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Rights group questions $434M U.S. grant to RP gov't amid continuing human rights violations

AS PRES. Benigno Simeon Aquino III flies off to the United States on official visit, the alliance of human rights groups in the Philippines, KARAPATAN, questioned the $434-million USD compact grant by the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the US as a “violation of its own selection criteria” and “encourages governments allied with the US to continue human rights violations as what the US did in the Philippines.”  

Morong 43 and hundreds of political prisoners nationwide stage protest fast;

Filipinos here and abroad call for their immediate release

More than a hundred political prisoners in various detention centers all over the country staged a protest fast to press for their immediate release, and supported by their relatives and human rights advocates. 

Around 148 political prisoners from 20 detention facilities in the National Capital Region, Ifugao, Isabela, Tuguegarao City, Bohol, Danao City, Cebu City, Bacolod City, Tacloban City, Leyte Provincial Jail, Compostela Valley, Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro joined in protest of their continued unjust incarceration. High profile detainees from Camp Crame and the 43 health workers in Camp Bagong Diwa lead the protest fast of political prisoners in Metro Manila that also includes prisoners in New Bilibid Prison, Camp Karingal, and Correctional Institute for Women. 

Meanwhile the relatives of the Morong 43, supporters and human rights advocates also staged a sympathy fast in front of the Ninoy Aquino monument in Quezon Avenue. President Aquino’s father, Ninoy Aquino, himself was a former political prisoner during the Marcos dictatorship.  

A mass for the Morong 43 at the neaby parish of St.Peters the Apostle was officiated by Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez.  Sen. Loren Legarda, Chuman Rights Commissioner Jose Mamauag, former Rep. Liza Maza, ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño also attended, together with relatives and other civil libertarians.

“It has been almost one hundred days since President Noynoy Aquino assumed the presidency and yet we haven’t heard any single word from the President about the plight and release of political prisoners who were illegally arrested and detained by the previous Arroyo regime,” said Fr. Dionito Cabillas, secretary general of Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA). Dr. Julie Caguiat of the Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance, expressed disgust over the continued illegal detention and plight of the Morong 43. “They we’re detained on the basis of a faulty warrant using fictitious name. Our colleagues were tortured and sexually molested by the military.” Caguiat said.  “The Morong 43 should be released now because their incarceration is patently illegal.” 

KARAPATAN asserts scrapping of VFA for deaths related to US operations

COMMEMORATING today of the historic 1991 Philippine Senate rejection of the extension of U.S. bases, the human rights alliance KARAPATAN called for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) citing the deaths of two Filipinos this year involving US troops.

Gregan Cardeño, 33, signed up as a security guard but was contracted out as an interpreter for US troops by  Skylink Security and General Services, a subcontractor of of DynCorp, an American firm that specializes in high-risk contract work for the Pentagon and the US State Department. last January 30, 2010.  Cardeño learned of the job opening from a family friend, Capt. Javier Ignacio, head of the AFP’s Military Police of the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City.

On the morning of February 1, 2010, Cardeño was flown from Zamboanga to Marawi. By afternoon, in separate calls to his sister, Clarivel, and his wife, Myrna, he said he wanted out. The following day, according to the Marawi Police and the US troops, Cardeño was found dead inside the barracks of the Philippine Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade at Camp Ranao, Brgy. Datu Saber, Marawi City, where Cardeño was staying as it was the barracks of the US troops where he was supposedly assigned. 

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.
 

Karapatan hits Bacalzo appointment as new PNP chief

THE NATIONAL human rights alliance, Karapatan, reacting to Pres. Aquino's appointment of Gen. Raul Bacalzo to replace Director General Jesus Versoza as the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said that the move "only created one more blunder in the bumbling police force."

"The PNP received international denigration in the blotched rescue effort during the August 23 hostage-taking crisis.  Gen. Bacalzo, as the former head of Task Force Usig to solve the killings of journalists and activists, had not really performed his duty to pin down the culprits in 1,206 cases of extrajudicial killings.  Even as a bar topnotcher, justice has not been served by Bacalzo," Karapatan chair Marie Hilao-Enriquez said.