Negros prosecutor, RTC judge hit for malicious prosecution of Bacolod activist

Police use “John Doe” warrant to pick up innocents 

Makabayan coordinator Romulo Bito-on filed an administrative complaint today with the Supreme Court, against a Bacolod prosecutor and judge for “gross ignorance and misapplication of the law in trumped-up charges” against him.

In his complaint-affidavit, Bito-on claims that Second Assistant Provisional Prosecutor Estefanio S. Libutan Jr. initiated the complaint on the basis of fake affidavits, and that Regional Trial Court Judge Katherine Go irregularly issued a warrant of arrest, as well as several other incorrect orders.

Bito-on, represented by his lawyers and human rights group Karapatan, was released in July 2010 and cleared of the charges against him, as he decried malicious prosecution. The complaint has been filed with the Supreme Court Office of the Court Administrator. The lawyers face possible suspension or disbarment as lawyers, if found that they applied the law with prejudice and gross negligence, in contravention with lawyer’s ethics.

“Karapatan supports Mr. Bito-on in his quest for justice and accountability. All lawyers as social agents of change are duty-bound to ensure the efficient and effective administration of justice. Hence, they should be held accountable if they become party to the military’s scheme of slapping trumped up charges against activists to silence opposition and dissent,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Bito-on is the local coordinator of the progressive Makabayan political party. He was arrested in April 2010 by virtue of the affidavits of two persons, and a “John Doe” warrant upon the motion of Libutan and issued by Go. “John Doe” warrants, per Department of Justice (DOJ) Department Circular No. 50 circa 1990, are issued when the identity of the accused is unknown, and must be amended only when there is certainty as to the names.

Just solve the cases and jail the perpetrators

On the DOJ's 'superbody' for EJK cases

Amidst the unresolved extrajudicial killings under President Noynoy Aquino, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima recently proposed the creation of a ‘’superbody” to investigate cases of extrajudicial killings. As she announced  her proposal yesterday, Karapatan received report that on November 11, Ely Oguis, a Barangay Kagawad in Guinobatan Albay, was beheaded by elements believed to be members of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

“The killings have not only increased under the  Aquino government; it has also become more gruesome.  Of the 114 cases of extrajudicial killings under this  government, not one perpetrator was prosecuted. Impunity continues despite so-called efforts by the government to conduct investigations. What now is our assurance that the killings will be solved by this so called “superbody”? asked Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

Karapatan protests trumped up charges vs Naogsan

After almost a week of searching, relatives of Grayson Naogsan, the son of the spokesperson of the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF), finally found him in Ifugao Provincial Jail, after he was abducted by five men in Baguio City on Nov. 5. According to a witness, the men who took away Naogsan said they were taking him to Camp Crame.  

Karapatan said that Naogsan’s family, human rights workers and lawyers went several times at Camp Crame to look for him but the Philippine National Police (PNP) kept denying that Naogsan is in their custody “despite the information from certain officials that he was indeed with the PNP at Camp Crame, specifically with the Intelligence Group (IG).” 

“We detest not only the arrest of another innocent person on the basis of trumped up charges but also the disrespect of the PNP to Naogsan’s relatives, specially his wife, Rose. The PNP showed callousness to the feelings of the relatives who were anxious to know the whereabouts and the condition of Naogsan,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. 

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance earlier reported that Naogsan was arrested on the basis of a defective warrant of arrest issued by the Bontoc Regional Trial Court Branch 35 which bore the name of a certain “Jason Naogsan” and not Grayson Naogsan. The said warrant was amended yesterday to change “Jason” to “Grayson”. He was then taken to Ifugao where another warrant of arrest was issued by the Lagawe RTC Branch 14. The CHRA however has not seen the said warrant yet. Naogsan was charged with murder and frustrated murder. 

Palparans prowl and kill in Mindanao

“Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., The Butcher, is personified by the perpetrators of killings and human rights violations in Mindanao. They are Lt. Col. Noel Alexis Bravo and Lt. Dante Jimenez of the 27th IB-Philippine Army who were responsible for the massacre of the two-month pregnant Juvy Capion and her two sons in Tampakan, South Cotabato; Alde Salusad, the leader of the paramilitary group who killed tribal leader and anti-mining activist Jimmy Liguyon in Bukidnon; Lt. Col. Neil Patricio of the 26th IB who was responsible for the CAFGU unit who shot and then tortured to death tribal leader Genesis Ambason in Agusan del Sur,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general. 

Karapatan cited the names of some of the military officers and leaders of paramilitary groups who figured in some of the high-profile cases of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the different regions in Mindanao. 
The Committee on Human Rights of the House of Representatives is currently holding a two-day hearing in Davao City which started yesterday, November 8. The military units in Mindanao have been invited by the committee to attend the hearing today which focuses on the numerous cases of EJK in Mindanao.   

“The successive killings of leaders of people’s organizations in Mindanao, mostly peasants and indigenous peoples, have become alarming. Most of those killed were opposed to the operation of foreign large-scale mining companies or other business interests that have caused displacement and economic dislocation among peasants and indigenous peoples,” added Palabay.  

Karapatan’s documentation showed that of the 114 victims of extrajudicial killings (as of September 30, 2012) under the Aquino government, 26 are from the six regions of Mindanao and four of the 26 are children.  The figure does not include the massacre of the Capion family.

Son of Cordillera People’s Democratic Front spokesperson missing

Grayson Naogsan, son of Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front (CPDF) Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan was arrested by men who introduced themselves as policemen and is now missing.  He was arrested last November 5 at around 3:00 PM by 5 civilian-wearing men who introduced themselves as policemen while he and his companion were having coffee in SM Baguio.
The policemen showed Naogsan and his companion a warrant of arrest that indicated his name while handguns were poked at their sides discreetly.  They handcuffed and separated him from his companion. They told his companion that they will take Naogsan to “Camp Crame”.

Naogsan was led out of the mall through the backstairs by three of the men and used a jacket to cover his handcuff.

Karapatan to Army chief Emmanuel Bautista: tell that to the marines

“It’s psywar, not respect for human rights. The disconnect between Bautista’s statement and the reality on the ground is the result of a paradox between respect for human rights and Oplan Bayanihan, the Aquino government’s version of the United States’ Counterinsurgency program 2009, which Bautista penned,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan. 

Among the many cases of human rights violations under Oplan Bayanihan, Karapatan cited the recent massacre of Juvy Capion and her two sons, both minors, on October 18 by elements of the 27th IB of the Phil. Army. They were killed when the military strafed the house where they were sleeping. Capion was two-months pregnant. 

Karapatan also documented the case of Genesis Ambason, a tribal leader and anti-mining activist who was shot and tortured to death on September 13 by members of the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and elements of the 26th IB Detachment in a barangay in San Luis, Agusan del Sur. When found, Ambason’s face was beyond recognition, his teeth were all gone and his head shrunk due to torture inflicted on him.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Aquino’s ‘successful’ NZ gab a misinformation to int’l community

Fiddling around the euphoria of pretensions and hubris, President Noynoy Aquino’s gab in New Zealand has sparked intense reactions.  His apologists, Ricky Carandang and Atty. Edwin Lacierda, expectedly, were quick to come to his defense.

Instead of seriously considering the concern of the international community on the human rights situation in the country, particularly, that of the Philippine Solidarity Network Alliance in New Zealand, Mr. Carandang and Atty. Lacierda easily dismissed this as mere “misinformation” and “propaganda of the extreme leftist elements in the Philippines.” 

PSNA repudiated these insinuations, citing reputable institutions and individuals that have raised similar concerns, such as the UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders and extrajudicial killings; parliaments of the European Union, Canada and Italy; Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the World Council of Churches, among others.  

Like the government’s claim that there are no political prisoners in the Philippines or its report to the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights 13th Session in May this year,  Mr. Carandang bragged  of a “significant improvement” in the human rights situation in the country.   But the real situation on the ground belies this claim.  From July 2010 to September 2012, Karapatan has documented 114 cases of extrajudicial killings (EJK), 12 enforced disappearances, 70 torture victims, 224 victims of illegal arrests and detentions, 8,266 victims of forced eviction/demolition and 29,613 internally displaced persons, under  the Aquino presidency.

Rolly Panesa’s kin file petition for habeas corpus before SC

Marites Chioco, common-law wife of tortured and detained security guard Rolly Panesa, and sister Jiose Panesa today filed before the Supreme Court a petition for habeas corpus directing the respondents to produce the body of Rolly Mira Panesa before the Supreme Court and to seek other remedies thereof, including his immediate release. Panesa’s kin are accompanied by counsel Ephraim Cortez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers and Cristina Palabay of Karapatan. 

Rolly Panesa is detained at the Security Intensive Care Area (SICA), Metro Manila District Jail for rebellion and frustrated murder. Panesa was illegally arrested on October 5 by joint elements of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, led by Southern Luzon Commander Maj. General Alan Luga, and the Philippine National Police. He was tortured because the military mistook him for a certain “Benjamin Mendoza,” supposedly the secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Southern Luzon, with a reward of PhP 5.6 million. 

“Panesa’s illegal arrest, torture and continued illegal detention on the basis of trumped-up charges showcases the military’s arbitrariness in the conduct of its counterinsurgency program, the Oplan Bayanihan, and the government’s obsession to meet its self-imposed deadline to end the so-called insurgency,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.     

Chioco and Panesa, through their legal counsel, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) named the following as respondents to the petition: Inspector Bernardino Edgar T. Camus, jail warden of the Security Intensive Care Area (SICA), Metro Manila District Jail; Maj. Gen. Alan Luga, Commanding General of the AFP Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM); Maj. Gen. Eduardo D. del Rosario, Commanding General, 2nd Infantry Division, Philippine Army; P/CSupt. James Andres B. Melad, Regional Director, Philippine National Police Regional Office IV; and, P/SSupt. Manuel M. Abu, Chief of the Regional Intelligence Office of the PNP Regional Office IV.

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.

Think before you speak, Mr. President, the ball is in your hands

Karapatan today derided Pres. Aquino’s statement that extrajudicial killings is not his government’s policy, as he called on senatorial candidate, Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna, to help in solving the killings by looking for evidences and filing cases. 

“The problem with the Aquino government is when it can no longer justify the existence of human rights violations and when its pro-human rights posturing is exposed as a sham, it turns the table around and puts the burden of proof on the victims and those who advocate and defend human rights.  Ano naman ang silbi ng ganitong gobyerno? ” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

“Mr. President, you should think before you speak, because the responsibility of exacting justice is in your hands. In the first place, the burden of solving the cases of extrajudicial killings and serving justice to the victims is with the Aquino government, especially because majority, if not all of the killings, involve the armed and paramilitary forces headed by Aquino. But since he failed to even lift a finger to solve these cases, the relatives of human rights victims and Karapatan have taken it upon ourselves to initiate the filing of cases in Court,” she added.   

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