Karapatan submission to the Universal Periodic Review May 2012


KARAPATAN, in consultation with its member organizations and other
related organizations, is submitting this report on the state of human rights
in the country with recommendations to the OHCHR for the 13th session of the
UPR in the UN Human Rights Council in May-June 2012.  


KARAPATAN, in consultation with its member organizations and other
related organizations, is submitting this report on the state of human rights
in the country with recommendations to the OHCHR for the 13th session of the
UPR in the UN Human Rights Council in May-June 2012.  

The Philippines was a state under review (SuR) in the
first session of the first cycle of the UPR in 2008, being a member of the 47
member-states of the Human Rights Council in 2007.

The Philippine government (GPH), in its national report, stated
that it “has taken firm measures to address the problem of extrajudicial
killings and enforced disappearances…addressing this most urgent concern, by
bringing their perpetrators to justice and preventing such killings in future,
remains a priority of Government.”[i] The
2008 review noted in the GPH’s national report all efforts taken to maintain
its “commitment to human rights remains paramount, even amidst active
insurgencies and other threats to national security.”  The national report
glowingly presented the GPH’s efforts to supposedly protect the human rights of
its citizens. [ii]

Reports gathered by NGOs like Karapatan, however, present a
contradictory and alarming picture of the human rights situation on the ground,
as major breaches of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights,
Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment and other major UN instrumentalities continue to be committed
by state security forces with the implementation of the government’s
counter-insurgency program dubbed as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) I
& II which was operational up to end December 2010; and the new
program by the present dispensation, known as Oplan Bayanihan. 

The human rights situation remains, as it was in 2008, and
continues to be alarming to this day, as violations continue to be committed
with impunity. Extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and other
gross and systematic violations of human rights were, and are being wantonly

In 2008, Karapatan has documented 64 victims of extrajudicial
killings, eight cases of enforced disappearances, 66 victims of torture and 320
victims of illegal arrests.[iii] James
, a founding member of the Cordillera People’s Alliance, was
abducted by state security forces on September 17, 2008. Since then, Balao
remains missing and the Philippine government has not acted to bring the
perpetrators to justice. [iv]

Impunity persisted and worsened in 2009, as 130 victims of
extrajudicial killings were documented by Karapatan. These included Rebelyn
a young teacher, civilian and daughter of New People’s Army commander Leoncio
Pitao. She was abducted, tortured, raped and brutally killed; 58 other
 including journalists and women lawyers, were massacred
in Maguindanao province
 by paramilitary groups and private armies of
Gov. Andal Ampatuan, a known ally of former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. [vi] Abduction
and torture continued unabated as in the case of Melissa Roxas, a
Filipino-American member of Bayan-USA, and her two companions, who were
abducted and tortured by elements believed as members of the Armed Forces of
the Philippines. [vii]

There was no let up on human rights violations, even in the last
six months of the Arroyo government and her OBL (from January-June 2010). Benjamin
, a Karapatan member who was killed by members of the military in
June 2010, was among the 18 victims of extrajudicial killings during this
period. The 43 health workers (Morong 43), composed of doctors, nurses,
midwives, and community health workers were illegally arrested, tortured, and
detained for 10 months in 2010. They are among the 96 victims of illegal
arrests and 71 victims of torture. [viii]

During the nine-year watch of President Arroyo, Karapatan
documented 1,206 victims of extrajudicial killings and 206
victims of enforced disappearances
, while there were 2, 059 victims
of illegal arrests and 1,099 victims of torture.[ix]

Although the government enacted an Anti-Torture law in November
2009 and abolished the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group in May 2009 as
recommended by the UN Special Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston, torture continued
to be widely used.  Many of Prof. Alston’s recommendations were left unheeded
such as taking concrete steps “to put an end to those aspects of
counterinsurgency operations which have led to the targeting and execution of
many individuals working with civil society organizations;” issuance of
directives for “all military officers to cease making public statements linking
political or other civil society groups to those engaged in armed
insurgencies;” and the conviction in a significant number of extrajudicial
executions. The OBL continued; the military’s vilification campaign against
NGOs and human rights defenders went on; there was no conviction of any
perpetrator, instead, many of them received promotions and accolades from the

When the nine-year rule of Arroyo ended, the Filipino people grew
to hate her administration that in the 2010 elections, they cast their votes on
the son of two famous Filipino democracy icons.

The Benigno Simeon Aquino III Presidency (July 1, 2010 – October

In the first ever automated elections in the country in May 2010, Benigno
Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III
, the only son of martial law hero, former
Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino and former President Corazon Aquino, was elected
as the 15thPresident of the Republic.

In his campaign, he promised to “resolve the cases of
extrajudicial executions and other violations of human rights.” [x] But
when he assumed office on July 1, 2010, human rights was clearly not on the
agenda of the new President. He set his fight against corruption in government.
There was no mention for the previous administration and known military
officers to account for the human rights violations they committed. [xi]

President Aquino ignored OBL’s bloody record and even extended it
on his first six months in office (July to end December 2010). Thus, five days
after his oath of office (July 5, 2010), an elected local government official, Fernando
, of Bayan Muna partylist, was shot dead by motorcycle-riding
assailants in front of his 12-year old son in Panay. Four days after (July 9,
2010), Pascual Guevarra, a 74-year old farmer-leader in Nueva
Ecija, was gunned down in his home.[xii]  In
January 2011, President Aquino announced the implementation of Oplan
, his administration’s version of the OBL. Thus, the killings
continue and a disturbing human rights situation remains to this day. 

Some observers say that human rights is given a push under the
Aquino presidency. The President already signed and endorsed to the Senate the
Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture as promised in the 2008 UPR
Review; the government acceded on 30 August 2011 to the Rome Statute that
signified its ratification of the International Criminal Court; and enacted a
law on violations on International Humanitarian Law. [xiii] But
even these did not improve the human rights situation under the present
dispensation.  The Aquino government has not even ratified the
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearance and has not yet enacted an enabling law on enforced
disappearances; and, on the protection of human rights defenders.  The
oft-repeated promise of a law compensating victims of rights violations during
martial law remains a promise to this day as victims become sick and many are
dying of old age and other ailments.

Karapatan asserts that continuing violations of the ICCPR are
committed with impunity under this “popular” administration of President
Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III.

Right to Self-Determination (Article 1)

Consistent with the US “war on terror”, the Aquino
government continues its military offensives in Mindanao, targeting the
members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is engaged in the
struggle for autonomy and is holding peace talks with the government.
Government’s military operations result to massive displacement and loss of
livelihood of the Moro people in the militarized areas. US military troops,
allowed to return to Philippine soil through the Visiting Forces Agreement, are
reportedly involved in several military combat operations in Muslim
communities. Joint military exercises between the US and Philippine
military are conducted despite various rights abuses by both US and Filipino
military personnel.  

Right to Life (Article 6)

Disregard of the right to life continues, as extra-judicial
killings of activists and other civilians by state security forces continue.
From July 2010 to October 31, 2011, there are already 60 victims
of EJK. Aside from Baldomero and Guevarra, among the notable victims were Leonardo
, the country’s finest ethnobotanist/taxonomist, and his teammates, who
were killed by the military while on fieldwork;[xiv] Antonio
, an urban poor leader, was gunned down during the height of the urban
poor’s campaign against demolition.;[xv] and
recently, Fr. Fausto Tentorio, an Italian missionary based in the
Philippines and a vocal critic of corporate mining and the implementation of
Oplan Bayanihan in Mindanao, was killed.  Fr. Tentorio’s killing is
attributed to paramilitary groups under the AFP’s 57th Infantry
Battalion. Various religious, civic and human rights groups and the Vatican expressed
condemnation over the killing of Tentorio. 

Right Against Torture And Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or
Punishment (Article 7 and 10), Arbitrary Arrest And Detention (Article 9),
Equality Before the Courts and Tribunals (Article 14), Rights Against
Criminalization of Political Offenses (Article 15)

Survivors of abductions in various areas nationwide attest to the
culpability of the military in the violation, using government property and
facilities to carry out the crimes.  From July 2010 to June 2011,
Karapatan, in spite of the law against torture, R.A.9745, documented 29 victims
of torture.  These cases are also clear violations of Republic Act 7438,
which defines the rights of a person arrested or detained and the duties of the
arresting or detaining officers.

As of October 31, 2011 there remain 356 political prisoners
throughout the country. Of these, 35 are women, 10 are elderly and 43 are sick.
About 78 of them were arrested under the Aquino government.  Many of those
arrested were without a warrant, and charged with criminal instead of political
cases. Some 13 NDFP consultants to the peace process remain in jail despite the
Aquino government’s commitment to work for their release. The Aquino government
even denied the existence of political prisoners.  

In April this year, village farmers Marlon Villarmino and
Nestor Marquita
 were held captive for 17 days without charges by the
military. They were continuously interrogated and physically beaten to admit
that they are members of the New People’s Army (NPA). They were released to
their mothers and Karapatan representatives after they were forced to sign a
police blotter stating they were NPA surrenderees. They denied the allegation. [xvi]

Artists, filmmakers, representatives of the National Commission on
Culture and the Arts and family of Ericson Acosta, an artist,
journalist and a cultural worker, continue to call for his immediate release
after he was illegally arrested in February 2011. He was in Samar to
conduct research on the human rights situation. He was subjected to
interrogation and physical torture, and was slapped with charges of illegal
possession of explosives after a grenade was planted in his belongings. He is
currently detained at the Calbayog City Sub-provincial Jail.[xvii]  

Disappearances (Articles 6, 7, 9, 10, 15, 16)

Under the Aquino administration, there are eight victims
of enforced disappearances
, many of them are farmers. In Surigao del Sur,
farmers Agustito Ladera and Renato Deliguer were forcibly
disappeared during their evacuation due to military operations. Reports
indicate that the two were arrested by the military and turned over to the
police. The request of their relatives to search military and police camps and
detention centers were denied. Ladera and Deliguer have joined the ranks of
desaparecidos. [xviii]

Unlawful Attacks On Honor And Reputation And Incitement To
Violence Against One’s Person  (Articles 17 and 20),Attacks Against the
Right to Freedom of Expression and Association (Article 19 and 22)

The government’s persecution and vilification of activist
organizations and human rights defenders is unrelenting. Criminal charges and
the use of media for military propaganda hounded Karapatan workers Kelly
Delgado and Fred Cana
Health workers in the Cordillera continue
to be targets of military surveillance and threats to their lives. Indigenous
women human rights defenders in Mindanao are ceaselessly threatened
by paramilitary groups sowing terror in their ancestral lands. They are
continuously on the run with their children. [xix] 

Militarization In Rural And Urban Areas, Displacement, Forcible
Evacuation/Reconcentration Of Civilians (Article 12)

The deployment of hundreds of uniformed and armed soldiers in
rural areas and urban centers including Metro Manila resulted in massive rights
violations of ordinary citizens and members of people’s organizations. This
resulted to cases of torture, illegal arrests and detention, harassment and
intimidation, closing down of NGO-supported schools and literacy programs,
indiscriminate firing resulting to injury and death, and the forced evacuation
of 3,010 individuals. The actual number could be much more as many cases have
not been reported. Ostensibly for “civic action” and “peace and development
programs,” military operations continue and have victimized ordinary

Non-adherence to commitments and recommendations of the United
Nations human rights bodies

The Philippine government’s obligations, commitments and pledges
to protect and promote human rights are very much wanting. The Filipino people
are still subjected to continuing gross and systematic human rights violations
amidst impunity despite the Philippine government’s  avowed commitments as
member of the HRC, ratification of UN  instruments,  enactment
of  legislative and executive measures, and its condemnation of
extrajudicial killings, albeit, belatedly.

The government committed in the 2008 UPR to “completely eliminate
torture and extrajudicial killings” and intensify its efforts for “prosecutions
on extrajudicial killings and punish those responsible.” Yet, the Aquino
administration failed to render justice to victims and families of victims of
human rights violations under the Arroyo government. In his more than one
year in office, the government did not initiate filing of cases for human
rights violations against known perpetrators, including former President Gloria

It is to the victims’ and their relatives’ credits that civil
suits were filed against Arroyo and criminal suits against the notorious
General Jovito Palparan, Jr. and other military officers. Six of the Morong 43[xx] health
workers sued for damages those responsible for their torture and illegal
10-month detention on false charges. Linda Cadapan, Concepcion Empeño[xxi] and
Edith Burgos[xxii] are
the courageous mothers who are holding the perpetrators accountable for the
disappearance of Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeno and Jonas Burgos, respectively.
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)[xxiii]followed
through with a class suit against identified perpetrators of killings and
torture and illegal arrests of their flock. Raymond Manalo and Oscar Leuterio,
witnesses to the Cadapan-Empeno case and both escaped desaparecidos, also filed
motions to resolve their long-pending cases at the Ombudsman on their torture
and abduction. [xxiv]

Like Arroyo, the Aquino government has not acted on the views and
recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee on the cases of Eden Marcellana,
Eddie Gumanoy and Benjaline Hernandez 
which were filed by their
relatives and Karapatan in 2006. Eight years have passed since the killing of
Marcellana and Gumanoy, but the government has yet to indict, prosecute or
bring the perpetrators to justice. In fact, in the government report for the
upcoming HRC review, the government acts unaware of the results of the
Marcellana-Gumanoy cases in the HRC when it only mentioned that Karapatan filed
a case with the HRC for the Marcellana-Gumanoy families. In the Hernandez case,
the military perpetrator was absolved and set free by the Court.

Karapatan also notes that the Philippine government has not
extended invitations to UN special procedures and mandate holders who have
requested to officially visit the Philippines such as the Special
Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and
protection of human rights while countering terrorism, UN Independent Expert on
Cultural Rights, among others.

In the light of government inaction on the past
recommendations of Karapatan, we would like to reiterate the following
recommendations also for the consideration by this Council: 

the Philippine Government


stop to and abandonment of the implementation of the Oplan Bayanihan and other
similar national internal security plans of the government.


·        Put
an end to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other
gross and systematic violations of human rights which are committed with impunity. 


special laws, procedures, remedies and courts that would effectively protect
human rights including the speedy investigation, arrest, prosecution, trial and
conviction of perpetrators without regard to technicalities and eliminating
opportunities for various delays at different stages.


peace negotiations between the parties to the armed conflict to pave the way in
addressing and resolving the roots of the conflict and contribute to the
achievement of a just and lasting peace.


Immediate repeal of the Human Security
Act of 2007 and other existing repressive laws and issuances and reversal of
jurisprudence engendering or providing sanction or impunity for human rights
violations (including those authorizing checkpoints, expanding warrantless
searches and sanctioning saturation drives, allowing the filing of common
crimes with respect to political offenses, restricting and controlling the
right to peaceful assembly, authorizing the demolition of urban poor
communities, legalizing paramilitary groups, lengthening the allowable periods
of detention without charges, allowing the imposition of food blockades, making
political offenses as continuing crimes, expanding allowable warrantless
arrests, rendering inutile the remedy of habeas corpus). Effectively,
seriously and immediately address, prosecute and punish acts of terrorism and
human rights violations by agents of the State.


inventory, review, recall or non-passage of legislative, administrative,
executive and judicial acts that either openly violate human rights, disguise
their violations or merely formally recognize protection or promotion of human
rights but in practice actually contribute to the engenderment of such


the practice of criminalizing political offenses and actions for acts in
pursuit of one’s political beliefs at the arrest, investigation, prosecution
and trial stages and uphold the political offense doctrine by charging the
proper political charges instead of common crimes.


free all political prisoners, whether those arrested, charged, prosecuted,
tried or convicted of political crimes or, as is the practice by the
government, common crimes but with clear or convincing evidence that they are


and discontinue the arbitrary, unfounded and malicious labeling of national
liberation movements, progressive nationalist organizations and patriots as
“terrorists” both in the national and international forums.


the meaningful and full participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
in monitoring and documentation of human rights abuses and effective
consultations with them.


speedy, meaningful and effective justice to all victims of human rights
violations including adequate compensation, indemnification, restitution and
rehabilitation and establishing mechanisms for this purpose.


the transparent reporting of the Department of National Defense, AFP, PNP and
other government agencies to Congress and to the Commission on Audit on the use
of their funds and hold them accountable if these funds are used for
vilification and civil military operations which are directly related to the
government’s combat operations targeting human rights defenders and the public.

[i] Philippine National Report to the Human
Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G08/114/11/PDF/G0811411.pdf?OpenElement

[ii] Report of the Working Group on the
Universal Periodic Review The Philippines http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G08/136/75/PDF/G0813675.pdf?OpenElement

[iii] Karapatan 2008 Year-End Report on the
Human Rights Situation https://www.karapatan.org/node/275

[IV] http://www.interaksyon.com/article/13317/missing-ibaloi-activists-kin-disappointed-with-pnoys-inaction

 [V] http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/special-report/03/14/09/killing-too-far-rebelyn-pitao

 [vi] The
Ampatuan Massacre: A map and timeline http://www.gmanews.tv/story/177821/the-ampatuan-massacre-a-map-and-timeline

[vii] Karapatan’s 2009 Year-End Report on the
Human Rights Situation https://www.karapatan.org/2009-HR-Report

[viii] Resources on Free the 43 Health Workers
Campaign: http://freethehealthworkers.blogspot.com/,http://www.bayan.ph/freethe43.php

[ix] Karapatan’s 2010 Year-End Report on Human
Rights Situation https://www.karapatan.org/2010-human-rights-report

[x] Aquino vows closure to human rights
killings http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20100601-273180/Aquino-vows-closure-to-human-rights-killings

[xi] Inaugural
Speech of President Benigno S. Aquino III in English

[xii] https://www.karapatan.org/karapatan-monitor-julsept2010

[xiii] http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsid=39416&cr=international+criminal+court&cr1

[xiv] Karapatan’s 2010 Year-End Report on Human
Rights Situation https://www.karapatan.org/2010-human-rights-report

 [xv] https://www.karapatan.org/files/Karapatan%20Monitor_1st%20Quarter_Jan-Mar2011.pdf

[xvi] https://www.karapatan.org/Karapatan-Monitor-2ndQuarter-April-Jun2011

[xvii] http://freeacosta.blogspot.com/

[xviii] https://www.karapatan.org/karapatan-monitor-julsept2010

[xix] http://www.apwld.org/uncategorized/philippine-government-stop-the-violence-and-killings-in-indigenous-peoples-communities-by-paramilitary-groups/#more-1258

[xx] http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20110405-329398/6

[xxi] http://services.inquirer.net/print/print.php?article_id=20110505-334665

[xxii] http://www.gmanews.tv/story/222968/nation/raps-filed-vs-army-officers-linked-to-jonas-burgos-abduction

[xxiii] http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?publicationSubCategoryId=63&articleId=696900

[xxiv] http://www.philstar.com/nation/article.aspx?publicationsubcategoryid=200&articleid=711299