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KARAPATAN unfurls giant “Stop the Killings” banner as 45th UNHRC opens

Human rights group Karapatan unfurled a giant “Stop the Killings” banner at the Commission on Human Rights’ Liwasang Diokno in Quezon City as the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) opens its 45th session today, September 14, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The group reiterates its call for an end to the Duterte government’s extrajudicial killings and for the UNHRC to investigate rampant human rights violations in the Philippines.

Progressive groups hold protest on Rodrigo Duterte 4th year anniversary as president

Human rights advocates and activists held a protest activity on the 4th anniversary of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency last June 30 at the Commission on Human Rights compound in Quezon City.

Kadamay starts urban poor campout at CHR

Urban poor group Kadamay launched a campout to protest attacks on their communities and members at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Thursday, January 23.

“Mapanganib ang buhay ng mahihirap sa ilalim ni Duterte, kami’y sinasabing mga terorista pero kinakatwiran lamang ito ng mga awtoridad para itulak ang mga atake at demolisyon sa maraming komunidad sa buong bansa,” Kadamay chairperson Gloria “Ka Bea” Arellano said.

CHR chairperson Chito Gascon welcomed members of the group Kadamay and joined them in a boodle fight.

Commission on Human Rights chairperson Chito Gascon welcomes Kadamay members and supporters.

Kadamay said that widespread demolitions and displacement due to the government’s aggressive infrastructure campaign “Build Build Build” is one of the reasons for attacks against the civil liberties of the poor.

The camp, supported by the CHR and the University of the Philippines, is intended to serve as a sanctuary for urban poor Filipinos whose lives are in danger for opposing the unjust policies of the regime.

Kadamay decried the harassment, assaults, fake charges, wrongful arrests, violence and extortion of fake surrenderees by law enforcement.

Other attacks have been tallied in communities across the nation. In Navotas, Kadamay said its members are routinely hounded by personnel of the Philippine Navy. Leaders and members are also charged with bogus criminal cases.

In Bulacan, Kadamay said two of urban poor organizers are detained on fabricated charges. They have also masterminded the creation of alternate groups dubbed “pro-government’ to combat Kadamay and spread violence in Pandi, Bulacan.

“Palibhasa sa taong 2019 at lalo sa 2020, malawakang ipapatupad ang maraming demolisyon para sa BBB. Hindi naman nireresolba ang matinding kawalan ng tahanan sa ating bayan, pararamihin pa ang homeless, inaatake pa sila ng mga pulis at sundalo. Kaya kami naglunsad ng kampuhan upang isiwalat ang katotohanang ito sa mamamayan. Hindi kaunlaran ang dulot ng BBB, ibayong kahirapan at homelessness ang epekto,” explained Arellano.

Around 506, 495 will be displaced from 15 (out of 100) of the flagship projects under the BBB, Kadamay said.

Gascon joins Kadamay in a boodle fight.

The group also disputed the fact that the government will be able to provide relocation for all the displaced. In the last five years, only 58% of whole target of homes for Yolanda victims was made. In addition, the housing budget has plummeted under Duterte, with a 76% reduction.

Kadamay called to resolve the homeless crisis, not aggravate it. “Karapatan ang paninirahan, ibig sabihin, dapat responsibilidad ng pamahalaan na harapin at resolbahin ito.”

Ang kailangan ng maralita at homeless, disente, abot-kaya at pangmasang pabahay. Lilikha ito ng trabaho, paninirahan at ganansya para sa buong ekonomiya. At imbes na gibain ang mga komunidad, paunlarin. Tanging mga malalaking negosyante at mga kapitalista ng China ang makikinabang sa mga proyekto ng BBB,” said Arellano. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Groups condemn red-tagging of 2 CDO journalists

Media groups condemned the worsening attacks against the press in the Philippines following the death threat against Mindanao Gold Star Daily associate editor Leonardo Vicente Corrales, who is also alleged to have a P1 million bounty on his head.

In a press conference, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) raised concerns over the red-tagging of Corrales, along with veteran journalist Froilan Gallardo of MindaNews.

On August 27, Corrales received flyers sent via courier service alleging that both him and Gallardo are members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army.

The courier packet, sent on August 24, identified the sender as Danilo Tirso Mantangan of Sitio Camansi, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental with mobile phone number 09091020123.

“It’s an attempt to brand journalists as combatant parties of the conflict, instead of journalists and civilians,” NUJP Western Mindanao safety officer JB Deveza said.

Deveza pointed out that the flyers also attacked the credibility of the journalists by describing them as “biased” and “supporters of terrorist organizations.”

“We expect that this is not going away soon,” Deveza said, explaining the need “to express our outrage and for the state to do something about it.”

“It does not only endanger the life of our colleagues but also depriving the community of fair and unbiased reporting,” he added.

Conflict journalists

Gallardo, who has covered the various conflicts of Mindanao for since the 1980s, said he was included in the ongoing red-tagging of journalists, lawyers, church workers and activists for having recently interviewed the New People’s Army about a raid they carried out in August.

“We cannot just write the government’s side, but also the rebels’,” Gallardo said.

“If they think that by doing this they would kill the idea of journalism, they thought wrong”

Gallardo said journalists are duty-bound to get the side of rebels in the many conflicts in Mindanao as they are expected to interview government armed forces as well.

“We fail to get both sides of the story, then we are no good as journalists,” Gallardo explained.

Predicate to ‘terrorism’

Former NUJP chair Inday Espina-Varona said journalists do not work in a vacuum and called the attacks part of a national government policy stemming from President Rodrigo Duterte’s vow to “crush Asia’s longest running communist insurgency.”

“Actually, he (Duterte) had given himself his own deadline of June 2019, so there is a sense of urgency now,” she said, adding that the red-tagging on Gallardo and Corrales are connected and appeared to be in line with government’s efforts to amend the Human Security Act.

Among others, this could lead to the classification of journalists’ interviews of persons or groups tagged as terrorist as “an accessory to crime and to terrorism.”

“There is a strong attempt from government officials to not allow this (interviews with rebels) anymore because it is deemed to be giving succor to their enemies,” Varona said.

“The government’s view is: if you don’t want to be red-tagged then you need to condemn certain parties, which is not what a journalist does,” she added.

Making journalists vulnerable

Varona said the sedition charges filed against opposition figures, which stemmed from a bogus ouster matrix Malacañan Palace itself released, makes journalists vulnerable as it opens the possibility of their inclusion in the case.

“There’s a lot of institutional repression, but it’s not just enough to say ‘let’s wait for a law or a campaign’ because these attacks are not a joke and should be taken very seriously. They should be laid at the feet of a government that consistently failed to recognize these threats,” she said.

Jonathan de Santos, NUJP National Capital Region chair stressed that journalists are civilians and should not be labelled as belonging to any side in the conflict for simply doing their jobs. He added that if this can happen to journalists, it could happen to anyone.

Ms. Azenath Formoso of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) read spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann C. de Guia, CHR spokesperson, calling attacks on journalists attacks on people’s right to the truth and to be fully informed.

The CHR It also echoed calls for security forces in Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao to investigate the red-tagging and ensure the safety of targeted individuals.

The College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), meanwhile, said the attacks against Corrales and Gallardo extend to the ranks of the campus press.

“Military intelligence agents infiltrate campuses all over the country and take pictures of student publication offices,” CEGP national secretariat member Trixia Amboy said during the press conference.

In a statement, the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) for its part called the red-tagging of Corrales and Gallardo “baseless and irresponsible.”
This does not only endanger the profession and render chilling effect but also put the lives of those red-tagged and their families at risk,” PPI said.

“We urge the government to hold accountable the perpetrators of such false, malicious and dangerous propaganda,” PPI added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Pamilya ng mga bilanggong politika, muling inilunsad ang KAPATID

Hunyo 15, 2019

Nagtipon ang mga human rights advocate, aktibista, kaanak at kaibigan ng mga bilanggong politikal para sa muling pagbubuo ng KAPATID, isang organisasyong tututok sa pagpapalaya ng mga bilanggong pultikal.

Ang KAPATID ay unang binuo noong taong 1978 ng mga kaanak ng mga bilanggong pulitikal sa panahon ng Martial Law.

Ani Fides Lim, National Board member ng KAPATID at asawa ng bilanggong pulitikal na si Vic Ladlad, ang muling pagkakabuo ng KAPATID ay indikasyon ng malaking pagkakatulad ng kalagayang pampulitika ng bansa noon magpasahanggang-ngayon.

Ayon sa KARAPATAN, mayroong 536 bilanggong pulitikal sa bansa at patuloy itong tumataas.

Isang mini-exhibit ang kasabay na inilunsad sa Commission on Human Rights upang ipakita ang mga likha ng mga bilanggong pulitikal.

Mayroon ring “Freedom Wall” kung saan isinulat ng mga dumalo ng kanilang pangakong tutulong sa kalayaan ng mga bilanggong pulitikal. (Bidyo ni Maricon Montajes)

Groups vow to seek justice for Malayao’s assassination

Friends of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Randy Felix Malayao gathered earlier today to commemorate the 40th day since his assasination and to commit to pursuing justice for the slain activist.

 “We take this occasion to once again look at the profound loss we suffer and to commit ourselves in seeking justice for his death,” the groups said in a statement marking the 40th day since Malayao’s murder, a widespread practice among Filipino Christians.

In a brief program, the groups, including representatives from Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-allied organizations and Beta Sigma Fraternity, discussed updates on investigations being conducted on Malayao’s murder.

BAYAN chairperson Carol Araullo presented highlights of a preliminary investigation conducted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Cagayan Valley recommending  than an “impartial and thorough probe must proceed.”

“The initial findings obtained by the family show that the CHR does not accept claims that Randy’s death was part of an internal [Communist] Party purge carried out by the New People’s Army,” the groups said.

“The initial findings point out that Randy has ‘no known enemy or personal grudge to any other plain civilian/s except for the military intelligence who usually monitor his activities,’” they added.

The CHR report also says Malayao’s killing appears to have been carried out by “experts” and may be related to his work as peace consultant of the NDF, the groups revealed.

They also condemned the Philippine National Police (PNP)  in Region II for seeking “to tarnish Randy’s memory with vile and unsupported accusations.”

“The PNP in Region II rushed to cast aspersions against the victim even before a proper investigation has been conducted,” they said.

Friends also announced that at least three publications are being produced to honor Malayao they said are hoped to be in circulation before the victim’s 50th birth anniversary in August.

“The Justice for Randy Campaign is duly formed and ready to work just as hard as our friend, colleague and brother for justice,” they said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Human rights groups slam woman’s strip search

By April Burcer

Various human rights groups are calling for the investigation of the reported strip search of a female drug suspect in a police station in Makati City that went viral last week.

Gabriela and Karapatan released separate statements condemning the act as despicable, cruel and degrading.

“What the Makati Police did to the arrested drug suspects was despicable, including the act of doing a strip search on a woman and having her bend over in front of the male and female police officers. This is another case of abuse of police authority to trample upon the rights of the oppressed,” Gabriela said.

Karapatan also said that the superiors of those involved “should be investigated as well to look into their accountability, considering the principle of command responsibility under the said law.”

Both groups are calling for the investigation of the incident and to hold the involved police officers accountable, and should be meted out with punishment under the Anti-Torture Law.

Makati City police chief Rogelio Simon, however, claimed that the video was just a demo and that the drug suspect involved consented to the procedure because of monetary benefits.

The Commission on Human Rights also launched its own investigation of the case and categorizes this as a form of psychological torture, which is prohibited under Republic Act (RA) No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act signed in 2009.

Culture of torture

The incident was not an isolated case according to Karapatan as the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) also conducted strip searches of drug suspects during its so-called Greyhound operations in jail facilities in the region in May 2017.

“Despite these previous incidents, the practice continues. It is lamentable and infuriating that strip search is considered as “standard operating procedure” by the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP),” Karapatan’s statement said.

The practice should have been deemed illegal because of the Anti-Torture Law but authorities think that such acts are justifiable as long as they do it according to the guidelines and manual of operations, the group added.

Gabriela, on the other hand, blames this culture of “disrespect  and disregard of women’s rights” on President Rodrigo Duterte, ading  “it is not surprising that the fascist and anti-women culture among the police and the military also increases. “

In fact, even with the Anti-Torture Law, Karapatan has documented 248 victims of torture under the Benigno S. Aquino III administration and 94 victims of torture within the two years of the Duterte regime.

Gabriela is also appealing to other women who were victims of police abuse to come out and reveal whatever human rights injustices they have suffered in the hands of the police and military. #

 

Activists defend rights commission, slam 1000 budget by HoR

BANGKOK, Thailand—Activists came to the defense of the beleaguered Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after the House of Representatives (HoR) gave the agency a thousand-peso budget in 2018.

In a statement, human rights group Karapatan said the 119 representatives who approved the punitive budget are “sycophants…(who) are having a field day with their fascist and anti-people schemes in the past days.”

Karapatan added the HoR decision is an attempt by the chamber’s so-called super majority to clip the functions of a constitutional body mandated to check on the human rights violations of State actors.

“We view the recent attempts of the (Rodrigo) Duterte administration to de facto abolish the CHR as a dangerous step that undermines available mechanisms for redress for human rights violations in this so-called democratic form of government,” Karapatan said.

A representative who voted against the budget said Duterte’s HoR wants to cripple the CHR.

“(The thousand peso) budget for the CHR will cripple it amidst the extrajudicial killings, military and police abuse, (and) state-sanctioned violence,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said.

In the plenary debate on the 2018 General Appropriations Bill Tuesday night, 1-Sagip Rep. Rodante Marcoleta moved for the P1,000 budget , accusing the CHR for failing to investigate alleged violations by terrorists.

Marcoleta’s move mirrored HoR Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s threat last August 7 to give no budget to the CHR.

“Kung ako ang tatanungin ninyo e, zero kapag ganyan ang performance. Bakit? Hindi natin ia-abolish kasi constitutional budget, eh di wag mong bigyan ng budget yan,” Alvarez said.

Asked to comment on the HoR vote, Alvarez said his desire for a zero budget was not actually granted.

“Hindi naman zero. One thousand. Kasi hindi nila ginagawa ang trabaho nila. Yung mandato nila under the Constitution, hindi nila ginagawa,” Alvarez said.

The speaker said if the CHR wants to protect the rights of criminals, it is better off asking the criminals for a budget.

Duterte, for his part, blamed CHR chairperson Chito Gascon for the HoR decision, saying the agency chief had it coming.

“Dilawan talaga iyan e,” Duterte in a press conference said.

Meanwhile, Gascon said they are saddened by the HoR’s “whimsical and capricious display of vindictiveness” but are grateful to the 32 representatives who voted against the budget.

We were heartened by many members of the House who stood their ground to defy the tyranny of numbers shamelessly exhibited tonight (Tuesday),” Gascon said in a statement.

“We draw strength from their solidarity as we press on with pursuing our mandate to uphold and defend the human rights of all,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)