Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines

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Philippines: Conflicts and Human Rights Under Duterte

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Philippines: Conflicts and Human Rights Under Duterte

Duterte Government and Rebel negotiating teams in public forum in London.

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has shocked the world in the last few months with an estimated 5-6,000 extrajudicial killings in his “war against drugs”. Already there are reports of political activists being killed under the cover of this campaign by local police and death squads.  Much less media coverage has been given, in the confusing reconfiguration of Philippine politics under Duterte, to the current peace talks between the government and the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) guerrillas to end 48 years of armed conflict. It is estimated that the armed conflict – the longest in Asia – has claimed around 40,000 lives to date.

This month will see the third round of these talks, which have been sponsored by the Royal Norwegian Government, taking place in Rome. It marks a crucial stage in the negotiations as the agenda turns to economic and social justice, and the issue of the current extra-judicial killings must come under discussion.

The Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP), in co-operation with the UK- based NGO Conciliation Resources and the UNISON Filipino Activist Network, is organising a public discussion in London which will involve both government and NDF negotiators who will have come straight from the Rome talks. The meeting is responding to the enormous interest among the thousands of Filipinos in the UK, many of them working in jobs in health and social services. The UK has the largest Filipino migrant population in Europe.

MEDIA COVERAGE IS REQUESTED FOR THE FOLLOWING:
PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE
 

27th January 2017, Friday, 5.00pm

The UK public forum on Conflicts and Human Rights under Duterte will take place at 5.00 pm on Friday 27 January 2017 at the UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY. There will be a special briefing for the press at 6.30 pm where interviews can be held.

30th January 2017, Monday, 4.00pm

A meeting between the peace teams and MPs will also take place take place hosted by Nicole Piche, Coordinator/Legal Adviser, All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group on Monday 30 January, at the Houses of Commons, Room. There will be an opportunity for press interviews after the meeting from 4.00pm.

Media liaisions:

Jamima Fagta
E: secretary@chrp.org.uk
M: +447958 389370

Rafael Joseph Maramag
E: info@chrp.org.uk
M: +447958 482753

Related links:

Eventbrite page: www.london-peace-forum.eventbrite.co.uk
Website info: www.chrp.org.uk/2017/london-peace-forum-venue-changed

Download versions: pdf, docx, jpg p1, jpg p2

January 19, 2017   No Comments

Just & Lasting Peace PH: A Public Forum on the Ongoing Peace Talks in the Philippines

Open below in a new web browser

The public forum aims to provide updates on the ongoing Peace Talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Why are there peace talks happening in the Philippines?

A civil war has been happening in the Philippines since 1969, the longest communist insurgency in Asia. Historical and systemic injustice and oppression experienced by the majority of the Filipino people have driven many Filipinos to seek fundamental societal changes through armed struggle. That civil war continues throughout the country today.

The peace talks thus far

The first round of talks between the GRP and NDFP were successfully concluded in August 2016 wherein a six-point agreement was signed in Oslo, Norway. During the second round of talks in October also in Oslo, the GRP and NDFP were able to reach common drafts for the framework and outlines of the substantive agenda on socio-economic, political and constitutional reforms, and the end of hostilities and disposition of forces. A draft amnesty proclamation was said to be submitted to the Office of the President covering the release of 434 political prisoners, which would bring about a bilateral ceasefire agreement between the GRP and NDFP.

At present, both parties have indefinite unilateral ceasefires in place. To date, the amnesty granting the unconditional release of all political prisoners are still stalled.

The third round of talks are scheduled on 16-25 January 2017 in Rome Italy where the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), which would address the roots of the armed conflict and would be the main framework for a just and lasting peace, would be tabled, amongst other agenda.

Filipino migrants engagement

During the opening ceremony of the first round of peace talks in Oslo, a delegation from Filipino migrants in different parts of Europe was able to present a document containing their migrants agenda — issues and demands dear to the hearts of Filipino migrants. Filipino migrants now number more than 10 million scattered in different parts of the world and their remittances have played a big role in keeping the Philippine economy afloat.

Click on the image thumbnail to make them larger.
Facebook event page here
Register with Eventbrite here

 

 

January 7, 2017   No Comments

Deadliest Place to Deal

Deadliest Place to Deal

Rodrigo Duterte swept to power in the Philippines promising to clean up
the country by ‘slaughtering’ anyone involved in illegal drugs. Livvy
Haydock investigates.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p04tjf7w/deadliest-place-to-deal

Saw something on it on BBC breakfast news this morning – haven’t watched
it yet. Unfortunately looks like there is no place to comment to see if
there is follow up …

W

March 22, 2017   No Comments

Network urges both panel to put victims at the center of talks

PMPI PRESS RELEASE
20 MARCH 2017

Groups support peace talks
“Think of communities, victims in peace nego”

With the resumption of peace talks, the fourth negotiations between the Philippine Government (GRP) and the country’s communist group is set to continue April 1.

A network of civil society organization and rights groups expresses relief and lauds the peace panels of the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) for agreeing to get back to table.

The Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) as well emphasizes that while the network “is happy that a light of hope glints as the GRP-NDFP peace table is back on track, both parties this time must also consider prioritizing bilateral ceasefire.”

“We are relieved that the wind has changed in favor of just and lasting peace. But the fact that attacks, encounters, and deadly firefights are still happening in communities still keeps us all awake at night,” Yoly Esguerra, the national coordinator of the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) said.

Esguerra also highlighted that they call on both parties to put the victims of the conflict at the center of the negotiation

“The discussion of what needs to be set-out in the future is important, which is why we celebrate that this peace table is back and functional. This time, however, both parties must consider that listening and giving space and justice to the victims of long-standing war should not be a separate agenda,” she added.

According to Esguerra, the network believes that victims, the vulnerable communities, the and the grassroots affected by this conflict must be prioritized to be able to lay a strong foundation of the peace based on justice that PMPI is envisioning.

PMPI Co-Convenor and Oblates of Notre Dame nun, Sr. Susan Bolanio expressed her frustration over the volatile position of both the government and the CPP-NPA-NDFP in the peace talks.

“If we talk about peace in this generation, we work for it. Please take peace talks seriously. I have been working in the community for more than forty years. I have visited countless of families, communities who suffered from armed conflict. It is these communities in rural areas that suffer most,” Sr. Susan said.

The network appeals for “more openness, trust, and transparency” in the continuing peace dialogue.

“We dream of dialogue tables that are inclusive, ensuring participation of various stakeholders from the communities, the NGOs, church, the academe and even from the business,” the statement of PMPI said.

Recent news brought to light deaths from the police force in an alleged attack of suspected New Peoples Army member. The latter, however, in a statement revealed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines have conducted aerial bombings in provinces in Mindanao since February, killing farmers and civilians.

“With people and combatants getting injured and dying in rural areas, even the good news that peace talks will continue appears to be a distant reality. We need to manage, if not stop, the violence. Stop this war. Bring, instead, to the peace negotiation table our issues, not in the countrysides that heavily affects the lives and livelihoods of our farmers and indigenous peoples,” said Jack Pamine of Pax Christi, also a member of PMPI.

“Everything is a compelling reason to continue the peace talks. We just have to genuinely listen to the victims and to manage our own rage that can rear its ugly heads at times,” added Esguerra.

–###–

For more info:
Amor J. Tan Singco
PMPI Comms Officer
atansingco.pmpi@gmail.com
www.pmpi.org.ph | +63925.576.7426 | (02) 961.5956

March 22, 2017   No Comments

Groups support peace talks: “Think of communities, victims in peace nego”

PMPI PRESS RELEASE
20 MARCH 2017

Groups support peace talks: “Think of communities, victims in peace nego”

With the resumption of peace talks, the fourth negotiations between the Philippine Government (GRP) and the country’s communist group is set to continue April 1.

A network of civil society organization and rights groups expresses relief and lauds the peace panels of the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) for agreeing to get back to table.

The Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) as well emphasizes that while the network “is happy that a light of hope glints as the GRP-NDFP peace table is back on track, both parties this time must also consider prioritizing bilateral ceasefire.”

“We are relieved that the wind has changed in favor of just and lasting peace. But the fact that attacks, encounters, and deadly firefights are still happening in communities still keeps us all awake at night,” Yoly Esguerra, the national coordinator of the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) said.

Esguerra also highlighted that they call on both parties to put the victims of the conflict at the center of the negotiation

“The discussion of what needs to be set-out in the future is important, which is why we celebrate that this peace table is back and functional. This time, however, both parties must consider that listening and giving space and justice to the victims of long-standing war should not be a separate agenda,” she added.

According to Esguerra, the network believes that victims, the vulnerable communities, the and the grassroots affected by this conflict must be prioritized to be able to lay a strong foundation of the peace based on justice that PMPI is envisioning.

PMPI Co-Convenor and Oblates of Notre Dame nun, Sr. Susan Bolanio expressed her frustration over the volatile position of both the government and the CPP-NPA-NDFP in the peace talks.

“If we talk about peace in this generation, we work for it. Please take peace talks seriously. I have been working in the community for more than forty years. I have visited countless of families, communities who suffered from armed conflict. It is these communities in rural areas that suffer most,” Sr. Susan said.

The network appeals for “more openness, trust, and transparency” in the continuing peace dialogue.

“We dream of dialogue tables that are inclusive, ensuring participation of various stakeholders from the communities, the NGOs, church, the academe and even from the business,” the statement of PMPI said.

Recent news brought to light deaths from the police force in an alleged attack of suspected New Peoples Army member. The latter, however, in a statement revealed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines have conducted aerial bombings in provinces in Mindanao since February, killing farmers and civilians.

“With people and combatants getting injured and dying in rural areas, even the good news that peace talks will continue appears to be a distant reality. We need to manage, if not stop, the violence. Stop this war. Bring, instead, to the peace negotiation table our issues, not in the countrysides that heavily affects the lives and livelihoods of our farmers and indigenous peoples,” said Jack Pamine of Pax Christi, also a member of PMPI.

“Everything is a compelling reason to continue the peace talks. We just have to genuinely listen to the victims and to manage our own rage that can rear its ugly heads at times,” added Esguerra.

–###–

For more info:
Amor J. Tan Singco
PMPI Comms Officer
atansingco.pmpi@gmail.com
www.pmpi.org.ph | +63925.576.7426 | (02) 961.5956

March 22, 2017   No Comments

Assassination of Mia-Mascariñas-Green, the wife of former VSO Stuart Green – urgent appeal

Dear friends,

Attached and below an appeal for support for the murder on Mia, the wife of Stuart Green, a former colleague of me when i was still working with the dutch volunteer organization SNV. Stuart was working then with the British organization SVO.
This murder again proves that the vested interests have complete disregard for human rights, be it farmers, workers, journalists, activists or layers.
It is very hard to comprehend a murder, even more a murder of mother in front of her three children.

Below the mail of Arthur Neame, a British colleague of Stuart, who took the initiative of this letter.

Hans

As you may know a little over a month ago Mia-Mascariñas-Green, the wife of former VSO Stuart Green was assassinated in broad daylight in the streets of Tagbilaran. The assassination occurred while Mia was driving her three children home during the afternoon . Her three children were in the back of the car as they watched their mother get hit by seven bullets as the gunmen fired more than 24 rounds at her car. Witnesses and Mia’s eldest daughter told how, as Mia was repeatedly hit, rather than looking at the gunmen she looked back to see if her children were ok.

Mia was an environmental lawyer, she would take up cases ‘pro bono’ for those who could not afford to pay. She was known for her hard work and integrity in a field of work that is, in the Philippines as elsewhere, often disparaged for being of primary service to the wealth and the corrupt. Mia believed in the rule law and in the possibility of the law being of service to all. She was a popular figure on Bohol and more than a thousand people attended her funeral in Bohol and a memorial mass was also conducted in Manila.

It would appear that Mia’s death stemmed from a land dispute which her clients opponents were about to (and have since) lost. Some details of Mia’s death and the case can be found here: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/872386/environmental-lawyer-killed and here: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/local-news/2017/02/18/bohol-lawyers-killers-identified-manhunt-526334

Stuart and his family are personal friends of me and my family here in the Philippines, they are also deeply popular in Bohol ; friends and colleagues of theirs in Bohol and Manila have requested everyone who can to keep raising questions concerning Mia’s murder and to keep pressing the authorities for conclusive results in their investigations. While I, with the advice of others, have put together this statement I have kept Stuart informed of this initiative and he told me that initiatives such as this give him the energy to keep going.

It is vital that pressure is maintained upon the authorities and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

It is intended that recipients of the letter will include:

Chief PNP Bato

The National Police Commission

Sec. Sueno, Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government

Preident Duterte and his Executive Secretary Bong Go

Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco

Vice President Leni Robredo

NBI Director Atty. Dante Gierran,

DOJ Sec Aguirre,

Edgardo M. Chatto, Governor of Bohol

First District Congressman Rene L. Relampagos.

Other Legislators

Members of the Press

I, along with others who have already signed up, am asking that:

1) former volunteers/development workers in the Philippines, Filipino family members and colleagues in the Philippines sign up to the attached letter. Please sign by sending your full name and email address;

2) Send this letter out far and wide to others who may wish to sign.

After one week the names of all those who have signed up will be added to the letter and we will send it out.

Yours, with thanks for your support

Arthur Neame and Arjan Heinen

__._,_.___

Attachment(s) from Andy Whitmore | View attachments on the web

1 of 1 File(s)

Mia statement vols.docx

March 22, 2017   No Comments

Military bombings cause forcible evacuation, threats to communities – Karapatan

Press Statement

March 20, 2017

Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, +63917-3162831

Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 63918-9790580

Military bombings cause forcible evacuation, threats to communities – Karapatan

http://www.karapatan.org/Military+bombings+cause+forcible+evacuation%2C+threats+to+communities

“President Duterte, you say you grieved that you have lost soldiers, but you are losing constituents as well – the majority of the poor people you have sworn to protect when you took oath as President. The peasants, the indigenous people, the urban poor and the many others in the countryside, are they not what constitute the majority of the Filipino people? Shouldn’t you also grieve for their loss and mourn with their families?” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, on the continuing attacks against the people, more recently in Malibcong, Abra and Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte.

“In the course of Duterte’s counter-insurgency programs supported by the US government and the military’s all-out-war, forty two (42) peasants, indigenous peoples, Moro, and workers have already been killed, thousands have already been displaced while many more have been the subject of threats, harassment and intimidation. President Duterte should rethink the direction he has taken because where he is headed is a bloody trail of continuing human rights violations – the same direction that Duterte’s predecessors took,” said Palabay.

Continuous operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have caused the recent forcible evacuation of communities.

On March 14, 2017, more than 300 individuals from Brgy. Hinimbangan, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte evacuated to the barangay’s elementary school, after hearing a loud explosion followed by an exchange of gunshots, only to evacuate again the next day to a farther location in the municipal gymnasium in the town center of Kitcharao, six kilometers away from their community.

On March 16, several residents who attempted to return to their community had to go back to the municipal gymnasium when the 29th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) fired a cannon three times from their position in Camp Edward, situated at the neighboring town of Alegria, aimed at surrounding areas of Brgy. Hinimbangan.

On March 18, at around 9am, the residents were able to slowly return home when 156 soldiers of the 29th IBPA left their community onboard five 6×6 army trucks the day before. The more than 300 residents returned successfully at around 1pm on the 18th but were again alarmed when at 4pm, they saw another batch of soldiers from the same unit arriving yet again in the community. Because of this, after having just returned to their community hours before, residents were forced to evacuate again back to the municipal gymnasium in Kitcharao in the evening. Soldiers of the 29th IBPA had been encamping in the community for eight months, since September 2, 2016.

In a separate incident on March 16, at least 56 families, including 200 children, were affected when the AFP’s 24th IBPA dropped at least 14 bombs in their community in Malibcong, Abra. The aerial strikes caused forest fires in the barangays of Lat-ey and Bangilo, damaged fields, endangered civilians and forced schools to suspend classes. The AFP released a statement insisting that the NPA caused the forest fires and subsequently denied responsibility for the aerial strikes, despite repeated testimonies from villagers that the military’s four (4) fighter jets circled the community and dropped bombs.

On March 18, at around 9am, Abra-based Kabataan partylist members Joshua Gumatay and Antonio Ambalneg Jr. were abducted by elements of the 24th IBPA. They were forced to walk from one area to another and were interrogated for seven hours. The two minors were turned over to the local Department of Social Work and Development and to the town mayor after. As of this writing, military operations continue in Malibcong.

Palabay added that “in Duterte’s repeated attempts to assure the police and the military, not only have they become trigger-happy, but have become fearless instigators of State terrorism.”

“Most especially, for a president who earlier claimed he understood the ideological foundations of armed conflicts in the country, he should move forward not with repression and state-sponsored terrorism, but with a decisiveness to root out and resolve the causes of unrest,” Palabay continued.

“We call on the international community, along with the Filipino citizenry, to strongly denounce the attacks against communities and individuals in the series of bombings, political killings, and illegal arrests. There is a growing need to oppose such fascist attacks against the people, lest they continue with impunity,” concluded Palabay.

———————————————————————
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org
———————————————————————

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights

2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District

Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101

Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.

March 22, 2017   No Comments

PHILIPPINE: THE DEATH PENALTY IS AN INHUMANE, UNLAWFUL AND INEFFECTIVE RESPONSE TO DRUGS

Amnesty International UK
PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TUESDAY 7 MARCH
PHILIPPINES: THE DEATH PENALTY IS AN INHUMANE, UNLAWFUL AND INEFFECTIVE RESPONSE TO DRUGS
The adoption of a draft law by the Philippine House of Representatives to revive the death penalty sets the country on a dangerous path in violation of its international legal obligations, Amnesty International said today.
“The idea that the death penalty will rid the country of drugs is simply wrong,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
“The resumption of executions will not rid the Philippines of problems associated with drugs or deter crime. It is an inhumane, ineffective punishment and is never the solution.
“The Philippines’ attempts to reintroduce it are clearly unlawful. This will just earn the country notoriety as one of the few countries to revive its horrific use.”
Today, the House of Representatives of the Philippines adopted on its third and final reading of House Bill 4727, a measure put forward by President Duterte’s majority coalition to reintroduce the death penalty. The proposal was passed with 216 votes in favour, 54 against and one abstention. The Speaker of the House openly threatened to strip members of Congress of key positions if they dared to vote against the bill, or even abstain from voting. The bill will now go to the Senate.
“The Senate is now the Philippines’ last real hope of upholding its international obligations and rescuing the country from this backwards step,” said Champa Patel.
The draft law has been passed at a time when the country is reeling from a wave of more than 8,000 deaths, many of them through extrajudicial executions in its ‘war on drugs’ since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power on 30 June 2016.
Amnesty is opposed to the death penalty for all crimes and in all circumstances. Under international law, the death penalty must be restricted to most serious crimes, and drug related crimes do not meet this threshold. There is also no evidence to show that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect.
“The death penalty for alleged drug offenders, like extrajudicial executions, violates international law, deprives people of the right to life, and disproportionately targets the poor,” said Champa Patel.
In 2007, the Philippines ratified an international treaty that categorically prohibits executions and commits the country to the abolition of the death penalty. Legally, this obligation cannot be withdrawn at any time.
Since the death penalty was abolished in 2006, the Philippines has been a strong advocate against capital punishment and has championed several initiatives to this end in international forums. It has also worked to commute the death sentences imposed on Filipino nationals abroad, such as overseas workers.
“If the Philippines authorities want to deal with the root causes of drug-related offences, they should support humane, voluntary, health-focused and evidence-based policies as an alternative,” said Champa Patel.
Background
House Bill 4727 is a consolidated version of several proposals adopted by the Sub-Committee on Judicial Reforms of the Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives on 29 November 2016.
As of today, 141 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice; in the Asia Pacific region, 19 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and a further eight are abolitionist in practice. The new Criminal Code of Mongolia abolishing the death penalty for all crimes will become effective in July 2017.
ENDS
Amnesty International UK media information:
Laurie Hanna: 0207 033 1549, laurie.hanna@amnesty.org.uk
Out of hours: 07721 398984, www.amnesty.org.uk
Follow us on Twitter: @Newsfromamnesty
Follow our blog: http://blogs.amnesty.org/pressblog

March 16, 2017   No Comments

GRP-NDFP Peace talks shall continue

Dear Friends,
Warm greetings!
Representatives from the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panels held informal talks on 10-11 March 2017, in Utrecht, the Netherlands with the Royal Norwegian Government acting as host and Third Party Facilitator.
Please find attached scanned copy of the Utrecht Joint Statement*, announcing the results of the talks. The fourth round of formal talks shall be held on the first week of April 2017, while the fifth round is slated for June 2017.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who co-signed and supported JustPeacePH’s call to continue with the peace talks and firm up the much-needed reforms : http://justpeace.ph/continue-the-peace-talks-firm-up-reforms/  (you may still sign-on, to signify your support!)
Your continuing solidarity is very valuable in accompanying the Filipino people in achieving just and lasting peace in the land!
Regards,
Angie M. Gonzales
Coordinator
International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines

* Scanned copy courtesy of the Philippine Peace Center

__._,_.___
Attachment(s) from International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines | View attachments on the web
1 of 1 File(s)
Joint Statement-11March2017.pdf

March 14, 2017   No Comments

GRP-NDFP Peace talks shall continue

Dear Friends,
Warm greetings!
Representatives from the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panels held informal talks on 10-11 March 2017, in Utrecht, the Netherlands with the Royal Norwegian Government acting as host and Third Party Facilitator.
Please find attached scanned copy of the Utrecht Joint Statement*, announcing the results of the talks. The fourth round of formal talks shall be held on the first week of April 2017, while the fifth round is slated for June 2017.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who co-signed and supported JustPeacePH’s call to continue with the peace talks and firm up the much-needed reforms : http://justpeace.ph/continue-the-peace-talks-firm-up-reforms/  (you may still sign-on, to signify your support!)
Your continuing solidarity is very valuable in accompanying the Filipino people in achieving just and lasting peace in the land!
Regards,
Angie M. Gonzales
Coordinator
International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines

* Scanned copy courtesy of the Philippine Peace Center

__._,_.___
Attachment(s) from International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines | View attachments on the web
1 of 1 File(s)
Joint Statement-11March2017.pdf

March 14, 2017   No Comments

Karapatan condemns continuing fascist attacks against the Filipino people

Press Statement
March 10, 2017

Reference:      Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, +63917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, +63918-9790580

Karapatan condemns continuing fascist attacks against the Filipino people

“Karapatan strongly criticizes the recent rhetoric of President Rodrigo Duterte on the declaration of martial law in Mindanao and his orders to members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to “flatten the hills” and drop bombs on rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA),” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, in a rally led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan at the Department of National Defense in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Palabay said “these statements, along with the continuing implementation of counter-insurgency programs Oplan Bayanihan and Oplan Kapayapaan and the AFP’s declaration of all-out war, are being used by the military and police as license to kill and arrest civilians, including leaders and members of people’s organizations.”

Under Duterte, Karapatan documented thirty-nine (39) victims of political killings, twenty were killed from January to March 2, 2017. This includes the recent killings of farmers and anti-mining activists Ramon and Leonila Pesadilla in Compostela Valley by suspected members of the 66th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army on March 2; of farmers Ian and Rolendo Borres in Maayon, Capiz on February 24 by the 61st IBPA led by 1Lt. Joe Mark Bitbit and that of coconut farmer and peasant leader Gilbert Bancat in San Andres, Quezon by elements of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM).

“Bombing of communities has also resulted to the forcible evacuation, destruction of property, illegal arrests and other forms of violations against the people,” Palabay said citing the cases of an estimate of 11,500 residents in Brgy. Pichon, Caraga, Davao Oriental where 12-18 bombs were dropped by the 67th IBPA on July 7 and 8, 2016; the arrest of four farmers and displacement of at least 23 families in Brgy. Parasanon, Maragusan, Compostela Valley in August 2016; and the recent arrest of eight (8) members of the Kaolo tribe and the forcible evacuation of 120 households in Brgy. Datal Anggas, Alabel, Sarangani on February 11, 2017.

“Your armed forces have been bombing communities even at the onset of your administration. You cannot use the alleged incident in Bansalan, Davao del Sur, to justify these violations any further and act as if these State agents are all so innocent,” Palabay said to Duterte.

Forty-three individuals were also illegally arrested and detained from July 2016 to February 2017. Last March 7, four peasant organizers of the Kalipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) were arrested and wounded in Brgy. Camflora, San Andres, Quezon province, during and after the reported operations of SOLCOM elements in the community.

Among those arrested were Christopher Redota, 26, Jennifer Yuzon, 22, Teteng Yuzon and Dana Marie Marcellana. Marcellana is the daughter of Karapatan Southern Tagalog Secretary General Eden Marcellana, who was killed together with peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy by men of Gen. Jovito Palparan on April 21, 2003 in Mindoro Occidental.

Since March 7, the four have been in the custody of the Southern Luzon Command. Their relatives, human rights and church workers have been denied access to detained peasant organizers. “They are illegally arrested and arbitrarily detained. We fear they are being tortured by their military captors. We demand that the SOLCOM release these peasant organizers,” Palabay said.

“These fascist attacks against the people and struggling communities through counter-insurgency programs, together with the relentless extrajudicial killing of poor people through the war on drugs and measures to revive the death penalty under a rotten justice system, are compelling reasons to continue the peace talks between the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and for the people to fight back against repressive and anti-people policies under the Duterte administration,” Palabay concluded. ###

———————————————————————
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org
———————————————————————

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties.  It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.

March 11, 2017   No Comments

Press releases from National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers

Please find below statements from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL):

1. Rights lawyers strongly denounce the killing of Atty. Mia Mascariñas-Green and attacks against lawyers: call for action and demand justice
2. The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers condemns the harassment of Atty. V.J. Topacio, a lawyer of the Pro Labor Center, and a member of the NUPL

We are also very pleased to inform you that the  2016 Karapatan Year-End Report on the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines is now available for downloading and sharing.

——– Forwarded Message ——–

NUPL Press release No. 1 for March 9, 2017
Rights lawyers strongly denounce the killing of Atty. Mia Mascariñas-Green and attacks against lawyers: call for action and demand justice
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers denounces the continuing attacks against lawyers and the legal profession and demands that justice be served to the victims, and that perpetrators be held liable. The NUPL likewise calls for an end to these attacks.
Few days after NUPL expressed alarm over continuing attacks against lawyers and the failure of the government to run after the perpetrators after the killing of retired RTC Judge Victor Canoy and shooting of City Prosecutor Manuel Tesiorna, a known environmental and lady lawyer Atty. Mia Mascariñas-Green from Bohol was killed while driving her children on February 15, 2017 in Tagbilaran City. She died of gunshot wounds in her head and body. “The manner by which Atty. Mia was killed by men riding motorcycles who blocked and fired at her shows it was a planned attack. The pattern of killing is the same as the killings of other lawyers and other political activists in the past years,” said NUPL Secretary-General Ephraim Cortez.
Atty. Mascariñas-Green also handled agrarian and human rights cases in Cebu before she transferred to Bohol and was described by her colleagues as brave and courageous.
With the government’s lackadaisical efforts to investigate these killings amid the growing number of unresolved extrajudicial drug related killings and attacks against political activists, NUPL fears that this new attack will be merely an addition to the long list of unresolved killings. Atty. Mascariñas-Green is not the first, but the seventh lawyer killed under the Duterte administration. One of the seven killed is a judge while two are prosecutors. All seven were shot to death.
Meanwhile, many other members of the legal profession have been subjected to failed killings, threats, vilification, and name-tagging, among others. NUPL believes that this series of attacks against judges, prosecutors and lawyers is not only directed against their persons and the legal profession but also against the litigants and victims’ constitutional right to counsel and justice. It throws a cold water to lawyers and is indeed alarming. If the lawyers representing and defending the victims of rights abuses do not feel safe in the discharge of his duties, not only the cause of action of their clients but justice are at stake. Without that freedom from fear in performing their duties as lawyers, they cannot effectively be agents of justice. Atty. Ian Manticajon of NUPL Cebu said, “The unarmed lawyer, clothed only in his barong, his knowledge of the law, and the authority of his Roll of Attorney’s number, is supposed to be shielded from violence in cases that almost always involve disputes. That’s the only way to ensure that he can do his job effectively for his client.”
“We condemn the killing of Atty. Mia and continuously condemn each and every attack, in whatever form, against lawyers, especially those seriously involved in seeking justice for their clients and victims of rights abuses. We strongly denounce these attacks against the legal profession and the right of every one to counsel. We call the attention of President Duterte, being a lawyer himself and a former prosecutor, to take appropriate action to end these attacks,” said Atty Cortez.
NUPL Chairman Atty. Neri Colmenares added, “We join the National IBP in the condemnation of the killings and call on other lawyers’ groups to denounce these attacks as well. We demand the serious and thorough investigation of these cases and making the perpetrators liable. We reiterate our call for the Supreme Court to step in to preempt the escalation of these attacks and give justice to the victims. Finally, we again appeal to our fellow lawyers to have courage and remain steadfast in providing legal services especially to the poor while battling the continuing attacks against the members of the legal profession.” ###

Press release No. 2 for March 9, 2017

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers condemns the harassment of Atty. V.J. Topacio, a lawyer of the Pro Labor Center, and a member of the NUPL

Atty. Topacio was followed and tailgated after he attended a preliminary investigation hearing of Ferdinand Castillo, the campaign officer of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Metro Manila, who was illegally arrested recently. During the hearing, Atty. Topacio questioned the propriety of the appearance of a certain Bryan De Guzman Bantilan, who introduced himself as a lawyer representing the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police. On his way home after the hearing, Atty. Topacio was followed and chased by a white Toyota Revo with Plate No. SGY 793 and a motorcycle. He was able to shake off the vehicles.

This is not the first time that Atty. Topacio was subjected to such form of harassment. In a similar instance he was also surveilled and followed by suspected state agents a few days after he represented Andrea Rosal, the daughter of former spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Obviously, these are intended to intimidate Atty, Topacio to discourage him to represent victims of harassment by state agents like Ferdinand Castillo and Andrea Rosal.

The harassment of Atty. Topacio, and the recent attacks and killings of other lawyers, is an attack against the legal profession, since these are all obviously intended to prevent them from performing their functions as lawyers and undermine their independence. Ultimately, this is an attack against the client’s right to effective representation as guaranteed by the Constitution and the United Nation Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

As such, the NUPL condemns the harassment of Atty. Topacio, and the continuing attacks against lawyers, and calls on the Government, as well as the military and police establishments, to respect the role of lawyers as embodied in the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, and to stop the attack against them.

Reference:

Atty. Ephraim B. Cortez
NUPL Secretary General
+639175465798

Atty. Cristina Yambot
NUPL Public Information Officer
+639178470301


National Secretariat
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
3F Erythrina Bldg., Maaralin corner Matatag Sts. Central District,Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax no.920-6660
Email addresses: nupl2007@gmail.com and nuplphilippines@yahoo.com
Follow us on twitter @nuplphilippines and facebook @https://www.facebook.com/nuplphilippines
Visit the NUPL website at http://www.nupl.net/

“By calling yourselves the ‘people’s lawyer,’ you have made a remarkable choice. You decided not to remain in the sidelines. Where human rights are assaulted, you have chosen to sacrifice the comfort of the fence for the dangers of the battlefield. But only those who choose to fight on the battlefield live beyond irrelevance.”
– Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, in his message at the NUPL Founding Congress, September 15, 2007

“After long years of experience as a people’s lawyer, I can honestly say it has been a treasured journey of self-fulfillment and rewarding achievement. I know it will be the same for all others who choose to tread this path.”
– Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, NUPL founding chairperson, in his keynote address at the Fifth Conference of Lawyers in Asia Pacific ( COLAP V), September 18, 2010

March 11, 2017   No Comments