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Category — Statements

CANADA: Open Letter to President Duterte to free all political prisoners

Dear Friends,

Attached is an open letter signed by Canadian trade unions, churches,
ecumenical organizations, solidarity and human rights organizations,
academics, etc and individuals calling on President Duterte to free all
political prisoners. The letter has been sent also to the GRP panel
members.

In solidarity with Filipinos back home and around the world, we hope for
a productive round of the peace talks.

Bern Jagunos (on behalf of ICHRP Canada)

#FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners
#JustPeacePH

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Attachment(s) from International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines | View attachments on the web
1 of 1 File(s)
Open Letter to President Duterte for release of all political prisoners.docx

Posted by: International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines

April 5, 2017   No Comments

[Attachment(s) from International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines included below]
Dear Friends,

Attached is an open letter signed by Canadian trade unions, churches,
ecumenical organizations, solidarity and human rights organizations,
academics, etc and individuals calling on President Duterte to free all
political prisoners. The letter has been sent also to the GRP panel
members.

In solidarity with Filipinos back home and around the world, we hope for
a productive round of the peace talks.

Bern Jagunos (on behalf of ICHRP Canada)

#FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners
#JustPeacePH

__._,_.___
Attachment(s) from International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines | View attachments on the web
1 of 1 File(s)
Open Letter to President Duterte for release of all political prisoners.docx

April 5, 2017   No Comments

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland
Minister of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0G2

Dear Honourable Freeland,

I am writing on behalf of the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) – Canada to bring to your attention our concerns over military attacks on civilian targets in the Philippines and the potential connection to Canada.

Over the past two weeks, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been conducting a number of aerial strikes on indigenous and rural communities. The escalation of military aerial bombardment on civilians follows the decision of President Duterte on February 5, 2016 to call off the Peace Talks between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDFP). On March 9, the President instructed the military to ‘drop bombs’ on rebels and consider civilian casualties as ‘collateral damage’.  We are concerned that government forces could be using the Bell 412EP helicopters Canada sold in 2014 to the Philippine Army for these bombing attacks.

Since President Duterte’s declaration, the human rights organization, Karapatan, has reported at least 3 cases of military aerial bombings.

·         On March 11, at around 2pm, government troops who were conducting intensive operations in the province of Compostela Valley dropped at least ten bombs on three villages in the town of Mabini.

·          In a separate incident on the same day, March 11, a local organization, Suara Bangsamoro reported four bombs were dropped in Barangay Andabit, Maguindanao from FA-50 fighter jets from the 57th IBPA     forcing villagers to evacuate to neighbouring communities.

·         On March 13, members of a humanitarian mission led by Karapatan observed at least 2 Huey military helicopters hovering over the communities where troops of the Philippine Army were undertaking intensive operations in two villages in the town of Nasugbo, Batangas province.

·          On March 16, at least 14 bombs were dropped by members of the Philippine Army who were conducting military operations in the town of Malibcong, Abra province.

While there are no reports of civilian deaths caused by the military bombings, they have sown terror among the villagers causing them immense suffering.  Close to 650 families had been forcibly evacuated. In one case, the evacuees included 200 children. The bombings in Malibcong, Abra caused forest fires and burned rice fields.

When the Canadian government announced the sale of the 8 Bell 412EP helicopters to the Philippine Army in 2014, we raised our concerns to the government and parliamentarians that the helicopters might be used against civilian communities in military operations such as those now taking place.

Our concern that the Canadian helicopters might be used in such bombings follows reports by human rights organizations and Philippine newspapers about military helicopter bombings during counter-insurgency operations against the New People’s Army (NPA) where civilians were killed, injured and forced to flee.

Officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs assured us in 2014 that Canada’s military export control guidelines were followed in the sale of the Bell 412 helicopters. However, has there been follow-up to ensure respect of the guidelines?

Information we have gathered from internet sites about the Philippine Air Force (PAF) says that 3 of the Bell 412EP helicopters were commissioned “for VIP and 5 as combat utility helicopters.”  The 5 combat utility helicopters were commissioned to PAF’s 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing based in Benito Ebuen Air Base, which is responsible for conducting tactical helicopter operations in support of the Philippine Air Force and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Among the uses of combat utility helicopters are ground attacks and air assaults. Additionally, we’ve learned that another Canadian company, Calgary-based Eagle Copters Ltd, has been involved in another helicopter deal to the Philippines.

In view of the escalating occurrences of military bombings on civilian communities and President Duterte’s instruction to the military to use aerial bombings in the war against the NPA and to disregard the harm they inflict on civilian communities,

·         We wish to know if the Bell 412EP helicopters and other helicopters sold by Canada to the Philippine Army are being used in these bombing operations.

·         We strongly urge the Canadian government to  assess whether the criteria for the sale of the helicopters are being observed by the Philippine Army

·         We call on the Canadian government to suspend all sales of military goods and all defense-related assistance to and cooperation with the Philippine Government

·         We urge the Canadian government to call on President Duterte to put an immediate stop to the military aerial bombings on civilian communities and instead to vigorously pursue the continuation of the Peace Talks between the GRP and NDFP.

We look forward to hearing from the Minister’s office about this troubling issue and about measures being taken to ensure that Canada is not implicated in operations by the Philippine military against civilian communities through its sales of military goods, training and other defense-related interests.

Sincerely,

(Ms.) Bern Jagunos  (on behalf of the ICHRP – Canada)

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Attachment(s) from International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines | View attachments on the web
1 of 1 File(s)
Letter to Minister Freeland re-military bombings_March 2017.doc

March 30, 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

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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

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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

ICHRP seeks support to: Continue the peace talks, Firm up reforms

Last 25 February 2017, Saturday, the Filipino people commemorated the 31st year since they successfully ousted the MARCOS dictatorship. It is sadly noted, however, that several presidents and campaign promises thereafter, fundamental and genuine change continue to elude them.

[Please find statements of Karapatan and IBON Foundation attesting to this as well as news reports and videos of the protest actions last Saturday below.]

On this occasion, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) reiterates its commitment to support the people’s clamor for fundamental change and to constantly accompany them in their journey towards just and lasting peace in the country.

Please support our latest campaign and sign on to the statement: Continue the peace talks, Firm up reforms: http://justpeace.ph/continue-the-peace-talks-firm-up-reforms/

Thank you.

1. http://bulatlat.com/main/2017/02/25/31st-edsa-progressives-remind-duterte-fascism-failed-will-fail-now/

2. KARAPATAN
Press Statement
February 25, 2017

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

After 31 years, people still clamor for fundamental change- Karapatan
http://www.karapatan.org/After+31+years

Targeted political killings, the slate of illegal arrests of leaders and members of progressive organizations, intensified military operations in communities, a justice system that favors the rich and powerful, the continuing oppression of peasants and workers and the domination of US interests in the country remain as palpable realities, thirty one years after Edsa 1. Has this country really achieved change when repressive state policies continue? Have we really seen change when farmers remain landless, rights continue to be violated, and the Filipino people’s interest remain subjugated to imperialist powers?” asked Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the 31st commemoration of the EDSA people power.

“What we have seen in the years following the Marcos dictatorship are forms of repression, masked under the banner of democracy. Killings in the name of the war on drugs, the possible reimposition of the death penalty, the revival of the Philippine Constabulary and the military’s involvement in the war on drugs under the Duterte administration are more recent worrisome issues,” she stated.

“Scores of activists and revolutionaries who work for radical change continue to be targeted and the number of political prisoners remains on the rise,” Palabay continued.

Karapatan has documented 402 political prisoners in the country as of February 2017, 30 of them arrested under Duterte and 283 under BS Aquino III. “Even this practice of jailing activists and political dissenters has continued throughout the administrations after Marcos, tolerated and enabled by people who, given recent developments, are now at the end of this repressive State maneuver,” said Palabay.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s statement that there are no political prisoners is not surprising, coming from the mouthpiece of government narratives since Martial Law. “His efforts to delegitimize the struggles of activists and progressives through these kinds of statements are classic examples of the elite’s disdain for genuine change. His release on the basis of humanitarian grounds should have been accorded to the people who most deserve it – the political prisoners who have fought hard alongside the marginalized in this country,” Palabay said.

Karapatan also recounted that the conferment of hero’s honors on former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. is a betrayal of what the EDSA “people power” stood for. “The Filipino people toppled a dictator but the Supreme Court and Pres. Duterte allowed him a hero’s burial. On the other hand, the victims of the Marcos dictatorship have yet to be indemnified and the Marcos’ stolen wealth yet to be returned. This can only be the result of the shameless accommodation of the ruling elite to stay in power,’ said Palabay.

Aside from allowing a hero’s burial for Marcos, Duterte also cancelled the peace talks on February 3, 2017, ramped up the implementation of counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan with the military’s declaration of an all-out-war, and subsequently terminated the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). “Duterte won with his catchphrase ‘change is coming.’ We should thus demand and protest the Duterte administration’s unfulfilled promises. We strongly call on the President to stop the fascist attacks against the people and to continue the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines,’ Palabay added.

“EDSA 1 showed how a dictator was ousted through the people’s collective strength and actions. As long as interests of imperialists, landlords and political clans continue to dominate, there is no doubt that the people will continue to struggle in all forms to achieve fundamental change,” 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.

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3. IBON Foundation Philippines


IBON FEATURES / 26 February 2017
#114 Timog Ave. Quezon City/ 9276986/ www.ibon.org

Change? Not three decades after EDSA, not under PDP–IBON

The Philippines remains backward and underdeveloped with severe inequality 31 years after the so-called EDSA revolution, research group IBON said. The Duterte administration’s new Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 will not change this, said the group, in continuing the failed neoliberal policies of the Marcos regime and all subsequent administrations.

EDSA 1986 was a repudiation of the Marcos dictatorship including economic crisis and gross inequality from neoliberal economic policies then pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The people mobilized in their millions to end not just the dictatorship but also economic crisis and gross inequality. This was clearly expressed in the 1987 Constitution, IBON noted, where nationalist economic provisions articulated the people’s aspirations for social justice and for a sovereign and independent economy.

According to IBON, these are among the promises of EDSA not met in the succeeding 31 years. There has not been any change and, instead, the economy has continued to deteriorate and worsen as a mere appendage of global capitalist powers exploiting our cheap labor, raw materials, and markets.

Domestic agriculture and Filipino industry are in terminal decline. From 1986 to 2016, the share of agriculture and manufacturing in Philippine gross domestic product (GDP ) has shrunk from 24.8% to 22. 8% and 17.1% to 8.4 percent, respectively. A few have prospered while the majority remain in severe poverty. At present, IBON estimates 2 of 3 Filipinos surviving on only Php125 or less per day, while official poverty statistics indicate 21.9 million living on a very low poverty threshold of Php60 per day.

The Duterte administration’s new Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 unfortunately continues the failed neoliberal policies started by Marcos in the late 1970s and followed by all the administration’s that came after it. In final controvertion of the promises of EDSA, it also seeks to remove the important nationalist provisions of the 1987 Constitution. The economy and the people will suffer the worst for this even as domestic elites and foreign monopoly capitalist powers continue to prosper, IBON said.

The PDP 2017-2022 of the government’s neoliberal economic managers adopts the same market-oriented framework of the policies that have failed to develop the Philippine economy. Like past administrations, it gives premium to luring in foreign direct investments, spending on infrastructure, strengthening public-private partnerships (PPP) that channel public funds to private gain, and implementing a fiscal program that relieves the rich while taxing the poor more. On the other hand it is silent on measures for real national development such as free land distribution and Filipino industrialization, decent jobs and wages, and free or affordable social services, said IBON.

The nationalist economic aspirations from EDSA are still relevant and if anything have been affirmed over the last 31 years, said the group. The government’s unchanged neoliberal policies will only widen the gap between rich and poor and keep the economy as a mere provider of cheap labor and raw materials for the global economy and a captive market. These neoliberal economic policies need to be reversed for the Filipino people to achieve their aspirations for development, IBON concluded.

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.

Media & Communications Department
IBON Foundation
#114 Timog Ave
9276986 | www.ibon.org | @ibonfoundation
​09254545577

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4. From ILPS Philippines

EDSA@31 — peace talks not all out war

EDSA@31 — peace talks not all out war
While the government commemorates the 1986 “People Power Revolution” inside the headquarters of the Ar…

March 1, 2017   No Comments

AIPP condemns the killing of Lumad leader Renato Anglao

Philippines: AIPP condemns the killing of Lumad leader Renato Anglao, calls the authorities for effective investigation and justice
Statement of Solidarity of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
20 February 2017
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), a regional organization of 48 indigenous peoples’ organisations and movements throughout Asia, condemns the recent killing of Lumad leader Renato Anglao and calls the Philippines authorities to effectively investigate his killing and provide justice to the bereaved family without delay.
Anglao was Secretary General of Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (TINDOGA), an organisation of Manobo-Pulangion indigenous group of the larger indigenous Lumad peoples. On 3 February, three unidentified men riding in tandem shot him twice in the head in front of his wife and child in Quezon, Bukidnon. It is widely believed that the killing is related to the land dispute between TINDOGA and a local pineapple plantation but two weeks since the killing and the authorities still claim they are yet to make any concrete progress to identify the culprits.
TINDOGA was formed in 2008 to specifically assert the rights of the Manobo-Pulangion to their ancestral domains and press for the issuance of their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADT) from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). Their CADT was issued in 2015. However, the ancestral lands of TINDOGA are being encroached for pineapple plantation, which, according to the communities, are for supplying to Davao Agricultural Ventures Corporation (DavCo) and Del Monte Philippines.
TINDOGA members, led by Anglao since 2010, have been facing threats and harassments from the private security guards of the so-called Montalvan estate administered by the current vice-mayor of Quezon municipality, Atty. Pablo Rojas Lorenzo, Jr. His private guards have fired at them on two separate occasions i.e. on 28 March 2012 and 24 April 2014. Anglao’s perpetrators are yet to be identified but the history of the encounters with Lorenzo’s guards are ominous leads.
In 2015, Gov. Jose Maria Zubiri, Jr. of Bukidnon province noted the security guards’ act of impunity towards the TINDOGA members in a dialogue organised by TINDOGA partner, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao Sub-region (RMP-NMR) Inc. and other support groups. But that remains a lip service as no concrete action has been done to this date. Such blatant disregard to end the targeted impunity to the Lumad peoples are beyond reprehensible.
The harassments and killings of Lumads are however not unique to TINDOGA members as the killing of Anglao is not an isolated case. Since the start of 2017, there have already been two recorded Lumad killings, that of Vennie Diamante and Veronico Delamante. Like Anglao, both were staunchly fighting for their ancestral lands against business operations. Diamante was opposing an application on their ancestral lands for palm oil plantation. While Delamante was openly critical of Nickel Asia-Sumitomo and other mining companies.
AIPP calls on the Philippine authorities to immediately take concrete steps to investigate the killings of Anglao and other Lumad leaders. The investigation should also look into the underlying causes of the killings and resolve the land disputes with respect to Lumad peoples’ rights over their lands, resources and territories as guaranteed in national and international laws.
Further, AIPP calls on the NCIP to act on their mandate to protect and promote the interest and wellbeing of indigenous peoples and support the Lumad peoples’ long-standing struggle for their right to self-determination and ancestral domains. AIPP also demands the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately concretise his statements of support to indigenous peoples and bring justice to the incessant harassments and killings of Lumad peoples.
Gam Shimray
Secretary General
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
Support RMP-NMR Inc. and Renato’s family by signing their online petition here: change.org

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
Communication Development Programme
www.aippnet.org, www.ccmin.aippnet.org, www.iphrdefenders.net, www.iva.aippnet.org

Our mailing address is:
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
108, Moo 5, T. Sanpranate, A. Sansai,
Chiang Mai, 50210

February 23, 2017   No Comments

Statement on the Killing of Atty. Mia Mascariñas-Green

Statement on the Killing of Atty. Mia Mascariñas-Green

We condemn the vile killing of our colleague, sister, and friend, Atty.
Mia Manuelita Mascariñas-Green last Wednesday, February 15. Attorney Mia
was shot dead in a meticulously planned crime in Tagbilaran, Bohol by
two unidentified assassins, while driving home with her three children.

Our society simply has no place for lawless killings. No one deserves to
be killed especially as how Attorney Mia was cold-bloodedly gunned down.
Nobody should be killed most especially so because of one’s advocacy and
beliefs.

As part of Alternative Law Groups, Inc. (ALG) member, Environmental
Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), Attorney Mia has been working as a
dedicated environmental lawyer, an alternative lawyer in pursuit of
public interest, respect for human rights, and promotion of social
justice for more than ten years. Her untimely death is a clear example
of why we all should strive as alternative lawyers and advocates of
human rights and social development.

This dreadful incident has strengthened our commitment to the nation. We
are, now, more than ever, encouraged and emboldened to advocate for what
is right, rather than being shakened by such cowardly acts against our
peaceful community.

We invite everyone to join us in remembering the noble life of Attorney
Mia. The Alternative Law Groups (ALG), the Environmental Legal
Assistance Center (ELAC), the Manila Observatory (MO) and the Philippine
Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation (PTFCF) have organized a requiem
which will be held on February 21, Tuesday, 6-8 PM at Heyden Hall,
Manila Observatory, Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City. This
will also serve as an indignation gathering of environmental and human
rights lawyers and activists.

As one community, we demand justice for all the senseless killings! We
demand justice for Attorney Mia!

Atty. RAY PAOLO J. SANTIAGO

Executive Director, Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC)
Chairperson, Alternative Law Groups (ALG)

Atty. GRIZELDA M. MAYO-ANDA
Executive Director, Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC)

Atty. MARLON J. MANUEL
National Coordinator, Alternative Law Groups (ALG)

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Environmental lawyer killed

Gunmen taunted victim’s children and their nanny before fleeing on board
two motorcycles

By: Leo Udtohan – Correspondent

Philippine Daily Inquirer

17 February 2017

TAGBILARAN CITY—What would have been a routine drive home for lawyer Mia
Manuelita Mascariñas-Green on Wednesday afternoon ended in a brutal
murder witnessed by her three young children in this city in Bohol province.

The four gunmen did not just leave after shooting Mascariñas-Green, 49,
who was driving her Toyota Innova. They also taunted her 10-year-old
daughter and 2-year-old twins and the children’s nanny, pointing their
guns at them before fleeing on board two motorcycles, police said.

“They even bullied the kids and the yaya,” said Supt. Nicomedes Olaivar,
Tagbilaran City police chief. “They made faces and then laughed at
them,” he added.

Olaivar said the gunmen had companions positioned in the area.

He admitted, though, that while the police had established the
identities of the suspects, investigators had yet to determine the
motive of the killing, which he described as “well-planned.”

Olaivar said police were not discounting the possibility that the attack
was related to Mascariñas-Green’s job as a lawyer.

“We all knew Attorney Mascariñas (Green), palaban unya (she fights) for
the poor,” he said.

Mascariñas-Green was known as an environmental lawyer and was part of
the Environmental Legal Assistance Center. She also handled civil and
criminal cases.

Olaivar said the suspects were familiar with the lawyer’s daily routine.

Mascariñas-Green left her law office in Dampas District with her
children and nanny at 4:27 p.m. on Wednesday.

“It was the usual route she was taking when going home (to Loon town) to
escape traffic jams in the city,” Olaivar said.

When her Toyota Innova reached the corner of H. Zamora and J.A. Clarin
Streets in Dao District, two motorcycles blocked her path and fired at her.

Her children were unharmed as they were seated at the back passenger seat.

Mascariñas-Green had three bullet wounds in the head and four bullet
wounds in the body. She died at Holy Name Hospital Medical Center here.

Investigators recovered at least 27 spent shells from .45 cal. and 9mm
pistols from the crime scene, Olaivar said.

Mascariñas-Green’s husband, Stuart, a British, was in Bangkok for a
conference and was expected to arrive in Bohol on Thursday. The family
had yet to issue an official statement.

Mascariñas-Green was a student leader at Divine Word College of
Tagbilaran (DWCT), now Holy Name University.

“She had excellent leadership skills and was articulate. She fought for
the rights of students,” said Rosalinda Paredes, former director for
student affairs at DWCT.

February 19, 2017   No Comments

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Pastoral Letter 

On Sunday, 5 February 2017, 20:34, Companions in the Ignatian Journey <companions2011@gmail.com> wrote:

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)
Pastoral Letter
(read during the Sunday Mass, February 5, 2017)
 
“For I find no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies – oracle of the Lord God (Ezekiel 18:32)”
We, your bishops, are deeply concerned due to many deaths and killings in the campaign against prohibited drugs. This traffic in illegal drugs needs to be stopped and overcome. But the solution does not lie in the killing of suspected drug users and pushers. We are concerned not only for those who have been killed. The situation of the families of those killed is also cause for concern. Their lives have only become worse. An Additional cause of concern is the reign of terror in many places of the poor. Many are killed not because of drugs. Those who kill them are not brought to account. An even greater cause of concern is the indifference of many to this kind of wrong. It is considered as normal, and, even worse, something that (according to them) needs to be done.
We are one with many of our countrymen who want change. But change must be guided by truth and justice.
We stand for some basic teachings. These teachings are rooted in our being human, our being Filipino, and our being Christian.
1. The life of every person comes from God. It is he who gives it, and it is he alone who can take it back. Not even the government has a right to kill life because it is only God’s steward and not the owner of life.
2. The opportunity to change is never lost in every person. This is because God is merciful, as our Holy Father Pope Francis repeatedly teaches. We just finished celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy. These events deepened our awareness that the Lord Jesus Christ offered his own life for sinners, to redeem them and give them a new future.
3. To destroy one’s own life and the life of another, is a grave sin and does evil to society. The use of drugs is a sign that a person no longer values his own life, and endangers the lives of others. We must all work together to solve the drug problem and work for the rehabilitation of drug addicts.
4. Every person has a right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Society has ways and processes to catch, prove guilty and punish perpetrators of crimes. This process must be followed, especially by agents of the law.
5. Any action that harms another (seriously) is a grave sin. To push drugs is a grave sin as is killing (except in self-defense). We cannot correct a wrong by doing another wrong. A good purpose is not a justification for using evil means. It is good to remove the drug problem, but to kill in order to achieve this is also wrong.
6. The deep root of the drug problem and criminality is the poverty of the majority, the destruction of the family and corruption in society. The step we have to take is to overcome poverty, especially through the giving of permanent work and sufficient wages to workers. Let us strengthen and carry forward the unity and love of the family members. Let us not allow any law that destroys the unity of families. We must also give priority to reforming rogue policemen and corrupt judges. The excessively slow adjudication of court cases is one big reason for the spread of criminality. Often it is the poor who suffer from this system. We also call upon elected politicians to serve the common good of the people and not their own interests.
7. To consent and to keep silent in front of evil is to be an accomplice to it. If we neglect the drug addicts and pushers we have become part of the drug problem. If we consent or allow the killing of suspected drug addicts, we shall also be responsible for their deaths.
We in the Church will continue to speak against evil even as we acknowledge and repent of our own shortcomings. We will do this even if it will bring persecution upon us because we are all brothers and sisters responsible for each other. We will help drug addicts so that they may be healed and start a new life. We will stand in solidarity and care for those left behind by those who have been killed and for the victims of drug addicts. Let us renew our efforts to strengthen families.
Those of us who are leaders in the Church should strive to push forward or continue programs that will uplift the poor, like livelihood, education and health programs. Above all we will live up to — we all will live up to — becoming a Church of the Poor.
Let us not allow fear to reign and keep us silent. Let us put into practice not only our native inner strength but the strength that comes from our Christian faith. Our Lord Jesus promised us: “You will have affliction in this world, but take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).
“What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.” (Rom. 8:35,37) Yes, indeed, “For the Spirit that is in you is more powerful than the spirit in those who belong in the world.” (1 Jn. 4:4)
As we commemorate the 100th year of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, let us respond to her call for prayer and repentance for the peace of our communities and of our country shrouded in the darkness of vice and death.
Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help, Pray for us.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
Abp. Socrates B. Villegas, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
President, CBCP
January 30, 2017
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February 6, 2017   No Comments

Suspects are not Humanity, says Justice Secretary

Suspects are not Humanity, says Justice Secretary
Fr. Shay Cullen
2 February  2017
 
 
Small children of nine years old are to be branded as criminals and to be held responsible for childhood mistakes. Stealing when they are hungry and abandoned. Fighting back when they are abused and bullied. They cry when there is no one to feed them. What are they expected to do to survive? That’s the plight of thousands of abandoned boys and girls in the Philippines today.
 
According to Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, the speaker of the lower house of the Philippine congress, the country is crime-ridden and it can be blamed on criminals that start at nine years old. The law must be changed to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) from the present 15 years old to nine years old.
 
The reason cited is that the children are used by syndicates to commit serious crimes because at 15 years and younger they cannot be prosecuted. This is not true. There is no evidence to support such a statement. All research and statistics point in the opposite direction, that children are not to blame for the crimes of adults. Children below 15 years old cannot discern what is unlawful.
 
But the congress representatives want to please President Rodrigo Duterte who believes even children are criminals. Several members of his cabinet do not agree with the lowering of the MACR and they oppose it. Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez advised the cabinet secretaries who are against it to resign if they don’t agree with the president.
 
Many disagree. The secretaries heading the government agencies are there to advise, support, guide, object as necessary and suggest the right and true way of good governance. When they comment on presidential proposals, they are required to be rational, study the data and science and be guided by it. They are not dummies or robots as the speaker would have them to be.
 
That’s why the sensible members of the Philippine cabinet, like the secretaries of the Department of Education and Social Welfare and Development, and members of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), a high level council of undersecretaries, are against it.
 
The final position of the JJWC argues that the children are running wild on the streets and in conflict with the law because the parents are unable to support many children and local governments do not obey the juvenile justice and welfare law and provide social services and a home for them to be cared for and educated.
 
This is a nation with vast wealth controlled by a few. The congress mostly represents the interests of the 0.0001 percent of the population which is now over 103 million people. These mega-wealthy people own as much as 70 percent of the wealth of the nation. There are more billionaires in the Philippines than ever before and the poverty, unemployment, rural displacement and hunger is greater than ever before.
 
The plight of the thousands of children is very bad. Those found on the streets as young as 10 and 12 are  “arrested” or taken into “protective custody” and locked in cells with older boys. Adrian was ten year old when I found him behind bars in a single cell with thirty others older than him. It was a happy day when we got him out of that jail cell and taken to the Preda Home for Children. He told of being bullied and beaten by the older boys and being sexually abused.
 
Those children 15 years or younger are not held criminally responsible for stealing or other misdemeanors at present by the Philippine law. It says they need support, help and diversion programme.
 
The local governments are supposed to provide them with a house of hope, a place where they are protected, fed, their parents are sought and they are to get education, medical treatment and given their rights in a place that is humane and hygienic. But local governments fail to do this and they just lock them behind bars in bare empty cells 24 hours a day for months on end.
 
The pronouncement by the government that there would be a pause in the war-on-drugs does not seem to be real. Supposedly the suspension is for the government to clean the ranks of the police, “Who are corrupt to the core,” according President Duterte. Last week, in Santa Rita, Olongapo City, North of Manila another couple were shot to death in bed by armed men who burst into their house and shot them dead. The killers left signs calling the dead “addicts, robbers, hold-uppers, drug pushers, do not imitate them.”
 
The recent published report of Amnesty International claimed, according to police who spoke to them, that they were paid to kill and funeral parlors give the police a payment for every dead body brought to them for burial. Many innocent people have been killed and robbed by the rogue police, mostly the poor. The rich suffer kidnapping under the guise of drug raids. A Korean businessman was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by police inside the police headquarters in Metro Manila in October. It is claimed that gunmen and police have killed over 7,200 people since 1 July last year. When asked by media if the Amnesty International charge that the killings were crimes against humanity, the Justice Secretary Aguirre said the suspects and addicts are not humanity.
 
 
shaycullen@gmail.com

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February 4, 2017   No Comments