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Petitioning Leila De Lima, Justice Secretary, Department of Justice
Petition by: Free Zara Alvarez Movement
ZARA REBOTON ALVAREZ, 32 years old, is a teacher by profession and a human rights and political activist. She was illegally arrested on October 30, 2012 in her hometown Cadiz City. To date she is still detained on trumped-up charges of murder and robbery in band in an attempt to silence her and dozens of other human rights advocates in the Philippines.
She is believed to have fallen victim to widespread political persecution targeting legal activists with trumped-up charges.
Alvarez was the chair and national council member of ANAK BAYAN-Negros, a progressive youth organization, and a deputy general secretary of the umbrella organization BAYAN-Negros. She also was the campaign and education director for the human rights organization KARAPATAN-Negros. A single mother of a three-year-old child she still manages to work for the alliance of human rights advocates in North Negros (NNAHRA).
Committed to assist the marginalized and disadvantaged in the Philippine society to assert their basic civil, political, social and economic rights, Alvarez became herself a victim of the injustice she was exposing.
We, family, friends and fellow activists and human rights defenders, appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of ZARA R. ALVAREZ for her to rejoin her daughter, her family and to exercise her constitutional rights!
There are more than 400 Political Prisoners detained by the Philippine government today. Help end political persecution in the Philippines. Free all Political Prisoners in the Philippines!
FREE ZARA R. ALVAREZ! NOW!
May 19, 2013 No Comments
Six years and still no Jonas, three years of Aquino and still no justice
Karapatan, Desaparecidos Press Release –
April 25, 2013
Nearing the 6th year of the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos, his
family, friends, and various organizations such as Karapatan and
Families of Desaparecidos for Justice held a mass for Jonas at the
Quiapo Church this morning. The mass was celebrated by His Eminence Luis
Antonio Cardinal Tagle, D.D., Archbishop of the Diocese of Manila.
Dubbed as “Mass for Truth and Justice,” the activity was sponsored by
the Free Jonas Burgos Movement, End Impunity Alliance and the Promotion
for Church People’s Response.
“It is painful that after six years, Jonas is still missing; but it is
atrocious that no one was prosecuted among those who abducted and are
still hiding him, even as the Court of Appeals already considered the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) responsible and Maj. Harry Baliaga
accountable,” said Lorena Santos, secretary general of Desaparecidos.
“Worse, after three years in office, the Aquino government had done
nothing definite, except to create investigative bodies, to pursue this
case; like all other cases of enforced disappearances that happened
during the Arroyo administration,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina
Palabay said. “In fact, enforced disappearances continue under this
regime, with a total of 14 cases based on our documentation,” Palabay added.
The Court of Appeals last March issued a Writ of Amparo resolution
holding the AFP responsible for the disappearance of Burgos. A week
later, the Burgos family through Mrs. Edita Burgos, mother of Jonas,
filed additional evidence to the Supreme Court including a photo of
Jonas allegedly during military captivity. Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año,
recently appointed ISAFP Chief, was among the respondents, with Brig.
Gen. Romeo Tolentino and Gen. Hermogenes Esperon. Rights groups, with
Mrs. Burgos, called for the removal of Gen. Año from his post and make
“Arroyo generals” face the courts.
“The Aquino government does not know how it is for the families of
desaparecidos to wait for a day, much more to wait for six long years.
It does not know how we feel each time a new case of disappearance
happens. The government does not only show callousness on our plight,
but also continues to hurt and it angers us to see that instead of
punishing the perpetrators, they are allowed by their positions to
commit the same crime to other people,” Santos said.
“Victims of human rights violations and their kin, human rights
organizations and civil libertarians have long called for an end to the
culture of impunity. This government can no longer claim to be still
cleaning up the mess of the previous regime for it has been in power for
three years now,” Palabay said. “In fact, military abuses and human
rights violations continue, perpetrators of these acts still enjoy their
freedom and they are even promoted to key positions to commit more human
rights violations against the people, under Oplan Bayanihan,” Palabay
“We are now watching how the government will uphold the law it signed
four months ago – the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act of 2012; and we
want to know if military personnel involved in ALL enforced
disappearance cases and those who cover these up will be punished,”
Santos challenged the Noynoy Aquino administration.
Families of the disappeared who joined the Burgos family in this
Eucharistic celebration wore bandanas with slogan “Stop Enforced
Disappearances!” The bandanas were inspired by the Madres de Plaza de
Mayo in Argentina in the 70’s. The mothers of the disappeared would come
to Plaza de Mayo wearing bandanas and carrying the photos of
desaparecidos to remind the military government of their missing sons
Those who attended the holy mass called to: “Surface Jonas Burgos and
all desaparecidos! Stop enforced Disappearances! Punish perpetrators!
End impunity!” ###
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, Karapatan, +63917-3162831
Lorena “Aya” Santos, Secretary General, Desaparecidos, +639229392834
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, +63918-9790580
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
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
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.
May 19, 2013 No Comments
NZ groups join Filipino Mothers’ Appeal to Aquino: Surface the victims of enforced disappearance, release political prisoners!
From: Phil Solidarity [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, 10 May 2013 5:09 p.m.
To: International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Subject: Mothers’ day Appeal to Aquino: Surface the victims of enforced disappearance, release political prisoners!
10 May 2013
NZ groups join Filipino Mothers’ Appeal to Aquino: Surface the victims of enforced disappearance, release political prisoners!
Philippine solidarity groups in New Zealand are raising alarm that there will be more brazen
state-sponsored human rights abuses after the GPH’ unilateral termination of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
“We have just heard that Estelita “Nanay Neneng” T. Tacalan, a 60-year old peasant rights advocate, went missing for 10 days. Though she was eventually surfaced by the military, it is deplorable that she now faces trumped-up charges – the same fate suffered by over 300 political prisoners in the Philippines . With the termination of GPH-NDFP peace talks, we fear the Aquino government will further ignore the calls to stop the abductions, killings and filing of trumped-up criminal charges against political activists,” Cameron Walker, spokesperson of Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS).
“When I visited the Philippines last year, I met Angie Ipong of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines , who, like Nanay Neneng, was abducted by state forces and held incommunicado before being surfaced to a prison to face trumped up charges. Angie was physically, mentally and sexually abused by her captors. While Mother’s day is being celebrated, it is disturbing to hear that mothers like Nanay Neneng, Angie Ipong and many others have been grossly violated by state security forces,” Walker lamented.
In an earlier statement, APS together with Wellington Kiwi Pinoy (WKP) and Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) noted, “The GPH’ unilateral termination of peace talks with the NDFP bodes ill for human rights. This major setback in the GPH-NDFP peace talks is a serious mid-term crisis which will likely spell more brazen human rights violations in the next three years of the Aquino administration.”
In the spirit of international solidarity, we echo the appeals of Mrs Edita Burgos and all mothers of the disappeared for Pres. Aquino to do everything in his power as Commander-in-Chief of the Philippine military to surface Jonas Burgos and all the victims of enforced disappearance. We join the demand of the families of “Nanay Leleng” and all political prisoners for Pres. Aquino to grant unconditional amnesty and stop the government forces from committing any more illegal detention and torture,” Walker concluded.
Spokesperson, Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS)
May 10, 2013 No Comments
Philippine Military admits that Human Rights Defender Bayles was killed by them
23 April 2013
Karl Ombion, writing for Bulatlat.com, reports that in a court hearing
on 18 April 2013 at RTC Branch 55, in Himamaylan City, Adjutant General
Alexis Gopico and Lt. Col Ricardo B Bayhon positively identified the two
suspects in the brutal murder of Philippine human rights defender
Benjamin Bayles as military enlisted men. Edre Olalia, legal counsel of
the victim’s family, and Secretary General of National Union of People’s
Lawyers (NUPL), confirmed this report. Bayles was murdered 14 June 2010
by two suspects who claimed to be Roger Bajon and Ronnie Caurino when
they were captured by Himamaylan police operatives hours after the
incident. Olalia said “the confirmation, positive identification and
specific personal pinpointing of the killers of activist Benjamen Bayles
by top army officials as enlisted personnel under their command is a
welcome development and a high point in making perpetrators of extra
judicial killings accountable.”
This is ultimately a product of public vigilance and pressure by human
rights defenders aided also by conscientious legal work, Olalia
stressed, but it remains to be seen if this leads to a deeper
investigation, determination of other guilty parties, including
possibly, superior officers. The accused who are lowly private first
class personnel maybe sacrificial dispensable small fry to stop the
investigation and let masterminds escape identification and
prosecution.”“As in other cases, like that of Jonas Burgos, extra
judicial killings and enforced disappearances and other rights
violations, there is no closure until there is full justice for the
victims,” Olalia concluded.
May 10, 2013 No Comments
To the 52nd birthday of James Balao
1677th day of his disappearance
To president Benigno Aquino III,to the former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of Philippines, mass media, trade unions and to the international democratic public, to the human rights organizations- please forward this email wherever and whenever you can to strengthen the international protest and solidarity movement for human rights in the Philippines, which people needs for their life in standing up to fight for a liberated world!
On the Monday demonstration against the unsocial law Hartz 4 we continue our vigil for James Balao in Stuttgart on the 22nd of April 2013. We counted - as it was decided in October 2008 in the partnership agreement between the Monday-Demonstration Movement Stuttgart and the family Balao and Cordillera People Alliance (CPA) - the days of the disappearance of James Balao.
Today we remembered with a touching little action on his 52nd birthday at the last Friday, the 19th of April. Some participants demanded on little banner Stop the killings in the Philippines ! Last Fryday friends in the Philippines made as well a memorial-action in some towns and cities in the Philippines .
A friend read in Stuttgart a text in memoriam to James
James Balao’s 52nd Birthday (19th April 2013)
Your birthday, James Balao
Is the 1677th day of your
Days of sorrow,
years of protest ,
years of searching for you.
We still do not know,
where you are,
if you are still alive,
if you are tortured
or if they killed you cowardly
as they do it with so many freedom fighters
in the Philippines and worldwide.
We do not forget you.
You have been 47 years old,
as you was abducted
by five state security agents
made in USA
in the sunny morning of
September 17, 2008 in La Trinidad, North Luzon .
They took you to the Philippine National Police
Headquarters Camp Dangwa .
Since that time we are searching for you.
We count the days of your disappearance
even far away of you in Stuttgart , Germany .
Since that time your Mam and your Dad died
without hugging you again.
They claim you as a “terrorist”.
But you protected the ancestral heritage of the indigenous people
against open pit mining by the multinational monopolies.
Their economy of profit destroys air, water and life.
Your mountains looks like a big wounded skin of Pacha Mama,
crying in pain and anger for freedom.
Since that time they prepare again wars
made in USA in rivalry to China
for oil, gaz and gold.
Since Aquino III is President (2010),
137 activists are
extrajudicial killed and
14 were enforced disappeared like you,James.In their prisons there are more than 576 activists jailed.
Since that time they talk still about human rights.
But in reality they terrorize the people
and want to mislead and to derail the continuing search for James.
On your 52nd birthday we demand for
the complete truth and for the stop of impunity.
Our fight goes on
demanding for James Balao’s
immediate and unconditional surfacing,
until we know what happened with him in reality.
The Madres de Placo Mayo in Buenos Aires
demand since more than 30 years justice and truth.
But we know with Pablo Neruda:
“They are able to destroy one flower,
but they can´t destroy the spring!”
May 10, 2013 No Comments
Earth Day protesters expose ecological destruction under PNoy
Aquino admin’s policies worsened degradation of environment
April 22, 2013
For Immediate Release
Environmentalists and militants protested today in the Quezon Memorial Circle where President Aquino was the guest of honor in the PH government’s Earth Day activity. The protesters decried claims of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that ‘ecogovernance’ is one of the top priorities of the Aquino government.
“We are dumbfounded by government’s claims that the administration is serious in its ‘ecogovernance’. The environmental track record of the Aquino administration shows otherwise. In 2012, three devastating mine spills happened including the Philex’ Padcal mine spill which is touted as the biggest mining disaster our country has ever experienced. These mine spills happened right after PNoy issued his Mining Executive Order or EO 79, a policy that is nothing but propaganda to make the mining industry appear strictly regulated,” said Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
In August 1, the Padcal mining project of Philex Mining Corporation started to release millions of metric tons of mine waste into the water bodies in Benguet and Pangasinan. Another mining company, CitiNickel, had two mine spills that contaminated rivers in Palawan province. Philex is the biggest mining company in the country.
“Pinayagan din ng gobyernong Aquino ang mga kumpanya na may mahabang listahan ng paglabag at pagsira sa kalikasan. Sa pamamagitan pa nga ng EO 79, kinokontra ng Malacanang ang awtoridad ng mga lokal na pamahalaan na pigilan ang mga mapaminsalang pagmimina sa kanilang mga probinsya,” Bautista added.
Based on government data, the Aquino administration granted mining permits covering 945,660 hectares of lands. It also granted an environmental compliance certificate to infamous mining company Xstrata.
“The Aquino administration has also aggravated the fragile state of our marine and coastal ecosystems. It has done nothing substantial to address the impending reclamation of 38,000 hectares of foreshore areas, which covers 10 percent of important habitats such as seagrass expanses and mangrove forests. It had allowed foreign vessels to destroy significant areas of coral reefs in Tubbataha, not once but twice, and seems bent on letting the culprits off the hook,” Bautista pointed out.
“On top of these, the PNoy government failed to arrest state-sponsored impunity towards environmental activists. Not a single case from the at least 66 recorded killings of environmental advocates has been resolved. In fact, under the Aquino administration a total of 26 killings of environmental activists were registered and remains to be addressed,” said Leon Dulce of Task Force Justice for Environmental Defenders (TF JED).
“Kamakailan lang, mahigit 70 na health worker, social worker, madre, mamamahayag at maging mga kasama naming environmental advocate ay patuloy na nililigalig ng mga militar pagkatapos nilang maglunsad ng isang national humanitarian and fact-finding mission sa mga apektadong lugar ng bagyong Pablo. Nararapat lang na bigyan ng karampatang tugon dito ang gobyernong Aquino bago sila magyabang ng kanilang pamamahala sa kapaligiran at mga komunidad na apektado ng pagkasira nito,” reiterated Dulce.
The TF-JED cited prominent environmentalists killed under the Aquino administration to include Palawan environmental broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega, top botanist Leonard Co and Italian priest Fr. Pops Tentorio.
“Ang pagtapon ng lason sa Subic Bay, ang pagsadsad ng USS Guardian at ng Tsinong barko sa Tubbataha, ang bigong tugon sa trahedya ng Bagyong Pablo sa Mindanao, at ang mga mapanirang proyektong reklamasyon sa Manila Bay ay ilan lang sa mga kongkretong ebidensya ng kapalpakan ng administrasyon Aquino sa pangangalaga ng kapaligiran at pamamahala ng ating likas-yaman. ‘Total failure’ ang pamamahala sa kalikasan ng gobyernong Aquino,” Bautista ended. ###
Reference: Clemente Bautista, national coordinator, Kalikasan PNE, 09228449787
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
May 10, 2013 No Comments
Many Filipinos leave the country in the hope that working abroad could help them uplift their living conditions, would be able to send loved ones to a good school, buy medicines for their family members who are sick and secure a different future, especially for their children. More often than not, the phenomenon of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) end up as victims of maltreatment and exploitation.
“Migrante (The Filipino Diaspora)” is directed and written by award winning Filipino director and screenwriter Joel C. Lamangan and Bonifacio Ilagan respectively.
A joint venture of Kanlungan Filipino Charity and Migrante Europe, the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines to highlight the links between the issues of poverty and migration in the Philippines vis-à-vis the situation of Filipino migrants in the UK. CHRP, and Kanlungan Filipino Charity, have partnered with Philippine-based XITI Productions and Migrante Europe, to bring the film to Europe.
April 13, 2013 No Comments
Stop Enforced disappearances! Surface Jonas Burgos now! Justice to all victims of human rights violations! – Original URL source: http://justiceformelissa.org/
Apr 4th, 2013 by Melissa Roxas
As a survivor of abduction by the Philippine military in 2009, my heart went out to the Burgos family after I heard the favorable news of the Philippine Court of Appeals ruling last week on the case of Jonas Burgos. After years of presenting the case before the Philippine Courts, the Court of Appeals has finally recognized that the Armed Forces of the Philippines was responsible for the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos.
The Burgos family filed a petition for the writ of habeas corpus after Jonas disappeared in 2007. The license plate number of the vehicle used during the abduction of Jonas was traced to an impounded vehicle inside the camp of the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in Bulacan, a province north of Metro Manila.
The Courts did not help because justice delayed is justice denied. It took nearly six years before the Courts made their ruling and ordered the AFP to release Jonas Burgos.
Despite promises to improve the human rights situation in the country, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III also has failed to genuinely investigate the disappearance of Jonas Burgos and other desaparecidos. In December 2012, he even appointed Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año as the new chief of the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP). Año is a military officer that is implicated in gross human rights violations, including involvement in the abduction of Jonas Burgos.
Under the Aquino III administration, Army Maj. General Jovito Palparan has not been arrested and is still a free man in hiding. Palparan has been on the run since the Philippine Department of Justice issued a resolution implicating him and three of his men in the abduction of two University students, Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, in 2006.
In 2008, through the people’s lobbying efforts in Congress, Senator Barbara Boxer successfully pushed for the restriction of $3 million of military aid to the Philippines because of the political killings and human rights violations. However, the Philippine government continues to petition for the removal of these conditions because it says that the Aquino government has shown that it has made efforts to improve the human rights situation in the Philippines.
- Melissa Roxas
April 13, 2013 No Comments
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAU-010-2013
3 April 2013
[RE: AHRC-UAU-036-2012: PHILIPPINES : Two urban poor leaders and 30 others falsely charged with murder] ——————————————————————— PHILIPPINES : Court records, military asset and military documents were used as evidence to affirm fabrication of charges on activists
ISSUES: Human rights defenders; administration of justice; fabrication of charges ———————————————————————
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing with deep concern that the investigation conducted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after our appeals concerning the fabrication of charges on two urban poor leaders was ineffective. It appears that CHR investigators did not investigate adequately and thoroughly. Rather than conducting a serious investigation they collected documents from the court, cited confessional evidence of a military asset and documents from the military to conclude their report.
In December 19, 2012, we issued an appeal concerning the fabrication of charges on Roy Velez, regional chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Amelita Gamara, of Defend Job Philippines , and 30 others. For details please see: AHRC-UAU-036-2012.
In response to our appeal, on January 21, 2013 the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Regional Office in Naga City conducted their investigation. In their investigation, however, the CHR reaffirmed the filing of charges on them and concluded that:
“……..It appears on the evidences presented by the side of the complainant that the witnesses were former members of the NPA who positively identified the list of accused in this case. The witnesses were able to recount the incident of the attack as it happened……..
The right to due process includes the right to meet your accusers and their witnesses face to face. The witnesses in this case were willing to testify for and in behalf of the victims. They stand by their testimony that they have witnessed the commission of the crime and that they were able to identify the names of the accused for they were once of the NPA but are now rebel returnees.
The accused should face the accusations against them in order for them to be able to give their side of the case and to prove their innocence in the crime they are accused of. (Attys. Arlene Alangco & Donnah Federico-Madrona, CHR Region V sub-office Investigation Report, January 21, 2013, pp. 4-5)”
Upon receipt of the CHR’s report, the AHRC forwarded the copy to Roy Velez and Amelita Gamara who are presently forced to go into hiding.
In her reply, Gamara pointed out:
“……The contents of the report was a disappointment to me. It was a rephrased copy of the Information and Resolution from the prosecutor who filed the case before the Branch 64 Labo Regional Trial Court
…..we were denied of this right because not a single piece of this information came to our knowledge until two persons were arrested (Raul Camposano and Randy Vegas of COURAGE) under the same warrant of arrest. The CHR one sidedly relied on the complainants’ and witnesses’ statements that we live in some general location address, and conveniently stated in the resolution that no response came from the address to where they sent the notices.”
In his reply, Velez pointed out:
“In the declaration of their definition of “truth”, is it as if the CHR merely use the statements of facts information which came from only one side? If the military is the one accusing a certain person, and you are not biased, you will not use/issue a statement of fact that is purely one‐sided.
Did the confirm that me and Amelita Bravante were really there? It is VERY CLEAR that they DID NOT. They did not even attempted to go to the KMU National’s office which is just a 30‐minute ride from their office in UP. They did not even ask for our opinion or our side of the story and they just used the information in the court that came only from the military.
COMMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS OF THE AHRC:
In concluding their report, the CHR relied heavily on the court documents they obtained from a Court Interpreter at the Regional Trial Court Branch (RTC), Branch 64, in Labo, Camarines Norte on January 15, 2013. The CHR ignored the victims’ alibi that they could not have been physically present in Barangay Maot, Labo, Camarines Norte on April 29, 2012, where the attack that killed four soldiers took place.
In the unofficial translation of their sworn statements originally written in Filipino, in Gamara’s statement & Velez’ statement it was clear that they were both in Metro Manila, and could not have been physically present at the location where the crime happened. However, there is nothing in the CHR’s investigation report that includes their testimonies.
The testimonies of the witnesses, where the CHR pointed as evidence of the “positive identification of the accused,” were witnesses: Gil Oresaca, an intelligence person working for the military and SP02 Reynate Nacario, who neither knew the perpetrators of the attack in person or by their names. Also, the documents of the investigation the CHR has quoted is information provided by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), not the police, because the CHR did not even get the forensic investigation report despite repeated requests.
Also, it is unthinkable for Oresca to identify with accuracy the names, aliases and exact home address of the 23 rebels, two of whom are the accused Velez and Gamara, at once in a very chaotic situation of attack. Also SP02 Nacario’s ‘positive identification’ of the accused was not his identification, but from the military men who had debriefed him and given him the names of the supposed identities of the perpetrators.
Gamara and Velez were both in Metro Manila on the same day the killing happened. In fact, Gamara could not walk properly due to her illness and medical condition. Also, there were witnesses who could testify that Velez was physically present in the Silverio compound, Paranaque City , to assist the burial of a villager who was killed in a demolition.
Moreover, when the CHR conducted its investigation neither Velez nor Gamara was given the opportunity to respond to the allegations. The AHRC is deeply concerned by the manner in which the CHR is conducting its investigation in this case.
Therefore, we urged the CHR to review their investigation. The victims, who are also the accused in the fabricated criminal charges should be given an opportunity to respond substantively to the allegations against them.
Urgent Appeals Programme Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines
Follow us on: Facebook: ahrc pilipinas Twitter: @ahrcphilippines Podcast: AHRC Philippines Rights Cast
April 13, 2013 No Comments
Rights body hails CA ruling AFP behind Burgos abduction
By Gil C. Cabacungan, Philippine Daily Inquirer -
28 March 2013
The Court of Appeals (CA) ruling declaring the Armed Forces of the Philippines and not Leftist rebels was directly responsible for the “enforced disappearance” of journalist and activist Jonas Burgos is being hailed as a “concrete, positive step” towards getting to the bottom of the climate of impunity which gripped the Arroyo administration.
Commission on Human Rights Chair Loretta Ann P. Rosales on Wednesday bared the March 18 decision of the Court of Appeals on the petition for habeas corpus filed by Burgos’ mother, Edita, against the AFP and its officers led by former Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon which she said reinforced the perception of a military cover-up of the abduction.
In a statement, Rosales said the CA decision recognized the abduction of Jonas Burgos as an enforced disappearance case covered by the rule on the writ of amparo. “The decision is noteworthy because it
categorically declares the AFP, as an institution, directly accountable for the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos. This conclusion effectively discredits the theory propounded by the Armed Forces that Jonas was the victim of an internal CPP-NPA plot,” said Rosales.
“The court held that the impleaded high officials of the AFP—Generals Esperon, [Lt. Gen. Romeo] Tolentino, Juanito Gomez and Delfin Bangit, etc.—were ‘imputed with knowledge relating to the enforced disappearance’ and therefore duty-bound to disclose all relevant facts concerning the case, as well as to investigate it with extraordinary diligence. Unfortunately, by failing to fully cooperate with the CHR
investigation team, to the extent of denying the team access to vital documents, the AFP has failed to comply with its duties,” said Rosales. “The unwillingness of the respondent officers of the 56th IB to
cooperate in the investigation conducted by CHR was taken by the Court as ‘persuasive proof of the alleged cover-up of the military’s involvement in the enforced disappearance.’”
Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr.
The court not only ruled that Maj. Harry A. Baliaga Jr., and the AFP, specifically the Philippine Army, as responsible for Burgos’ disappearance, it also held the Philippine National Police accountable for failing to conduct an exhaustive investigation of the case.
Rosales said the court cited the Balao v Macapagal-Arroyo case to differentiate the military’s esponsibility and accountability: “Accountability … refers to the measure of remedies that should be addressed to those who have exhibited involvement in the enforced disappearance without bringing the level of their complicity to the level of responsibility …; or who are imputed with knowledge relating to the enforced disappearance and who carry the burden of disclosure; or those who carry, but have failed to discharge, the burden of extraordinary diligence in the investigation of enforced disappearance.”
“I am happy over these developments. They are concrete positive steps on the part of the judiciary to address the climate of impunity that claimed the lives of hundreds of human rights activists during
the previous administration,” said Rosales.
3 separate probes
Rosales said that the CA directed the AFP, the PNP CIDG, and the CHR to continue with their respective probes until all those responsible for the disappearance of Burgos have been brought to justice. The court likewise urged the PNP-CIDG to look into whether the abductors in the Burgos and Erap 5 incident case were the same. Rosales said that the police and military have likewise been ordered to provide full assistance to the CHR including submission of quarterly reports on the progress of their investigations.
“All in all, the court mandates three separate investigations. In order, however, to realize the twin goals of serving justice on the perpetrators of Jonas’s enforced disappearance, and turning the AFP and the PNP away from their repressive reputation, the resources—time, personnel and logistical—of the three institutions must be brought to bear under a common spirit of justice, transparency and accountability,” said Rosales.
Rosales said the CHR would request the court to “to elaborate on the full measure of accountability ascribed to the AFP, i.e. whether this extends to the duty to recompense the family of Jonas Burgos as required under international human rights law.”
Andy Whitmore (Whit)
Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks)
Communications and Research
Finspace, 225-229 Seven Sisters
Road, London, N4 2DA
Ph / fax: + 44 (0)207 263 1002
Email: email@example.com Web: http://www.piplinks.org
“Big change looks impossible
when you start and inevitable when you finish” – Bob Hunter
April 13, 2013 No Comments