Posts

Rights, religious, women’s groups seek protection vs govt red tagging

By Visayas Today

The human rights group Karapatan, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, and women’s organization Gabriela have filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to issue writs of amparo and habeas data against their continued vilification by President Rodrigo Duterte and officials of the government and security forces.

The petition, filed Monday, May 6, with the help fo the National Union of People’s Lawyers, “is a response to the worsening attacks, terrorist-tagging by the Philippine military and the ongoing smear campaign against human rights defenders,” Karapatan chair Elisa Tita Lubi said in a statement.

It names Duterte, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, General Benjamin Madrigal Jr., Brigadier General Fernando Trinidad, Major General Erwin Bernard Neri, Lieutenant General Macairog Alberto, Major General Antonio Parlade Jr., Alex Paul Monteagudo, Vicente Agdamag, Senior Superintendent Omega Jireh Fidel, and Undersecretaries Joel Sy Egco, Severo Catura and Lorraine Marie Badoy.

The petition sought the high court’s protection for the petitioners “who are constantly threatened and harassed, red-tagged and maliciously terrorist-labeled only because of their advocacies in various fields of human rights work” and to order the respondents to “produce and, if necessary, to update and rectify, or to suppress and destroy, data, information, and files in their possession, under their control, or contained in their data base that relate to or which concern (the) petitioners.”

It cited six speeches in which Duterte himself accused Karapatan of being a “communist front.”

Karapatan pointed out that, from 2001 to 2019, 48 of its human rights workers have been killed. These include three under the Duterte administration.

The three are Elisa Badayos, Karapatan Negros Oriental coordinator, who was killed on November 28, 2017 by motorcycle-riding gunmen along with peasant leader Eleuterio Moises while they were with a fact-finding mission; Mariam Uy Acob, a paralegal of Karapatan member-organization Kawagib Moro Human Rights Alliance, who was shot dead by two gunmen while riding a motorcycle home on September 23, 2018; and Bernardino Patigas, councilor of Escalante City, Negros Occidental and a founder and former officer of the North Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, who was murdered on April 22 this year.

“Human rights advocacy is not a crime, yet human rights workers are being killed, threatened, harassed, and jailed on trumped up charges,” Lubi stressed, noting that Duterte and his officials’ “dangerous rhetoric,” accusing Karapatan of being a rebel “front,” has led to murder and other abuses against human rights workers.

“Most, if not all, of our human rights workers, even our former colleagues, are subjected to threats, surveillance, harassment, red-tagging, and judicial harassment,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

“These attacks can only come from those who see our work and advocacy for people’s rights, our monitoring and documentation of human rights violations, our direct assistance to victims and kin, and our provision of platforms for human rights education as threats to the current status quo. Human rights defense and activism is not a crime; it is a right protected by international covenants and agreements as well as the Philippine Constitution,” she added.

The petition said the Duterte and his officials have persisted with their vilification of activist groups despite concerns raised by United Nations special rapporteurs, particularly “over the impression that such alleged statements, which distort the public narrative on human rights defenders and conflate their work with threats to national security, may have on the public and civil society, especially when delivered by the Head of State.”

In fact, the government went so far as to send a delegation to Europe where they accused several activist organizations, including schools for indigenous people in Mindanao, of being communist fronts.

Reacting to these, a number of Belgian NGOs spoke up in defense of their vilified partner-organizations. #

Kin of journalists slain in Ampatuan massacre demand end to intrigues, urge unity

The families of the 32 journalists who lost their lives in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre demanded an end to what they called intrigues intended to sow disunity between them and organizations that have been assisting them for the past decade.

In all, 58 persons were murdered in what has been acknowledged as the worst case of electoral violence in recent Philippine history and the single deadliest attack on the press ever recorded.

Joining members and officers of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines who held an activity in General Santos City as part of the monthly countdown leading up to the 10th anniversary of the massacre, the families, who have organized themselves as JUSTICE NOW, issued a statement “to clarify any misimpressions created by certain groups and personalities who claim that we are demanding an accounting of the assistance we received through media organizations.”

This was in response to earlier claims that families of the slain journalists were demanding an accounting of all donations intended for them because of the supposed “broken promises” of livelihood and scholarships by media organizations through whom funds were channeled.

“We are aware that, although no names were mentioned, the supposed demand for accountability was primarily targeted at the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which, we once again stress, was one of the first organizations to rush to our side right after the massacre and has never left us since then,” JIUSTICE NOW said.

The families also stressed that “we have not and are not demanding, as some quarters claim, demanding that the NUJP open its records and show us where the funds and other assistance meant for us went.”

“If there is anything we are demanding, it is that government show the records of where the international assistance reportedly channeled through it has gone,” the families said.

JUSTICE NOW said it knew how the assistance coursed through the NUJP had been used “since we see the living proof of this – our children who have availed of the scholarships NUJP helped secure for them, many of whom have graduated and are now helping support our families, replacing the breadwinners we lost 10 years ago.”

It also acknowledged that the funding for the scholarships had run out because “they NUJP has been very open with us” and they were also informed by the International Federation of Journalists, which secured the assistance.

“But this is not about money,” the families stressed. “This is about unity – ours as the victims’ families and that which we forged with the NUJP 10 years ago – and our continued call for justice.”

At the same time, they called on those seeking to sow division among them to stop because “you do not speak for us and have no right to.”

“We ask you instead to join us in continuing to demand justice for the 58 persons who lost their lives in the massacre through the final conviction and punishment of all those involved in planning and carrying out” the massacre.

Following is the full statement of JUSTICE NOW:

We, the families of the 32 media workers who lost their lives in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre, organized as the JUSTICE NOW MOVEMENT, wish to issue this position paper to clarify any misimpressions created by certain groups and personalities who claim that we are demanding an accounting of the assistance we received through media organizations.

We are aware that, although no names were mentioned, the supposed demand for accountability was primarily targeted at the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which, we once again stress, was one of the first organizations to rush to our side right after the massacre and has never left us since then.

In fact, our presence here today with the NUJP at the monthly countdown to the 10th anniversary of the massacre is proof that what we promised each other since that fateful day – “Walang iwanan” – holds true to this day. 
JUSTICE NOW also clarifies that we have not and are not demanding, as some quarters claim, that the NUJP open its records and show us where the funds and other assistance meant for us went.

This is because we are fully aware that the NUJP is an organization of working journalists and does not have the funds for this kind of work, and that what it does is help source and secure the assistance needed by the families of murdered journalists, not only those of the victims of the massacre.

Aside from this, we know very well where and how these were spent since we see the living proof of this – our children who have availed of the scholarships NUJP helped secure for them, many of whom have graduated and are now helping support our families, replacing the breadwinners we lost 10 years ago.

The NUJP has also been very open with us, updating and consulting us regularly. We also know that the scholarship fund has finally run out as we were informed about this last year by the International Federation of Journalists, which secured the assistance. If there is anything we are demanding, it is that government show the records of where the international assistance reportedly channeled through it has gone.

In the aftermath of the massacre, many promises of help were made. In fact, not just by government but even by other media groups. However, because the masterminds who planned and led in carrying out the massacre were government officials and agents, we feel it is the State that carries the primary responsibility of providing assistance to us and explaining why this has not been forthcoming, after a decade.

We remember in the aftermath of the massacre that then Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman made us undergo a seminar on proposal making and promised that the output would lead to funding assistance. We understand that release documents had been prepared for approved proposals. Yet, to date, we have received nothing.

But this is not about money. This is about unity – ours as the victims’ families and that which we forged with the NUJP 10 years ago – and our continued call for justice. We call on the quarters behind these attempts to break our unity by raising the bogey of funding and so-called demands for transparency and accountability to stop.

You do not speak for us and have no right to. We ask you instead to join us in continuing to demand justice for the 58 persons who lost their lives in the massacre through the final conviction and punishment of all those involved in planning and carrying out the worst incident of electoral violence in our country’s recent history and the single deadliest attack on the press ever.

Our call remains, JUSTICE NOW, CONVICT AMPATUAN!

Reference:
Emily Lopez, Chairperson
Mary Grace Morales, Secretary General

Political detainee dies in Batangas, 4th under Duterte

A political prisoner died at the Batangas Provincial Jail last Friday, April 19, the fourth to die under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

Franco “Pangkoy” Romeroso, 38, suffered a stroke and died while he was confined in a hospital in Batangas City, human rights group Karapatan said.

Romeroso was being treated for his tuberculosis and diabetes mellitus when he died, the group added.

Romeroso, a father of a baby girl, was first arrested in 2010 as among the healthworkers known as the Morong 43.

Arrested, tortured and detained for 10 months, the health workers were released due to the strong international and national campaign on their case.

Romeroso was again arrested in Ternate, Cavite on March 27, 2015 on murder, multiple murder, attempted murder, and robbery with violence and intimidation charges Karapatan said were all trumped up.

Lawyers of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) condoled with the family of Romeroso they described as a victim of “vicious state repression.”

“He (Romeroso) faced several ridiculous cases in Nasugbu, some of which had been already dismissed. He had been awaiting his next hearing in June 2019 for possible dismissal of the rest, for failure to prosecute,” the PILC said.

The law center described Romeroso as “diminutive and soft-spoken.”

“[He] had beaten other false charges before (in 2010 as part of the Morong 43) but could not escape the military’s hounding and perennial red-tagging. He left us on Good Friday after being stricken with tuberculosis while managing his diabetes; his hospital confinement upon court order being the last we could do for him,” PILC said.

“May by his passion and death remind us of continuing injustice, and strengthen our spirits in the struggle,” the group added.

Karapatan lists 548 political prisoners in the country as of March 30, at least 225 of whom were arrested under Duterte.

In 2016, Duterte promised to release all political prisoners through a general amnesty as part of confidence-building measures for the resumption of formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Duterte subsequently ordered to prioritize the release of sickly and old political prisoners but failed to deliver beyond the 19 NDFP peace consultants who participated in the negotiations in Europe.

Duterte terminated the peace process with the NDFP in November 2017.

Six NDFP consultants have since been arrested, including, Rafael Baylosis, Vicente Ladlad, Rey Claro Casambre and Frank Fernandez who were not among those allowed to post bail to join the talks. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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)

Sino si Randy Malayao sa mata ng demokratikong kilusan?

Isinagawa ng mga demokrata ang isang parangal sa pinaslang na National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant na si Randy Malayao noong ika-19 ng Pebrero.

Ang parangal na pinamagatang “Bloom where you are planted” ay pagdakila sa anila’y mabait, masipag, matalino at mahusay na aktibistang buong buhay na naglingkod sa sambayanan.

Ang bidyong ito ay bahagi ng buong programang ibayong nagpakilala kay Randy Malayao at paglulunsad ng kampanya para sa katarungan sa pagpaslang sa kanya.

Pinaslang si Randy sa kanyang pagkakahimbing sa isang bus sa Aritao in Nueva Vizcaya noong January 30. # (Bidyo nina Joseph Cuevas at Maricon Montajes)

‘Che Guevarra of the Philippines’: Beta Sigma vows to keep Randy Malayao’s name alive

SAN PABLO, Isabela–They called his name three times at the end of a long roll call. But unlike the others, no “Here I am!” came after “Brod Randy Felix Malayao” was called.

“Brothers in the Beta Sigma Fraternity, I regret to inform you that our brother Randy Felix P. Malayao died last January 30, 2019,” the master of ceremony eventually said.

There were many silent tears as dozens of Beta Sigmans in barong Tagalogs observed a moment of silence for one of its own and among its best and most illustrious. They held a tribute for their fraternity brother at the last night of his wake.

The crowd of hundreds fell silent too, witnessing the ceremony of the first time, as Malayao was the first and only Beta Sigman from his old hometown.

Part of the huge crowd who turned up at the tribute to Randy Malayao on the last night of his wake. (Photo by R. Villanueva)

A 73-year old fraternity that counts around 20,000 members throughout the country recruited from almost all major colleges and universities in the Philippines, the group’s name means “brotherhood of scholars.”

Speaker after speaker recalled their encounters with Malayao, one of the Beta Sigmans who was openly and proudly Leftist. They said that even from a group that aspires to represent “the best in men,” Malayao stood out as one of their best.

Former journalist and Beta Sigma national chairperson said they have visited Malayao when he was jailed in Tuguegarao and Ilagan cities but he seldom asked things for himself.

“He always asked for medicines and books for the entire jail population, including cleaning items and livelihood projects,” Paredes said.

Other Beta Sigmans revealed that when Malayao regained his freedom in 2012, the first activities he organized were medical missions for his former jail mates.

The fraternity said that aside from seeking justice on their brother’s murder, they are are planning to launch three projects to honor Malayao in perpetuity.

“First, Beta Sigma will launch ‘Operation Big Brother’ to help marginalized sectors in Cagayan Valley, an idea that came from Brod Randy himself,” former Delfin Albano, Isabela mayor Ed Taccad said.

Taccad added they will institutionalize the Randy Malayao Leadership Award for outstanding high school students as well as seek the declaration of January 30 as Randy Malayao Day throughout Isabela.

“I am a colonel in the Philippine Marines. But I admire Randy for what he stood for,” Taccad said.

“Randy is the Che Guevarra of the Philippines,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Government covering up on Malayao murder—CPP

SAN PABLO, Isabela—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounced efforts by the Rodrigo Duterte government for what it calls the “regime’s foulest move in sowing false information surrounding the murder” of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Randy Malayao last January 30 in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya.

In a statement, the CPP accused the Philippine National Police in Cagayan Valley of not conducting any investigation but is only engaged in “covering up, spreading intrigue and slandering the victim.”

“This aims to cover up the responsibility of state agents, specifically Rodrigo Duterte’s death squads, which he himself ordered to carry out the killing,” the CPP in a statement Sunday said.

In a press release, the PNP in Region 2 said Malayao may have been killed by his comrades, alleging that he may have kept some monies for himself and that he ran off with a woman.

The police however did not provide any proof to back up its allegations.

Malayao was single and was known to have kept a Spartan lifestyle.

Looking elsewhere

Meanwhile, PNP director general Oscar Albayalde relieved two top Nueva Vizcaya cops for allegedly mishandling the initial murder investigation.

Nueva Vizcaya provincial police director PSSupt Jeremias Aglugub and Aritao Chief of Police Police Chief Inspector Geovanni Cejes were sacked for “apparent lapses in the investigation of the slay, particularly the mishandling of evidence at the crime scene.

“Albayalde’s order was an apparent punishment to the officers who allowed Malayao’s personal belongings returned to his family.


DILG’s demand letter addressed to the victim’s family.

In a related development, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) demanded from Malayao’s family that his belongings be surrendered to the police.

PNP personnel had arrived in Malayao’s wake Friday to press the victim’s family to surrender his belongings.

Several family members are high-ranking DILG officials, raising fears they may be further harassed over the tug of war over the victim’s personal belongings.

Family members refused to issue a statement to Kodao on the issue of the victim’s belongings.

A Kodao source, a lawyer, however said the DILG needs a court order to enforce its demand.

The CPP for its part said that despite the Duterte’s efforts to blame the victim, “the revolutionary forces vow to attain justice for Ka Randy and punish the perpetrators of this fascist crime.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Journalists start countdown to 10th anniversary of Ampatuan Massacre

Journalists led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines held a candle-lighting ceremony to start the countdown to the 10th anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre.

Reporters and other media workers as well as media organizations gathered last Wednesday at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani to denounce the slow trial of the suspected perpetrators of the gruesome incident of November 23, 2009 that killed 58 persons, including 32 journalists.

The journalists vowed to press the demand for full justice to the victims of the massacre dubbed as the worst case of election violence in the Philippines and the worst single attack on journalists in human history. (Video by Joseph Cuevas)

Farmers press for justice 32 years after Mendiola Massacre

On the 32nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre where 12 peasants were killed and at least 51 were injured, farmers led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas held a protest action at the site of the incident to press for justice.

Noting that the victims still have to receive justice, the protesters also noted that landlessness among poor peasants is still one of the country’s worst form of social injustice.

Farmer-leaders urged their members to continue demanding for justice. (Video by Jomaline Mamangun)

Eight years after, justice remains elusive for Doc Gerry Ortega

Jan. 24, 2019

On this day eight years ago, environmentalist, good governance advocate and broadcaster Gerardo “Doc Gerry” Ortega was shot dead in an ukay-ukay shop in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Eight years after, justice remains elusive for Doc Gerry and his family.

Doc Gerry’s case is illustrative of nearly all the media killings in this country or, more accurately, the ones authorities, with no trace of irony, consider “solved.”

For, while the hired guns and accomplices who planned and carried out the hit on Doc Gerry have been tried and convicted, the masterminds remain scot free.

Studies by media groups indicate that most murders of journalists are ordered by local politicians or government officials seeking to silence criticism and prevent scrutiny of their corruption and other misdeeds.

That they remain unpunished proves that injustice in the country – not only for slain journalists but for practically each and every Filipino whose rights have been violated – is rooted in a system of governance in which the corrupt and abusive thrive.

As we remember Doc Gerry, we also honor his family, whose courage and determination to pursue justice have been and will continue to be an inspiration for other families of slain journalists and all those seeking the same ends.

Even as we continue to demand justice for Doc Gerry and for each and every one of the 185 colleagues we have lost since 1996, let us remain steadfast in fulfilling our mandate as journalists – to be the people’s watchdogs against misgovernance and serve their right to know.

National Directorate

NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS OF THE PHILIPPINES