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.

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.

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