November, 2012

Aquino’s ‘superbody’ camouflages HR situation ala Arroyo –Tanggol Bayi

Women human rights defenders from Tanggol Bayi, Ecumenical Women’s Forum, BAI National Alliance of Indigenous Women, KAMP, International Women’s Alliance and Gabriela today trooped to the Department of Justice in Manila, in time for the global commemoration of the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day. 

Tanggol Bayi 


With their calls expressed in indigenous woven cloth and rituals by indigenous women, they called on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Pres. Noynoy Aquino to stop the killings of rights defenders and expressed skepticism over the creation of a “superbody” to investigate the killings and other rights violations.  

“Women human rights defenders ask: with 15 women and girl-children killed under Aquino, what can the Aquino’s superbody do, if, by all indications, this merely looks and sounds like just another investigative body akin to former Pres. Gloria Arroyo’s parody of task forces and commissions on rights violations?” said Cristina Palabay, spokesperson of Tanggol Bayi and secretary general of Karapatan.

Is Aquino ‘superbody’ worth $13M US and aid from the international community?

“Would the Aquino government finally pull off the $13M US and other foreign aid, which means money from the international community, with the creation of Aquino’s ‘superbody’ to investigate the killings, disappearances, torture and other rights violations?” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay asked wryly.  

Karapatan said that the Aquino government is “hell bent on securing the more than $13 million in US military assistance to the GPH that it does anything to deodorize its human rights record.” Since 2008, the said military aid remains unreleased due to international pressure from various Philippine solidarity groups that campaigned on the issue of extrajudicial killings and other rights violations. 

“If and when the government gets the aid, the money will only be used to oil the AFP to continue the cycle of terror and violence against the people,” Palabay added.

Credibility of ‘superbody’ for rights violations questioned

Karapatan criticized the “superbody” created by the Aquino government to investigate the killings, disappearances, torture and other rights violations “for the inclusion of the Defense Secretary, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and director general of the Philippine National Police in the inter-agency committee which will be formed through an Administrative Order.”

Thus said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, today as Justice Secretary Leila de Lima released Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s Administrative Order No. 35 creating the “superbody” to look into the cases of grave rights violations.

“How can this body have the credibility to investigate into the cases of violations perpetuated by the AFP and the PNP, when they will be part of the investigation? Parang nakakaloko naman ito. We will only hear again their plethora of denials and lies,” said Palabay.

“Unless the Aquino government shows genuine will for justice and human rights and abandon its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, the superbody would mean nothing to victims and their kin.”

Almost a year of court hearings without Palparan

Prevailing impunity under Noynoy 

Another hearing is set today at the Malolos Regional Trial Court for the kidnapping and illegal detention case against Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., with Raymond Manalo taking the witness stand again for a cross-examination by the defense counsels for Palparan’s co-accused Cols. Anotado and Osorio. 

Karapatan deplored the fact that the hearings are proceeding with the principal accused in the kidnapping of the two UP students “nowhere in sight.”   

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said that “in less than a month from now, it will be a year since the warrant of arrest was issued against The Butcher, Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., but the Aquino government has not shown any decisive action to bring Palparan in court.”

“The Aquino government has left the search for Palparan in the hands of bounty hunters by increasing the reward for Palparan’s capture. The reward is not an expression of the Aquino government’s concern on the continued disappearance of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño but an act of washing its hands from any accountability to this case. Palparan and Ampatuan symbolize impunity in this country, and look at how the cases against them are going,” continued Palabay. 

Karapatan added that the other high-profile cases such as the killing of Fr. Pops Tentorio, tribal leaders Jimmy Liguyon and Genesis Ambason, and the Capion massacre under the Aquino government are proof that the government perpetuates impunity through its own doing.  

“The problem lies with the President who is no different from his predecessor. Impunity continues under the Aquino government, however it cooks up pretensions,” she said.

Aquino perpetuates impunity

Today’s commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity not only highlights the Aquino government’s failure to end impunity but more so, how the government perpetuates impunity.

Since 2009, the backhoe symbolized the Ampatuan massacre where 58 people, including 32 journalists, were felled. Three years after, the backhoe remains a sordid reminder of one of the most palpable illustration of the impunity in the Philippines. Three years after, the backhoe now stands, too, for present-day impunity of the destructive and foreign-owned mining corporations, with Pres. Noynoy Aquino as their gracious host and whose entry into the lands of the indigenous peoples and peasants caused a string of serious human rights violations, and deaths. 

As the court hearings for the Ampatuan massacre dawdles, cases of extrajudicial killings and massacres continue, and needless to say, with impunity.  

There is the Kananga 3 massacre where botanist Leonard Co and two others were killed; the Mancera massacre in Labo, Camarines Norte that killed Benjamin Mancera, 54, and his two sons, Michael, 10, and Richard, aged seven; and recently, the Capion massacre. Those who were killed in these massacres are among the 114 documented cases of extrajudicial killing under the Aquino presidency. 

The killings have even become more gruesome: Genesis Ambason, a Banwaon tribal leader in Agusan del Sur, was shot and tortured to death by CAFGU and elements of the 26th IB. His teeth were all gone and his head shrunk due to heavy beatings; Ely Oguis in Albay was shot and beheaded.

Stop aggression against people of Palestine!

Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights-Philippines vehemently condemns the massacre of the Palestinian people at the Gaza Strip, because of the heightened and continuing aggression of Israel, with the support of the United States government. 

Reports from human rights NGO Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Palestine said that in the Israeli offensives and airstrikes at the Gaza Strip in the past six days, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli Occupation Forces has reached 87 victims, including 58 civilians. Most of the victims were women and children, as the Israeli forces bombarded populated areas, civilian and government facilities under its “Operation Pillar of Cloud.” 

As the world commemorates the International Day to End Impunity on November 23, it is reprehensible that such atrocious acts of aggression, violence and impunity are brought on the Palestinian people.

We likewise condemn the Israeli government’s plan to conduct ground invasion of Palestinian territory, as this will inevitably result to graver violations on people’s rights.

We stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine in their struggle for sovereignty and for their homeland. We believe that it is the right of the Palestinian people to defend their lives and rights, amid the various violations of international humanitarian law and brutal aggression against their nation and their people. 

We strongly condemn the vicious support of the US government, particularly the Barack Obama administration, for the aggression against the Palestinian people. It continuously egged on and justified these latest attacks against the Palestinian people. By its strong political and military support to the Israeli government, the US is equally guilty of the atrocities committed against Palestine. We call on Israel to stop all its offensives against Palestine.

We call on all freedom-loving peoples of the world to stand with people of Palestine in their just aspirations for liberation and against all forms of aggression.

Fact-finding confirms massacre of Capion family, points to accountability of AFP, LGU and Mining Co.

The recently concluded fact-finding mission in sitio Alyong, Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur affirmed Karapatan’s claim that the Capion family was massacred and not killed in an encounter; and Daguil Capion, the supposed target of the military attack, was not with his family in the farm hut as the military claims.

Hypocrisy amid worsening rights situation in PH

On the GPH signing of the ASEAN HR declaration 
“Phil. Pres. Noynoy Aquino feigns his administration’s concern for human rights with the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, while his state security forces continue to commit human rights violations with impunity. This is hypocrisy, at the very least, and an international PR paradox, at most.”
Thus stated Phil. human rights group Karapatan after the Aquino government adopted the ASEAN HR declaration at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said the Aquino administration duplicitous play is underscored by the several reported cases of rights abuses by the Phil. military and its paramilitary forces, especially against farmers, indigenous peoples and women human rights defenders.

Int’l mission investigates killings by paramilitary group NIPAR in San Fernando, Bukidnon

Malaybalay City, Bukidnon --“We are concerned that despite the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Alde Salusad and his group NIPAR (New Indigenous People’s Army for Reform), no serious operations have been made to seize him,” said Beverly Longid of the Katribu Indigenous Peoples’ Partylist.
Longid is among the more than 200 individuals from local and international human rights organizations that convened the ‘International Solidarity Mission in Defense of Indigenous Communities Fighting Impunity’ or ISM that kicked-off yesterday at Philtown Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City, and travelled to this city to join indigenous peoples of Matigsalog tribe that were displaced from various parts of the village of Dao in San Fernando town, Bukidnon.
The more than 30 Matigsalog families are crammed inside makeshift tents in front of the Bukidnon provincial capitol to evade threats and harassments of Salusad’s group.
“This is the second wave of displacement of the indigenous communities of San Fernando after the death of village leader Jimmy Liguyon. Salusad was never held accountable after the killing, impunity is no doubt the name of the game in this part of the world,” said Richard Gadit, human rights advocacy officer of the Thailand-based Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP).
Liguyon, village chieftain of Dao, was killed by Salusad in front of his family on March 5 this year after he refused to sign the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) peddled by the latter. The CADT covers 52,000 has. of ancestral lands of the Matigsalog tribe in San Fernando. Among the extractive companies now operating in San Fernando is the San Christo Mining Company, exploring more than 13,000 has. of Matigsalog lands. San Christo is an associate of Indophil Resources, a partner of the controversial SMI-Xstrata Mining Co. operating in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

96 Mamanwa and Bisaya families evacuate anew amid renewed military harassment – KASALO, KALUMARAN

Some 241 individuals, mostly women and children, from a remote village in Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte evacuated anew after about 100 elements of the Special Forces of the 4th Infantry Division under a certain Col. Camba encamped in their community and harassed the locals.
On November 10 at around 2 pm, 47 Lumad Mamanwa families and 49 peasant families hiked 12 kilometers from Sitio Zapanta Valley to the barangay multipurpose hall in Brgy. Bangayan Proper, along the National Highway in Kitcharao. Fearing for their safety, the residents decided to evacuate because of the prolonged presence of the military in their community.
Genasque Enriquez, Secretary-General of Kahugpongan sa Lumadnong Organisasyon (KASALO) based in Caraga region, lambasted the renewed military operation saying it is “the second time this year that the people in Kitcharao were forced to leave their homes because of military operation. This is also the fourth case of forced evacuation in the whole of the CARAGA region.”
“The military operation is meant to silence the people’s opposition against the exploitation of the region’s natural resources, especially our mineral resources. The Aquino government’s counterinsurgency campaign, the Oplan Bayanihan is also directed against those who oppose its programs that essentially favor the interests of the foreign big business,” asserted Enriquez.

Negros prosecutor, RTC judge hit for malicious prosecution of Bacolod activist

Police use “John Doe” warrant to pick up innocents 

Makabayan coordinator Romulo Bito-on filed an administrative complaint today with the Supreme Court, against a Bacolod prosecutor and judge for “gross ignorance and misapplication of the law in trumped-up charges” against him.

In his complaint-affidavit, Bito-on claims that Second Assistant Provisional Prosecutor Estefanio S. Libutan Jr. initiated the complaint on the basis of fake affidavits, and that Regional Trial Court Judge Katherine Go irregularly issued a warrant of arrest, as well as several other incorrect orders.

Bito-on, represented by his lawyers and human rights group Karapatan, was released in July 2010 and cleared of the charges against him, as he decried malicious prosecution. The complaint has been filed with the Supreme Court Office of the Court Administrator. The lawyers face possible suspension or disbarment as lawyers, if found that they applied the law with prejudice and gross negligence, in contravention with lawyer’s ethics.

“Karapatan supports Mr. Bito-on in his quest for justice and accountability. All lawyers as social agents of change are duty-bound to ensure the efficient and effective administration of justice. Hence, they should be held accountable if they become party to the military’s scheme of slapping trumped up charges against activists to silence opposition and dissent,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Bito-on is the local coordinator of the progressive Makabayan political party. He was arrested in April 2010 by virtue of the affidavits of two persons, and a “John Doe” warrant upon the motion of Libutan and issued by Go. “John Doe” warrants, per Department of Justice (DOJ) Department Circular No. 50 circa 1990, are issued when the identity of the accused is unknown, and must be amended only when there is certainty as to the names.

Just solve the cases and jail the perpetrators

On the DOJ's 'superbody' for EJK cases

Amidst the unresolved extrajudicial killings under President Noynoy Aquino, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima recently proposed the creation of a ‘’superbody” to investigate cases of extrajudicial killings. As she announced  her proposal yesterday, Karapatan received report that on November 11, Ely Oguis, a Barangay Kagawad in Guinobatan Albay, was beheaded by elements believed to be members of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

“The killings have not only increased under the  Aquino government; it has also become more gruesome.  Of the 114 cases of extrajudicial killings under this  government, not one perpetrator was prosecuted. Impunity continues despite so-called efforts by the government to conduct investigations. What now is our assurance that the killings will be solved by this so called “superbody”? asked Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

Karapatan protests trumped up charges vs Naogsan

After almost a week of searching, relatives of Grayson Naogsan, the son of the spokesperson of the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF), finally found him in Ifugao Provincial Jail, after he was abducted by five men in Baguio City on Nov. 5. According to a witness, the men who took away Naogsan said they were taking him to Camp Crame.  

Karapatan said that Naogsan’s family, human rights workers and lawyers went several times at Camp Crame to look for him but the Philippine National Police (PNP) kept denying that Naogsan is in their custody “despite the information from certain officials that he was indeed with the PNP at Camp Crame, specifically with the Intelligence Group (IG).” 

“We detest not only the arrest of another innocent person on the basis of trumped up charges but also the disrespect of the PNP to Naogsan’s relatives, specially his wife, Rose. The PNP showed callousness to the feelings of the relatives who were anxious to know the whereabouts and the condition of Naogsan,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. 

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance earlier reported that Naogsan was arrested on the basis of a defective warrant of arrest issued by the Bontoc Regional Trial Court Branch 35 which bore the name of a certain “Jason Naogsan” and not Grayson Naogsan. The said warrant was amended yesterday to change “Jason” to “Grayson”. He was then taken to Ifugao where another warrant of arrest was issued by the Lagawe RTC Branch 14. The CHRA however has not seen the said warrant yet. Naogsan was charged with murder and frustrated murder. 

Palparans prowl and kill in Mindanao

“Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., The Butcher, is personified by the perpetrators of killings and human rights violations in Mindanao. They are Lt. Col. Noel Alexis Bravo and Lt. Dante Jimenez of the 27th IB-Philippine Army who were responsible for the massacre of the two-month pregnant Juvy Capion and her two sons in Tampakan, South Cotabato; Alde Salusad, the leader of the paramilitary group who killed tribal leader and anti-mining activist Jimmy Liguyon in Bukidnon; Lt. Col. Neil Patricio of the 26th IB who was responsible for the CAFGU unit who shot and then tortured to death tribal leader Genesis Ambason in Agusan del Sur,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general. 

Karapatan cited the names of some of the military officers and leaders of paramilitary groups who figured in some of the high-profile cases of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the different regions in Mindanao. 
The Committee on Human Rights of the House of Representatives is currently holding a two-day hearing in Davao City which started yesterday, November 8. The military units in Mindanao have been invited by the committee to attend the hearing today which focuses on the numerous cases of EJK in Mindanao.   

“The successive killings of leaders of people’s organizations in Mindanao, mostly peasants and indigenous peoples, have become alarming. Most of those killed were opposed to the operation of foreign large-scale mining companies or other business interests that have caused displacement and economic dislocation among peasants and indigenous peoples,” added Palabay.  

Karapatan’s documentation showed that of the 114 victims of extrajudicial killings (as of September 30, 2012) under the Aquino government, 26 are from the six regions of Mindanao and four of the 26 are children.  The figure does not include the massacre of the Capion family.

Son of Cordillera People’s Democratic Front spokesperson missing

Grayson Naogsan, son of Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front (CPDF) Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan was arrested by men who introduced themselves as policemen and is now missing.  He was arrested last November 5 at around 3:00 PM by 5 civilian-wearing men who introduced themselves as policemen while he and his companion were having coffee in SM Baguio.
The policemen showed Naogsan and his companion a warrant of arrest that indicated his name while handguns were poked at their sides discreetly.  They handcuffed and separated him from his companion. They told his companion that they will take Naogsan to “Camp Crame”.

Naogsan was led out of the mall through the backstairs by three of the men and used a jacket to cover his handcuff.

27th IB’s replacement in Tampakan has EJK record

On the Capion massacre 

Karapatan scoffed at the Philippine Army’s (PA) recent move to transfer the 39th Infantry Battalion (IB) in the Kiblawan-Tampakan-Columbio area in place of the 27th IB, the military unit being held responsible for the massacre of B’laan anti-mining activist Juvy Capion, and her two sons, Pop, 13, and John, 8 on October 18. 

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said that the “39th IB is also tainted with blood as it was the same unit responsible, with its attached paramilitary group, for the killing of father and son, Rudy Yalon-Dejos, 50, and his son Rody Rick, 26. Both were found dead with gunshot and stab wounds inside their house on February 27, 2011. Like Juvy, they were from the B’laan tribe in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.” 

Rudy and Rody Rick Dejos were found dead, their bodies bathed in blood. Their hands and nails were smashed and there were bruises on their bodies. Their tribe was tagged by the 39th IB-PA to be in the “frontline of the underground movement” and the New People's Army.  Rudy was vice chairperson of Zone-1 Farmers Association (ZOFA), an affiliate of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. Both underwent interrogation and threat from the military and paramilitary groups because of their involvement with KMP. 

Palabay added that “the grave rights violations committed against the Capion family, and to the Dejoses for that matter, cannot be resolved by playing musical chair, deploying another terror unit in place of one terror unit to supposedly appease the indigenous communities’ disgust over these killings. The recent massacre took three lives, aside from the dislocation it caused the Capion family. This is a matter of justice. Military troops should be pulled out from all communities immediately. “

Karapatan to Army chief Emmanuel Bautista: tell that to the marines

“It’s psywar, not respect for human rights. The disconnect between Bautista’s statement and the reality on the ground is the result of a paradox between respect for human rights and Oplan Bayanihan, the Aquino government’s version of the United States’ Counterinsurgency program 2009, which Bautista penned,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan. 

Among the many cases of human rights violations under Oplan Bayanihan, Karapatan cited the recent massacre of Juvy Capion and her two sons, both minors, on October 18 by elements of the 27th IB of the Phil. Army. They were killed when the military strafed the house where they were sleeping. Capion was two-months pregnant. 

Karapatan also documented the case of Genesis Ambason, a tribal leader and anti-mining activist who was shot and tortured to death on September 13 by members of the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and elements of the 26th IB Detachment in a barangay in San Luis, Agusan del Sur. When found, Ambason’s face was beyond recognition, his teeth were all gone and his head shrunk due to torture inflicted on him.

Mga biktima kay Bautista: “Bakit may mga tulad namin?”

Hustisya Logo 

“Kung wala nang mga gaya ni Palparan sa militar, bakit may mga tulad namin?”

Ito ang tanong ni Ernan Baldomero, vice-chairperson ng Hustisya, bilang sagot sa mga pahayag ni Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, pinuno ng Philippine Army na wala na raw mga gaya ni retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan sa AFP. 

“Kaming mga kaanak ng biktima ng mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao ang patunay na pawang kasinungalingan ang pahayag ni Lt. Gen. Bautista na wala nang mga katulad ni Palparan,” dagdag pa ni Baldomero. 

Si Ernan ay anak ni Fernando Baldomero na pinaslang noong Hulyo 2010. Ang kanyang ama ang unang biktima ng extrajudicial killing sa ilalim ng gobyernong Aquino.

“Isang malaking kahibangan na sabihing wala nang katulad ni Palparan sa hanay ng military dahil patuloy ang extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances at iba pang paglabag. Bakit may mga gaya ni Fr. Pops Tentorio, Leonard Co, at  Juvy Capion?” ani Ernan Baldomero.

“Lt. Gen. Bautista is lying” - SELDA

On the Army chief’s statement that Palparan is the last of his kind

The recent statement made by Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, the chief of the Philippine Army drew ire from members of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto  (SELDA).

“Lt. Gen. Bautista is lying. There are clones of Palparan in the AFP because it breeds the likes of Palparan. It’s not about dishing out phrases like ‘respect for human rights’. It’s about actual rights violations being committed by the AFP and its paramilitary forces,” said Angie Ipong, Selda Secretary General.

Selda said that illegal arrest, torture and other grave forms of human rights violations continue under the Aquino government Oplan Bayanihan. Activists and even civilians continue to become victims of trumped-up charges as the military tries to beat its deadline to end the “insurgency”.

The recent arrest of Rolly Panesa on October 5 is a proof that people are arrested arbitrarily, and on mere suspicion that he is an ‘enemy of the state’ and based on trumped up charges, in violation of his rights.  

Panesa, a security guard, was illegally arrested 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 severely tortured because the military misidentified 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.

Marites Chioco, Panesa’s live-in partner was also abducted, with her daughter and son-in-law. Chioco was forced to admit that she is ‘Ka Luisa’ whom the military claimed as “Mendoza’s” wife.  It was Chioco who saw Panesa blindfolded while his cheeks were bruised, his mouth was swollen and lower jaw pushed in. Panesa’s right ear was also bleeding because of heavy beatings. Rolly Panesa is currently detained at the Security Intensive Care Area (SICA), Metro Manila District Jail in Taguig City for rebellion and frustrated murder.