Karapatan

Still no justice as the Aquino gov’t refuses to go after its own people

After a year since Fr. Pops Tentorio’s killing 

“It has been a year after the extrajudicial killing of Fr. Fausto Tentorio, and the real masterminds and perpetrators of this heinous offense have not been rendered justice. Karapatan attributes this grave injustice to the persistent denial and stonewalling of the Aquino administration in holding the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its paramilitary groups accountable,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

Yesterday, at the United Nations Human Rights Committee 106th session in Geneva, Switzerland, the head of Philippine government delegation and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that the murder of Fr. Tentorio has not been validated as an extrajudicial killing. 

“Such act of the Aquino administration indicates its refusal to go after its own people, the paramilitary group Bagani which, is under the command of the AFP. Thus, as in almost all cases of human rights violations, the perpetrators run around freely, terrorize many more and do it with impunity,” she said. 

Karapatan said that in April 2012, a new witness to the killing of Fr. Tentorio came out, prompting the members of the Justice for Fr. Fausto Tentorio Movement and the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions (PIME) to file charges against Jan Corbala and four others of the Bagani paramilitary group, also known as Alamara. Corbala is known in Arakan, North Cotabato as “Commander Iring (cat).”  The Bagani paramilitary group is the military’s version of the CAFGU (Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unity) among the indigenous peoples in Mindanao. 

Justice for Fr. Pops 

Prior to this, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has not included the above-mentioned members of Bagani among the respondents in the case, despite information that the said paramilitary group threatened and harassed Fr. Tentorio. Then Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo publicly denied the existence of the said Bagani force and refused to investigate them. 

Mistaken identity, illegal arrest, torture and illegal detention

Rolly Panesa's case typifies Aquino govt's human rights violations 

Rolly Panesa, a security guard of the Megaforce Security, was 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. Panesa was mistaken for “Benjamin Mendoza”, whom the military alleged as a high-ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) with a bounty of P5.6M.  

torture marks 

Panesa recalled that he was interrogated, tortured and forced to admit that he was “Benjamin Mendoza.” Every time he stood by his real identity, he would get a beating.  According to his interrogators, a mole on Panesa’s nape proves that he is “Benjamin Mendoza.”

L-R: Pedro Gonzales, Tinay Palabay, Maritess Chioco, Atty. Rey Cortez  

“Panesa’s case illustrates the Aquino government’s blatant and continuing violation of the Anti-Torture Act and Republic Act 7438 on the rights of arrested or detained persons, among other rights violations. He was wrongfully accused and heaped with fabricated charges based on a mistaken identity. Panesa was subjected to repeated interrogation and beatings, and denied of his right to counsel and immediate and appropriate medical treatment, for the hefty sum of P5.6M, and in pursuance of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

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.

Military told to stop coddling suspected murderers

Karapatan decries the continuing custody of former Air Force colonel and Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) leader Red Kapunan by the military. 
 
Kapunan is one of the primary suspects in the murder of the then chair of Kilusang Mayo Uno, Atty. Rolando Olalia, and his driver, Leonor Alay-ay, in November 1986.  The murders of Olalia and student activist Lean Alejandro were premised as an attempt to derail the Corazon Aquino administration.
 
“We are not surprised at all at this collusion between the military and its former ward.  The suspected perpetrators of the Cadapan-Empeno kidnapping, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, were also placed under military custody instead of putting them in a civilian jail, much to our vehement objections. But we are more appalled by the inaction of the Commander–in-Chief Noynoy Aquino against this highly irregular practice,”  Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General said.
 

Karapatan keeps fight vs Cybercrime law, calls attention of UN

Karapatan, on October 8, 2012, brought the issue of the Cybercrime law to the attention of the United Nations, through Mr. Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and Ms. Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

While the Supreme Court has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) for the implementation of the Cybercrime law for 120 days, “the people must remain vigilant against all possible maneuvers by the Aquino government to implement the said law,” said Karapatan secretary general, Cristina Palabay.  

The letter of complaint sent to the United Nations asked the Special Rapporteurs to urge and recommend to the Government of the Philippines to junk the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and other similar measures, such as the Anti-Terrorism Act, that suppress civil liberties and human rights; and for the Aquino government to take measures to respect and uphold the freedom of speech, expression and of the press.  

Political prisoners now more than 400, Daughter of a desaparecido latest victim

As of September 30, 2012, Karapatan has documented a total of 401 political prisoners in various detention facilities all over the country. Jimmylisa Badayos, daughter of desaparecido Jimmy Badayos,  and Calixto Vistal are among the latest victims of the government’s practice of abduction and illegal detention.
 
On October 5, Badayos and Vistal, were accosted by members of the AFP Military Intelligence Group of Camp Lapu-Lapu and the PNP-Criminal Intelligence Bureau of Camp Sotero Cabahug in Cebu City. The two were at the gates of the EuroForest Products Industries, Inc. in Mandaue City, Cebu when they were accosted and forced to board a waiting vehicle.  They resisted but they were ganged up. Badayos was even physically manhandled by one of the abductors. Her shoulder bag was also taken from her and, she would later find out that the military had planted a gun in it and had shown this to media.
 
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said that, “it has been a year, in September 2011, since Malacanang publicly echoed  Ferdinand Marcos’ statement  that “there are no political prisoners” in the country. Since then, 55 more people were arrested and detained for trumped up criminal charges.”  
 

No assurance for human rights with new generation of trapo

As the filing of candidacy ends today, Karapatan mourned the final line up of those running for public office, especially the senatorial candidates as they “are almost the same people, of the same lineage, and from the same brand of politics, who just sat down on the bills like the Indemnification of Marcos’ human rights victims, anti-Enforced Disappearance and the bill for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. 

“These traditional politicians and so-called newbies, but of the same trapo mold, shamelessly flaunt the “alliance for reform” among the Liberal, Nationalista parties and UNA coalition. This alliance obviously promotes the culture of impunity in the country. Those who should be held accountable for their crimes against the people since martial law; those who approved the promotion of the Arroyo military officials with pending human rights cases before the courts; those who refuse to recognize the existence of political prisoners; those who said nothing on the continuing extrajudicial killings; and those who signed the Cybercrime law, now known as e-martial law, sit side by side with those who supposedly fought martial law, and uphold and protect human rights. How can we curb impunity with this kind of line up of candidates?” added Palabay. 

Climate of impunity worsens with recent killings

While the nation watched the festive frolic as traditional politicians and their families filed their certificates of candidacy at the Commission on Elections and, netizens rage over the passing of the Cybercrime Law, extrajudicial killings continue, worsening the climate of impunity in the country.” thus said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, as the human rights group received reports on two cases of extrajudicial killings in the past two days.
 
In Tarlac, on the month of the observance of the rights and welfare of children, a fourteen-year-old child was felled by a bullet from the arbitrary firing of policemen who reinforced the team out to demolish the houses at   Block 7, San Roque, Tarlac on October 2, 2012. John Khali Lagrimas was hit by a stray bullet that fell on the rooftop of their furniture shop.  He was declared dead on arrival at the Ramos General Hospital in Tarlac City.
 
The 100-member demolition team arrived at the site with some 100 policemen, headed by Tarlac City Police Chief Col. Arnel Ramos. They were armed with M16 and 45 caliber pistols. Aside from the police, there were also 8 Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) men in full battle gear and two fire trucks.  Around 70 residents, who are members of the San Roque Neighborhood Association, barricaded the place.  The policemen fired their guns while the demolition was on going to intimidate the protesters.
The Block 7 San Roque site is the subject of a land dispute being heard at the Regional Trial Court Branch 63 of Tarlac City.  No court order on the demolition was shown the residents.
 
On the following day, October 3, another killing took place in San Nicolas, Puntod, Cagayan de Oro City.  Gilbert  Paborada, Chairperson of Pangalasag (indigenous shield), was shot dead  by motorcycle-riding-in- tandem assassins as he alighted from a motorela (public tricycle).  He sustained five gunshot wounds allegedly coming from a 45-caliber pistol.
 

Cybercrime law violates Intl rights obligations of Aquino Govt

Karapatan today joined activists, netizens, journalists, bloggers, organizations and individuals in a protest action in front of the Supreme Court, to call on the high court to declare the Cybercrime Law unconstitutional; as the measure, which is due to take effect on Oct.3, “poses serious threats to the right to privacy, freedom of speech and expression, among other civil and political rights.” 
 
Members of the organization flashed tablets with electronic posters tagging the Cybercrime Law as a form of “e-martial law,” likening the law to the forms of suppression on civil and political rights by the military dictatorship imposed by former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos.
 
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general and one of those who filed a petition in the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the Cybercrime Act, said that aside from the law’s provisions on libel, the said measure gives free rein on authorities to monitor internet traffic data of internet users and to take down sites which they deem “libelous.” 
 

Cybercrime law another affront to human rights

Karapatan today said that the government deserves all the criticisms and protests generated by the Cybercrime Prevention law that was passed on September 12, a few days before the commemoration of the 40th year of martial law imposition.

“Gauging from the reactions of the netizens, the government failed to achieve the chilling effect with the cybercrime law, that now paves the way for e-martial law. Still, citizens and human rights defenders, especially those with advocacies that utilize the internet as a platform, become increasingly vulnerable to harassment by the government; unless the law is junked,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

Karapatan echoed the position of the online users that the Cybercrime law violates the people’s Constitutional rights as the law infringes on the rights to free speech and privacy. “Many people have been killed, disappeared, arrested and tortured under the Noynoy Aquino government because they speak out the truth, they criticize government policies that are detrimental to the people. Now, the government has brought its battle against the people on the cyberspace.” 

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