Press statement

Karapatan supports Selda, Tanggol Bayi nominees for Martial Law Victims Claims Board

Karapatan supports the nominees of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) and Tanggol Bayi for the Human Rights Victims Claims Board, a body mandated by RA 10368 (Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013) to work on the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) and to process the victims’ applications for compensation.  

The two organizations submitted the following names of nominees to the Office of the President on March 12: 

Statement of Desaparecidos on the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 and its IRR

The Families of Desaparecidos for Justice look forward to the day without enforced disappearances.

Yesterday, February 12, 2013, Desaparecidos co-signed the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the newly-enacted law called, the "Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012." We participated in the crafting of the IRR, after long years of advocacy and lobby work for the enactment of the law, because we view this engagement as part of the over-all enduring struggle for justice and human rights of victims and relatives, human rights advocates, and the Filipino people.

The Philippine government, through the law, officially recognized the criminal nature of the act of enforced disappearance – that enforced disappearance is a crime against persons, and that the perpetrators should be criminally liable and must be put to jail. Most importantly, the law’s acknowledgement that the said crime can only be perpetuated by State agents is an official admission and recognition that indeed, the State is most responsible in the commission of the crime of enforced disappearance. The law likewise recognizes that it is the State's responsibility to provide compensation, restitution and rehabilitation to victims of enforced disappearances and their families.

Since Marcos’ Martial Law and the series of administrations after it, including the present Noynoy Aquino government, such crime was and is being committed with impunity, with much brazenness and with full use of government resources against the very people whom government has supposedly sworn to protect.

After thousands of disappearances, anguish and immeasurable pain we bear as we waged a resolute, determined struggle for justice for our loved ones, finally, the country's recognition of this heinous crime proved us, families of the disappeared who fought and are still fighting, the correctness of our struggle for justice and human rights. 

We commend progressive legislators led by Bayan Muna Reps. Teodoro Casiño and Neri Colmenares, and allies in Congress who stood with us against those who tried to deny the State’s responsibility on this heinous crime by twisting the definition of enforced disappearances. Our progressive legislators took a hard stand in asserting that it is the State which has the obligation, authority, and machinery to protect the rights of its people.

But by using these machinery and authority to commit enforced disappearance to maintain the powers-that-be, the gravity of this act is incomparably heavier than those who committed the same but are private civilians or non-state agents. It is well that these sound and grounded arguments prevailed over those of some legislators posturing as human rights crusaders who would have wanted to dilute the State’s role and responsibility and defeat the whole purpose and principle of the measure.

Our organization, Desaparecidos, is determined to stand for this principle: that enforced disappearances is a systematic act and is perpetrated by State actors.

Martial Law victims denounce PCGG chair’s declaration to give up claims

“Malicious, irresponsible and anti-people” 

Amid the good news of the ratification of the bill to compesante martial law victims, members of the human rights group SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) deplored the “malicious, irresponsible and anti-people” statements made by Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Andres Bautista over the weekend that the martial law victims should consider giving up their claims in the class suit filed in Hawaii, now that a bill to give compensation to human rights victims is set to be enacted into law.

“We are exasperated, disappointed and angry at such malicious and irresponsible statements made by PCGG chair Andres Bautista. Why should we give up the claims when the award is based on the judgement that the Marcos dictatorship is guilty of crimes against humanity, and therefore the Marcoses are accountable for the human rights violations committed under their reign?” said Martial Law victim and SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez.

Enriquez also said that the Hawaii court judgment is final and executory.

“The victims are happy that this has become a landmark decision for victims of human rights violations the world over.  The entire Filipino nation must be proud of that and now Mr. Bautista is again squandering the chance to go after the violators! We have never heard of any public apology from the Marcoses after so many years, now Bautista is telling us to give up this meager amount to compensate the victims?” she said.  

On September 22, 1992, the Hawaii Federal Court through Judge Manuel Real, issued a judgment on the class suit in favor of the Marcos victims. The said decision found Marcos guilty of gross human rights violations and the Estate of Marcos is liable to pay damages to the victims.

SELDA’s chairperson explained that the bill’s passage here in the legislative halls of the country is entirely different from the class suit that the 9,539 Martial Law victims filed in a Hawaii district court after the fall of Marcos in 1986.

“Bautista does not know what he is talking about. The Human Rights Victims Recognition and Reparation Bill, when enacted into law, will be the government’s mechanism to give recognition and reparation to victims of Martial Law. Since the fall of the dictator in 1986, the victims waited for the administrations after Marcos to go after the conjugal dictatorship and their cohorts, and make them accountable for the HRV’s committed during martial law.  But no one did. The victims were the only ones who braved the systems, the Marcos maneuvers, the machinations of American and Filipino lawyers who supposedly helped the victims. It was they who fought steadfastly until they won a landmark case in a foreign court. Now it is being robbed again from them, “ Enriquez declared.

The group also called Bautista “anti-people,” in reacton to his statement that ill-gotten wealth by the Marcoses belong to the Filipino people.

“Bautista talks as if we are not part of the Filipino people who fought the dictator. The Swiss Supreme Court was clear in its order that the victims of Martial Law who filed charges against Marcos in the Hawaiian court must be considered by the Philippine government once the latter moves the recovered funds that were in an escrow account,” she said.

Enriquez also clarified that only one-third of the original total funds transferred from Switzerland and handed over to the Philippine government were asked by the victims as they fully know that the amount was gotten from the national coffers.

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.

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.

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.

Karapatan 4TH Congress: Delegates take up challenge amid rights violations

The two-day 4th Congress of Karapatan concluded on August 15, with close to 150 human rights defenders from the Karapatan chapters, sectoral organizations and other allied organizations in attendance. 

Ka Satur Ocampo, Makabayan Coalition President, the Congress’ keynote speaker, called on the delegates to “continue to persevere and courageously defend the people’s rights as a way of paying tribute to the people’s heroes and martyrs,” especially those from the ranks of Karapatan and its allied organizations. 

Karapatan slams Lacierda’s statement on Aquino’s human rights record

(Cristina Palabay, Karapatan spokesperson, on the statement of Malacañang spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Aquino’s human rights record)

Broken promises, blame games, unabated human rights violations – these characterize Malacañang’s response to calls for Pres. Aquino to stop the killings and human rights violations under his administration. 

Malacañang spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s statement shows the Aquino administration’s propensity to squirm out from each and every responsibility for extrajudicial killings and rights violations by blaming a branch of government under its auspices. It is the simply the lamest of excuses, as it disregards the efforts of victims and their families to file cases against rights violators, no thanks to Aquino. It simply manifests this administration’s low regard for the pursuit of justice for the victims and, in putting an end to killings and impunity. With this frame of mind, it is no wonder why Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. remains free from arrest up to this time. 

MAY WE REMIND LACIERDA THAT AQUINO HIMSELF PROMISED THESE “REFORMS” DURING HIS ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND INAUGURAL SPEECH; PROMISES THAT REMAIN AS BROKEN AS AQUINO’S RECORD ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN HIS TWO YEARS IN OFFICE. 

UN-SRs noted growing number of killings of rights defenders

Human rights group Karapatan today affirmed the observations of the United Nations Special Rapporteurs (UN-SR) on human rights defenders and extrajudicial killings on the “growing number of threats and killings of rights defenders” in the Philippines. The statement by the UN mandate holders was released on July 9, two weeks prior to Phil. Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

UN Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders Margaret Sekaggya and on Extrajudicial Killings, Christof Heyns released the following statement, which can be accessed through http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12333&LangID=E.

ARMAN ALBARILLO, a testimony of the Filipino people’s quest for justice

Karapatan is deeply saddened by the death of Arman Arbarillo, a human rights defender and a guerrilla fighter. 

Photo by Pinoy Weekly 

Arman reminds us of the terror of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) and how her favorite butcher, the fugitive Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., left a trail spattered with blood of more than a thousand people killed. Palparan then led the 204th Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that was deployed in the island of Mindoro where Arman’s family lived.

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