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‘Stop the killings!’

“Hinding-hindi malulutas ng militarisasyon at pagpaslang sa mamamayan ang sigalot ngayon na nangyayari sa kanayunan. Stop the killings! Defend Negros! Resume peace talks!”—Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, University of the Philippines-Diliman

KODAO ASKS: Bakit ka sumama ngayon sa Pambansang Araw ng Pagluluksa at Protesta para sa Negros?

Noong Agosto 20, idinaos ang pambansang araw ng pagluluksa at protesta para sa nangyayaring karahasan sa isla ng Negros.

Tinanong ng Kodao Productions ang ilan sa mga nakiisa sa protesta sa Mendiola at Liwasang Bonifacio sa Maynila at ito ang kanilang mga naging sagot.

Pamamaslang sa Negros, ipinanawagang itigil

Libo-libong mamamayan ang nagmartsa patungong Liwasang Bonifacio noong Martes, Agosto 20, upang kondenahin ang walang habas na pamamamaslang sa isla ng Negros mula noong inilabas ng gubyernong Rodrigo Duterte ang Memorandum No. 32 na anila’y may sala sa mga kamatayan.

Ipinag-utos ni Pangulong Duterte ang pagpapadala ng mas maraming sundalo sa Negros, gayundin ang pagsugpo sa New People’s Army sa isla. Subalit, ang mga magsasaka, bata, abogado, lingkod bayan, kababaihan, at iba pang mahihirap ang anila’y biktima ng militarisasyon.

Itanong Mo Kay Prof: Walang Tigil na Pamamaslang sa Negros

Panayam kay Prof. Jose Maria Sison, Chair Emeritus ng International League of People’s Struggle, ni Prof. Sarah Raymundo hinggil sa extra-judicial killings sa isla ng Negros. Sa kasalukuyan ay mayroon nang 87 ang napatay sa isla simula ng maupo sa Malacanang si Pangulong Duterte.


Hindi Malayo ang Negros

By Luchie Maranan

Akala mo lang 
Wala kang kinalaman,
Wala kang pakialam
Sa islang naglalamay
Sa mga pinaslang.

Ang mapulang tilamsik at daloy 
Ay umaabot sa iyong kinaroroonan
Dahil maniwala ka’t hindi,
“Ang sakit ng kalingkingan
Ay dama ng buong katawan.”

Ang dilim ay malawak na inilalatag
Hanggang ang iyong 
Sariling liwanag ay di na mabanaag.
Nasa hangin ang pulbura ng salarin
Pagtutol ay pupulbusin.

Akala mo lang
Naumid na ang iyong paligid,
Ngunit dinig hanggang sa iyong isip
Ang hiyaw ng dumaraming
Tinutugis at inuusig.

Akala mo lang 
Wala kang kinalaman,
Wala kang pakialam
Ngunit ang Negros ay larawan
Ng iyong sariling bayan.

Hulyo 31, 2019

Bishop: ‘Peace talks, not martial law’

By Visayas Today

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza on Thursday, August 1, called for the rejection of martial law and renewed his call for the resumption of peace talks between the government and communist rebels.

A Catholic priest said placing Negros under martial law on account of the recent wave of violence that has claimed at least 20 lives in Negros Oriental will only worsen the situation.

Human righta groups also rejected the notion outright, predicting it would only lead to more human rights abuses.

President Rodrigo Duterte has warned he might invoke emergency powers, including martial law, to quell the violence he and security officials blame on communist rebels.

Upping the bounty to P5 million, “dead or laive,” for rebels who killed four police intelligence officers in Ayungon town on July 18, he also threatened to “replicate the atrocious acts” he attributed to the New People’s Army.

Reacting to Duterte’s threat, Alminaza pointed out that “martial law is neither the answer to the centuries-old agrarian problem nor to the decades of armed rebellion.”

He pointed to the Marcos dictatorship, which began when the country was placed under martilal law in 1972, saying this “did not lead to genuine peace; instead, it worsened the insurgency problem.”

“Even now, the heavens cry for justice as innocent people get killed in crossfires and mere suspects are summarily killed,” the bishop said. “Even now, without any formal declaration of martial law, government commandos and armed partisans are sowing fear and disregarding due process and the rule of law. Even now, human and civil rights are being trampled upon, leaving more and more widows and orphans in our midst.”

At the same time, he told the warring parties that “genuine peace can never be achieved through military adventurism and tit-for-tat conflict” but by addressing the “roots of social injustice.”

Fr. Chris Gonzales, Social Action head of the Bacolod diocese, said talk of martial law by Malacañang “saddens us.”

Should Duterte make good on this threat, Gonzales predicted “more oppression of the marginalized and those working for social justice.”

“We still believe poverty alleviation is the answer to our social woes,” Gonzales said. “Our people have suffered enough. We do not see how martial law can be the solution.”

Responding to the bloodshed. the four bishops of Negros have ordered church bells rung at 8 p.m. everyday “until the killings stop.”

“The church will continue to pray for peace, not the peace born of fear but born of freedom,” Gonzales said.

At the same time, he reminded the military and police, who many quarters suspect of being reaponsible for many of the killings, “your mandate is to protect the citizenry.”

In the House of Representatives, the Makabayan bloc and a group of 26 lawmakers, including most of Negros’, have separately sought inquiries into the killings.

The lawmakers noted that most of the vcitims – who counted local government officials, educators, a lawyer, among others – had been accused of being rebel supporters.

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the human rights group Karapatan, warned that “threats by Duterte and his minions to declare martial law in Negros will significantly impact on the human rights situation in the island.”

Citing Mindanao, which has been under martial law since 2017, when fighting broke out in Marawi City, Palabay predicted “extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, forced surrender, forcible evacuation and other rights violations that will wantonly be committed by State forces once martial law is declared in Negros.”

“We call on Negrenses and the Filipino people to oppose this spiralling descent to fullblown dictatorship in the country,” she said.

On the other hand, the Defend Negros coalition, demanded “peace and justice” instead of martial law.

“A militarist solution such as the declaration of martial law, and more tyrannical actions, would never be the solution to the alarming situation in Negros,” Defend Negros said.

“Justice and peace are what we seek for in this time of despair and darkness,” the coalition said. “While we mourn over the rising number of brutal deaths in Negros, we also rage against state policies that has sanctioned these attacks — Executive Order No. 70 and Memorandum Order No. 32, approved by President Duterte, also the concurrent Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

Instead of threatening martial law, Defend Negros said government “must address the plight of landless farmers” and “work to give concrete solutions to the growing economic hardship and social injustice endured by Negrenses.” #

Bishop issues oratio imperata against Negros killings

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos issued another pastoral appeal asking the people of Negros Oriental to pray with him following the murder of four more civilians early Saturday morning.

In his third pastoral letter this week, Bishop Alminaza issued an urgent call to prayer and action to end the killings in Negros Island via an oratio imperata.

“Heavenly Father, the source of life and foundation of peace, we your children mourn, worry, and are anxious because of the successive murders of our brothers and sisters.

We beg you, awaken the minds of those who don’t even care, disturb the conscience of those who author the killings, touch the hearts of those who support the murders, and comfort those who mourn.

Give us the strength to fight evil with good, and to reject crooked ways. Protect us from the lies of the devil, and free our country from the power of Satan. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

(Alminaza’s Oratio Imperata of Cebu)

An oratio imperata is a short Roman Catholic invocative prayer a bishop issues in times of grave need and calamities.

Alminaza’s appeal came after four more executions within his diocese were reported by human rights organizations.

“Today, in Canlaon City and in Ayungon, Negros Oriental, four lives again perished from gun barrels of criminals. When life is always sacred, these criminals have treated life as dispensable,” the prelate said.

Former Ayungon mayor Edcel Enardecido and his cousin Leo Enardecido were killed around 2:30 a.m. while Canlaon City Councilor Bobby Jalandoni and Barangay Panubigan Chairperson Ernesto Posadas were killed separately, bringing to at least 21 the deaths from a wave of violence that has swept the province of Negros Oriental since a week ago.

Bishop’s third pastoral appeal this week.

Alminaza said three of the latest victims were government officials close to the hearts of the poor in their localities.

“While serving as elected officials, they wholeheartedly defended those who have less in life and promoted programs to help them,” Alminaza said.

“Those who were killed are persons; they are not just numbers or statistics! We fervently pray that we may not continue counting dead bodies; that every one of us will continue protecting human lives,” he added.

The prelate said the “pattern of systemic killings” is alarming.

“Who will be next?” he asked.

Alminaza issued his first pastoral letter two days after the killing of human rights lawyer Anthony Trinidad in Dumaguete City last July 23.

Alminaza condemned Trinidad’s murder and the wounding of his wife and called for the resumption of the peace process between the Duterte government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as a way to stop the attacks on civilians alleged to be supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

After the killing of three more civilians last Thursday, July 24, an angered Alminaza issued his second pastoral letter last Friday calling for the ringing of church bells around his diocese at 8 PM every evening starting Sunday.

Before that day ended, however, four more were killed, bringing to seven the number of civilians murdered last Thursday.

“In anger and in a call for justice, in a spirit of communion and in a collective prayer, we exhort our parishes, mission stations and religious houses to ring our church bells every 8PM stating this July 28, 2019 (Sunday) until the killings stop,” Alminaza said in his second pastoral appeal.

“Let the toiling of bells remind us that the senseless killings are inhuman. Let the tolling of the church bells call us to a collective prayer, for us to beg God to touch the hearts of perpetrators, as we call on responsible government agencies to effectively address the series of deaths,” the prelate added.

Alminaza’s second pastoral appeal exhorted the government to act on ending the killings. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lawyer shot dead in Negros Oriental as chief of village where 4 cops killed allegedly commits suicide

By Visayas Today

A lawyer was shot dead while his wife and a pedicab driver were injured when the couple was attacked by two motorcycle-riding killers in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental Tuesday afternoon, July 23.

The same day, the chief of the village in Ayungon town where four policemen were killed by communist rebels in a July 18 ambush also died in a hospital, one day after allegedly drinking pesticide, Negros Oriental police director Colonel Raul Tacaca said.

Barangay Mabato chairman Sunny Caldera (Photo from Visayas Today)

A police report said lawyer Anthony Trinidad and his wife Novie Marie, both 53 and residents of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, were in their SUV when they were fired on in the center of Guihulngan.

Their vehicle hit the pedicab driven by Guillermo Magdasal, 52, before hitting a concrete wall.

The three were rushed to the Guihulngan District Hospital where the lawyer was declared dead.

Last year, Trinidad was reportedly among the names in a hit list by an alleged anti-communist group called Kawsa Guihulnganon Batok Komunista (KAGUBAK), according to Defend Negros #StopTheAttacks Network.

Defend Negros condemned the senseless killing of the lawyer.

Meanwhile, Tacaca said Barangay Mabato chairnan Sunny Caldera, 51, had been found vomiting by the roadside with a pesticide container near him on Monday.

He was brought to Bindoy District Hospital then transferred to the Silliman University Medical Center in Dumaguete City where he expired the next day.

Earlier, police Region 7 chief Brigadier General Debold Sinas said they were looking into Caldera’s possible involvement to the deaths of the four personnel of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion.

Sinas said the village chief, who had reportedly been seen talking to one of the policemen before they were killed, had not warned them that the area was a “mass base” of the rebels.

Tacaca acknowledged they had yet to talk to Caldera’s family.

The Mt. Cansermon Command of the New People’s Army owned responsibility for the ambush on the policemen.

“Based on our intelligence report, the four police operatives were gathering information and surveilling the area for another round of Oplan Sauron or Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations where innocent civilians are killed by uniformed personnel in the guise of counter-insurgency efforts,” the rebels said in a statement released Monday.

“These police officers have been long harassing the residents of the area for allegedly supporting the revolutionary movement,” they claimed. “In fact, the residents were forced to evacuate because of continued intimidation.”

Multiple murder and theft charges have been filed against 20 suspected rebels for the ambush.

Also charged was Victoriano Anadon, a reported contact who the policemen were supposed to meet but who was later found to be allegedly linked to the rebels. #

Karapatan lauds UNHRC resolution on the human rights crisis in the Philippines

Karapatan said it is pleased about the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution tabled by Iceland asking member-states to take concrete steps on the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines during the council’s 41st session.

“Karapatan welcomes the UNHRC’s decision to pass this long overdue resolution. This comes at a most pressing and opportune time as the Duterte government is set to report on its “achievements” after 3 years in office. This is a significant step towards accountability and we applaud the UNHRC’s decision to not remain complicit amid the rights violations being perpetrated in the Philippines. This is not the end-all, be-all of our efforts to exact accountability, but we take it as a critical start. This is a decision on the side of justice,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said soon after learning of the resolution’s passage.

The Iceland resolution expressed concern on reported cases of extrajudicial killings in line with the drug war, but also raised the issue of reported violations targeting critics and human rights defenders.

According to Karapatan, the resolution urges the Philippine government to take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to carry out impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with international norms and standards including on due process and the rule of law; and to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner and the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, including by facilitating country visits and preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation.

“This is a significant and relevant move by Iceland, which was supported by 28 states. An independent investigation into reported human rights violations in line with the government’s anti-narcotics campaign and its counterinsurgency program is long overdue,” Karapatan said in a statement.

“This resolution will initiate the start of a close monitoring on the rights situation in the country. Other efforts domestically, regionally and internationally will likewise move forward, the aggregate of which will expectedly bring out the changes in policy and in leadership that prioritizes human and people’s rights,” the group explained.

Palabay said the UNHRC resolution is not an issue of sovereignty but of accountability.

The Philippines is signatory to binding human rights treaties that allow for such mechanisms of investigation and accountability.

“Duty-bearers who act contrary to their mandate of upholding human rights should expect to be made accountable. In the end, it comes down to exacting justice,” Palabay said.

“This is not a numbers game, as what this callous government tries to reason out. This systematic and state-perpetrated butchering of the Filipino people has reached international concern, and the clamor for change will only echo louder from here on,” she added.

“Despite the government’s efforts to discredit and malign victims, their relatives, and human rights organizations, many countries have already expressed alarm on our situation. We will continuously challenge the government to own up to its flagship policies, and face the consequences of peddling militarism at the expense of people’s rights,” Palabay concluded. (Video by Joseph Cuevas/Report by Raymund B. Villanueva)

San Fernando RTC finds suspect in Geertman murder guilty

A suspect in the killing of a Dutch lay missionary in Angeles City on July 3, 2012 was found guilty by the San Fernando City Regional Trial Court this morning.

A Marvin Marzan Nuguid, who described himself as a junkshop operator, was found guilty by Judge Christine Marie C. Capule for the killing of Willem Geertman and sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua or from 20 to 30 years in jail.

In its decision, the Court said it gave weight to the testimonies of prosecution witnesses identifying Nuguid as the one who shot Geertmen at his back with a calibre .38 revolver.

The Court added that Nuguid’s alibi that he was in his Mexico, Pampanga at the time of the crime was weak and could be easily fabricated.

Witnesses said that Nuguid and an accomplice forcibly Geertman’s office and threatened the victim and his two co-workers.

Geertman was sitting at the compound’s balcony when forced him to kneel down and shot at his back.

The witnesses said the assailant took Geertman’s bag containing cash before leaving the crime scene.

An activist missionary

Geertman worked for more than 40 years in the Philippines, specifically in Baler, Aurora helping farmers and establishing peoples’ organizations.

He was executive director of Alay-Bayan Luzon, an NGO involved in disaster response, when killed.

Church, peasant and human rights organizations condemned the crime as politically-motivated, owing to the victim’s close association with activist peasant and indigenous peoples’ organizations in Central Luzon.

In a resolution dated December 27, 2012, however, the Office of City Prosecutor in San Fernando, Pampanga recommended the filing of robbery with homicide charges against Geertman’s killers.

Human rights groups objected to the recommendation, saying the victim was an activist.

“Had Geertman been the usual visiting foreigner, the case of robbery with homicide would have been appropriate, but he was not. Geertman was an activist. He fought against destructive mining, against landgrabbing and other projects that displaced the peasants and indigenous peoples in Aurora,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said in a statement at the time.

Other suspects at large

The Court ordered Nuguid to indemnify Geertman’s heirs P75,000 as civil indemnity, P75,000 as moral damages, P75,000 exemplary damages and P50,000 as temperate damages.

Nuguid was acquitted of the crime of robbery.

The convict was accused along with certain Harold Libao Dela Cruz, and a John and Peter Doe who remain at large. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)