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Karapatan reveals torture and attempted murder of 2 farmers in Southern Mindanao

A Philippine Army battalion in Davao del Norte attempted to kill two farmers, one a minor, after torturing them for nearly nine days, a human rights group reported in an urgent alert Friday.

Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) said the 71st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) accosted Janry Mensis, 22, and Jerry (not his real name), 16, small-scale miners, farmers, and members of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Maco (KAMAO) who were just out buying balut at about 6pm of November 28 in Tagum City.

While eating, the victims were reportedly approached by ‘Medina’, ‘Cantoba’, and two other soldiers of the army unit in civilian clothing who accused them of being thieves.

The soldiers brought the victims to the police station in Tagum City where their photos were taken and were interrogated by police personnel in civilian clothing, Karapatan-SMR said.

Rope marks on Jerry’s neck.

When the police ascertained the victims were not thieves, Janry and Jerry were released back to the custody of Medina and Cantoba, the group added.

The soldiers then brought the victims to the 71st IBPA camp in Mawab, Compostela Valley where they were heavily beaten by ‘Ferol’ and ‘Cuevas’, Karapatan-SMR said.

The victims were also allegedly divested of their monies.

After the torture, the victims were reportedly tied and detained in a military ambulance parked inside the camp for nine days.

The military provided them food on only six days of their eight-day detention at the military camp, Karapatan SMR said.

On December 6, 2017, at around midnight, Janry and Jerry were reportedly forced to wear military uniforms and taken to Barangay Masara in Compostela Valley by about 20 soldiers.

At a remote location in Masara, the victims were reportedly hogtied and their mouths covered with packaging tape.

Janry and Jerry heard the military talking about plans to kill them who then prepared a pit for the two, Karapatan SMR said.

Third degree burns on Janry’s leg and torso.

The soldiers reportedly tried to kill the victims by strangling them with a rope.

The victims played dead and were dragged into the pit, the group’s alert said.

The soldiers threw pieces of wood, poured a container of crude oil into the pit and tried to burn the victims, it added.

When the soldiers left, the victims escaped.

Janry suffered third degree burns.

The two walked for hours to return home and reported the incident to Karapatan SMR on December 12, the alert said.

More farmers arrested

Meanwhile, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) revealed more peasant leaders have been arrested in various provinces as Christmas nears.

Elmerito Pagulayan, Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon Iti Isabela (DAGAMI) – San Mariano chairperson, was arrested by the PNP in Isabela last December 19 and charged with frustrated murder, KMP said.

“We denounce Pagulayan’s arrest and detention. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all arrested farmers and activists,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said.

Elmerito Pagulayan explaining peasant struggles in Isabela to University of the Philippines students during Lakbayan 2017 in Metro Manila.

KMP added that among those arrested since November were:

  • Oliver Molina and Robert Dalupang, farmers from Brgy. Diasan, Isabela and members of DAGAMI, currently detained at the 86thIB army camp in Balabal, Brgy. Uno, Jones, Isabela;
  • Carlito Badillo, leader of Tag-alag Tag-alag Farmers and Fisherfolk Association who was arrested in Marabut, Eastern Samar and charged with rebellion and illegal possession of explosives;
  • Activist couple Senando Jacutin, 47, peasant organizer of KMP in Western Mindanao, and Rosario Tabanao, 47, coordinator of Karapatan-Western Mindanao who were arrested by the CIDG Region 9 and the 1st Infantry Tabak Division of the Philippine Army and currently detained at the Pagadian City Police Station in Zamboanga del Sur;
  • Richard Avino, Teny Gerbon and Arnel Aquino who were arrested by elements of the 20th IBPA after being tagged by the army unit as NPA members.

The KMP challenged President Duterte to ”walk the talk and order a pull-out of AFP troops from peasant and Lumad communities nationwide” while his unilateral ceasefire declaration from December 24, 2017 to January 2, 2018 is in effect.

The AFP cannot be trusted as it has committed hundreds of violations that targeted civilians, KMP said.

“The AFP would be the first to violate its Commander-in-Chief Duterte’s declaration of ceasefire,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Martial rule extension to target NPA and ‘supporters’

President Rodrigo Duterte’s petition to further extend martial rule and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao for a full year will target the New People’s Army (NPA) along with other armed groups, his letter to the Senate and House of Representatives (HOR) today revealed.

In his request addressed to both Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and HOR Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Duterte wrote the extension aims “to ensure the total eradication of DAESH-inspired Da’awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq (DIWM), other like minded Local/Foreign Terrorist Groups (L/FTGs) and Armed Terrorist Groups (ALGs) and the communist terrorists (CTs) and their coddlers, supporters, and financiers.”

Military and police pronouncements repeatedly refer to the NPA as CTs.

Duterte added his request is based on National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s recommendations submitted to him last December 4.

In his original Proclamation No. 216 declarating a three-month martial law in Mindanao at the outbreak of the Marawi City crisis last May 23, Duterte did not include the NPA as among the targets.

In the 150-day extension approved by 245 lawmakers last July 22, however, Lorenzana already identified the NPA as among the targets, accusing the revolutionary group as “taking advantage of the situation.”

Duterte accused the NPA of perpetrating 385 so-called atrocitied that killed 41 and wounding 62 government troopers in 2017, as well as 59 arson incidents that targeted businesses such as mining and plantations.

“As a direct result of these atrocities on the part of the NPA, I was constrained to issue Proclamation No. 360 on 23 November 2017 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NDF-CPP-NPA) effective immediately,” Duterte wrote.

“I followed this up with Proclamation no. 374 on 05 December 2017, where I declared the CPP-NPA as a designated/identified terrorist organization under the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, and the issuance of a directive to the Secretary of Justice to file a petition in the appropriate court praying to proscribe the NDF-CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization under the Human Security Act of 2007,” he added.

These recent developments involving the NDF-CPP-NPA forebode another year of intensified armed hostilities which continue to make Mindanao the hotbed of rebellion, Duterte wrote.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo last December 8 promised there would be no martial law abuses should it be extended.

Aravelo added martial law does not target any particular group.

‘Hogwash’

”This is all hogwash, of course,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in reaction to Arevalo’s statement.

Contrary to AFP’s assurances, Duterte’s martial rule in Mindanao victimizes civilians, mostly farmers and Lumad, Palabay said.

“Aside from being expert spin doctors, the AFP has also been consistent in denying their atrocities despite witnesses to their crimes,” Palabay said.

Many organizations in different regions in Mindanao, particularly local peasant and indigenous organizations, are targeted for their campaigns against militarization and for agrarian reform,” she added.

Palabay said that members of the Compostela Farmers Assocation (CFA) in the Southern Mindanao Region (SMR), for example, were targets of illegal arrest and political killings.

“These attacks merely escalated after the declaration of martial law, what with the military’s red-tagging of the group as symphatizers. The latest member of the CFA extrajudicially killed by State forces is Rodrigo Timoteo on November 28, 2017,” Palabay said.

Palabay said that activists and progressive groups have long been targeted by State security forces in line with Duterte’s implementation of the counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan.

She added that the situation was made worse by the declaration of martial law that further endangered individuals, groups, and entire communities who struggle and fight for various advocacies.

“Another year of martial law will not be beneficial to anyone, except the fascist military dogs and their equally proudly fascist leader,” Palabay said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Human Rights Day 2017 in Manila Denounces Duterte for Killings

Commemorating International Human Rights Day, thousands of protesters under BAYAN (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) took to the streets of Manila to denounce Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s killings and other human rights violations.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, embattled by an impeachment complaint filed in Congress by Duterte allies, had a statement read at the rally at the Bonifacio Shrine.

Jailed Senator Leila de Lima, in a separate statement read at the rally, also called for vigilance by the people.

Speakers at the mobilization included representatives from the media and the arts and progressive church people.

The protest rally and march culminated in the burning at Mendiola of a large portrait of Duterte painted as benign outside but a monster inside. #

(ILPS-Philippines video. Live music: “The Storm” by Chikoy Pura. Featured photo by Obet de Castro.)

Palace announces plan to extend ML in Mindanao on Human Rights Day

As tens of thousands of activists observed International Human Rights Day Sunday with protest actions nationwide against rising human rights violations, Malacañan Palace chose the day to announce that President Rodrigo Duterte is set to ask the House of Representatives for a year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao.

House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas told reporters yesterday Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has notified him of Duterte’s request they expect to receive Monday.

Medialdea confirmed Fariñas’s announcement, saying the President has already signed the request to extend martial rule in Mindanao for the entire duration of 2018 when its current extension expires on December 31.

The HOR and the Senate will extend their session from December 13 to 15 to jointly vote on Duterte’s request.

Department of National Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the military again asked Duterte to extend martial rule in Mindanao to sustain its “momentum against terror groups” allegedly regrouping after the Marawi siege, a Philippine Daily Inquirer report said.

“There have been reports that they are recruiting already in the Lanao area,” Andolong said.

Earlier, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla separately pointed to Daulah Islamiyah fi Ranao (Islamic State in Lanao) as the next terror threat in Mindanao.

Nationwide martial rule

Human rights group Karapatan quickly opposed Duterte’s reported plan, saying martial rule in Mindanao also targets peasants and Lumad.

A day after leading International Human Rights Day rallies in 21 venues nationwide, Karapatan said the extension of martial rule in Mindanao will only create an environment for State security forces to continue [human rights] violations without accountability.

“This is a dangerous precedent that inches the entire country closer to a nationwide declaration of martial rule. Martial law in Mindanao has paved the way for the intensification of rights violations – both within and outside of Marawi,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

Karapatan said it has recorded at least 29 victims of extrajudicial killings in the Mindanao, 15 of whom were from Southern Mindanao Region, since the declaration of martial law in May 23.

The group said it also documented 15 cases of torture, 23 victims of frustrated extrajudicial killings, 58 victims of illegal arrest and detention, and 335,686 victims of indiscriminate gunfire and aerial bombings.

Karapatan added there have been 401,730 victims of forced evacuations, 16,612 of which were documented independent of the Marawi siege, mostly in the regions of Caraga, Southern Mindanao, and SOCKSARGENDS.

“Many organizations in different regions in Mindanao, particularly local peasant and indigenous organization, are targeted for their campaigns against militarization and for agrarian reform,” Palabay said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

6 Lumad still missing after military operations in Lake Sebu

Aside from the eight killed last December 3, six more T’boli-Dulangan Lumad are missing after a military operation in Sitio Datal Bonglangon, Brgy. Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, a human rights group in the region said.

Karapatan Socsksargen demanded from the military to surface Armando Barot, Jack Mayor Tataw, Berto Dudem Laud, Jeffrey Ambag Benan, Rudy Danyan and Albelardo Wali, all members of Kilukasku- Panaghiusa sa pagdepensa sa yutang kabilin sa mga Dulangan ug T’boli sa South Cotabato (Kilukasku- United to protect the ancestral domain of Dulangan Manobo and T’boli in South Cotabato).

They were last seen held in a military checkpoint in Bagumbayan, the group said.

Two other Lumads, Jamil Colano and Tony Diamante, went missing for a day on Wednesday but were found detained on trumped up charge of malicious mischief in Sultan Kudarat Provincial Jail, Karapatan said.

The disappearance of the six and the arrest of Colano and Diamante followed the alleged massacre of   Victor Danyan, Victor Danyan Jr., Artemio Danyan, Pato Celardo, Samuel Angkoy, To Diamante, Bobot Lagase, and Mateng Bantal,

Also reported wounded were Luben Laod and Teteng Laod in Brgy. Ned.

The Philippine Army said the incident was a clash between its 27th Infantry Battalion and New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas.

“The fatalities were all NPA members killed during the encounter with our troops,” 27th IB spokesperson 2Lt. Ranjan Palacio said in a radio interview.

Progressive organizations and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marbel, however, belied the claim saying the Danyans were civilians.

Diocese of Marbel Social Action Center director Father Ariel Destora said tribal chieftain, Datu Victor Danyan was not a rebel but the chair of a legal organization, the T’ T’boli-Manobo S’daf Claimant Organization  (TAMASCO).

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas secretary general Antonio Flores also said the victims were “members of the 140 T’boli-Manobo peasant families who have collectively occupied and tilled their ancestral land that were landgrabbed by the Consunji family’s DMCI.”

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Far South Mindanao Region (NDFP-FMSR added the victims were “civilian residents and not NPA members.”

NDFP-FSMR spokesperson Efren Aksasato said the military “approached” Danyan’s house and “opened fire.”

“This prompted the residents, armed with 12-gauge shotguns and indigenous weapons to fight back,” Aksasato said in a December 6 statement.

The military claimed two soldiers were killed and three others were injured in the incident.

The 27th IB was also accused of perpetrating the October 18, 2012 massacre of anti-mining advocate Juvy Capion and family in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.

Karapatan said it accompanied the families of the six missing Lumad in search in Bagumbayan Police Station to different hospitals from Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in Koronadal City, to no avail. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte jokes about killing human rights defenders after two Karapatan workers killed

President Rodrigo Duterte condemned human rights groups anew last night in a speech before a laughing, clapping and hooting audience and hours after two human rights defenders were killed by unidentified men in Negros Oriental.

Karapatan Central Visayas coordinator Elisa Badayos and Mantapi Ebwan Farmers Association member Elioterio Moises were shot dead by still unidentified gunmen at Brgy. San Ramon in Bayawan, Negros Oriental Tuesday at 2:40 pm Tuesday.

They were pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital in Bayawan City.

A third victim, 23-year-old Kabataan partylist member Carmen Matarlo, remains in critical but stable condition.

Badayos and her 30-member team were conducting a fact-finding mission to look into alleged human rights violations due to intensified military operations in the province.

Karapatan said Badayos’s team were earlier blocked by armed men in San Ramon, Bayawan at 11am who demanded to know the purpose of the mission. They were eventually allowed to pass.

At around 2:30pm, Bayados, Moises and two others were on their way to the local police station to file a blotter report on the incident.

They were shot at by the unnamed gunmen on their way to the police station.

Karapatan said the suspects may be the same armed men who blocked the FFM team.

Elisa Badayos is the wife of former labor leader and “desaparecido” Jimmy Badayos.

“Pag putok-putok, sila i-una mo doon.”

A few hours after the killings, Duterte in a speech said human rights workers could be made shields by police officers in dangerous areas.

“Magsama kayo ng human rights. ‘Pag putok-putok, sila inuna mo doon,” Duterte said at the Anti-Corruption Summit of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and Vanguard of Philippine Constitution at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City Tuesday.

Gago kayo. Ayan, ‘yan ang nakuha niyo,” Duterte, apparently joking, said before a laughing, clapping and hooting crowd.

Duterte was talking of police operations in the crackdown against suspected corrupt government officials, but activists have long warned that state agents may actually use the same tactics on political dissidents.

Exactly a year prior, Duterte also threatened to kill human rights activists critical of his drug war in a speech in a speech similar in parts to what he delivered last night, including showing a purported list of drug peddlers.

“The human rights (defenders) said I ordered the killings. I told them ‘OK. Let’s stop. We’ll let them multiply so that when it’s harvest time, more people will die,” the Inquirer reported Duterte said at the inaugural switch-on of a coal-fired power plant in Malacañan.

“I will include you because you are the reason why their numbers swell,” Duterte said in Filipino.

More brutal and fearless

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said the attacks on human rights defenders are becoming more rampant, brutal and fearless.

The perpetrators know they will be dealt with impunity, as human rights have lost force and meaning especially under this regime,” Palabay said.

Palabay added that “the space for human rights defenders is fast shrinking, as the Duterte regime is finding more and more ways to cripple defenders on the ground who voice out the real situation experienced by marginalized communities victimized by militarization.”

Karapatan said that fact-finding missions as that in Negros Oriental are mechanisms by human rights organizations to confirm reports of abuses.

The group said the killing of its workers has only proven “how fascism works to out-rightly kill those who dare to question.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Killings, evacuations, rights violations on weekend after talks termination

The ink has yet to dry on President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation No. 360 signed last Thursday but killings and harassments of activists, indigenous peoples and human rights defenders have already increased over the weekend.

An activist was gunned down in Duterte’s hometown, Lumad communities evacuated in Surigao del Sur, and a human rights worker was beaten up inside a military camp in Northern Samar in what could be an unfolding of what Duterte meant when he barked, “Let’s just wage war.”

An urgent alert from human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region reported suspected members of the 16th Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army shot dead 64-year old Anakpawis Party member Apolonio Maranan near his house in DDF Village, Barangay Mandug, Buhangin District, Davao city before Saturday evening.

According to the victim’s wife (name withheld), she heard a series of gunfire five minutes after her husband left at about 7:49 pm left to buy dinner.

The wife then immediately asked her son (name also withheld) to check but found Apolonio bathed in blood and dead.

Apolonio was an active member of Anakpawis Partylist and a local campaigner of Congressman Ariel Casilao during the 2016 national elections, Karapatan said.

Near midnight Saturday, two masked motorcycle-riding gunmen strafed the store of Imelda Gagap, 48 year-old former Brgy. Chairperson of Maraiging, Jabonga, Agusan del Norte, a peasant organization reported.

The Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said Gagap, an active member of UMA-KMP, was attacked because she is a critic of the 29th Infantry Battallion-Philippine Army operations in their community.

Despite military presence in the community, the gunmen escaped unmolested, UMA said.

Another Lumad evacuation

Another urgent alert, this time from Karapatan-Caraga, said residents from 12 Lumad communities in Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga and Brgy. Buhisan, San Agustin, both in Surigao del Sur evacuated due to military operations Sunday.

“At 1 pm today, November 26, at least 706 students and 51 teachers of nine Lumad schools evacuated yet again after three truckloads of soldiers arrived and set up checkpoints near their communities.

The soldiers reportedly required residents to write their names on a logbook as they pass through.

Soldiers were also seen in Km. 16 and Han-ayan in Lianga while a drone was reportedly seen flying over the communities Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Residents from said communities, including students and teachers from Lumad schools in the area, have repeatedly been subjected to military operations and forcible evacuation during the Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno Aquino and the Duterte governments.

On September 1, 2015, two Lumad leaders and a school executive were murdered by paramilitary groups assisting soldiers in their operations in the communities.

Human rights worker under peril in Northern Samar

Northern Samar human rights worker Sargei Macallan.

As these developed, another human rights group, Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas-Catarman Chapter, issued an alert saying its president Sargei Macallan was choked Sunday afternoon by a military officer inside the 20th Infantry Batallion camp in Catubig, Northern Samar.

In a Facebook post, Macallan said he was punched on the chest and held by the neck three times by Lt. Colonel George Domingo, commanding officer of the military unit.

“Alert: dinibdiban at sinakal ako ni LTC George Domingo ng CMO Battalion habang nasa Opong detachment ako para makipagdialogue. NEED HELP,” Macallan posted late Sunday afternoon.

Macallan and other Katungod staff went to the camp to provide legal assistance to three farmers reportedly abducted by the military Saturday in Palapag town.

The three farmers were members of the Northern Samar Small Farmers Association, who in recent weeks have been publicly tagged by the 20th IB as a legal front to the New People’s Army NPA, the revolutionary armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The farmers are being held inside the said military camp.

Earlier, Macallan complained of receiving threats from unknown persons who repeatedly told him his whereabouts were being traced.

Last week, a certain DJ Whisper, anchor of a radio program sponsored by the 20th IB in Las Navas town also publicly accused Macallan as a NPA supporter.

After the reported manhandling by Domingo, Macallan proceeded to Catubig Police Station to file a report incident.

On his way out of the station, however, Macallan said he noticed two motorcycle-riding men casing the area, forcing him to go back inside.

A quick reaction team of fellow human rights workers from the capital town of Catarman later arrived to accompany Macallan at the station but were prevented by the police to enter, “because of orders from above.”

“I was really afraid, but I forced myself to focus on keeping myself as safe as possible under the circumstances,” Macallan told Kodao in an online interview.

Macallan is still at the police station as of this writing, waiting for rescuers to fetch him.

Duterte signed Proclamation 360 Thursday terminating peace negotiations with the NDFP as he repeatedly threatened to conduct mass arrests against activists he accuses of supporting the NPA.

In a statement Sunday, the Commission on Human Rights vowed to look closely into reports of human rights violations following Duterte and the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ threats to wage all-out war against the NPA and alleged supporters. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

 

 

Karapatan: Human rights violations rampant during ASEAN summit in Manila

The arrival of world leaders in the country notwithstanding, the Rodrigo Duterte government continues committing human rights violations, a human rights group said.

Karapatan sounded the alarm on the alleged abduction and illegal arrest of a former priest and four others in Cebu, Mindoro and Eastern Samar last November 9, calling these government actions an “intensification of Duterte’s fascist and militarist policies.”

“Duterte sings when his imperialist masters ask him to sing, to the tune of curtailing people’s rights. Duterte himself does not care for people’s rights – a trait he shares with Trump and other leaders of imperialist countries,” Karapatan deputy secretary general Jigs Clamor said.

Rustico Tan, a former Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (MSC) priest, was arrested by combined Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) team Thursday in Brgy. Palaminya, Oslob, Cebu.

Tan, now an organic and sustainable farming practitioner in Oslob was a National Democratic Front of the Philippines negotiator in its peace talks with the Corazon Aquino administration in 1986 to 1987.

Earlier, Tan’s farm workers Lopito Paquigbao and Eddie Cullamat were also arrested by the PNP-AFP team when they failed to find the former priest at his farm.

Karapatan said the PNP in Oslob relayed information that Tan, Paquigbao and Cullamat are in the custody of the AFP Central Command in Camp Lapu-Lapu, Cebu City.

The information has yet to be confirmed, however, and Karapatan has listed the three as “missing”.

On November 10, local peasant leader Carlito Badillo was arrested by elements of the 87th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army (IBPA) in front of a school in Tag-alag, Marabut, Eastern Samar.

Badillo, leader of Tag-alag Farmers and Fisherfolk Association, was dropping off his children at the school.

Badillo is currently under the custody of Marabut Municipal Police Station, facing charges of rebellion and illegal possession of explosives, Karapatan said.

Also on November 10, the 203rd Brigade of the Philippine Army arrested health worker Emelia Marquez, 29, at the Medical Mission Group Hospital in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.

Marquez was attending to her two-month old baby, who is critically ill, Karapatan said.

Magnaye was among the “Morong 43” health workers arrested and detained by the Philippine Army in Rizal Province in 2010.

Anti-Trump protesters suffer high pressure water cannons from the PNP. (Photo by Neil Ambion)

Scores injured from violent police dispersal

Meanwhile, as many as 130 protesters were injured in the violent PNP dispersal of the rally protesting United States President Donald Trump’s visit to the Philippines Monday.

The PNP used truncheons, water cannons and a Long Range Acoustic Device in blocking thousands of protesters marching towards the 31st Association of South East Asian Nations Summit venue at the Philippine International Convention Center.

“Almost 130 anti-Trump protesters were injured during the rally of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) along Taft Avenue. Various groups decried the overkill security measures of the PNP and AFP to the ASEAN 2017 and Trump visit,” Bayan-National Capital Region secretary general Christian Yamzon said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

Killings and illegal arrests increase as human rights day approaches

Human rights organizations, church groups and lawyers continue to denounce human rights violations as preparations for the commemoration of the second International Human Rights Day under the Rodrigo Duterte regime begin.

In statements issued over the weekend, Karapatan, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) denounced the killing of two brothers in Cagayan Valley, the arrest of six indigenous peoples in Caraga Region and attacks against a Bicol lawyer, respectively, saying the incidents show the “sordid” state of human rights in the country.

Karapatan in Cagayan Valley said the killings of brothers Rogelio and Rolito Mendoza in Benito Soliven, Isabela by elements of the 86th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army were cruel, noting the victims suffered 15 gunshot wounds.

“The victims were on their way home from hunting in the forests of Cadsalan in neighboring San Mariano town when killed by the Army unit led by Lts. Randee Alog and Carl Edwin Cañizares,” Karapatan reported.

The group added the Army offered money to the victims’ family to atone for the “mistake of killing the brothers like chicken,” but said the money will not bring back the victims’ lives nor will it erase the terror they have wrought on the people in the area.

“We demand justice for the Mendoza brothers and the expulsion of 86th IB in the area,” Karapatan said.

Illegal arrests in Caraga

The RMP-Northern Mindanao Region (NMR) for its part denounced the arrest of its staff and lay worker Julito Otacan and five other Banwaon human rights defenders in Balit, San Luis, Agusan del Sur Friday.

The Church group said Otacan is a field worker under their Protecting and Promoting Indigenous Human Rights in the Philippines project funded by the European Union and implemented by the RMP-NMR and Relief International.

RMP-NMR added Otacan had been going around the Banwaon communities in Agusan del Sur, to organize and facilitate the training of community members in their capacity as Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in his work under the project.

Arrested with Otacan were Alejandro Barluado, Jonas Acosta, Noli Tahudan, Marlon Talatayod, and Joel Trasona, all members of the Banwaon Peoples’ Organization, Tagdumahan.

Philippine National Police Regional Office 13 director Chief Supt. Rolando Felix accused the six arrested individuals as possible New People’s Army (NPA) members, adding police and army forces who conducted the raids reported seizing two grenades, a caliber ’38 revolver, four improvised explosives devices, four blasting caps, two detonating cord, two rifle grenades, a shotgun and a NPA flag.

“Investigation is still ongoing,” the region’s police chief said.

RMP-NMR, however, insisted the raids and arrests are part of the continuing harassments against those who oppose mining and logging operations in the area, adding the military has been going to Otacan’s house to look for him since Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao last May.

“Under martial law, attacks against human rights defenders had been heightened, with community organizers and legitimate community meetings put under surveillance of state forces,” RMP-NMR said.

Tagdumahan has long been targeted by the military because of their vocal assertion of their rights to the Banwaon’s ancestral domain targeted by logging and mining companies,” RMP said.

“We are demanding their immediate release and for the government to ensure their protection while they are doing their legitimate work for indigenous peoples’ rights,” the group added.

Attacks and killings in Bicol

The NUPL said the killing of paralegal Edwin Pura in Sorsogon Province last October 25 was an attack against its Second Vice President for Luzon Atty. Ron Ely Espinosa as well as human rights and the legal profession in the country.

“Killing with impunity continues as lawyers and rights defenders are alarmingly not spared under the present administration,’ NUPL said.

Pura was killed by two armed men at Barangay Paradijon, Gubat, Sorsogon Wednesday on his way to a restaurant when he noticed two unidentified men who are suspected to be members of the military following him, Karapatan Sorsogon reported.

His killing follows the failed attempt to take the life of Atty. Espinosa sometime in the last week of August 2017 at his law office in Sorsogon City by an armed man who backed off due to the presence of clients and media in his office, NUPL said.

Espinosa also learned that his name was in the PNP drug watch list but shrugged it off knowing for himself that there is no truth to the alleged drug links but considered it as a part of harassment against him as a human rights lawyer, the group added.

“NUPL believes that the failed attempt to take Espinosa’s life and the killing of Pura is part of the state’s systematic pattern of harassment against its dissenters,” NUPL said.

“These desperate actions at the expense of human life seemingly have the intention to put to quiet human rights defenders in Sorsogon and the rest of the Philippines and a chilling effect to the people,” the group added.

Karapatan said it has lined up a series of activities in November to campaign for greater awareness of rights violatuions prior to the commemoration of International Human Rights Day on December 10.

“We will hold a rally at Camp Crame on November 5 against extra-judicial killings, a forum with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines against impuniy on November 22, and another forum on the occasion of Women Human Rights Defenders’ Day on Novebmer 29,” Karapatan’s Roneo Clamor told Kodao. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘This is not the end’ Jonas’ lawyer vows

Philippine Army Major Harry Ballaga Jr. was acquitted by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 of arbitrary detention charges in connection with the disappearance of farmers’ rights activist Jonas Burgos thursday, October 12.

In this interview immediately after the promulgation of the case, Burgos’ prosecuting attorney Edre Olalia said the setback is not end of their quest for justice.

Burgos’ mother Editha for her part said she believes she still can find her son Jonas.