Karapatan

Mindanao IPs, envi groups to Aquino, scrap Mining Act to avert another Pablo apocalypse!--ManiLakbayan

A group of Mindanao-based indigenous peoples and environment organizations leading a ten-day lakbayan to Metro Manila called on President Aquino to scrap the government’s standing mining policy allowing large-scale mining operations in the light of the latest disasters in Mindanao where super typhoon Pablo claimed more than two hundred lives in the provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental which have not experienced typhoons in recent years.
 
Environment group Panalipdan! Mindanao secretary-general Sr. Stella Matutina, OSB said that hundreds of communities in Mindanao have been rendered vulnerable to natural disasters due to the proliferation of large-scale extractive industries being promoted by the Aquino administration through existing government policies and programs such as Executive Order 79 and the Mining Act of 1995.
 
“Do we need typhoon Pablo to get the attention of the central government and concerned people about our issues like political killings and environmental destructions caused by big extractive industries and other agribusiness ventures?” Matutina said, adding that “we are now right smack in Manila to air out our issues.”
 
 

Aquino toughens up AFP by promoting rights violators

“Darker days ahead,” is how Karapatan describes the human rights situation under the Aquino government “that will even surpass the expected damage of typhoon Pablo.”
 
Karapatan, in its public presentation of the 2012 year-end report on the human rights situation said that “the appointment of known human rights violators such as the likes of Brig. Gen. Eduardo M. Año as the new chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP and, of Brig. Gen. Aurelio Baladad  as deputy chief of staff for operations is part of Oplan Bayanihan’s design to finish, if not neutralize, its identified armed threats and their so-called supporters or mass base by 2013, its phase 1.”
 
“Putting the likes of Baladad and Año is part of the government’s preparation for its end game, for the nth time, with its perceived State enemies. Also, Aquino puts across the message that a reward awaits those who kill, bomb, strafe, force people to leave their homes, harass and threaten them, arrest, torture then keep them in jail. The people should brace themselves for more serious human rights violations, with this deadline and these kind of military officers who are at the helm of the military institution,” said Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez.
 

Mindanao peasants, IPs in Manila, call to stop killings and large-scale mining

Pahubay, a Banwaon ritual that literally means to ‘soften the heart’ was performed by Banwaon Datuand Bae at Plaza Miranda, Quiapo as they appealed to the people of Metro Manila, especially those from Mindanao, to support their call for justice and to stop extrajudicial killings and forced evacuation of peasants and indigenous peoples in Mindanao, due to continuous military operation and incursion of large-scale destructive mining in their lands.

 

More than 70 Manilakbayan delegates from Mindanao were greeted in a salubong by members of people’s organizations, multi-sectoral and Church groups led by Karapatan, Ecu-Voice and Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP).  The delegation includes the Capion family, whose relatives Juvy Capion and her two children were massacred on October 18 in Tampakan, South Cotabato. They were joined in by widows of five slain leaders of indigenous people (IP) who died fighting for their land rights against incursions of mining corporations, agri-business corporations and megadams in their ancestral domain.

 

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said “we warmly welcome our brothers and sisters from Mindanao who intend to bring the voices of the Mindanao peasants and indigenous peoples to Manila, specifically for Pres. Aquino to hear clearly that they have had enough of bombings, of forced evacuation, of killings and mining operations in our land. Aquino should stop the killings and those responsible for these atrocities should be punished. “

 

Aquino govt’s “righteous road to peace” bodes ill for peace

Bounty and pop stars, instead of releasing political detainees

Karapatan said that, “While the Aquino government plays dead on the call to release political prisoners, it offered bounty for so-called communist leaders and got pop stars to endorse Oplan Bayanihan, the counter-insurgency program that has caused lives of 114 people. The act is both desperate and preposterous.” 

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said that Aquino’s offer for bounty could mean more arbitrary arrests and detention and, further abuses and rights violations. “It is unacceptable that Aquino and the AFP chose to just sing their way out of their accountability to their crimes against the people and say it’s for peace in the country,” she added.

From July 2010 to September 2012, Karapatan documented almost 447 victims of illegal arrests under the Aquino government, victimizing especially farmers and indigenous peoples they meet in the fields and forests during military operations and presenting them as NPA members or supporters. In the said period, there are 401 political prisoners in the country, with 123 persons arrested and detained under the Aquino government. 

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.

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