Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines

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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

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

Press Statement
February 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 10, 2017   No Comments

Karapatan cries foul on arrest of peace consultant

Press Statement
February 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties.  It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.  It was established in 1995.

February 10, 2017   No Comments

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
__._,_.___

February 6, 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

Philippine president Duterte warns rebels after peace talks collapse

 Philippine president Duterte warns rebels after peace talks collapse

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

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

5 February 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 6, 2017   No Comments

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

Press Statement
February 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 6, 2017   No Comments

Lumad leader murdered in Bukidnon

KATUNGOD LUMAD ALERT
Lumad leader murdered in Bukidnon

Lumad leader Renato Anglao, 42 years old, was shot dead by three unidentified men riding in tandem just around noon today, February 3, 2017 at Crossing BUSCO in Quezon, Bukidnon.

Anglao was aboard his motorcycle on his way back home with his wife and child  after buying school supplies at the town center in Quezon when another motorcycle with three unidentified men drove to their side and shot Anglao twice at the head. This caused his instantaneous death.  The three men, wearing bonnets over their heads, sped off right after the incident.

The hitman after killing Anglao, alighted their motorcycle, with his gun still at hand and began heading toward Anglao and his wife and child.  But since people already started to gather around the scene, the hitman backed off, rode back on the motorcycle and sped off in the direction going to BUSCO.

Investigation is ongoing as to the identity of Anglao’s assailants and the motive behind this extra-judicial killing.

Renato Anglao is an active member of the Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (TINDOGA), an indigenous peoples’ organization of the Manobo-Pulangion in Brgy. Botong, Quezon, Bukidnon. TINDOGA staunchly opposes plantation. They had won back their ancestral land and had secured its title two years ago despite the moves of Rancho Montalvan  owned by Maramag Vice Mayor Pablo Lorenzo, to introduce a plantation in it.

The members of TINDOGA have also been accused of supporting the CPP-led New People’s Army which were able to kill three military personnel in an armed clash on February 1 in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

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 4, 2017   No Comments

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

Press Statement
February 3, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

February 4, 2017   No Comments