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Category — Press Releases

Karapatan: Civilians, progressives, inevitable casualties of AFP’s all-out-war

From: “KARAPATAN Human Rights Update on behalf of publicinfo” <karapatan-updates@googlegroups.com>
To:
Sent: 18/02/2017 5:11:23 PM
Subject: [Karapatan HR update] Civilians, progressives, inevitable casualties of AFP’s all-out-war

Press Statement

February 18, 2017

 

For reference:

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General (09173162831)

Angge Santos, Media Liaison, (09189790580) 

 

Civilians, progressives, inevitable casualties of AFP’s all-out-war

“The cancellation of the talks and the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) subsequent declaration of an all-out-war have generated a long list of casualties in two weeks. From February 3 to February 17, 2017, Karapatan has documented at least eight (8) victims of political killings, most recently involving Edweno Catog, a farmer and member of a local peasant organization in Pantukan, Compostela Valley,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said on yesterday’s killing of Catog.

 

Edweno ‘Edwin’ Catog, 44, a Lumad-Mansaka, is a member of Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Walog Compostela (HUMAWAC). On February 16, 2017, Catog was shot in front of the public in the highway intersection of Brgy. Fuentes, by suspected State security forces. He sustained four (4) gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead-on-arrival after being rushed to the Pantukan Public Hospital. Palabay stated that “the killing of Catog puts the number of political killings in Duterte’s eight months to thirty-one (31).”

On February 3, the day Duterte announced the GRP’s withdrawal from the peacetalks, Lumad leaders Matanem Lorendo Pocuan, tribe leader of the Omayam tribe in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon and Renato Anglao, a Manobo-Pulangihon and secretary-general of Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (TINDOGA), were killed in separate incidents.

On February 6, Emelito Rotimas, a Mansaka and leader of Purok 6, Brgy. Lapu-Lapu, Maco, Compostela Valley, was shot eight (8) times by suspected military agents, while Glenn Ramos, a former coordinator of Bayan Muna in Davao City was shot dead by personnel of Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) while in his house in Maa, Davao City. On February 11, two small-scale miners, Pepito Tiambong and Jerson Bito were killed when the 73rd Infantry Battalion sprayed bullets in a mining tunnel. Four others were injured, including a 15-year old boy.

In Roxas City, Capiz, farmer Orlando Eslana was killed while five others were injured in a shooting incident on February 11, while farmers were staging a Kampuhan to assert their ownership of the land occupied by the Tan Estate, despite the granting of Certificates of Land Ownership Agreement (CLOAs) to farmer-beneficiaries.

“With the intensification of attacks against the people, civilians and members of progressive organizations have inevitably been targeted. Of the eight (8) killings in the first two weeks this month, five are members and leaders of progressive organizations. The recent spate of illegal arrests also shows the trend of apprehending activists,” Palabay said, citing that the number of arrests has numbered to 19 in a span of two weeks.

“The all-out-war further exposes the fascist character of the AFP. US-driven counter-insurgency programs of several regimes, including Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan and Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan, have only resulted to numerous violations against the people. The military’s blatant disregard for the rights of the people, heightened by their all-out-war declaration, will perpetuate resistance, as roots of political dissent and unrest remains,” 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

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. 
__._,_.___

February 19, 2017   No Comments

Greens urge Reds and Duterte gov’t to persevere in peace talks, accelerate negotiations on environmental reforms

Greens urge Reds and Duterte gov’t to persevere in peace talks,
accelerate negotiations on environmental reforms

Kalikasan PNE Press Statement

10 February 2017

We environmental advocates from the Kalikasan People’s Network for the
Environment (Kalikasan PNE) join the growing clamour of peace advocates
urging the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the
revolutionary forces of the National Democratic Front (NDF) to return to
the peace negotiations table, especially with the upcoming round of
talks scheduled for April aimed at forging unities between the two
parties in instituting comprehensive environmental reforms.

It is the polluters and plunderers who will rejoice over the termination
of the peace talks. The upcoming round of talks over the Comprehensive
Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) was expected to produce
a ground-breaking proposed program that would strengthen environmental
regulations, prohibit ecologically destructive practices, and ensure
judicious planning and management in the utilization of our natural
resources.

We urge the Duterte administration to tune out the mad howls of the
military’s dogs of war and listen to the people’s cries for peace and
justice. It is the environment defenders and other ordinary people who
will suffer from the military’s all-out war. In fact, we have monitored
since 2001 at least 112 environment-related killings of which 48 percent
were suspectedly perpetrated by military or paramilitary elements.

Negotiations on environmental reforms

In the third and latest round of peace talks held in Rome, Italy last
January 19 to 25, the GRP and NDF formally commenced negotiations over
the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER),
which aims to address the roots of the armed conflict by instituting
solutions for poverty, landlessness, state neglect, and other social and
economic injustices in which the revolutionary movement’s almost five
decades of civil war is rooted.

In the joint statement released by the peace panels of the GRP and the
NDF after the third round of talks last January 25, both parties
announced that the next round will begin discussing environmental
provisions alongside an accelerated track of negotiations. In the NDF
CASER draft, the only version of the agreement publicly available, a
whole section is dedicated on environmental protection, rehabilitation
and compensation.

The CASER is the most comprehensive environmental roadmap to date. It
proposes a national industrialization program that ensures efficient
planning and management of extractive and other environmentally critical
industries. It obliges companies to ensure rehabilitation and
compensation for communities affected by adverse environmental impacts
and rendered extremely vulnerable to climate change.

The CASER also affirms important policy proposals such as the
establishment of a national land use policy, the stricter prohibition of
destructive activities such as open pit mining and toxic waste dumping,
and more stringent regulations on mining, fisheries, and biodiversity.
On the other hand, it aims to reverse existing globalization policies
that are patently anti-people and anti-environment.

Attacks against environment defenders

We note that the termination of peace talks between the GRP and NDF’s
forces on the ground were triggered by the unceasing military operations
and other acts of sabotage by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
throughout the ceasefire period, and environment defenders have been
targets of these acts of aggression.

A complaint lodged by rights group Karapatan before the two peace panels
in the last round of negotiations detailed how the AFP’s unabated
military operations and other government-instigated human rights
violations during the ceasefire period affected no less than 28,890
victims. The NDF cited the continuing militarization and the non-release
of 400 unjustly detained political prisoners in their termination of
their unilateral ceasefire.

Environment defenders clearly suffered from this utterly condemnable
militarization. At least 9 of the 11 cases of environment-related
killings we have monitored under the Duterte regime followed to the dot
the ‘riding-in-tandem’ modus operandi that was a signature of the past
two counter insurgency programs of the AFP.

A striking example is case of Jimmy Saypan, an indigenous Lumad and
peasant leader who was the secretary-general of the Compostela Farmers
Association (CFA), was murdered by a riding-in-tandem suspected to hail
from the 66th Infantry Battalion last October 10, 2016. Prior to the
killing, Saypan and other leaders of CFA were subjected to months of
systemic harassment and vilification by the AFP.

We assert that the solution to these problems is more vigorous and
earnest talks on the negotiating table, and not the termination of the
talks. Both peace panels should mobilize the joint human rights
monitoring body to investigate all filed cases of violations. Nothing
can be more important than pushing for the much-needed social, economic,
and environmental reforms that the Filipino people have long been
aspiring for.#

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 920 90 99 | E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net | Site:
www.kalikasan.net

February 10, 2017   No Comments

Continuation of formal GRP-NDFP peacetalks, more compelling in light of HTI tragedy—KARAPATAN

Press Statement
February 7, 2017

Reference:    Maria Sol Taule, Services desk 0917 8299202
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

Continuation of formal GRP-NDFP peacetalks, more compelling in light of HTI tragedy—KARAPATAN
http://www.karapatan.org/Continuation+of+formal+GRP-NDFP+peacetalks%2C+more+compelling+in+light+of+HTI+tragedy

“With the incident which affected workers in the House Technology Industries (HTI), it is even more timely, compelling and urgent to discuss the rights and welfare of workers in the formal peacetalks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The crafting of a comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms is an important step in addressing problems on livelihood, employment and security of tenure, and better workplace conditions,” said Maria Sol Taule, Karapatan services unit head and co-head of the independent factfinding mission on the status of the workers affected in the HTI factory fire in Cavite.

Taule said that “in a system that promotes and tolerates contractualization and dismal standards of working conditions, the rights and welfare of workers will always be compromised, and tragedies in workplaces such as in Kentex and HTI will not be the last.”

Since the fire broke on February 1, 2017, HTI has avoided full disclosure of the total number of workers who were possibly trapped inside the burnt main building of the factory, which is part of the Cavite Economic Zone.

Preliminary findings of the National Fact Finding Mission conducted on February 4 and 5, 2017 by the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, Kilusang Mayo Uno, and Karapatan revealed that “some of the survivors jumped out of the second and third floors and fell on the first floor of the factory building, where they crawled over bodies to get out of the burning building.” The survivors also feared that many more were trapped inside the burnt structure.

According to the workers interviewed by the NFFM teams, the fire may have probably commenced after the panel saw sparked and started the fire, which quickly spread due to the centralized vacuum inside the building. The sawdusts and other materials such as styrofoam in the first floor used for packing finished products may have also contributed to the quick spreading of fire. Explosions were also heard, which possibly came from stored chemicals in the second floor.

The preliminary report also shows that during the fire, the employees used two staircases, which were the regular entrance and exit points of the workers, due to non-accessibility of the fire exit. The two staircases were not enough to accommodate the number of workers, forcing them to break the sliding windows and jump from their respective floors.

Initially, HTI management said that all the employees were “all accounted for” but it remains unclear if this figure includes contractual workers who were reporting directly to their respective agencies for headcount after the incident.
Participants in the NFFM also observed the unusual demeanor of victims and witnesses of the incident, who were hesitant to give further details regarding the incident.

“We hope that the HTI and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority should not whitewash the investigation of the incident. There must be an independent and transparent investigation, as well as full disclosure and accounting of the total workforce of HTI present during the tragedy,” added Taule.

The NFFM is composed of Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), Workers Assistance Center (WAC), Institute for Occupational Health and Safety for Development (IOHSAD), Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), KARAPATAN, BAYAN, AlterMidya, MIGRANTE, GABRIELA, Kilusang Mayo Uno, and community volunteers. ###

———————————————————————
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.

February 10, 2017   No Comments

Karapatan cries foul on arrest of peace consultant

Press Statement
February 6, 2017

Reference:    Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

Karapatan cries foul on arrest of peace consultant
http://www.karapatan.org/Karapatan+cries+foul+on+arrest+of+peace+consultant

“With the arrest of peace consultant Ariel Arbitario this morning, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is clearly taking advantage of the verbal orders of Pres. Duterte, despite no formal notice of termination of the formal peacetalks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) still in force,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said on the today’s arrest of NDFP peace consultant Ariel Arbitrario.

Arbitrario and his two companions, Jun Sinday and Roderick Mamuyac, were apprehended at a military checkpoint in Toril, Davao City at 10am today. Mamuyac is a labor organizer of Kilusang Mayo-Uno-Southern Mindanao region. The three were brought to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group XI (CIDG – XI) office in Camp Leonor, San Pedro, Davao City. CIDG personnel will reportedly bring Arbitrario to the Regional Trial Court 11 Branch 1 in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley. Mamuyac was also arrested on trumped up charges of murder using an alias warrant, while Sinday was released.

Palabay said that the JASIG stipulates that duly accredited persons, including NDFP consultants like Arbitrario, are guaranteed immunity from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions due to any involvement or participation in the peace negotiations. These immunity guarantees, according to NDFP legal consultant Atty. Edre Olalia, remain in full force and effect even after the JASIG and peace negotiations are effective precisely because it aims to protect them and encourage their participation or involvement in the peace process.

“The JASIG, along with all previously-signed agreements by the GRP and NDFP, was reaffirmed during the first round of formal peacetalks by both parties on August 26, 2016. A mere verbal withdrawal from the peacetalks by the President doesn’t abrogate previous agreements,” Palabay said. Arbitrario was even able to attend two rounds of formal peacetalks in Oslo, Norway in August and October 2016.

Arbitrario, along with his brother Crispulo, an engineer, were illegally arrested on February 16, 2016 under trumped-up charges of murder and attempted murder.  They were detained at the Provincial Rehabilitation Center (PRC) in Compostela Valley before he was granted provisional liberty to participate in the peace talks. Crispulo is still in detention.

In the same vein, Palabay also criticized the statement of PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa this afternoon calling on the arrest of at least thirteen (13) NDFP peace consultants. “The police cannot automatically enforce arrests without due process from the courts. The order for their arrests is baseless and malicious,” she stated.

Karapatan called on Pres. Duterte to respect previously signed agreements such as the JASIG and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). “We call on Pres. Duterte to pursue the formal peacetalks with the NDFP, to pave the way for the discussions and forging of agreements on socio-economic and political reforms, which are the substantive issues in the peace process,” 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.  It was established in 1995.

February 10, 2017   No Comments

Philippine president Duterte warns rebels after peace talks collapse

 Philippine president Duterte warns rebels after peace talks collapse

President says military ready to respond with airstrikes and fresh offensives after New People’s Army kills six soldiers

Associated Press – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/05/phillipine-president-duterte-warns-rebels-peace-talks-collapse

5 February 2017

The Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, has warned the military is ready to respond with airstrikes and new offensives if Maoist rebels launch attacks, after both sides lifted separate ceasefires and he announced he was scrapping peace talks with the guerrillas.

Duterte, speaking at a news conference, called the rebels “terrorists”, as months of steady progress in talks brokered by Norway rapidly fell apart after members of the New People’s Army killed six soldiers and kidnapped two others in renewed violence.

One of the world’s longest running insurgencies, which began in the 1960s, it is estimated to have claimed as many as 40,000 lives.

“It seems to me that these terrorists want another 50 years of war, of killing of Filipinos,” Duterte told reporters after attending the wake of three of the dead soldiers in the southern city of Cagayan de Oro.

“I don’t want a bloody thing, but if they choose to do it, fine,” the president said. “With my lifting of the ceasefire, they can begin their attacks and we are prepared and I will use the assets. We have so many planes now, we have jets, I will drop all [the bombs].”

Duterte lifted the government’s six-month-old ceasefire with the rebels on Friday and ordered troops to prepare for fresh fighting after the guerrillas abandoned their own truce two days earlier and killed six soldiers. He said some of the soldiers were killed like pigs and raked with gunfire.

On Saturday, Duterte said he was scrapping the talks with the rebels and would order government negotiators not to participate in negotiations for a joint ceasefire accord scheduled this month in Norway, adding: “Peace with the communists might not come in this generation.”

The rebels have yet to react to Duterte’s moves.

Despite his tough talk, the president asked thousands of guerrillas to abandon nearly half a century of bloody rebellion in the countryside with an offer of land reform and housing.

“I’m offering you peace,” he said. “You should just come down and I will look for money to place you in settlements and I will proceed with the land reform.”

Duterte said several rebel leaders who were temporarily freed to join the peace talks in Europe should immediately return to the Philippines and go back to prison, warning that he would cancel their passports and order them to be arrested. They could also apply for asylum in Europe and opt to die far from their homeland, he said.

Duterte saidhe may reconsider his decision if there was a compelling reason, but he did not elaborate. His adviser on the peace talks, Jesus Dureza, suggested on Sunday that the president’s decision may still change.

“At the moment, he has clearly spoken on the directions we all in government should take,” Dureza said in a statement. “The road to just and lasting peace is not easy to traverse. There are humps and bumps, and curves and detours along the way. What is important is that we all stay the course.”

The collapse of the talks is the latest setback for Duterte, whose crackdown on illegal drugs, which has killed thousands of people since he took office in June, has also hit a dilemma.

Duterte prohibited the 170,000-strong national police force and the National Bureau of Investigation, another key law enforcement agency, from enforcing his campaign amid an extortion scandal that was sparked by the killing of a South Korean businessman by police officers involved in the anti-drug fight.

Duterte has said he would enlist the military to support the crackdown, now in the hands of a small anti-narcotics agency. That would put more pressure on government forces, who are carrying out an offensive against Muslim extremist groups in three battlefronts in the south and now have to prepare for a possible resumption of fighting with the communist rebels.

February 6, 2017   No Comments

Duterte’s backing out from peace talks will bring more suffering to the people – Karapatan

Press Statement
February 6, 2017

Reference:      Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

Duterte’s backing out from peace talks will bring more suffering to the people – Karapatan
http://www.karapatan.org/Duterte%E2%80%99s+backing+out+will+bring+suffering
Karapatan strongly urges President Rodrigo R. Duterte to rethink his statement on the termination of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Both Parties have expressed that the road to a just and lasting peace is not an easy one, but has several bumps and roadblocks. Pres. Duterte should be prepared to encounter these problems in solving the armed conflict.
Pres. Duterte should see that one big roadblock is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) being warmongers and peace saboteurs, within and outside the peace process.

Political killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, threats and harassment of village residents – all these, and more, were perpetrated without let-up by the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the period of the GRP’s so-called unilateral ceasefire. The AFP’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan was still in play, with the military’s so-called “peace and development” teams coercing and threatening local government officials and residents as they continued to encamp in peasants’ homes, schools, and barangay halls. This is the reason why the residents, the victims and their families have repeatedly called on the GRP to pull out the AFP troops from their communities and to stop Oplan Bayanihan.  OpBay ironically has been replaced with Oplan Kapayapaan!

In January 2017 alone, at least four peasant activists were killed by state security forces. The following month, on February 3, Lumad leader Renato Anglao, 42, Secretary General of TINDOGA (Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association), was killed by three men on board a motorcycle. TINDOGA, an indigenous people’s organization of the Manobo-Pulangion tribe in Brgy. Botong, Quezon, Bukidnon, has consistently opposed the entry of agri-business plantations in the ancestral land of the lumad. The tribe won back their land and secured its title two years ago. This happened despite moves by the Lorenzo clan to encroach on the land through Rancho Montalvan owned by Maramag Vice Mayor Pablo Lorenzo. Leaders and members of TINDOGA have subsequently been accused of supporting the communist-led New People’s Army.
Violation of Civil and Political Rights under the Rodrigo Duterte Government
August 21, 2016 to January 31, 2017
Based on reports gathered by Karapatan

Table 1:
Violation of Civil & Political Rights Under the Rodrigo Duterte Government (August 21, 2016 to January 31, 2017)

Violations
No. of Victims
Extrajudicial killing
14
Enforced Disappearance
2
Torture
5
Frustrated Extrajudicial Killing
16
Illegal Arrest without Detention
439
Illegal Arrest and Detention
25
Illegal Search and Seizure
27
Physical Assault and Injury
103
Demolition
114
Violation of Domicile
69
Divestment of Property
45
Threat/Harassment/Intimidation
19,052
Indiscriminate Firing
4,178
Forced/Fake Surrender
1
Forced Labor/Involuntary Servitude
9
Use of Civilians in Police and/or Military Operations as Guides and/or Shield
2
Use of Schools, Medical, Religious and Other Public Places for Military Purpose
9,825
Restriction or Violent Dispersal of Mass Actions, Public Assemblies and Gatherings
1,500

The AFP’s unilateral ceasefire is exposed as a sham by the state military’s continued attacks against people’s rights hiding behind the so-called “peace and development” operations.  The AFP is stretching the opportunities for veiled intelligence and combat operations to gain military advantage. It is provoking the CPP-NPA-NDFP to withdraw its unilateral ceasefire to protect its territories, mass base and the people.
Pres. Duterte himself admitted that the AFP is standing in the way of the release of political prisoners. Also, treating political prisoners as aces of the GRP in its peace negotiations with the NDFP is hardly an act of peace.
Ultimately, it is the people who will suffer from the absence of GRP-NDFP official peace talks. History has shown that militarist measures such as counter-insurgency programs never led to the solution of armed rebellion in the country. They instead lead to human and people’s rights violations against the masses in rural and urban communities.
It is only through earnest discussions and efforts to realize social, economic, and political reforms and fundamental changes can there be a solution to poverty, unemployment, slave labor, landlessness, lack of social services and the like. The struggling Filipinos will continue to fight for a just and lasting peace.
———————————————————————
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.

February 6, 2017   No Comments

Karapatan criticizes AFP’s role in non-release of political prisoners

Press Statement
February 3, 2017

Reference:
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

Karapatan criticizes AFP’s role in non-release of political prisoners

“President Duterte’s statement on the non-release of political prisoners confirms the active role of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in sabotaging all efforts to derail the peacetalks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panels. The warmonger AFP is blocking the release of the unjustly detained political prisoners and it has never ceased to deploy its forces to kill, threaten, and harass civilian communities, even during the so-called unilateral ceasefire of the GRP,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, on the remarks of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte yesterday in Davao City regarding the termination of the unilateral ceasefire by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).

Karapatan said that the release of political prisoners is not an impossible demand or a coercive act, as Pres. Duterte has said in his speech.

“Political prisoners were illegally arrested and detained for their beliefs and work in defense of human and people’s rights. Their unconditional release is a most legitimate demand of their families, human rights and church workers, lawyers, civil libertarians, international rights activists and poor communities where political prisoners served, and we appreciate the NDFP for its continuing support in raising this issue with the GRP,” Palabay asserted.

“The plight of the political prisoners is a matter of human rights obligation and an issue of justice. What is coercive is the State security forces’ gross violation of rights to due process, criminalization of political beliefs and torture of those who are working for the defense of people’s rights,” she added.

Karapatan said that through mass campaigns and people’s demands during the previous regimes, political prisoners were released. After People Power I, former Pres. Corazon Aquino granted amnesty to all political prisoners detained by the Marcos dictatorship. Some political prisoners were also released during Ramos, Macapagal-Arroyo and BS Aquino III administrations, because of the persistent campaigns of the political prisoners themselves and through national and international advocacy. “Those acts imply that the justice system has wrongly persecuted the political prisoners and they deserve to be released,” Palabay added.

“The release of political prisoners is also an act of compassion, especially for nursing mothers, sick, elderly and detained for ten to thirty years. The PPs have been deprived of productive time with their families and communities. They are actually the most ardent supporters for a just and lasting peace,” she stated.

Palabay said that “the release of political prisoners is a litmus test for Duterte, on his political will to uphold justice against threats and efforts by the AFP to sow unpeace.”

Karapatan reiterated its call for the release of all political prisoners, without conditions, and for the continuation of the GRP and NDFP peacetalks for the substantive agenda of social, economic and political reforms.


KARAPATAN National Office
2/F Erythrina Building #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag Sts., Central District, 1100 Quezon City
Email: karapatan@karapatan.org
Telefax: +632.4354146
Web Site: http://www.karapatan.org

February 4, 2017   No Comments

Press Statement
February 2, 2017
 
Reference:      Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
                        Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580
 
Attacks, rights abuses vs people continue during GRP unilateral ceasefire – Karapatan
 http://www.karapatan.org/Attacks%2C+rights+abuses+continue+during+GRP+unilateral+ceasefire

“Perhaps officials of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) peace panel such as Presidential Adviser on the Peace Processes Chief Jesus Dureza and ranking military officials should first look at their own backyard and ascertain their troops’ own sincerity in advancing the peacetalks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, a day after the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army declared the termination of its unilateral ceasefire with the GRP, citing violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
 
Palabay said that, “Despite the suspension of military and police operations issued by the AFP and PNP which provided the framework for the GRP’s unilateral ceasefire, community and human rights violations have continued increasingly in the guise of ‘peace and development’, ‘civil-military’, ‘peace and order’, and other similar operations.”
 
From August 21, 2016 to January 31, 2017, during the GRP unilateral ceasefire period, Karapatan documented fourteen (14) victims of political killings, at least 439 illegal arrests. Among those killed by AFP units—including paramilitary units—are anti-mining activists Jimmy Saypan and Joselito Pasaporte in October 2016, and four peasant activists on January 2017 alone, namely Venie Diamante, Veronico Delamente, Alexander Ceballos, and Wencislao Pacquiao.  
 
Members of paramilitary groups, who are also known assets of the logging and mining company David M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI), also abducted two Manobo activists, David Mogul and Maki Bail, in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat on November 14, 2016. They remain missing to this date. 
DMCI company guards and assets are part of, and trained by, the AFP as Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA). DMCI has employed the AFP’s SCAA as early as 2008 to “secure” its business interests in the different parts of the country such as in Mobo, Masbate, in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, and in Sultan Kudarat. The SCAA, a paramilitary group similar to the CAFGU (Citizen Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit) was created specifically to protect the interests of mining corporations and other similar destructive businesses. BS Aquino openly endorsed the use of SCAA in 2011.
“While there have been advances towards the drafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) during the third round of talks in Rome, Italy, the GRP and its forces have committed serious violations on previously-signed agreements such as the CARHRIHL which includes political killings, illegal arrests, threats and harassment of civilian communities, drug-related killings, the political rehabilitation of the Marcoses and the non-release of political prisoners. Adherence to previously signed agreements is an important consideration in crafting the next substantial agenda and ceasefire agreements,” Palabay said.
 
“President Duterte and the GRP Peace Panel have promised on numerous occasions to release political prisoners, even providing a timeframe for such releases. Despite such pronouncements, political prisoners remain in jail and are met with excuses. It is unfortunate that no less than Dureza and the Duterte administration refuse to see the release of political prisoners as an issue of justice, as the GRP’s compliance to CARHRIHL. Instead of putting the release of political prisoners in the backseat, the GRP should realize that the release of political prisoners is not only a fulfillment of the GRP’s own obligations and promises, but it will also enrich the crafting, finalization and implementation of CASER, and thus facilitate the advancement of the peace talks,” Karapatan added.
 
“Indeed, the road to peace is not smooth and easy. It is a pavement fraught with violations and human rights abuses, with excuses and false promises, with injustice that makes the road less and less viable for passing. For both parties to successfully traverse it, militarization of communities must stop, agreements such as CARHRIHL should be complied with, and the urgent release of political prisoners should be done,” 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. 

February 4, 2017   No Comments

Attacks, rights abuses vs people continue during GRP unilateral ceasefire – Karapatan

Press Statement
February 2, 2017

Reference:      Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

Attacks, rights abuses vs people continue during GRP unilateral ceasefire – Karapatan
http://www.karapatan.org/Attacks%2C+rights+abuses+continue+during+GRP+unilateral+ceasefire

“Perhaps officials of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) peace panel such as Presidential Adviser on the Peace Processes Chief Jesus Dureza and ranking military officials should first look at their own backyard and ascertain their troops’ own sincerity in advancing the peacetalks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, a day after the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army declared the termination of its unilateral ceasefire with the GRP, citing violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Palabay said that, “Despite the suspension of military and police operations issued by the AFP and PNP which provided the framework for the GRP’s unilateral ceasefire, community and human rights violations have continued increasingly in the guise of ‘peace and development’, ‘civil-military’, ‘peace and order’, and other similar operations.”

From August 21, 2016 to January 31, 2017, during the GRP unilateral ceasefire period, Karapatan documented fourteen (14) victims of political killings, at least 439 illegal arrests. Among those killed by AFP units—including paramilitary units—are anti-mining activists Jimmy Saypan and Joselito Pasaporte in October 2016, and four peasant activists on January 2017 alone, namely Venie Diamante, Veronico Delamente, Alexander Ceballos, and Wencislao Pacquiao.

Members of paramilitary groups, who are also known assets of the logging and mining company David M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI), also abducted two Manobo activists, David Mogul and Maki Bail, in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat on November 14, 2016. They remain missing to this date.
DMCI company guards and assets are part of, and trained by, the AFP as Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA). DMCI has employed the AFP’s SCAA as early as 2008 to “secure” its business interests in the different parts of the country such as in Mobo, Masbate, in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, and in Sultan Kudarat. The SCAA, a paramilitary group similar to the CAFGU (Citizen Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit) was created specifically to protect the interests of mining corporations and other similar destructive businesses. BS Aquino openly endorsed the use of SCAA in 2011.
“While there have been advances towards the drafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) during the third round of talks in Rome, Italy, the GRP and its forces have committed serious violations on previously-signed agreements such as the CARHRIHL which includes political killings, illegal arrests, threats and harassment of civilian communities, drug-related killings, the political rehabilitation of the Marcoses and the non-release of political prisoners. Adherence to previously signed agreements is an important consideration in crafting the next substantial agenda and ceasefire agreements,” Palabay said.

“President Duterte and the GRP Peace Panel have promised on numerous occasions to release political prisoners, even providing a timeframe for such releases. Despite such pronouncements, political prisoners remain in jail and are met with excuses. It is unfortunate that no less than Dureza and the Duterte administration refuse to see the release of political prisoners as an issue of justice, as the GRP’s compliance to CARHRIHL. Instead of putting the release of political prisoners in the backseat, the GRP should realize that the release of political prisoners is not only a fulfillment of the GRP’s own obligations and promises, but it will also enrich the crafting, finalization and implementation of CASER, and thus facilitate the advancement of the peace talks,” Karapatan added.

“Indeed, the road to peace is not smooth and easy. It is a pavement fraught with violations and human rights abuses, with excuses and false promises, with injustice that makes the road less and less viable for passing. For both parties to successfully traverse it, militarization of communities must stop, agreements such as CARHRIHL should be complied with, and the urgent release of political prisoners should be done,” 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.

February 4, 2017   No Comments

AFP, revival of Philippine Constabulary for war on drugs will result to more rights violations vs Filipino people

Press Statement
February 2, 2017

Reference:      Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

AFP, revival of Philippine Constabulary for war on drugs will result to more rights violations vs Filipino people – Karapatan
http://www.karapatan.org/AFP%2C+PC+for+war+on+drugs+will+result+to+more+rights+violations

“Fully integrating the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) into the already bloody war on drugs will be a chilling amalgamation of the said campaign to the military’s counter-insurgency and anti-people objectives. This will inevitably result to further fascist attacks and human rights violations against the people, including organized communities and movements,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General, as National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon announced yesterday the AFP’s plan to assign certain AFP units in the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

Palabay said the involvement of military and the police as primary enforcers of the war on drugs in the Philippines and in other countries had led to the systematic violation of the people’s right to due process and to life. “The thousands of suspected drug users and pushers and innocent citizens, even minors, killed in the course of the implementation of the campaign against illegal drugs are enough proof,” she stated.

Karapatan said that during the period of Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ unilateral ceasefire, AFP units harassed and threatened community residents in several provinces in Bicol and Mindanao to pursue Oplan Bayanihan, under the guise of the war on drugs. Four farmer activists were physically assaulted, illegally arrested and detained in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan on false drug charges, in an attempt to derail their opposition to landgrabbing schemes.

“Like the Philippine National Police, the AFP and even the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) have notorious records as corrupt and fascist State mercenaries. Those currently at the helm of the military institution are living proof. General Esperon, as AFP Chief of Staff and Philippine Army Commanding General during the Macapagal Arroyo administration, and current AFP Chief Eduardo Año, who aided and supported Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. during the same period, are responsible for 1,206 activists and civilians who were killed and the 206 disappeared persons,” Palabay added.

Karapatan also strongly criticized the proposal to revive the Philippine Constabulary (PC) for the war on drugs campaign. “Reviving an institution known to have butchered Filipinos during the US colonial rule and the Marcos dictatorship for the war on drugs will worsen the climate of impunity,” Palabay said.

The PC, the forerunner of the AFP, was first organized by the US colonial government in 1901 as a paramilitary force ordered to make warrantless arrests of known revolutionaries branded as bandits like Macario Sakay and Julian Montalan. The Constabulary also led in the suppression of peasant uprisings and civil disobedience demonstrations of workers and peasants, during that period.

During the Marcos dictatorship, the PC became the foremost implementer of counter-insurgency programs designed by the US following their military manuals used against millions in the US war against Vietnam. These programs resulted to thousands of victims of human rights abuses during martial law in the Philippines.

“No amount of superficial ‘cleansing’ can reform these bankrupt and blatantly fascist institutions. State policies and declarations, such as counter-insurgency programs and law enforcement-focused war against drugs, that target and affect the majority of the poor, who are struggling for fundamental change in society, should be halted. Extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests and other rights violations should stop. Thoroughgoing social, economic and political reforms that solve the basic problems of hunger, poverty, inequality, and transgressions on national sovereignty should be implemented,” 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.

February 4, 2017   No Comments