hands

Karapatan today derided Pres. Aquino’s statement that extrajudicial killings is not his government’s policy, as he called on senatorial candidate, Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna, to help in solving the killings by looking for evidences and filing cases. 

“The problem with the Aquino government is when it can no longer justify the existence of human rights violations and when its pro-human rights posturing is exposed as a sham, it turns the table around and puts the burden of proof on the victims and those who advocate and defend human rights.  Ano naman ang silbi ng ganitong gobyerno? ” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

“Mr. President, you should think before you speak, because the responsibility of exacting justice is in your hands. In the first place, the burden of solving the cases of extrajudicial killings and serving justice to the victims is with the Aquino government, especially because majority, if not all of the killings, involve the armed and paramilitary forces headed by Aquino. But since he failed to even lift a finger to solve these cases, the relatives of human rights victims and Karapatan have taken it upon ourselves to initiate the filing of cases in Court,” she added.   

Family of political prisoner decries threat, harassment

Father asks President Aquino: “Who will be held responsible if something bad happens to my son while he is unjustly detained?”

The family of political prisoner Ericson Acosta decried threats against their son and their family after receiving text messages which said he or his parents might get killed on November 2, All Souls Day.
acosta family

Isaias Acosta, 79, father of Ericson, said his driver received a series of messages in the morning of October 24 and 25. The first message read: “ericson acosta is in danger he might get killed on all souls day please spread the news.” This was followed by a Filipino translation of the first message:  “please spread the news ericson acosta plano patayin sa araw ng patay. kung ndi man siya ay ang kanyang magulang n nktra sa anapolis cubao... Anonymous UST...”  

Ericson Acosta, 40, is a poet and journalist who was arrested without warrant on February 13, 2011 in San Jorge, Samar. Military elements accosted him for mere possession of a laptop.  After three days of interrogation and torture inside a military camp, Acosta was charged with illegal possession of explosive and was tagged by the military as a high-ranking NPA rebel.

Wala kaming kaaway. Matatanda na kami. Marami na kaming sakit. Mag- ootsenta anyos na ang asawa ko ngayong Linggo. Magbi-birthday siya na nakakulong pa rin ang aming bunso. Ito pa ba ang ireregalo nila sa kanya? (We have no known enemies. We are too old. We have many illnesses. My wife is turning 80 this Sunday. She will mark her birthday with our youngest son still behind bars. Is this their idea of a birthday present?”

KARAPATAN Monitor July - September 2012

KARAPATAN Monitor July - September 2012

Karapatan Monitor 3Q 2012 

There has been no substantial change from martial law to Noynoy Aquino, especially in the human rights situation in the country. This is the logical conclusion one could draw after the horrors of repression during martial law were recalled and highlighted during the commemoration of its 40th year of imposition. Brought to the fore were stories of gross human rights violations during one of the darkest periods in Philippine history. 

Noynoy Aquino led the government’s commemoration of the 40th year of martial law and, for the nth time, recalled the sufferings of his family under the dictatorship. A week later, Noynoy Aquino would be seen in the company of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, the architect of martial law, and Imelda Marcos, the dictator’s widow. Meanwhile, victims of martial law still have to see the Aquino government’s will to push for the indemnification of the victims of Marcos’s campaign of suppression.  The indemnification of martial law victims remains sidetracked, 26 years after the dictatorship was ousted. So much for justice and indemnification. 

Karapatan welcomes disqualification of Bantay Partylist

Karapatan today said it is pleased with the decision of the Commission on Election to disqualify Bantay partylist, a known anti-left partylist that was represented in Congress by “The Butcher”, Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., who is now charged in court for kidnapping and serious illegal detention of the two missing UP students, Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.” Bantay partylist’s number one nominee at present is Evangeline Palparan, wife of the fugitive general.

“We welcome COMELEC’s decision because Bantay partylist did nothing in Congress but to bark at the progressive members of Congress and those it calls as leftist organizations. It does not represent the marginalized. On the contrary, Bantay did nothing but to justify the armed forces’ rampage against leaders of organizations of the marginalized farmers, workers, indigenous peoples, women and youth and communities where these organizations exist,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

Bantay, Palabay said, “represents the government’s counterinsurgency program, primarily implemented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and is directed against the poor who struggles against poverty, oppression and exploitation.” 

Karapatan to Aquino: Yes, Mr. President, your human rights record ‘speaks for itself’

“Mr. President, your human rights record indeed speaks for itself with 114 victims of extrajudicial killing (EJK), 127 victims of frustrated EJK, 70 persons tortured, 12 disappeared, and scores of other rights violations under your administration. These violations, plus the fact that your security forces are a miserable failure in arresting the Butcher Gen. Palparan, speak volumes on your administration’s culpability in promoting impunity and rights violations.”
 
Thus, said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, on Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s statement before the New Zealand media. Palabay likewise scoffed at Aquino’s apparent emphasis on the so-called abuses committed against state agents saying that ‘they were pelted with human waste’ in the course of their work, “ as “a diversionary tactic that failed to answer the nagging questions on his administration’s commitment to human rights.” 
 
Palabay said the President deliberately did not mention the recent massacre of the Juvy Capion, a pregnant B’laan woman who was killed along with her two children when the military strafed their hut on October 18. Juvy was a member of Kalgad, an organization of the B’laan tribe that is opposed to the entry of Xstrata-Sagittarius Mines, Inc (SMI) as there are about 30,000 B’laan who will be displaced from their ancestral lands with the entry and operation of Xstrata-SMI.  

Karapatan calls for pullout of 27th IB from Lumad areas, condemns massacre of Blaan family

“It was a massacre and not an encounter,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan belying claims of Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, head of the 27th IB of the Philippine Army that a Blaan woman, Juvy Capion, 27, and her two sons, John Capion, 8, and Pop Capion,13 were killed in a gunfight. 

Pullout military troops in communities 

Initial reports that reached the Karapatan national office indicated that on October 17, Juvy Capion and her two sons went to their farm and spent the night in Fayahlob, Sitio Datal-Ayong, Bgy. Danlag, Tampakan, South Cotabato because they did not finish their day’s work. The following day, On October 18, at around 6 a.m., the three were still inside the hut when element of the 27th IB arrived and sprayed bullets on the hut, killing Juvy Capion and her two sons. 

“There was no gunfight between the military and Juvy’s husband Daguil as the military claimed,” said Palabay. The military said that Danguil Capion, a B’laan tribal leader,  has taken up arms against the entry a mining corporation in the area, the Xstrata- Sagittarius Mines, Inc (SMI).

Karapatan dares govt to apply the law vs. Palparan and other perpetrators

On the approval of the Anti-Disappearance bill

Karapatan appreciates the approval of the Anti-Disappearance bill by a bicameral committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives, as it challenged the Noynoy Aquino government to immediately end its practice of enforced disappearance among activists and suspected members of the revolutionary movement. 

Karapatan has documented 12 victims of enforced disappearance since Noynoy Aquino became President, and in the course of the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan. 

“The law will remain a meaningless compilation of words, unless the Aquino government goes after, and swiftly punish the perpetrators of this heinous crime, mostly members of its own armed forces,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.  

Karapatan cited the Anti-Torture law which was passed in 2009, “but has not prevented the use of torture among political prisoners during detention; and against activists and those suspected to be members or sympathizers of armed revolutionary groups during combat operations in the rural areas.” 

Recently, a security guard, Rolly Panesa, was illegally arrested, tortured and detained because he was mistaken for a certain Benjamin Mendoza, whom the military claims as the secretary of the Community Party of the Philippines in Southern Luzon. Panesa was severely beaten during interrogation in Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna that even officials at the Special Intensive Care Area-Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (SICA-BJMP) refused custody unless they were given a medical certificate. 

Still no justice as the Aquino gov’t refuses to go after its own people

After a year since Fr. Pops Tentorio’s killing 

“It has been a year after the extrajudicial killing of Fr. Fausto Tentorio, and the real masterminds and perpetrators of this heinous offense have not been rendered justice. Karapatan attributes this grave injustice to the persistent denial and stonewalling of the Aquino administration in holding the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its paramilitary groups accountable,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

Yesterday, at the United Nations Human Rights Committee 106th session in Geneva, Switzerland, the head of Philippine government delegation and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that the murder of Fr. Tentorio has not been validated as an extrajudicial killing. 

“Such act of the Aquino administration indicates its refusal to go after its own people, the paramilitary group Bagani which, is under the command of the AFP. Thus, as in almost all cases of human rights violations, the perpetrators run around freely, terrorize many more and do it with impunity,” she said. 

Karapatan said that in April 2012, a new witness to the killing of Fr. Tentorio came out, prompting the members of the Justice for Fr. Fausto Tentorio Movement and the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME) to file charges against Jan Corbala and four others of the Bagani paramilitary group, also known as Alamara. Corbala is known in Arakan, North Cotabato as “Commander Iring (cat).”  The Bagani paramilitary group is the military’s version of the CAFGU (Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unity) among the indigenous peoples in Mindanao. 

Justice for Fr. Pops 

Prior to this, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has not included the above-mentioned members of Bagani among the respondents in the case, despite information that the said paramilitary group threatened and harassed Fr. Tentorio. Then Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo publicly denied the existence of the said Bagani force and refused to investigate them. 

Mistaken identity, illegal arrest, torture and illegal detention

Rolly Panesa's case typifies Aquino govt's human rights violations 

Rolly Panesa, a security guard of the Megaforce Security, was arrested on October 5 by joint elements of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, led by Southern Luzon Commander Maj. General Alan Luga, and the Philippine National Police. Panesa was mistaken for “Benjamin Mendoza”, whom the military alleged as a high-ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) with a bounty of P5.6M.  

torture marks 

Panesa recalled that he was interrogated, tortured and forced to admit that he was “Benjamin Mendoza.” Every time he stood by his real identity, he would get a beating.  According to his interrogators, a mole on Panesa’s nape proves that he is “Benjamin Mendoza.”

L-R: Pedro Gonzales, Tinay Palabay, Maritess Chioco, Atty. Rey Cortez  

“Panesa’s case illustrates the Aquino government’s blatant and continuing violation of the Anti-Torture Act and Republic Act 7438 on the rights of arrested or detained persons, among other rights violations. He was wrongfully accused and heaped with fabricated charges based on a mistaken identity. Panesa was subjected to repeated interrogation and beatings, and denied of his right to counsel and immediate and appropriate medical treatment, for the hefty sum of P5.6M, and in pursuance of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

Complaints on the violation of CARHRIHL submitted to the Joint Monitoring Committee of the GPH and the NDFP

Today, October 17, families who have lost their kin to the civil war between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) will be filing complaints on the violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).  The cases regarding the incident in Tineg, Abra last October 10, 2011 and the cases of the incident in San Narciso, Quezon last June 30, 2012 will be filed at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Joint Monitoring Committee of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

picket outside DND
filing of complaints JMC

The complaints submitted expressed the desecration of the remains of the 8 and 11 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Tineg and San Narciso, Quezon respectively.   The appropriate collection of the remains was not also ensured depriving the slain NPAs the right to decent burial.  The complaints also stated strong indications of inhumane treatment and that most of those who died during the two separate incidents were not given quarter or were not spared their lives especially those who, at the time of the encounter, were already in no position to defend themselves (hors de combat).
Jude Baggo of CHRA
Named as perpetrators of the CARHRIHL violations in the Tineg, Abra incident are Lt. Jeson Capoquian of the 41st IBPA who led the assault and all the other unidentified troops attached to the 41st IBPA of the 503rd Brigade, Col. Noel Baluyan – commanding officer of the 41st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and Col. Eliseo Posadas – commanding officer of the 503rd Brigade.  The perpetrators in the  San Narciso, Quezon incident are troops under the 74th IBPA based in Mulanay, Quezon.

Military told to stop coddling suspected murderers

Karapatan decries the continuing custody of former Air Force colonel and Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) leader Red Kapunan by the military. 
 
Kapunan is one of the primary suspects in the murder of the then chair of Kilusang Mayo Uno, Atty. Rolando Olalia, and his driver, Leonor Alay-ay, in November 1986.  The murders of Olalia and student activist Lean Alejandro were premised as an attempt to derail the Corazon Aquino administration.
 
“We are not surprised at all at this collusion between the military and its former ward.  The suspected perpetrators of the Cadapan-Empeno kidnapping, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, were also placed under military custody instead of putting them in a civilian jail, much to our vehement objections. But we are more appalled by the inaction of the Commander–in-Chief Noynoy Aquino against this highly irregular practice,”  Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General said.
 

Karapatan keeps fight vs Cybercrime law, calls attention of UN

Karapatan, on October 8, 2012, brought the issue of the Cybercrime law to the attention of the United Nations, through Mr. Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and Ms. Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

While the Supreme Court has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) for the implementation of the Cybercrime law for 120 days, “the people must remain vigilant against all possible maneuvers by the Aquino government to implement the said law,” said Karapatan secretary general, Cristina Palabay.  

The letter of complaint sent to the United Nations asked the Special Rapporteurs to urge and recommend to the Government of the Philippines to junk the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and other similar measures, such as the Anti-Terrorism Act, that suppress civil liberties and human rights; and for the Aquino government to take measures to respect and uphold the freedom of speech, expression and of the press.  

Political prisoners now more than 400, Daughter of a desaparecido latest victim

As of September 30, 2012, Karapatan has documented a total of 401 political prisoners in various detention facilities all over the country. Jimmylisa Badayos, daughter of desaparecido Jimmy Badayos,  and Calixto Vistal are among the latest victims of the government’s practice of abduction and illegal detention.
 
On October 5, Badayos and Vistal, were accosted by members of the AFP Military Intelligence Group of Camp Lapu-Lapu and the PNP-Criminal Intelligence Bureau of Camp Sotero Cabahug in Cebu City. The two were at the gates of the EuroForest Products Industries, Inc. in Mandaue City, Cebu when they were accosted and forced to board a waiting vehicle.  They resisted but they were ganged up. Badayos was even physically manhandled by one of the abductors. Her shoulder bag was also taken from her and, she would later find out that the military had planted a gun in it and had shown this to media.
 
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said that, “it has been a year, in September 2011, since Malacanang publicly echoed  Ferdinand Marcos’ statement  that “there are no political prisoners” in the country. Since then, 55 more people were arrested and detained for trumped up criminal charges.”  
 

No assurance for human rights with new generation of trapo

As the filing of candidacy ends today, Karapatan mourned the final line up of those running for public office, especially the senatorial candidates as they “are almost the same people, of the same lineage, and from the same brand of politics, who just sat down on the bills like the Indemnification of Marcos’ human rights victims, anti-Enforced Disappearance and the bill for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. 

“These traditional politicians and so-called newbies, but of the same trapo mold, shamelessly flaunt the “alliance for reform” among the Liberal, Nationalista parties and UNA coalition. This alliance obviously promotes the culture of impunity in the country. Those who should be held accountable for their crimes against the people since martial law; those who approved the promotion of the Arroyo military officials with pending human rights cases before the courts; those who refuse to recognize the existence of political prisoners; those who said nothing on the continuing extrajudicial killings; and those who signed the Cybercrime law, now known as e-martial law, sit side by side with those who supposedly fought martial law, and uphold and protect human rights. How can we curb impunity with this kind of line up of candidates?” added Palabay. 

Climate of impunity worsens with recent killings

While the nation watched the festive frolic as traditional politicians and their families filed their certificates of candidacy at the Commission on Elections and, netizens rage over the passing of the Cybercrime Law, extrajudicial killings continue, worsening the climate of impunity in the country.” thus said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, as the human rights group received reports on two cases of extrajudicial killings in the past two days.
 
In Tarlac, on the month of the observance of the rights and welfare of children, a fourteen-year-old child was felled by a bullet from the arbitrary firing of policemen who reinforced the team out to demolish the houses at   Block 7, San Roque, Tarlac on October 2, 2012. John Khali Lagrimas was hit by a stray bullet that fell on the rooftop of their furniture shop.  He was declared dead on arrival at the Ramos General Hospital in Tarlac City.
 
The 100-member demolition team arrived at the site with some 100 policemen, headed by Tarlac City Police Chief Col. Arnel Ramos. They were armed with M16 and 45 caliber pistols. Aside from the police, there were also 8 Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) men in full battle gear and two fire trucks.  Around 70 residents, who are members of the San Roque Neighborhood Association, barricaded the place.  The policemen fired their guns while the demolition was on going to intimidate the protesters.
The Block 7 San Roque site is the subject of a land dispute being heard at the Regional Trial Court Branch 63 of Tarlac City.  No court order on the demolition was shown the residents.
 
On the following day, October 3, another killing took place in San Nicolas, Puntod, Cagayan de Oro City.  Gilbert  Paborada, Chairperson of Pangalasag (indigenous shield), was shot dead  by motorcycle-riding-in- tandem assassins as he alighted from a motorela (public tricycle).  He sustained five gunshot wounds allegedly coming from a 45-caliber pistol.
 

Cybercrime law violates Intl rights obligations of Aquino Govt

Karapatan today joined activists, netizens, journalists, bloggers, organizations and individuals in a protest action in front of the Supreme Court, to call on the high court to declare the Cybercrime Law unconstitutional; as the measure, which is due to take effect on Oct.3, “poses serious threats to the right to privacy, freedom of speech and expression, among other civil and political rights.” 
 
Members of the organization flashed tablets with electronic posters tagging the Cybercrime Law as a form of “e-martial law,” likening the law to the forms of suppression on civil and political rights by the military dictatorship imposed by former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos.
 
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general and one of those who filed a petition in the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Act, said that aside from the law’s provisions on libel, the said measure gives free rein on authorities to monitor internet traffic data of internet users and to take down sites which they deem “libelous.”