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Raps filed vs Sagay massacre survivor’s father, police

The mother of the 14-year old survivor of Sagay Massacre last October filed charges against her ex-husband and police officers of Sagay Philippine National Police before the National Prosecution Services of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila, December 4.

In her complaint affidavit, Flor, mother of survivor “Lester” filed psychological violence charges in violation of Section 5 of Republic Act 9262 or the Violence Against Women and Children Act against Vic Pedaso.

Atty. Katherine Panguban, Flor’s lawyer said that her client experienced continuous harassment from Pedaso and wanted to get the custody of their child.

Flor also filed charges versus Sagay City police Chief Insp. Robert Mansueto, SPO1 Julie Ann Diaz, and PO Christine Magpusaw for violating the RA 6710 or the Child abuse Law and violation of the Supreme Court rules on the handling of child witnesses.

Panguban explained that Lester was forcibly taken and interrogated by the police after the massacre when no one is allowed to talk to a child witness unless accompanied by someone he trusts.

The police also wanted Lester to be the primary witness against his fellow survivors.

Atty. Josalee Deinla, spokesperson of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer hopes that the prosecution will transmit the case to the Court.

Atty. Deinla also said that last November 27 the Sagay Prosecutions Office filed kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges against her client Atty. Panguban but have yet to receive a copy of the compalint. (Video and report by Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Free Satur and France; free the Lumad children

The Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) condemns the illegal detention of Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and other delegates of the National Solidarity Mission (NSM) in Davao del Norte since 9:30 pm last night November 28 by the combined elements of the 56th IB, Philippine National Police and Municipal Social Work and Development Officers.

CRC also denounces threats of Anti-Trafficking and violation of RA 7610 charges against the NSM delegation, after rescuing the Lumad people from further harassment of the army and ALAMARA in their community following the closure of the main school of Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkakanon Learning Center Inc (STTILCI) in Dulyan, Davao del Norte yesterday November 28, 2018.

The escalation of military attacks on schools spread fear and paranoia among children in the schools of STTILCI and the Lumad communities in Mindanao.

CRC calls for the release of Rep. Satur Ocampo, Rep France Castro and the rest of the NSM. End Martial Law in Mindanao. Let the children study in their schools, pull out military troops from the Lumad communities. #

Charges against Satur and aid group has no basis–LODI

The Duterte regime has reached a new low with the filing of preposterous human trafficking and kidnapping charges against veteran journalist, activist and human rights advocate Satur Ocampo, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro as they were on a fact-finding to aid beleaguered indigenous people in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

The arts and media alliance, Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity demands the immediate release of Ocampo and Castro and their 17 companions.

The charges are baseless, meant to cover up the truth: That it is the paramilitary groups Alamara and Magahat Bagani, commanded by the Philippine Army, that lay waste to Lumad communities. They should be the ones facing charges as they have killed Lumad leaders, shut down schools, and driven off communities from ancestral lands that President Rodrigo Duterte has promised to business and foreign patrons.

Ocampo is a a columnist with The Philippine Star and chairperson of the Board of Directors of Bulatlat.com. He joined the 19-member National Humanitarian Mission that went to Talaingod Wednesday night to bring aid to the Lumad.

Ocampo and the rest of the mission accompanied the Lumad evacuees at the Talaingod police station to lodge complaints against the paramilitary group Alamara. To preempt the human rights case, cops concocted their lies.

The charge has no basis. The parents of 29 Lumad students provided written statements of recognition for the mission’s presence and purpose.

This afternoon, Ocampo and the others were taken to Kapalong District Hospital and eventually to the Tagum City Prosecutors Office for inquest proceedings.

We repeat: accusing Ocampo, who is all of 79 years old, of trumped-up charges of kidnapping and human trafficking is preposterous. We demand that the Talaingod PNP withdraw its charges against Satur Ocampo and he is set free immediately.

We warn the Duterte government that detaining an elderly journalist who is only acting on his convictions that are well within his rights would earn the greater condemnation of the journalistic community in the Philippines and the world. #

Talaingod PNP charges Castro, Ocampo and others with kidnapping

Davao del Norte police arrested ACT Teachers Party Representative France Castro, former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and 17 other human rights defenders who tried to rescue 74 victims of forced evacuation in Talaingod town and are being brought to Tagum City for inquest proceedings.

In an alert, human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region said the 19 were illegally arrested and are being arbitrarily detained for nearly 18 hours already on malicious charges of kidnapping and human trafficking.

Members of the ongoing National Humanitarian Mission that included Castro and Ocampo rushed to Talaingod Wednesday night to bring food and other aid to Lumad civilians and students of the Salugpongan Ta Tano Igkanugon Community Learning Center in Sitio Sinilaban, Barangay Palma Gil.

Before reaching the community, however, they learned that members of the notorious Alamara paramilitary group under the command of the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army forcibly closed the school and harassed students and teachers.

This forced the community to trek to Barangay Sto. Niño but were blocked by a combined army and police force.

On their way to meet the evacuees last night, vehicles used by mission delegates were hit with stones and their tires were punctured by spikes placed on the road.

At about 9:30 last night, the evacuees and mission members were taken to the police station in the area where they were detained.

Castro said they tried lodging complaints with the police but were told they themselves were subjects of investigation.

Earlier today, the police informed the group they are being charged with kidnapping and human trafficking.

The police convoy that took mission participants from Talaingod to Tagum City for inquest proceedings this afternoon. (Karapatan-SMR photos)

The police took the 19 to Kapalong District Hospital for a medical check-up prior to being subjected to inquest proceedings at the Tagum Prosecutor’s Office this afternoon.

Karapatan national secretary general Cristina Palabay condemned the police for levelling charges against mission participants, including a sitting legislator.

“Ocampo and Castro are being threatened with fabricated charges of human trafficking, when they and other mission delegates were there to provide support and aid to Lumad residents, including children, who are facing daily threats and harassment from the military in the community,” Palabay said.

Karapatan demanded the immediate release of members of the mission and the Lumad students and teachers. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Gigising sa manananggol ng bayan’

“Ang dugo ni Ben Ramos ay gigising sa mas marami pang mananggol ng bayan, sa mga manananggol para sa interes ng bayan.”–Rep. Carlos Zarate, Bayan Muna

Meme by Carlo Francisco

Human rights lawyer killed, groups condemn killings and harassments

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) condemned the killing of one of its officers in Kabankalan City Tuesday night, November 6.

Atty. Benjamin Ramos, secretary general of NUPL-Negros Occidental Chapter died from four gunshot wounds fired by two motorcycle riding men.

“We are shocked, devastated and enraged at the premeditated cold-blooded murder of our colleague and fellow people’s lawyer, Atty. Benjamin Tarug Ramos, our Secretary General for the NUPL Negros Occidental Chapter,” the NUPL said in a statement.

Ramos was taking a break by a store in Barangay 5, near the public plaza of Kabankalan City, 103 kilometers south of the provincial capital Bacolod City, when shot by motorcycle-riding gunmen around 10:20 pm, Clarizza Singson of human rights group Karapatan said, quoting the victim’s wife, Clarissa.

Singson said Ramos was rushed to a hospital but was already dead from four gunshot wounds, three in the front and one in the back.

“Ben is the 34th lawyer killed under the two-year administration of President [Rodrigo] Duterte. Excluding judges and prosecutors, he is the 24th member of the profession killed and the eigth in the Visayas,” NUPL said.

Ramos was also the lawyer for six young activists accused and arrested of being New People’s Army fighters last year in Mabinay town in neighboring Negros Oriental.

The father of three was also a peasant advocate and had founded the farmers’ organization Paghiliusa Development Group.

“These beastly attacks by treacherous cowards cannot go on. Not a few of our members have been attacked and killed before while literally practicing their profession and advocacies in the courts, in rallies, in picket lines, in urban poor communities, and in fact-finding missions,” the NUPL said.

NUPL said Ramos was earlier “maliciously and irresponsibly tagged” in a public poster by the Philippine National Police as among the so-called personalities of the underground armed movement.

Ramos’ co-counsel for the Sagay massacre victims and survivors, Atty Katherin Panguban, was charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention reportedly filed by Vic Pedaso, biological father of “Lester”, a 14-year old witness-survivor of the Sagay massacre.

Human rights group Karapatan strongly condemned against Panguban, NUPL Women and Children’s Committee Head.

“These charges, which we can only presume to have been wildly concocted by the Negros police and other forces who want to divert the accountability of paramilitary forces and private armies of landlords, have no legal and factual basis, and are ill-intentioned and manufactured. It is lamentable that they have been using Mr. Pedaso to peddle and insist on lies regarding the roles of Atty. Panguban, NUPL and Karapatan in the case,” Karapatan said in a separate statement.

Karapatan said their group and the NUPL merely assisted Lester’s mother in obtaining custody of her child from the Sagay City Social Welfare and Development Office last October 25.

“The turn-over of custody was duly documented and Pedaso was present in the said turn-over, Karapatan said, adding Panguban represented Lester’s mother.

“There is absolutely no truth to allegations of Pedaso and the police that mother and son are being held against their will by Atty. Panguban, NUPL and Karapatan,” the group said.

Karapatan explained that the charges against Atty. Panguban are among the forms of intimidation by state forces against people’s lawyers.

“This incident once again exposes the vile intent of the police to go to great lengths to exploit relatives of victims and survivors and to use them for their slanted narratives,” Karapatan said, adding the charges against Atty. Panguban should be withdrawn or dropped immediately. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NUJP Statement: On showcasing PNP’s ‘good deeds’

8 October 2018

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is concerned about a directive to police units nationwide to implement a communications program that has seen law enforcers visiting media outfits to seek “partnerships” to “showcase the PNP’s good deeds.”

We have obtained a copy of a directive issued to the Cebu City police dated October 2 that “pertains to the optimal use of various media platforms to enhance the PNP’s operational capability” and is based on the “verbal instruction of CPNP,” meaning PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde.

While it does not explain how the police should use media to enhance their capability, the directive orders them to “coordinate with local media outlets within your AOR and embark on partnership programs/activities to showcase the PNP’s good deeds” and is “for strict compliance.”

The memo to the Cebu PNP also reminds police personnel to “always stay composed and steadfast in the performance of their sworn duty to serve and protect” and “to always observe proper decorum at all times and refrain from being swayed by emotions in spite of the countless pressures and stresses that they may encounter in the performance of their duty as police officers.”

Apparently as a result of Albayalde’s order, our Bacolod City chapter has confirmed that policemen visited the local office of the SunStar daily asking for positive coverage because most of the news about the PNP lately has supposedly been negative. Other news outlets in the city were also visited.

Colleagues in Cebu City also confirmed similar visits to the main office of the SunStar newspaper chain and at least one radio station.

More worrisome is that the visiting lawmen actually took photos of the staff at the SunStar Bacolod office without asking permission first and, reportedly, also at the Cebu radio station.

NUJP members in Batangas also reported that the PNP in the province now refuses them access to spot reports, citing a so-called directive from the national headquarters. They are only being given press releases that only cite their “accomplishments” in a clear effort to dictate how the local media report on police activities.

To be fair, there is nothing wrong about wanting good press.

However, it is one thing to cover the PNP’s accomplishments, and the media have never been remiss about giving credit where it is due. It is a totally different matter, though, to seek to recruit the media in a campaign meant to spruce up the service’s image.

The truth is, the best way – the only way, in fact – for the PNP to improve its standing and earn the public’s trust is simply to fulfil its sworn duty to serve and protect the citizenry. It fails to do so and no amount of image building can hope to succeed.

THE NUJP NATIONAL DIRECTORATE

NUJP-Batangas slams PNP’s policy on no media access to spot reports

By Lottie Salarda / NUJP Media Safety Office

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-Batangas Chapter slammed a new Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office IV-A policy disallowing members of the local media to access spot police reports “unless a clearance is secured from its national headquarters.”

The policy has been enforced since June 19, 2018, the local media group said.

NUJP Batangas said they were notified through the official email address of Batangas PNP.

Marlon Luistro, GMA Network’s stringer in Batangas said he was informed by Batangas PNP PIO Police Senior Inspector Hazel Luma-ang Suarez that the prohibition is in accordance with existing national policy.

 “Lahat ng police stations (ng Batangas), ayaw magbigay ng police report. Itinuturo lahat sa PIO nila. Hindi nagbibigay ng information ang Chiefs of Police nila. Nagtataka kami bakit hindi nila binibigay iyon. Yung ibinibigay lang nila ay yung mga press release ng mga accomplishments nila,” Luistro said.

“Sa bago nilang policy hindi na namin naibabalita ang ibang nangyayari, katulad ng stabbing, shooting incident at iba pa,” Luistro added.

Luistro learned, however, that there is no such policy in place in other provinces.

Batangas journalists wrote to Chief PNP Police Director General Oscar Albayalde last September 24 to seek clarification but have yet to receive a reply.

They have also requested a dialogue with Albayalde as well as Batangas and Calabarzon police directors.

Upon learning of their letter to the Chief PNP, PSI Suarez called Luistro on his cellphone asking why Luistro’s group brought the issue before the office of the Chief PNP.

Luistro told Suarez that they only wanted clarification on the new policy from Albayalde himself. #

Rights groups express alarm over intensified harassment

By Joseph Cuevas

Karapatan and other progressive groups scored the government over recent incidents of harassments and red-tagging of progressive organizations and activists.

Karapatan linked this series of attacks to the alleged ‘Red October’ destabilization plot the military and police said the Communist Party of the Philippines and other groups are about to launch this month.

Karapatan reported that last week, red-tagging incidents by State forces against church leaders and organizations were recorded.

Last September 21, the Karapatan chapter in Cagayan Valley received text messages accusing the organization of being a legal front of the New People’s Army and being “fake humanitarians.”

The group also reported last that last September 29 in Pampanga, a streamer was hung over a bridge in Balibago in Angeles City with a message “Karapatan, terrorist and protector.”

A similar incident happened last September 28 in Zamboanga Del Sur where the perimeter wall of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) church in Tigbao town were painted with the words “IFI=NPA”.

“UCCP=NPA, IFI=NPA and Bishop Ablon=NPA” were also painted along the highway of Brgy. Lacupayan in Tigbao.

IFI Bishop Antonio Ablon is the chairperson of Karapatan Western Mindanao.

Legal groups red-tagged

Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) also reported harassments against its chairperson Gloria Arellano and public information officer Michael Beltran.

KADAMAY said two police officers asked for their whereabouts at their office in Quezon City but the two leaders were not around at the time.

The unidentified police officer also queried KADAMAY personnel about Arellano and Beltran’s activities.

Organizers and labor leaders of NutriAsia in Meycauayan in Bulacan also reported harassments by police in civilian clothing were roving around the church where workers were staying.

Incidents of rock throwing also happened after workers ran after fleeing motorcycle-riding men believed to be NutriAsia guards casing the area.

The workers said even Meycauayan Police Supt. Santos Mera was seen around the area looking for the labor leaders.

Mera commanded the violent dispersals of striking Nutriasia workers last June 14 and July 31.

Red October canard

Karapatan said that the Duterte regime is hard-selling the alleged ‘Red October’ plot to further justify its human rights violations.

The group cited the killing of a 43-year old Moro Human Rights Worker in Maguindanao last September 23.

“The regime is conjuring its own monsters, triggered by insecurities which stem from its inability to solve the country’s problems,” Karapatan said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Peace Center (PPC) said that the so-called ‘Red October’ ouster plot is a lie.

“It is a fabrication aimed at preventing the various legal groups from closing ranks and undertaking bigger joint protest actions. It is a part of scheme to red-tag, demonize and stigmatize the more militant and progressive groups as ‘terrorist’ and ‘communist’ as a prelude to ‘neutralizing’ them with more repressive measures,” the PPC said. #

Rights defenders raise alarm over PNP dossier

By Kimberlie Quitasol
BAGUIO CITY–Human rights defenders raised alarm over a ‘confidential memorandum’ of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to its intelligence group to submit a dossier of individuals the police labeled as New People’s Army (NPA) leaders.
Mary Ann Gabayan, secretary general of the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance (IHRA) said they are deeply concerned for the people listed in the said memorandum which includes Sherwin de Vera, an environmental activist and journalist, a lawyer and activists from the Cordillera and Ilocos regions, and names like an Edwin Rimando, who has the same family name as Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Ilocos spokesperson, Engr. Eduardo Rimando.
De Vera has already been under the surveillance of the state forces prior to his arrest for trumped-up charges on December 2017 and is currently facing trial.
The said memorandum posted at scribd.com by a certain Jayson Guerrero on August 10 came from Camp Crame and was dated May 28, 2018. The memorandum was addressed to “chiefs, RIUs 1 and 14” directing them “to provide SOI on the following NPA leader”.
The list  included Jovencio Balweg, a councilor in Malibcong, Abra; lawyer Jose Malintas, United Nation Special Rappoteur Victoria Tauli-Corpus (Corpuz) and Joan Carling, Co-convener of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group on Sustainable Development of the United Nations, Cordillera activists Joanna Carino, Wendel Bolingit, Jeannet Ribaya Cawiding and Beverly Longid were also listed.
A certain Esteban Manuel is also listed in the said memorandum. It can be recalled that Eduardo Esteban, a senior citizen and cancer survivor was arrested in his house in Jaro, Iloilo on August 5, 2014 with an arrest warrant issued for Esteban Manuel. He was jailed for 13 trumped up charges of murder, frustrated murder and arson among others in various courts in Abra, Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur. He was released in 2017 after all the charges were dismissed.
“We hope that the police would be more circumspect in their intelligence gathering so that they will not endanger the lives and security of civilians, indigenouse peoples and human rights defenders,” Atty. Mary Ann Bayang, one of the legal counsels of Corpuz said.
Bayang added that “the police has the obligation to be foremost in ensuring the protection of human rights, not to be instruments in the violation of human rights”.
It is also notable that these individuals were also listed in the proscription petition of the Department of Justice (DOJ) as terrorists. Just recently Corpuz and Molintas were delisted from the proscription terror listing  with former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Consultant Rafael Baylosis.
“Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra even admitted the DOJ did not verify the names they have listed in the proscription petition yet the PNP uses this to issue a memorandum subjecting our colleagues to further harassment,” Gabayan stressed.
“While IHRA is deeply concerned with the safety of our colleagues De Vera and Rimando and other personalities on the list, we will continue to expose these ruthless attacks and will hold the government liable for whatever untoward incident and further attacks that may happen,” Gabayan said.#