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‘Shooting of female guerrilla fighter in vagina proves Duterte’s anti-women remarks not joke, sarcasm’

“The military proves that Duterte’s ‘shoot the vagina’ remark is a brutal war policy.”

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Not too long ago, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the shooting of female armed guerrilla fighters in their vaginas to render them “useless.” He later defended his remark – one of the many he issued against women – as mere sarcasm.

Not anymore.

Last week, Gabriela Women’s Party deplored the desecration of the remains of an alleged New People’s Army female fighter Cindy Tirado, whose remains were found to be desecrated as her genitals appeared to be shattered by a bullet.

Tirado was among those killed in an alleged military operation led by the 71st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army on April 15 in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

Apart from her genitals being shot, the women’s group also noted that her arms were fractured, indicating possible torture.

Tirado’s grieving mother Emma, in an interview with a national daily, noted that her daughter was most probably captured alive and tortured before she was killed.

Rape incidents on the rise

Apart from the “shoot in the vagina” remark, Duterte has not been sitting well among many women’s group due to what they said are anti-women pronouncements.

He has repeatedly “joked” at the expense of women or on the issue of rape.

Such pronouncements, critics said, contribute to the poor regards for women and their rights in the country.

In a report earlier this year, the Center for Women’s Resources said there were 2,962 cases of rape or about 20 incidents per day from January to May 2018 alone.

Among the cities with the highest number of rape incidents in 2018 were Quezon City, Manila, and Davao.

There are also 59 cops implicated in the cases of violence against women from July 2016 to December 2018, the CWR report added.

Independent probe sought

Meanwhile, Gabriela Women’s Party called for an independent probe, saying that this constitutes a war crime and violation of international humanitarian law, adding that those involved must be probed over its apparent excessive use of force and possible sexual violence.

The military, the group added, “proves that Duterte’s ‘shoot the vagina’ remark is a brutal war policy.” #

Lawyer, doctor refused from seeing Frank Fernandez

A lawyer assisting arrested National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Frank Fernandez complained of being repeatedly barred from visiting and consulting with her client at the Philippine Army General Hospital in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Atty. Kristina Conti of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said that she has twice been refused from seeing Fernandez and his fellow detainees at the hospital even if she is allowed by law to do so.

“For the second time at Gate 6 of Fort Bonifacio, I have been denied access by MPBn (Military Police Battalion) chief Capt. Andres B. Ramirez upon instructions of his ‘higher-ups,’” Conti said on her Facebook account late Tuesday night.

Conti said that Captain Ramirez in fact told her she can visit Fernandez, his wife Cleofe Lagtapon and Geann Perez, who are all confined in the said hospital.

“Yesterday (Monday), he denied that a Frank or Francisco Fernandez was confined in the Army General Hospital. Today he reverses, but tells me that I can visit ‘anytime’ but only between 11am-4pm,” Conti said.

The lawyer said the military is violating Republic Act 7438, the Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or under Custodial Investigation Law.

The law says lawyers, doctors, priests or spiritual adviser cannot be denied access any time, which Conti said Ramirez is disregarding.

“What’s roundly dissonant for me as a lawyer is the police posturing that this was a legitimate law enforcement operation, specifically arrest due to a lawful warrant. Yet, when I asked either Calabarzon Police Regional Director Edward Carranza or Laguna Police Provincial Chief Eleazar Matta for access they defer to the military,” Conti said.

Conti asked the military to be upfront if the three detainees are being treated as prisoners of war and under military custody instead of the police.

If the three are POWs, they should be treated as hors de combat, or out of action due to injury or damage, the lawyer explained.

’Wag nyo na kami paikut-ikutin, literally and figuratively,” she said. (Do not try to fool us and make us run around.)

Conti said she wonders what excuses the military will use the next time she tries to visit her clients.

Kelangan naka-sapatos? Naka-white? May strip search? Walang cellphone? Anong patakaran sa kampo na naman ang mangingibabaw sa civilian law enforcement/judicial orders?” she asked (Do I need to wear shoes? Wear white? Will they conduct a strip-search? What camp policies will they say lords over civilian law enforcement/judicial orders?)

“Martial law ba ulit?” she asked. (Is it Martial Law all over again?)

Doctor also turned away

Conti also revealed that an unnamed doctor sent to check on the three detainees was turned away.

“Earlier we sent a doctor, who came within the time stated by Capt. Ramirez, to check (on) the three. He was rebuffed, even if the inquest prosecutor’s resolution specified that Fr. Frank should see his doctor of choice,” Conti revealed.

Conti said Fernandez reported to the Sta. Cruz, Laguna inquest fiscal Monday evening that he is suffering from incessant interrogation by military agents, depriving him of sleep and affecting his general health.

Fernandez is reported to having heart and lung ailments the lawyer said need special attention.

“His condition, fluctuating BP (blood pressure) and all, is very worrisome. The military even had to pull into Asian Hospital on March 24 while they were taking him to Manila from Laguna because he was slurring his speech a bit,” Conti said.

The lawyer said it is suspected the former Roman Catholic priest and long-time NDFP spokesperson in Negros suffered a mild stroke or heart attack.

 “[Y]et he has not been allowed to choose a doctor or specialist. I am not too sure the Army General Hospital can take care of his needs – and in the first place, if it is in their interest (to do so),” the lawyer said.

Lagtapon is reported to be suffering from frail health while Perez is being treated for Hansen’s Disease.

Conti recalled previous clients who were sick while in prison and eventually died under detention.

“My experience with sick political prisoners is marred by deaths. Diona Andrea Rosal, stillborn, because his mother was under too much stress. Eduardo Serrano, Bernabe Ocasla, Alex Arias who suffered heart attacks in jail. My fervent hope is he does not join this mater dolorosa list,” she said.

She cautioned the military to treat the three detainees humanely.

“I understand the context is war – and two sides are at odds. Pero bawal bang maging makatao ‘pag magkaaway? Kung kaya ng isa, kaya din naman ng kabila, di ba?” she asked. (Isn’t it possible that both sides treat each other humanely? If one side can do it, the other side also can.)

Conti said that killing Fernandez while under government custody would not be killing the Communist Party-led revolution but is actually killing the peace. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

GRP forces take ‘hors de combat’ from hospital ICU

[UPDATED] The Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested a badly-injured New People’s Army (NPA) leader from the intensive care unit (ICU) of a local hospital despite protests from paralegals and human rights workers.

In an urgent alert, human rights groups Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region and the Exodus for Justice and Peace said a combined force of PNP officers and military intelligence agents in civilian clothing have taken NPA’s 1st Pulang Bagani Company leader Elizalde Cañete to the Don Carlos Police Station at about 8:30 Monday evening.

“Zaldy Cañete, an hors de combat, who suffered traumatic head injury and presently recuperating at Don Carlos Doctors Hospital (DCDH) was taken by military and police elements around 6:48 tonight,” Karapatan-SMR’s alert said.

“PO3 Rico Manuel along with several military intelligence and police elements appeared and served an outdated warrant of arrest [against Cañete],” Karapatan added.

Cañete, identified by President Rodrigo Duterte himself as the successor of famed Southern Mindanao NPA leader Leoncio “Kumander Parago” Pitao, was injured in a battallion-sized military operation in Kitaotao, Bukidnon Province last month.

He suffered a bullet wound to the head that needed an 11-hour brain surgery and was still at the hospital’s ICU at the time of his arrest.

Cañete is reported to be suffering from memory loss and loss of speech resulting from his injuries.

“We contest this arrest, as Cañete is an hors de combat, a wounded combatant that should be tended first for his critical medical condition as stipulated under the CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law) signed by the government and the NDF (National Democratic Front of the Philippines),” the EJP for its part said.

The EJP is a Church-based peace advocacy group that regularly serves as third party facilitator to the release of NPA prisoners of war.

Photos released by Karapatan SMR showed an obviously weak Cañete on a wheelchair surrounded by police officers in full battle gear inside the hospital.

Canete inside the Don Carlos (Bukidnon) jail facility. (Karapatan-SMR photo)

The group later posted photos of Cañete inside a jail facility and said he has been complaining of head pains since last night.

No doctor or health professional has been asked to check on Cañete’s condition since his arrest, Karaparan-SMR added,

Karapatan-SMR secretary general Jay Apiag said the PNP in Don Carlos along with the military under the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Battalion must be held liable should something untoward happen to Cañete under their custody.

Earlier, the NDFP called on the Duterte government to respect Cañete’s hors de combat status and release him as the NPA releases its POWs. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP admonishes GRP on arrest of injured NPA leader, preemptive announcements

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiating panel admonished the Rodrigo Duterte government on the arrest of New People’s Army (NPA) leader Elizalde Cañete while still recuperating from an 11-hour brain surgery in Bukidnon Province.

The NDFP said it views with great concern the arrest, saying the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) is under obligations to uphold their Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) under which hors de combat like Cañete should be afforded safeguards as regards to health, among other rights.

READ: Arrest try of injured Red commander humanitarian law violation, NPA says

The group issued a statement following reports that Cañete’s kin as well as human rights paralegals are being barred from visiting him at Don Carlos Memorial Hospital in Kitaotao Town where he is confined.

Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region said Cañete’s relatives were also harassed by military intelligence agents under the 88th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Karapatan SMR also said that hospital nurses and medical attendants were told by high-ranking officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Cañete has been issued a warrant of arrest and is prevented from receiving relatives unless allowed by military and police authorities.

The group added Cañete’s family and paralegals are uncertain of Cañete’s health status as he is guarded heavily by combined elements of the PNP and AFP.

“We admonish the GRP to honor its commitments under CARHRIHL. Likewise, we warn the GRP that any harm done to Cañete can have adverse consequences to the efforts of both sides to resume the peace negotiations,” NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said in a statement.

Agcaoili added AFP and PNP’s disregard of Cañete’s rights can jeopardize the back-channel talks for making preparations for the resumption of the stalled peace talks that have already reached an advanced stage.

Backchannel

Earlier, the Communist Party of the Philippines also admonished the GRP for violating its agreement with the NDFP that unilateral statements will not be issued prior to actual agreements in the ongoing series of backchannel talks.

While saying it is looking forward to positive resolutions, the CPP said officials of the Duterte government should be more circumspect in issuing public statements or comments so as not to preempt the outcome of the informal talks and efforts to revive formal negotiations.

Earlier, The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said in a statement issued on Tuesday said that “[e]fforts to resume peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF are underway, with informal back-channel talks now taking place in Europe.”

OPAPP also announced it received positive results from the backchannel talks in Europe, the statement said.

The CPP however urged the media and the public to await official statements on the outcome of informal talks between representatives of the NDFP and the GRP.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Ma. Sison echoed CPP’s statement, saying any announcement or statement on the ongoing backchannel talks must be co-signed and jointly issued by the GRP and the NDFP.

“The point is to avoid misundertandings and preemption of the outcome by any side at the expense of the other,” Sison told Kodao.

Sison added there is a strong trend towards resumption of formal talks within June, based on the fact that the back channelers are determined to put together a package of agreements on ceasefire, amnesty and release of all political prisoners.

He added that the signing of the Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) as well as National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED) sections of the prospective social and economic reform agreement CASER may also constitute an Interim Peace Agreement.

“Bilateral teams are poised to finalize the common drafts of the ARRD and NIED for submission to the Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms,” Sison said.

Sison added that one more round of back channel talks will wrap up everything for the resumption of formal talks. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)