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Category — Urgent Actions

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

Dear friends,

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

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

Hans

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

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

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

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

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

It is intended that recipients of the letter will include:

Chief PNP Bato

The National Police Commission

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

Preident Duterte and his Executive Secretary Bong Go

Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco

Vice President Leni Robredo

NBI Director Atty. Dante Gierran,

DOJ Sec Aguirre,

Edgardo M. Chatto, Governor of Bohol

First District Congressman Rene L. Relampagos.

Other Legislators

Members of the Press

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

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

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

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

Yours, with thanks for your support

Arthur Neame and Arjan Heinen

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

1 of 1 File(s)

Mia statement vols.docx

March 22, 2017   No Comments

Support for campaign to close destructive large scale mines

Dear colleagues,
Below is a statement drafted by members of the Philippine Organizing Committee of the IPCM (AGHAM, Kalikasan, CEC) in support of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez in her campaign to close destructive large-scale mines in the Philippines, and urging the confirmation of her appointment as Environment Secretary.
They are asking if this statement of support:
Can be adopted by the IPCM body as a whole
Can be signed on by individual organizations as well as individuals who were part of the IPCM.
Kindly respond by 3PM Friday, March 3 (sorry for the rush – her appointment hearing is scheduled for this month).

Thank you,
Ana
for the IPCM Secretariat


[www.peoplesminingconf.net]
International People’s Conference on Mining
Highlighting people’s lives and struggles in defense of rights, the environment and a common future

[www.peoplesminingconf.net]www.peoplesminingconf.net
ipcm2015@gmail.com

March 1, 2017   No Comments

Nine political killings in three weeks, amid AFP’s all-out-war and counter-insurgency program

Nine political killings in three weeks, amid AFP’s all-out-war and counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan
 
Dear friends,
 
Recent political developments, notably President Rodrigo Duterte’s termination of the unilateral ceasefire of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), his cancellation of the GRP-NDFP peacetalks and the military’s subsequent all-out-war declaration, have intensified the repression and attacks against the civilian populace and members and leaders of progressive organizations. In the same patterns of previous military operational plans (Oplan), State security forces target civilians and activists in an attempt to sow fear and terror among struggling communities. This pattern of State violence has remained unabated during the first six months of the Duterte administration, when it continued BS Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan to its current counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan.
 
Most recently, on February 19, 2017, another farmer and member of a local peasant organization, Willerme Agorde, was gunned down by suspected elements of the Bagani paramilitary in North Cotabato province. This recent killing has put the number of reported political killings to nine (9) in three weeks, since February 3, 2017 when Pres. Duterte announced the termination of the unilateral ceasefire of the GRP with the NDFP. Those killed were either farmers or members of indigenous communities; six (6) of them were members of progressive organizations.
 
Let us condemn the political killings of activists and civilians and systematic and intensified military attacks against communities. We call for an end to the fascist attacks and State terror against the people, as well as the junking of declarations and counter-insurgency plans with the same effect, particularly Oplan Kapayapaan. Let us support the call for the continuation of the GRP-NDFP peace talks, and for the Government of the Philippines (GRP) to abide by previous agreements, including the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), and to sincerely address the root causes of the armed conflict.
 
 
 
ACCOUNT OF THE INCIDENTS
 
Peasant leader Willerme Agorde, 64, auditor of Mailuminado Farmers Association Incorporated (MAFAI) was shot by suspected members of Bagani paramilitary group at 5pm yesterday, February 19, 2017, in front of his house at Brgy. Ilustre, President Roxas, North Cotabato. He was declared dead on arrival at 10pm last night at the Antipas Medical Specialist Inc., where he was brought after the shooting.
 
Agorde was among the active leaders of MAFAI who were asserting the farmers’ right to own the land they have been tilling since the 1950’s. The farmers led by MAFAI have been engaged in the struggle for land ownership since former Pres. Carlos Garcia allotted some 7,200-hectare land as reservation for the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) and Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology  (CFCST) through Presidential Proclamation No. 428 in 1957. Data from the Department of Agrarian Reform, as of December 2016, revealed that a total of 3,277.8 hectares of land in the USM and CFCST reservation remain unused.
 
Agorde led farmers in a protest camp-out inside the CFCST campus in December 2016, when they successfully prodded university officials and local and national authorities from DAR to distribute the unused land of the university to the farmers. In a letter dated December 16, 2017, DAR Secretary Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano assured the farmers that the unused land will be awarded to its actual tillers and occupants.
 
On February 16, 2017, at around 10am, Edweno ‘Edwin’ Catog, 44, a Lumad-Mansaka, and a member of the Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Walog Compostela (HUMAWAC), was shot by two men, suspected to be linked to the 46th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA), onboard a white XRM motorcycle in the highway intersection of Brgy. Furentes, Pantukan, Compostela Valley. Catog was immediately brought to the Pantukan Public Hospital, where he was declared dead-on-arrival. The victim sustained four gunshot wounds – two near his jaw, in his chest, and his stomach.
 
HUMAWAC, led by Catog, supported the campaign of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (MARBAI) farmers in Madaum, Tagum City. The farmers were asserting their right to the 145-hectare land, which is part of the area utilized by the Lapanday Food Corp. (LFC) as a banana plantation. The disputed land was already awarded to farmers in 1996 under the government’s agrarian reform program but continues to remain in the control of LFC. On December 14, 2016, HUMAWAC supported the protest camp-out of the MARBAI farmers.
 
Catog’s name was said to be on the 46th IBPA’s order of battle list. On January 5, 2017, his relative advised him to seek sanctuary, after receiving information that he was targeted by the military. The 46th IBPA is under the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
 
Agorde and Catog are latest victims of political killings this February. Two indigenous peoples’ leaders killed on February 3, while two were also gunned down on February 6. Three (3) farmers were killed on February 11.
 
On February 3, Lumad leader Matanem Lorendo Pocuan, tribe leader of the Omayam tribe in Cabanglasa, Bukidnon, and Renato Anglao, 42, a Manobo-Pulangihon and secretary-general of Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (TINDOGA), were gunned down in separate incidents. Pocuan resisted invitations from the Alamara paramilitary group to have members of their community join their ranks which earned him the ire of Alamara members. The latter tagged Pocuan and his community as NPA sympathizers. Anglao, on the other hand, was active in the fight for the defense of their ancestral domains and campaigned against military operations in his community.
 
On February 6, Emelito Rotimas, 48,  a Lumad Mansaka and leader of Purok 6, Brgy. Lapu-Lapu, Maco, Compostela Valley, was shot eight (8) times by suspected military agents while Glenn Ramos, 39, was shot dead by personnel of the Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in his house in Maa, Davao City. Rotimas is a member of Anakpawis Partylist, while Ramos was a former coordinator of Bayan Muna in Davao City.
 
On February 11, two small-scale miners, Pepito Tiambong and Jerson Bito, were killed when the 73rd IBPA sprayed bullets in a mining tunnel in Sitio Sarog, Pangailan, Santiago, Agusan del Norte, believing members of the NPA were inside. The soldiers only stopped when there was no exchange from the other end. After inspecting the tunnel, they found Tiambong and Bito dead, along with four others who were injured. In a separate incident in Roxas City, Capiz, farmer Orlando Eslana, 48,  was killed while five others were injured when armed personnel of the Tan Estate open fired at the farmers who were staging a kampuhan to assert their ownership of the land. Certificates of Land Ownership Agreement (CLOAs) had already been issued to farmer-beneficiaries but the Tans refused to distribute. The victims of the shooting were all members of the Kahublagan sang Mangunguma sa Capiz (KAMACA).
 
Recommended actions:
 
Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

1.       The immediate investigation of the separate incidents to be conducted by an independent body;
2.      The immediate investigation and prosecution of perpetrators which include paramilitary forces, elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the CIDG, and other State security forces;
3.      An end to the targetting and killing of activists and leaders of progressive organizations;
4.      The junking of Oplan Kapayapaan which is similar to previous counter-insurgency programs which targetted civilians and members of progressive organizations;
5.      The Philippine Government to continue the peace talks and build towards the advancement of a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), which includes the issue of free land distribution to farmers and farm workers;
6.      The Philippine Government to pursue its commitments under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which includes the right to freedom of thought and expression, freedom of conscience, political and religious beliefs and practices and the right not to be punished or held accountable for the exercise of these rights, and the right to free speech, press, association and assembly; and
7.      The Philippine Government to adhere and respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all major Human Rights instruments that it is a party and signatory.
 
You may send your communications to:
 
You may send your communications to:
 
H.E. Rodrigo Duterte
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph or send message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/
 
Hon. Jesus Dureza
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
Email: stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph, feedback@opapp.net
 
Ret. Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email: info@dnd.gov.ph, webmaster@dnd.gov.ph
 
Hon. Vitaliano Aguirre
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline:  523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614
Email: communications@doj.gov.ph
 
Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chairgascon.chr@gmail.com
 
Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below:
 
 
URGENT ACTION Prepared by:
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central,
Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org; karapatan@karapatan.org
Website: www.karapatan.org

February 21, 2017   No Comments

Urgent: Continue the peace talks, Firm up reforms

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the JustPeacePH platform [http://justpeace.ph/about/], we ask for your support to campaign and push for the continuation of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) by:

1. Signing on to the (online) statement: Continue the peace talks, Firm up reforms.

http://justpeace.ph/continue-the-peace-talks-firm-up-reforms/

2. Issuing your own statements in support of the continuation of the talks and much needed reforms towards just and lasting peace in the country (please refer to statements below and hereby attached)

3. Conducting information dissemination activities on the issue of attaining just and lasting peace in the Philippines.

Please feel free to forward this message to your friends and network. Thank you so much!

In solidarity,
Angie M. Gonzales
Coordinator
International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines
http://www.humanrightsphilippines.net/

Co-Secretariat for JustPeacePH

Join Now

Continue the peace talks, Firm up reforms

We express our deep disappointment over the declaration of President Rodrigo Duterte to terminate the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), especially at a time when both sides have already made substantial, accelerated and historic progress in the negotiations.
In the pursuit of the Filipino people’s aspirations for economic development, social justice, genuine democracy and lasting peace, we strongly urge Pres. Duterte to reconsider and push on with the peace talks.
The just-concluded Third Round of talks in Rome, made accelerated progress in the discussion of each panel’s versions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). Both sides recognized the problem of landlessness and rural poverty, and they agreed in principle to the free distribution of land to farmers and farm workers. This is a historic first in any Philippine administration and in the 30-year history of the talks. This is also a first in any peace negotiation in the world! They also agreed to continue discussions and to forge other agreements on national industrialization, economic development, and environmental protection.
During the Third Round, the two sides also exchanged complete drafts for a proposed agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms. They exchanged views on the proposal for a federal form of government and the need for certain constitutional guarantees and safeguards demanded by the people.
The two sides then agreed to meet again for a Fourth Round of talks in April, in Oslo, Norway. They vowed to continue working on the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement for Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), and to unify their versions of the agreements on social and economic reforms and that on political and constitutional reforms.
The historic gains achieved thus far in the peace talks, coupled with the festering poverty, social inequity and injustice, and trampling on the rights of the Filipino people are more than sufficient compelling reasons to trudge forward on the path to peace.
We continue to hope for peace and support the Filipino people’s aspirations for peace based on justice. What is most important is that the people’s struggles for national liberation, social justice, economic development, and democratic reforms will continue, and the roots of the armed conflict will be addressed. Only then can just and lasting peace be achieved in the Philippines.
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[signature]

A Call for Sobriety: No to All-Out War, Continue the Peace Talks
 
15 February 2017
Hong Kong SAR
 
 
Together with Filipino human rights, justice and peace advocates as well as different international groups standing in solidarity with the Filipino people in their struggle for just and lasting peace, the Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (HKCAHRPP) is unequivocally calling for the Duterte government to continue the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and not to follow the “Marcosian tactics” of past administrations which all failed in ending the longest revolutionary armed struggle in Asia through purely military means.
 
Last year the HKCAHRPP, together with the Filipino people, were jubilant during the first few months of the Duterte administration due to the government’s decision to resume the peace negotiations between the GRP and the CPP/NPA/NDF. At long last, we thought that there is a Philippine president who expresses openness in addressing the root causes of the armed struggle in the country through a negotiated peace settlement.
 
After the first three rounds of talks between the GRP and the CPP/NPA/NDF during the period of August 2016 to January 2017, President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s administration achieved significant gains that no other administration has achieved before. These are the affirmation of previously signed agreements, respect for the status of NDF personnel and negotiators protected under JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee), the release of 17 NDF personnel, a common ground on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms (CASER) and more than 160 days of a unilateral ceasefire.
 
But to our surprise and dismay, the Duterte government equivocally terminated the peace talks between the GRP and CCP/NPA/NDF.
 
The HKCAHRPP is also expressing its serious concern with the recent pronouncement of President Duterte that tags the CPP/NPA/NDF as “terrorists” and orders the immediate arrest of all protected personnel under JASIG. Similarly alarming is the declaration of an “all-out war” against the revolutionary movement by no less than the secretary of the Department of National Defense.
 
History has taught us that a military solution will never succeed in ending the country’s decades-old civil war. It will only aggravate the anger and worsen social unrest as the vast majority of the Filipino people continue to suffer from abject poverty, landlessness, exploitation and systemic injustice in the hands of a few and powerful elites ruling the country. Just like in previous administrations, massive militarization intensifies human rights violations in the form of abductions, extrajudicial killings, disappearances, the filing of trumped-up charges and the like against political activists, human rights defenders and justice and peace advocates among the peasants, national minorities, workers, women, youth, professionals, church people, etc.
 
Mr. President, do not let the significant gains that your administration has achieved in the past eight months of negotiation go to waste. There are many hurdles, differences and misunderstandings that both the GRP and CPP/NPA/NDF panels may encounter in pursuing the path for genuine and lasting peace. But there’s no better way to resolve such conflicts but through peace talks while both parties are resolute in addressing the root causes of the armed conflict in the Philippines.
 
The Filipino people deserve nothing but land to till, a protected environment, secure jobs and decent wages, the full protection of their rights and welfare, basic social services and a truly sovereign and developed economy that are all being tackled in CASER. Addressing these issues will pave the way for a just and lasting peace.
 
Continue the Peace Talks!
Yes to Just Peace!
No to All-Out War!
 
 
Reference:      Bruce Van Voorhis
                        Convenor, HKCAHRPP
 
                        Ma Wan-ki “Majai”
                        Convenor, HKCAHRPP
                        Deputy Sec. General, ICHRP
 
 (The HKCAHRPP is a Hong Kong-based solidarity campaign and advocacy network for just peace and human rights in the Philippines. It is composed of migrant organisations, local and regional rights NGOs, labor groups, lawyers, journalists, Church-based institutions and individual human rights advocates and defenders. It was established in 2006, two years after several striking farmers were killed by the members of the national police in what is now known as the “Hacienda Luisita Massacre”. It was also a response to the spate of extrajudicial killings of activists and human rights defenders in the Philippines.)
——————————————————————————–
Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of
Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines
c/o ASA, No. 4 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR
Tel. (852) 98105070, 97585935        Fax. (852) 27354559
E-mail: hkcahrpp@gmail.com

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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)
2017_12Feb_ICHRP.pdf

Posted by: International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines

February 21, 2017   No Comments

Statement of the National Fact Finding Mission on the HTI tragedy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-FST-001-2017
15 February 2017
A Statement from National Fact Finding Mission forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission
PHILIPPINES: Statement of the National Fact Finding Mission on the HTI tragedy
In light of the apparent information blackout concerning the fire that devoured the House Technology Industries main building (HTI) inside the Cavite Export Processing Zone, various labor institutions and people’s organization initiated a National Fact Finding Mission to probe the extent of casualties, the circumstances of the incident and possible labor standards violations that resulted in one of the worst workplace tragedies in history.

The initial findings of the Quick Response Team on February 2 and the NFFM conducted on February 4 and 5, indicate the following:

1. There remains a public doubt on the statement issued by Cavite local government as to the number of injuries and zero casualty, prior to the death of Jerome Sismaet. Majority of the survivors and witnesses interviewed by the NFFM team claimed that there were more workers trapped and feared to have died inside the HTI building. Others said that they either saw or even crawled over dead bodies of co-workers as they were escaping from the burning building. This is in consonance with the testimonials of survivors interviewed by the media. The actual number of workers trapped and feared dead inside the building remains unconfirmed as the company, the Cavite local government unit, PEZA, and DOLE have all failed to impart official records to the media and the public.
2. According to the survivors, witnesses and workers who were off-duty but were at the compound, the fire started around 6 PM when a panel machine sparked in the second floor, reached and caught fire from the sawdusts scattered in the production area.

a. The fire quickly spread as the vacuum used for absorbing sawdust, absorbs the flaming dust instead. It only took two minutes for the fire to reach the flammable chemicals inside, thick black smoke covered the entire building followed by explosions. Workers note that some of the chemicals used in the production in 2nd floor are hydraulic oil, sealant, thinner, paint, 100%alcohol, and other volatile chemicals for casting and curing. Moreover, there are also accounts of the burning fire exit close to where the fire started, while others claimed of locked exits at the other end.

b. It was also noted that during the fire, the workers got out through the two main staircases used as the regular employees’ entrance to and exit from the building. The stairs, survivors noted were 1.5-2 meters wide and too narrow to accommodate the huge number of panicking employees desperately trying to get out of the burning building. Thus, most of them were forced to break the windows and jump from the third and second floors, including a pregnant woman. There were more women workers in the third floor working the quality control/checkers and balcony. The LGU announced that all workers were accounted for, or are they only regular workers of HTI? What about the agency-hired workers?

3. There is an atmosphere of fear and intimidation among HTI workers as they remain unusually silent and hesitant to speak about the circumstances of the tragedy. The NFFM learned that HTI management asked the workers to report to one of the company building close to CEPZ Gate 5 for headcount and “orientations” on February 2, and went on until February 4. Survivors and witnesses affirm that they were indeed called to report. However, upon timing-in, they were told not to talk to anyone and withhold any information about the fire. A worker interviewed who claimed having photos of the fire and the bodies presumed dead being taken out of the building was instructed to erase the photos and videos from the mobile phone. Other workers corroborated this but requested complete anonymity for fear of losing jobs or any form of reprisal.

4. Since February 1, the management of HTI, PEZA and the LGU barred the media from entering the CEPZ. The LGU was the only one speaking about the incident. The two hospitals where the injured are confined have restricted entry and access to victims and information was limited to hospital official bulletins. On the afternoon of February 4, the NFFM team member said that media were finally allowed to enter the HTI compound but were instructed to remain inside their vehicle and barred from communicating with anyone on site. During this period, Cavite Governor Boying Remulla announced that it would take two weeks to map out the building complex and the need for more manpower and heavy equipment like cranes and bulldozers for the clearing operations, alluding that SOCO investigation will proceed afterwards. Such clearing operation will tamper the scene and cast more doubts on the credibility of their own investigation.

5. HTI management and authorities kept the public guessing about the company’s total workforce as they refuse to release the official records. Accounts gathered during the interviews, revealed that the workers are mostly young, ranging from 18-35 years old. There are around 8,000 regular out of the 13,000 employees while the remaining 5,000 are contractual, casual, or agency-hired. Most interviewees who are regular workers attest receiving mandated wage, but a contractual of three years under one of 6 manpower agencies said he is only paid P200/day and pays P180 for his uniforms.

The initial findings of the NFFM suggests that there is an apparent attempt on the part of the HTI management, the PEZA and the Cavite LGU to hide the actual number of casualties and the possible OHS and labor standards violations.

Having said the above, the NFFM recommends an immediate, transparent, truly independent and impartial investigation on the HTI tragedy free from intervention by the HTI management, PEZA and Cavite LGU to lend credence to the result. To the very least, the investigation must pave way for full and complete disclosure of casualties so that justice can find its course.

The full report of the National Fact Finding Mission will be released in the next few days. 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.###
……………..
The views shared in this statement do not necessarily reflect that of the AHRC.
# # #
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.

 

Read this Forwarded Statement online

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Asian Human Rights Commission

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February 16, 2017   No Comments

Press freedom still under pressure journalist killings

http://www.pmc.aut.ac.nz/pacific-media-watch/philippines-press-freedom-still-under-pressure-journalist-killings-9804

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte holds a compilation of pictures of people allegedly involved in drugs as he speaks
during a meeting in Davao city in Mindanao in the southern Philippines earlier this month. Image: Lean Daval Jr/IPI/R

Monday, February 13, 2017
Item: 9804
By Florence Peschke

MANILA (International Press Institute/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): Seven months into the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, press freedom remains under pressure in the Philippines.
The country has been one of the most dangerous for journalists in recent years – the International Press Institute (IPI) has recorded the deaths of 128 journalists in connection with their work since 1997 – and only one week into the year it mourned the first journalist killed in 2017.
On January 6, Mario Contaoi was riding his motorbike home to Magsingal Town on a national highway when unidentified assailants on motorbikes shot him six times. The former university professor, radio announcer and environmental activist succumbed to his injuries in the early hours of January 7.
Just three weeks earlier, Larry Que, a Filipino publisher-columnist, was shot dead after alleging that local officials had ties to the manufacture of illegal drugs.
The circumstances and killers’ motives in both murders remain unclear, highlighting the impunity surrounding journalists’ killings in the country and the lingering threat it poses to their safety.
Since Duterte took office on June 30, he has gained an international reputation for his controversial statements and extreme positions. The war on crime and drugs launched in July that was a focus of his populist campaign is estimated to have taken 6000 lives, many in summary and extrajudicial killings.
Seven months into Duterte’s term, IPI spoke with journalists and civil society representatives in the Philippines to take a closer look at press freedom and journalists’ safety.
Read full report at Asia Pacific Report

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February 13, 2017   No Comments

Condemn political killings of 4 leaders in January 2017

Subject: Condemn political killings of 4 leaders in January 2017

Australian Chapter: Australian Council of Trade Unions; Justice & International Mission Unit, Uniting Church in Australia, Victoria & Tasmania; Maritime Union of Australia, Victorian Branch; SEARCH Foundation; Philippines Australia Union Link; Action for Peace & Development in the Philippines, Migrante Australia
February 9, 2017,
H.E. Rodrigo Duterte
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph or send message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/
Condemn political killings of 4 leaders in January 2017
Dear Excellency,
We write to vigorously protest and condemn the political murders of four farmers – Venie Diamante, Veronico Delamente, Alexander Ceballos, and Wencislao Pacquiao –who have been killed this last January 2017. Two of them were indigenous leaders in Mindanao.
Your government has replaced the obnoxious and deadly Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency program with Oplan Kapayapaan, but there is no change to the attacks targeting land and environmental activists, perpetrated by private armies of landed families and mining firms complicit or in connivance with State security forces.
These latest killings of four farmer leaders also reflect the ongoing dominance of big landlords and businesses in the Philippines and their use of violence against peasants struggling for genuine agrarian reform. The killings occurred before and during the third round of formal peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), when both Parties started to tackle the crafting of an agreement on socio-economic reforms including genuine agrarian reform and rural development. It seems that these tactics have now succeeded in ending the current peace talks process, and we urge your government to seriously reconsider this development and take urgent action to restore the peace talks.
Your government can restore the path to genuine peace and progress by condemning these latest political killings and taking action to end the prevailing climate of impunity. Comprehensive reforms and fundamental change to solve the root causes of injustice, landlessness and poverty in the country must remain our common goal.
Background
On January 5, 2017, around 4pm, Venie Diamante, 43, a T’boli and municipal tribal chieftain, was brutally killed by an unnamed assailant on board a motorcycle while on his way home from Koronadal City. Diamante was already near his residence in Sitio Lambusong, Brgy. Puti, Norala, South Cotabato, when the gunman opened fire, inflicting eight (8) gunshot wounds. He was left on the side of the road.
On the morning of the next day, January 6, 2017, the regional police arrived to investigate the incident. Residents from the community attested that Diamante was a good person and a respected tribal leader. The police then showed a petition to survey the area which is part of the T’boli ancestral domain, a move that Diamante strongly advocated against. The objective of this conflict in recent years has been to displace the people and to pave the way for the entry of palm oil plantations in the area.
Weeks later, on January 20, 2017, two activists in Surigao del Norte and in Negros Occidental were killed.
Katribu regional partylist coordinator Veronico Delamente, 27, a Lumad-Mamanwa and member of Kahugpungan sa Lumadnong Organisasyon (KASALO) in the CARAGA region, was shot by two unnamed assailants in Punta Naga, Brgy. Cagdianao, Claver, Surigao del Norte. Delamente, along with other council members of Asosasyon sa Madajaw na Panaghiusa sa Tribung Mamanwa sa Tag-anito ug Urbizondo (AMPANTRIMTU), an organization recognized by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), were invited for an emergency meeting with the NCIP with regard to an indigenous people survey to approve the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) proposal of the Platinum Group Metals Corp (PGMC) to expand their mining operations. Delamente had earlier rejected the FPIC proposal.
On the noon of January 20, two men on board a motorcycle – the driver wearing a hoodie with his face partially covered by a handkerchief while the person on the passenger seat was wearing a bonnet and a black jacket with the words ‘CIDG’ printed in the back – were seen in the area. By 12:37pm, while Delamente and the others were waiting in the Punta Naga gym, the motorcycle returned to the gym whereby the man in the passenger seat got off and fired his Uzi at Delamente. Delamente was hit, fell down, and was trying to crawl away when the gunman caught him by the hair and shot him at close range. The gunman also fired at Joel Buklas, 42, also a council member of AMPANTRIMTU who was against the PGMC FPIC proposal. Buklas was able to escape but Lovely Delamente, Veronico Delamente’s 4-year-old niece, was hit. After having shot Delamente, the gunman shouted out that he will finish all of Delamente’s siblings, before finally leaving. Delamente and Lovely were rushed to the Miranda Hospital. Delamente died after 5 minutes of attempts to revive him.
On the evening of the same day, around 8pm, Alexander Ceballos, 54, regional council member and district area coordinator of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) was gunned down by two unnamed assailants near his house in Purok Tangke, Brgy. Pandanon Silos, Murcia, Negros Occidental. Ceballos was rushed to the Sanitarium Hospital in Bacolod City but was declared dead-on-arrival.
Ceballos and his family has long been the target of threats and intimidation by the Dela Cruz clan, a political clan who have controlled the town of Salvador Benedicto for more than 20 years. Ceballos’ involvement in organizing and mobilizing farmers to uphold and defend their rights had earned him the ire of the Dela Cruz family. On July 17, 2015, Alexander Ceballos’ son, Ariel Ceballos, survived an ambush when armed gunmen indiscriminately fired at the vehicle they were in. His fellow farmers suspected that Alexander was the original target. More recently, in a dialogue between the farmers, the provincial office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and the Dela Cruz family represented by Nehemias Dela Cruz Jr., the latter openly threatened Alexander and Ariel Ceballos with charges to be filed in court and vowed to retrieve all the lands already distributed to the farmers from the Dela Cruz clan.
On January 28, 2017, Quilina Ceballos, wife of Alexander Ceballos, received a death threat via text message. It stated: ‘You, your companions, and your two children’s place in the cemetery is ready.’ Quilina Ceballos received the threats while still mourning her husband.
In a separate incident on January 25, 2017, another farmer from Negros Occidental, Wencislao Pacquiao, 48, member of the San Benito Farmers Association- Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), was shot while doing work in the designated land cultivation area (LCA). He was with Rebeco Pabuaya, another farmer from the same organization. Around 9 in the morning, Pacquiao was approached by a gunman and was shot in the back. He was hit in the thigh and still managed to run but was pursued by the shooter and sustained more shots. Pacquiao sustained five (5) gunshot wounds. Pabuaya was also targeted but because he was working in the lower part of the LCA, he managed to escape. Pacquiao was shot at close range and was clearly targeted by the shooter.
There had been an attempt on Pacquiao’s life in 2015. His residence was strafed by the goons of then-barangay captain Nonoy Hullesa. Nonoy Hullesa is the brother of Agustilo Hullesa, the leaser of the land that farmers from San Benito are currently cultivating. In 2014, the DAR acquired the land from Angelina Bruce Laguda through the Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS), but the department awarded Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) to questionable beneficiaries. Pacquiao and several farmers filed a case against DAR for conniving with Agustilo Hullesa in distributing CLOAs to ‘dummy beneficiaries’. The land distributed to these dummy beneficiaries are now under the control of Agustilo Hullesa, who uses the land for leasing. The long-standing case has yet to be resolved.
We call on your government to:
1.        Immediately appoint an independent body to investigate the separate incidents
2.        Prosecute any identified perpetrators, including from landed elites, mining firms and hired goons under the protection of said landlords and corporations
3.        End the continued harassment and intimidation of Lumads in and out of their communities
4.        Protect peasant activists and environmental defenders with regard to their work in the defense of land and the environment
5.        Direct the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to look into the petition filed by Wencislao Pacquiao and other farmers regarding the questionable awarding of CLOAs, and to resolve all agrarian cases in favour of peasants
6.        Direct the intervention of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in cases where threat, harassment, and intimidation is used to coerce tribal leaders and communities to agree to mining ventures;
7.        End the counter-insurgency programs like Oplan Bayanihan and Oplan Kapayapaan;
8.        Pursue your government’s commitment to a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) that comprehensively tackles the deeply-rooted feudal relations in the country, and move towards free land distribution of monopolized lands;
9.        Pursue your government’s commitment to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which includes the right of peasants, indigenous communities, and environmental protection; and
10.    Adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major Human Rights instruments to which the Republic of the Philippines is a party and signatory.
Yours sincerely,
Peter Murphy

Chairperson
Global Council, ICHRP
peter_murphy1_au@bigpond.com

Cc
Hon. Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph, feedback@opapp.net
Ret. Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, Secretary, Department of National Defense, info@dnd.gov.ph, webmaster@dnd.gov.ph
Vitaliano Aguirre, Secretary, Department of Justice, communications@doj.gov.ph
Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights, chairgascon.chr@gmail.com
Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon Ms Julie Bishop MHR foreignminister2013@dfat.gov.au
Shadow Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Senator Penny Wong senator.wong@aph.gov.au
Australian Greens Foreign Affairs Spokesperson senator.ludlam@aph.gov.au
KARAPATAN karapatan@karapatan.org

February 10, 2017   No Comments

Condemn political killings of 4 leaders in January 2017

Australian Chapter: Australian Council of Trade Unions; Justice & International Mission Unit, Uniting Church in Australia, Victoria & Tasmania; Maritime Union of Australia, Victorian Branch; SEARCH Foundation; Philippines Australia Union Link; Action for Peace & Development in the Philippines, Migrante Australia


February 9, 2017,
H.E. Rodrigo Duterte
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph or send message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/
Condemn political killings of 4 leaders in January 2017
Dear Excellency,
We write to vigorously protest and condemn the political murders of four farmers – Venie Diamante, Veronico Delamente, Alexander Ceballos, and Wencislao Pacquiao –who have been killed this last January 2017. Two of them were indigenous leaders in Mindanao.
Your government has replaced the obnoxious and deadly Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency program with Oplan Kapayapaan, but there is no change to the attacks targeting land and environmental activists, perpetrated by private armies of landed families and mining firms complicit or in connivance with State security forces.
These latest killings of four farmer leaders also reflect the ongoing dominance of big landlords and businesses in the Philippines and their use of violence against peasants struggling for genuine agrarian reform. The killings occurred before and during the third round of formal peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), when both Parties started to tackle the crafting of an agreement on socio-economic reforms including genuine agrarian reform and rural development. It seems that these tactics have now succeeded in ending the current peace talks process, and we urge your government to seriously reconsider this development and take urgent action to restore the peace talks.
Your government can restore the path to genuine peace and progress by condemning these latest political killings and taking action to end the prevailing climate of impunity. Comprehensive reforms and fundamental change to solve the root causes of injustice, landlessness and poverty in the country must remain our common goal.
Background
On January 5, 2017, around 4pm, Venie Diamante, 43, a T’boli and municipal tribal chieftain, was brutally killed by an unnamed assailant on board a motorcycle while on his way home from Koronadal City. Diamante was already near his residence in Sitio Lambusong, Brgy. Puti, Norala, South Cotabato, when the gunman opened fire, inflicting eight (8) gunshot wounds. He was left on the side of the road.
On the morning of the next day, January 6, 2017, the regional police arrived to investigate the incident. Residents from the community attested that Diamante was a good person and a respected tribal leader. The police then showed a petition to survey the area which is part of the T’boli ancestral domain, a move that Diamante strongly advocated against. The objective of this conflict in recent years has been to displace the people and to pave the way for the entry of palm oil plantations in the area.
Weeks later, on January 20, 2017, two activists in Surigao del Norte and in Negros Occidental were killed.
Katribu regional partylist coordinator Veronico Delamente, 27, a Lumad-Mamanwa and member of Kahugpungan sa Lumadnong Organisasyon (KASALO) in the CARAGA region, was shot by two unnamed assailants in Punta Naga, Brgy. Cagdianao, Claver, Surigao del Norte. Delamente, along with other council members of Asosasyon sa Madajaw na Panaghiusa sa Tribung Mamanwa sa Tag-anito ug Urbizondo (AMPANTRIMTU), an organization recognized by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), were invited for an emergency meeting with the NCIP with regard to an indigenous people survey to approve the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) proposal of the Platinum Group Metals Corp (PGMC) to expand their mining operations. Delamente had earlier rejected the FPIC proposal.
On the noon of January 20, two men on board a motorcycle – the driver wearing a hoodie with his face partially covered by a handkerchief while the person on the passenger seat was wearing a bonnet and a black jacket with the words ‘CIDG’ printed in the back – were seen in the area. By 12:37pm, while Delamente and the others were waiting in the Punta Naga gym, the motorcycle returned to the gym whereby the man in the passenger seat got off and fired his Uzi at Delamente. Delamente was hit, fell down, and was trying to crawl away when the gunman caught him by the hair and shot him at close range. The gunman also fired at Joel Buklas, 42, also a council member of AMPANTRIMTU who was against the PGMC FPIC proposal. Buklas was able to escape but Lovely Delamente, Veronico Delamente’s 4-year-old niece, was hit. After having shot Delamente, the gunman shouted out that he will finish all of Delamente’s siblings, before finally leaving. Delamente and Lovely were rushed to the Miranda Hospital. Delamente died after 5 minutes of attempts to revive him.
On the evening of the same day, around 8pm, Alexander Ceballos, 54, regional council member and district area coordinator of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) was gunned down by two unnamed assailants near his house in Purok Tangke, Brgy. Pandanon Silos, Murcia, Negros Occidental. Ceballos was rushed to the Sanitarium Hospital in Bacolod City but was declared dead-on-arrival.
Ceballos and his family has long been the target of threats and intimidation by the Dela Cruz clan, a political clan who have controlled the town of Salvador Benedicto for more than 20 years. Ceballos’ involvement in organizing and mobilizing farmers to uphold and defend their rights had earned him the ire of the Dela Cruz family. On July 17, 2015, Alexander Ceballos’ son, Ariel Ceballos, survived an ambush when armed gunmen indiscriminately fired at the vehicle they were in. His fellow farmers suspected that Alexander was the original target. More recently, in a dialogue between the farmers, the provincial office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and the Dela Cruz family represented by Nehemias Dela Cruz Jr., the latter openly threatened Alexander and Ariel Ceballos with charges to be filed in court and vowed to retrieve all the lands already distributed to the farmers from the Dela Cruz clan.
On January 28, 2017, Quilina Ceballos, wife of Alexander Ceballos, received a death threat via text message. It stated: ‘You, your companions, and your two children’s place in the cemetery is ready.’ Quilina Ceballos received the threats while still mourning her husband.
In a separate incident on January 25, 2017, another farmer from Negros Occidental, Wencislao Pacquiao, 48, member of the San Benito Farmers Association- Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), was shot while doing work in the designated land cultivation area (LCA). He was with Rebeco Pabuaya, another farmer from the same organization. Around 9 in the morning, Pacquiao was approached by a gunman and was shot in the back. He was hit in the thigh and still managed to run but was pursued by the shooter and sustained more shots. Pacquiao sustained five (5) gunshot wounds. Pabuaya was also targeted but because he was working in the lower part of the LCA, he managed to escape. Pacquiao was shot at close range and was clearly targeted by the shooter.
There had been an attempt on Pacquiao’s life in 2015. His residence was strafed by the goons of then-barangay captain Nonoy Hullesa. Nonoy Hullesa is the brother of Agustilo Hullesa, the leaser of the land that farmers from San Benito are currently cultivating. In 2014, the DAR acquired the land from Angelina Bruce Laguda through the Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS), but the department awarded Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) to questionable beneficiaries. Pacquiao and several farmers filed a case against DAR for conniving with Agustilo Hullesa in distributing CLOAs to ‘dummy beneficiaries’. The land distributed to these dummy beneficiaries are now under the control of Agustilo Hullesa, who uses the land for leasing. The long-standing case has yet to be resolved.
We call on your government to:
1.        Immediately appoint an independent body to investigate the separate incidents
2.        Prosecute any identified perpetrators, including from landed elites, mining firms and hired goons under the protection of said landlords and corporations
3.        End the continued harassment and intimidation of Lumads in and out of their communities
4.        Protect peasant activists and environmental defenders with regard to their work in the defense of land and the environment
5.        Direct the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to look into the petition filed by Wencislao Pacquiao and other farmers regarding the questionable awarding of CLOAs, and to resolve all agrarian cases in favour of peasants
6.        Direct the intervention of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in cases where threat, harassment, and intimidation is used to coerce tribal leaders and communities to agree to mining ventures;
7.        End the counter-insurgency programs like Oplan Bayanihan and Oplan Kapayapaan;
8.        Pursue your government’s commitment to a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) that comprehensively tackles the deeply-rooted feudal relations in the country, and move towards free land distribution of monopolized lands;
9.        Pursue your government’s commitment to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which includes the right of peasants, indigenous communities, and environmental protection; and
10.    Adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major Human Rights instruments to which the Republic of the Philippines is a party and signatory.
Yours sincerely,
Peter Murphy

Chairperson
Global Council, ICHRP
peter_murphy1_au@bigpond.com

Cc
Hon. Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph, feedback@opapp.net
Ret. Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, Secretary, Department of National Defense, info@dnd.gov.ph, webmaster@dnd.gov.ph
Vitaliano Aguirre, Secretary, Department of Justice, communications@doj.gov.ph
Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights, chairgascon.chr@gmail.com
Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon Ms Julie Bishop MHR foreignminister2013@dfat.gov.au
Shadow Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Senator Penny Wong senator.wong@aph.gov.au
Australian Greens Foreign Affairs Spokesperson senator.ludlam@aph.gov.au
KARAPATAN karapatan@karapatan.org

February 10, 2017   No Comments

KATUNGOD LUMAD ALERT Another Lumad Leader Murdered in Bukidnon

KATUNGOD LUMAD ALERT
Another Lumad Leader Murdered in Bukidnon

Sitio Tapayanon, Brgy. Mangaod, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon-A Lumad leader from the Umayamnon tribe of Bukidnon is the latest murder victim of the notorious Alamara paramilitary forces.

Matanem Lorendo Pocuan went out to get a pig from his neighbor Datu Magellan at about 5:00 am on February 3, 2017.  While inside Datu Magellan’s house, Matanem Pocuan was shot through his right chest by Oba Ilocan, a known member of the Alamara in the area.  Ilocan was reported to have used a rifle in shooting Matanem Pocuan at a short range. Matanem died instantaneously.

Matanem Lorendo Pocuan was a respected elder of the Umayam people of Cabanglasan, Bukidnon, particularly in Sitio Tapayanon, Brgy. Mangaod.

Accordingly, the Alamara paramilitary group has been recruiting members of the community of Matanem Pocuan from as early as 2010.  However, Matanem Pocuan relentlessly refused the invitation as he saw no benefit arising from such affiliation; in fact, Matanem Pocuan saw that the Alamara would only cause the division of his tribe.

In his adamant refusal to join their ranks, the Alamara forces retaliated by accusing Matanem Pocuan’s community as supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA), alleging that it was the NPA who introduced the agricultural products in the community for their own consumption. Matanem Pocuan consistently denied this allegation, their community having developed a rich agricultural landscape on their own.
EXPRESS YOUR CONCERN
to the Philippine Government by writing to:

H.E. Rodrigo Roa Duterte
President, Republic of the Philippines
New Executive Building
Malacanang Palace
Compound JP Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila
1005 Philippines
Tel: +6327356201/5641451 to 80

Hon. Alfredo Benjamin Sabater Caguioa
Secretary, Department of Justice  Email: info@doj.gov.ph; communications@doj.gov.ph

Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission On Human Rights
Telefax: 929-0102, 928-5655, 926-6188
E-mail: chairgascon.chr@gmail.com

Atty. Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo
Chairperson, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
Tel: 373-97-87
Email: chairpersonsoffice@gmail.com

Hon. Jose Ma. Zubiri, Jr.
Governor, Province of Bukidnon
Provincial Capitol, Malaybalay City T
el.: (088) 221-2523; (088) 813-3845

Copy furnish your letters to info@rmp-nmr.org

For more information, contact us at:

Higala sa Lumad Network
Room 01, Kalinaw Lanao Center for Interfaith Resources
0016 Bougainvilla Puti, Villaverde
9200 Iligan City, Philippines
T/F: +63 (63) 223 5179
E: info@rmp-nmr.org

Katungod Lumad Alert is published by the ‘Higala sa Lumad’ [Friends of the Lumad] Network.

‘Higala sa Lumad’ Network is a support group composed of a broad range of interfaith personalities/representative of organizations synergizing relevant capacities and resources for Lumad communities under attack. ‘Higala’ also serves as an informal monitoring network for Lumad human rights. ‘Higala’ has been established as a component of the ‘Healing the Hurt’ Project.

Published with support from the European Union.

This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of RMP-NMR and ‘Healing the Hurt’ Project partners and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

 

February 10, 2017   No Comments

Wife of peasant leader killed in Negros, four other activists receive death threats

Wife of peasant leader killed in Negros, four other activists receive death threats

Dear friends,

Weeks after the killing of Alexander Ceballos, a leader of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Negros, his wife and leaders  of people’s organizations in the province are being threatened and harassed by a political clan in Negros and elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP). Please join us in condemning the attacks  and death threats against activists and their families – acts that seek to discourage their work and struggle for genuine agrarian reform. Such threats indicate the systematic collusion among landlords, politicians, and State security forces.

In light of the continuing harassment and attacks against leaders of peasant and progressive organizations, discussions on the substantive agenda on genuine agrarian reform and rural development in the formal peacetalks between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) need to go forward to address the root causes of injustice, such as landlessness and poverty. Continuing rights abuses in the countryside, the refusal of landlords to abide with land distribution despite government orders, and the continued use of State-sponsored violence against farmers are all the more compelling reasons to push towards the path of advancing the talks and crafting an agreement on socio-economic reforms.

ACCOUNT OF THE INCIDENTS

On January 20, 2017, Alexander Ceballos, 54, regional council member and district area coordinator of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) was gunned down by two unnamed assailants near his house in Purok Tangke, Brgy. Pandanon Silos, Murcia, Negros Occidental. Ceballos, along with NFSW, led the cultivation of a 25-hectare area utilized to provide sustainable livelihood to an estimated 50 farm workers and their families. The extra-judicial killing of Ceballos was attributed to  the Dela Cruz family, a political clan that has controlled the town of Salvador Benedicto for more than 20 years, and has previously committed many forms of harassment against leaders of NFSW. The Dela Cruz family is known to have direct ties to members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and is known to hire goons to harass the farmers.

Details on the killing of Ceballos can be accessed through http://karapatan.org/Four+activists+killed+this+January+2017.

On January 28, during the wake of Ceballos at his family’s residence, Quilina Ceballos, 50, wife of Alexander Ceballos, received death threats via a text message. The message read: ‘You, your companions, and your two sons’ place in the cemetery is ready.’ The sender was referring to other members of NFSW, and Quilina and Alexander’s sons, Ariel and Maochie. Quilina Ceballos and her sons, Ariel and Maochie, are also active members of NFSW.

Six days later, on the evening of February 3, 2017, Quilina Ceballos received another death threat through text message, this time including the names of other leaders of people’s organizations in the province who have been working with NFSW on agrarian reform struggles. The names of Christian Tuayon, Secretary General of Bayan Negros, Dolly ‘Aging’ Celedonio, Secretary General of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) – Negros, and Danny Tabura, local leader of NFSW, were mentioned in the said messages. The text message, sent at around 9pm, detailed:
The damage that you caused cannot be compensated by money, your foolish protesting will be the reason for your eventual death. Give my regards to Christian, Aging, Danny; they will not last for long in this world, hiding is futile. Your children too, give my advance condolence to them… It’s okay, we will also burn your house and car. You do not know who you are up against. If you continue with the direction you are going, you won’t have any use for you house and car, for I will burn them. You and your children will soon be gone from this world, and also your other companions; all your names are listed in our ‘project’.
The sender alluded that part of their ‘project’ is to go after all the names of leaders that they have listed, a practice reminiscent of the military’s Order of Battle lists.
In another incident on February 3, 2017, Christian Tuayon’s 8-year-old son, “Mario” (not his real name), was approached by a certain Salt Alvarez Peña who registered his name as ‘Jose Salcedo’ in the security guards’ logbook. According to witnesses, Peña looked for Mario inside the Christian Ventures Academy in Purok San Miguel, Brgy. Sum-ag, Bacolod City and introduced himself to the adviser as the child’s uncle. When they met, Peña badgered the child with questions about his family and other personal information, to which Mario gave short responses. The child hurriedly left and said he does not want to talk to Peña because he does not know him. When Christian Tuayon and his wife arrived at the school to fetch their son, they were informed by the school’s security guard of their son’s ‘visitor’. Christian showed the guard an ID of a person who was also looking for his wife in her workplace, and the guard confirmed that the same person came looking for her son. The ID card showed a picture of a police officer identified as PO3 Salt Alvarez Peña.
This was not the first time that Peña made a visit to Mario’s school. According to the school adviser, the same man came on January 31, 2017 and inquired about the child’s personal records, including their family’s address. Christian and his wife immediately went to the PNP Bacolod station and filed a blotter report. The Tuayon family refrained from going to their home that day and temporarily stayed at a relative’s house. When they went home, however, their neighbors alerted them that a man, again positively identified as Peña, came looking for them in their home. Local leaders are scheduled for a dialogue with the PNP regarding the incident, and especially because Peña’s ID shows he is a policeman, as well as a suspected intelligence officer.
Though considered as separate incidents, the threats to Quilina Ceballos and her sons, Christian Tuayon and his family, Dolly Celedonio, and Danny Tabura have prompted them to seek sanctuary for their security.

Recommended actions:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

1.       The immediate investigation of the separate incidents to be conducted by an independent body;
2.      The immediate investigation and prosecution of perpetrators which include political clans who have direct ties to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and elements of the police;
3.      An end to landgrabbing, as well as to the continued harassment, killings, and other human rights violations against farmers and peasant organizations;
4.      An end to the targetting of activists and leaders of progressive organizations, and their families;
5.      An end to counter-insurgency programs like Oplan Bayanihan and Oplan Kapayapaan which encourage the use of ‘hit lists’ that target activists and civilians;
6.      The Philippine Government to move towards the advancement of a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) which will seek to address prevailing landlessness in the countryside, as well as free distribution of land;
7.      The Philippine Government to pursue its commitments under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which includes the right to freedom of thought and expression, freedom of conscience, political and religious beliefs and practices and the right not to be punished or held accountable for the exercise of these rights, and the right to free speech, press, association and assembly; and
8.     The Philippine Government to adhere and respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all major Human Rights instruments that is a party and signatory.

You may send your communications to:

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Rodrigo Duterte
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph or send message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/

Hon. Jesus Dureza
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
Email: stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph, feedback@opapp.net

Ret. Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email: info@dnd.gov.ph, webmaster@dnd.gov.ph

Hon. Vitaliano Aguirre
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline:  523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614
Email: communications@doj.gov.ph

Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chairgascon.chr@gmail.com

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below:

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central,
Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org; karapatan@karapatan.org
Website: www.karapatan.org

February 6, 2017   No Comments