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.

Fact-finding confirms massacre of Capion family, points to accountability of AFP, LGU and Mining Co.

The recently concluded fact-finding mission in sitio Alyong, Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur affirmed Karapatan’s claim that the Capion family was massacred and not killed in an encounter; and Daguil Capion, the supposed target of the military attack, was not with his family in the farm hut as the military claims.

Hypocrisy amid worsening rights situation in PH

On the GPH signing of the ASEAN HR declaration 
“Phil. Pres. Noynoy Aquino feigns his administration’s concern for human rights with the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, while his state security forces continue to commit human rights violations with impunity. This is hypocrisy, at the very least, and an international PR paradox, at most.”
Thus stated Phil. human rights group Karapatan after the Aquino government adopted the ASEAN HR declaration at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said the Aquino administration duplicitous play is underscored by the several reported cases of rights abuses by the Phil. military and its paramilitary forces, especially against farmers, indigenous peoples and women human rights defenders.

Int’l mission investigates killings by paramilitary group NIPAR in San Fernando, Bukidnon

Malaybalay City, Bukidnon --“We are concerned that despite the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Alde Salusad and his group NIPAR (New Indigenous People’s Army for Reform), no serious operations have been made to seize him,” said Beverly Longid of the Katribu Indigenous Peoples’ Partylist.
Longid is among the more than 200 individuals from local and international human rights organizations that convened the ‘International Solidarity Mission in Defense of Indigenous Communities Fighting Impunity’ or ISM that kicked-off yesterday at Philtown Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City, and travelled to this city to join indigenous peoples of Matigsalog tribe that were displaced from various parts of the village of Dao in San Fernando town, Bukidnon.
The more than 30 Matigsalog families are crammed inside makeshift tents in front of the Bukidnon provincial capitol to evade threats and harassments of Salusad’s group.
“This is the second wave of displacement of the indigenous communities of San Fernando after the death of village leader Jimmy Liguyon. Salusad was never held accountable after the killing, impunity is no doubt the name of the game in this part of the world,” said Richard Gadit, human rights advocacy officer of the Thailand-based Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP).
Liguyon, village chieftain of Dao, was killed by Salusad in front of his family on March 5 this year after he refused to sign the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) peddled by the latter. The CADT covers 52,000 has. of ancestral lands of the Matigsalog tribe in San Fernando. Among the extractive companies now operating in San Fernando is the San Christo Mining Company, exploring more than 13,000 has. of Matigsalog lands. San Christo is an associate of Indophil Resources, a partner of the controversial SMI-Xstrata Mining Co. operating in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

96 Mamanwa and Bisaya families evacuate anew amid renewed military harassment – KASALO, KALUMARAN

Some 241 individuals, mostly women and children, from a remote village in Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte evacuated anew after about 100 elements of the Special Forces of the 4th Infantry Division under a certain Col. Camba encamped in their community and harassed the locals.
On November 10 at around 2 pm, 47 Lumad Mamanwa families and 49 peasant families hiked 12 kilometers from Sitio Zapanta Valley to the barangay multipurpose hall in Brgy. Bangayan Proper, along the National Highway in Kitcharao. Fearing for their safety, the residents decided to evacuate because of the prolonged presence of the military in their community.
Genasque Enriquez, Secretary-General of Kahugpongan sa Lumadnong Organisasyon (KASALO) based in Caraga region, lambasted the renewed military operation saying it is “the second time this year that the people in Kitcharao were forced to leave their homes because of military operation. This is also the fourth case of forced evacuation in the whole of the CARAGA region.”
“The military operation is meant to silence the people’s opposition against the exploitation of the region’s natural resources, especially our mineral resources. The Aquino government’s counterinsurgency campaign, the Oplan Bayanihan is also directed against those who oppose its programs that essentially favor the interests of the foreign big business,” asserted Enriquez.
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