Victims, rights groups presented cases to UNSR Mr. Alston

Families of HRV victims with UNSR Philip Alston Witnesses and relatives of about 20 victims whose cases were documented by KARAPATAN presented their cases to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Mr. Philip Alston at an undisclosed place this morning.

Among the cases presented were those of Armando Javier, Jr. and Romeo Malabanan, victims of extrajudicial killings. Armando and his wife were shot inside their home on 2 October 2005. Armando was Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Party List Municipal Coordinator in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija and was being harassed by soldiers prior to his murder. Romeo Malabanan, a Bayan Muna Coordinator of Bay, Laguna was shot in front of their home on 23 December 2003.

Josie Javier, wife of Armando said, “ As I thought of my husband this Valentine’s Day, I hope that Mr. Alston really listened to our story and will do everything in his power to give us justice; this will indeed be a good Valentine’s gift.” Josie and Glendyl Malabanan, Romeo’s daughter, lamented, “We have presented our cases to the CHR, to Congress and to media so that Arroyo will hear but justice has not been served and the killings have not stopped.”

Philippine human rights watchdog KARAPATAN explained to Mr. Alston the pattern of violence that point to a state policy behind the killings. KARAPATAN Secretary General Marie Hilao-Enriquez said “We have explained to the UN human rights team that a nationwide scope of killings that is being attributed to state security forces can only be a result of a directive from the Philippine government. The coming passage of the Anti-Terror Bill will worsen the situation, especially with the continuation of the Oplan Bantay Laya program.”

KARAPATAN counts the number of civilians killed by state security forces and paramilitary death squads at 833 and 355 more who had survived attacks on their lives.

The human rights group also scored the police Task Force Usig for resurrecting an old issue to discredit KARAPATAN’s work in an effort to hide the state’s hand in the killings. TF Usig yesterday presented to Mr. Alston Edwin Mascariñas and Renato Bugtong who were earlier reported to KARAPATAN as killed.

Enriquez said that Mr. Mascariñas’ name was earlier included because a family member reported his death to a rights worker, Isaias Manano. Manano was believed killed by military elements shortly after attempting to investigate Mascariñas’ case. Mr. Bugtong was a torture victim whose name was transferred from our list of killed to those of tortured victims even before Usig came out publicly on their so-called discovery. Enriquez said that “We sincerely regret the error and we are happy if really Mr. Mascariñas is indeed alive.” She also said, “This does not however discount the fact that more than 800 have already been killed by the military and police. There are a great many families of victims and witnesses who are coming out and telling the world of the Arroyo regime’s crimes. ”###