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Probe reveals state security forces committed ‘murder, theft, other abuses’

“The horrific nature and extent of the victims’ wounds belie any claim that the force used against them was – by any stretch of the imagination – reasonable, and erodes the Philippine National Police’s credibility as to its claim that the killings were carried out under justifiable circumstances.”

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – – A 53-member national fact-finding mission (NFFM) found state security forces involved in the March 30 operations in Negros Oriental liable for murder, theft and other rights abuses.

In its initial report sent to Bulatlat, the NFFM led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said that eyewitnesses “clearly and categorically attested that what happened on March 30 were summary executions.”

The report revealed that all the 14 farmers killed in Canlaon City, Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina were unarmed and were already under the custody and control of state security forces when they were killed.

The mission underscored the fact that members of the raiding teams were in full battle gear, with their faces and their nameplates covered during the operations.

The NFFM said the use of deadly force was premeditated. Except for one, the victims were shot multiple times. The report cited the following:

• Valentin Acabal was shot in his genital area and his right thigh was riddled with bullets it was completely destroyed.

• Ismael Avelino’s torso had at least eight gunshots that his intestines burst out of his stomach

• Edgardo Avelino was shot twice in the chest and once in the center of the forehead

• Steve Arapoc was shot both in his back and chest while he was lying on the floor

“The horrific nature and extent of the victims’ wounds belie any claim that the force used against them was – by any stretch of the imagination – reasonable, and erodes the PNP’s credibility as to its claim that the killings were carried out under justifiable circumstances,” the report read.

The NFFM said the raiding teams were also the ones who dragged the bodies of the victims out of the crime scenes. “Such disturbance of a crime scene is strictly prohibited as it removes potential evidence of foul play,” the report read.

The NFFM thus deemed that the removal of the bodies was “an effort to conceal the crimes committed.”

Replete with irregularities

The NFFM said the search warrants issued against the victims “were nothing more than a pretext for the conduct of the operation.”

In a press conference held April 8 in Bacolod City and streamed live on Facebook, Karapatan legal counsel Maria Sol Taule pointed out irregularities in the conduct of police operations.

The team found out that copies of search warrants were either given to the victims’ families only after the killings took place or such copies were never provided at all.

The NFFM noted the following irregularities in the search warrants:

– All were issued by a single judge, Judge Soliver C. Peras of Branch 10 Regional Trial Court of Cebu City. Standard court procedure requires applications for search warrants to be filed with the trial court which has jurisdiction over the territory where the crime is being committed.

– Search warrants fail to describe the places to be searched with sufficient particularity, such as sketches or other details that should confine the search to a limited location. This violates a procedural requirement that search warrants must particularly describe the place to be searched.

– The search warrant against one of those arrested in Manjuyod, Nestor Kadusale, used false information. Police claimed that they conducted the surveillance and confirmed Kadusale’s possession of loose firearms on March 14, 2019, but records show that the request for Firearm Holder Verification filed with Camp Crame in Quezon City was made on March 8, six days before the actual surveillance.

The NFFM team also said that the raiding teams barged into the victims’ homes without giving prior announcement as to their presence and their intention to enforce the search warrants. The NFFM said this was a violation of an established rule that a law-enforcement officer may break into a house to execute the warrant only if he refused admittance to the place after giving notice of his purpose and authority.

Operatives also ordered the occupants to leave their houses as they supposedly searched the different rooms. The report said that both the rules of criminal procedure and the Philippine National Police’s operational rules strictly prohibit the conduct of a search of a house, room, or any other premises except in the presence of the lawful occupant, a member of his family or, in the absence of the latter, two witnesses of sufficient age and discretion residing in the same locality.

“With all the victims’ family members kept outside the premises, and the barangay officials arriving only hours after the raid and the purported search, the operatives involved therein were in clear breach of the aforementioned rules,” the report said.

Planting of evidence

The NFFM said that inventories of items allegedly confiscated from the victims’ houses were signed by barangay officials. Eyewitnesses, however, testified that these officials arrived only hours after the raid and the killings.

The victims’ family members also recounted that they were made to sign the same inventories. “These signatures, however, were procured under the most intimidating and coercive of circumstances, with dozens of masked men carrying high-powered firearms present, without the assistance of local officials or lawyers, after the raiding teams had carried out the executions, and with the family members fearing for their own lives,” the report said.

The NFFM also noted inconsistencies in the search warrants used against the victims and the inventories of items allegedly confiscated from the houses of those killed and arrested. For instance, the search warrant against Steve Arapoc claimed that he was in possession of one (1) .45 caliber pistol; yet, the raiding team claimed they found one (1) .38 caliber pistol.

Theft, other abuses

The NFFM also found out that operatives stole money and valuables in the total amount of P167,300 from the families of Sonny Palagtiw, Valentin Acabal, Edgardo Avelino, Armogena Caballero and Steve Arapoc.

The victims’ family members were also subjected to physical abuse and the unnecessary use of force, the NFFM said.

Arapoc’s younger brother, Mc Khillif Jun, was assaulted and handcuffed while his sister, Keren Arapoc, was harassed when a male member of the raiding team profusely frisked her entire body.

The NFFM also lamented the trauma inflicted on family members, especially minors.

• Franklin Lariosa’s four-year-old son was right beside him when he was shot and killed by the raiding team.

• Edgardo Avelino’s 16-year-old daughter suffered a nervous breakdown after the incident.

• Ismael Avelino’s children, aged ten and five years old were forced out of the room just before their father was shot multiple times while lying in his bed.

• Three of Steve Arapoc’s 10 siblings – aged 14, 10, and 6 – were also in the house when Arapoc was shot several times while lying in the living room.

Lucia Francisco of Gabriela, a member of the NFFM, said that the trauma being experienced by the victims’ families, especially the children, is so deep. “What they need now is psycho-social therapy,” she said during the press conference.

Those arrested, meanwhile, were not informed of their rights as cited in Miranda doctrine.

Danilo Ramos, KMP chairperson, called for justice for the victims. He said that all those involved in the March 30 operations dubbed as Operation Sauron must be held accountable.

The NFFM noted that Oplan Sauron has killed a total of 21 individuals killed in several Negros Oriental towns since December 2018.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said these joint police and military operations conducted under the guise of anti-criminality are directed against individuals who are members of mass organizations.

The NFFM noted that the victims were branded as New People’s Army fighters or supporters. It said that the March 30 operations were part of the implementation of President Duterte’s Executive Order 70 establishing a whole-of-nation approach in ending local insurgency and the Memorandum Order 32 placing Negros Island, Bicol, and Samar, under the “state of emergency.” #

Activists commemorate 33rd EDSA anniversary ‘amid new tyranny’

Various groups commemorated the 33rd anniversary of EDSA People Power 1 in a protest action last February 23.

The “Tayo ang EDSA, Tayo ang Pag-asa” rally was attended by progressive groups, opposition leaders and religious sectors who unanimously remarked that a new tyranny has descended on the Filipino people once more.

BAYAN said that the rotten social system remained 33 years after EDSA that the country is still confronted with gross human rights violations.

BAYAN warned that the people will not allow and will resist a repeat of the Marcos dictatorship under the signboard of “Duterte”. (Video by: Maricon Montajes and Carlo Francisco)

PNP profiling of ACT members part of Duterte’s fascism, teachers group says

Efforts by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to extract a list Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) members are part of the Rodrigo Duterte government’s fascist schemes, the teachers’ group said.

Reacting to visits by police operatives in schools and Department of Education (DepEd) offices last week to ask for a list of ACT members, the group accused both the PNP and the President of creating another “tokhang” list.

“This is part and parcel of the Duterte regime’s grand fascist scheme to suppress all forms of opposition to its tyrannical rule, further legitimized and strengthened by Duterte’s Executive Order 70 which converted the civilian bureaucracy into a fascist machinery,” ACT said in a strongly worded statement.

“This involves profiling, surveillance, identification, and neutralization of organizations critical to the current regime’s anti-people acts and policies,” one of the largest teachers’ organization in the country added.

A copy of a PNP-Zambales memorandum ordering the profiling of ACT members in the province. (ACT photo)

ACT Teachers Party Representative France Castro revealed through a series of social media posts over the weekend that police operatives went around schools and DepEd offices to demand lists of ACT members citing a PNP memorandum as basis.

The operations appear to be nationwide in scale and points to the top PNP leadership as the main source of the order, the group alleged.

ACT said the PNP memorandum on the inventory and profiling of ACT members is very similar to the police’s list of drug users and peddlers, tens of thousands of whom ended up dead in nightly police raids all over the country.

“The PNP will have blood on their hands, and the fascist State shall be held responsible if anything untoward happens to any ACT member. We are not afraid. We have been through this time and again,” ACT national president Joselyn Martinez said.

Militant mentors

Founded in 1982, ACT is a nationalist and militant alliance of teachers and education workers that has attracted members due to its consistent struggle for higher salaries and benefits.

Its successes in the last decades enabled the group to create an allied political organization. ACT Teachers’ Party has two sitting legislators at the House of Representatives.

Its teachers’ union, the ACT Union has chapters nationwide and is recognized as a sole bargaining unit of teachers and education workers in several regions, including the National Capital Region.

“ACT is a legitimate teachers’ organization with a long history of service to professional teachers, education support personnel, and the Filipino people in general,” Martinez said.

ACT is known for fighting for higher teachers salaries and benefits. (ACT photo)

As a militant organization, ACT, however, has been the subject of attacks by police and military agents for being a “communist front.” Several of its members and organizers have been killed and jailed throughout the years.

‘Dastardly, illegal’

Profiling operations against ACT members is a Gestapo-style operation, ACT said of the latest PNP scheme against the group.

“The PNP has no business meddling in the affairs of teachers’ organization…Their dastardly act of profiling ACT members is maliciously casting unnecessary doubt on the legitimacy of ACT as an organization,” the group said.

The group also denounced DepEd officials who acceded to the PNP memorandum, “thereby inviting harm to their own employees and even their students.”

It urged DepEd officials to oppose the “unconstitutional” police operations that may violate teachers’ rights.

“DepEd must order the withholding of any information about ACT members which may be used by the PNP to intimidate and harass teacher-unionists who fight for decent salaries and benefits, for the people’s right to education and other basic services, and for the rights and well-being of the people,” it said.

As of this writing, the DepEd has reportedly ordered its officer in charge in the Manila Division of City Schools to rescind her order supporting the PNP memorandum.

CNN Philippines also reported Monday that PNP chief Oscar Albayalde has ordered the relief of intelligence officers over the “leak” on the profiling of ACT members in Manila, Quezon City and Zambales Province.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed alarm over the PNP’s operations against ACT and called on the police to adhere to the rule of law.

“Reports of alleged profiling of members of ACT are alarming as it violates rights to privacy and association, which are guaranteed freedoms in the Constitution among others,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia in a statement said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NUJP denounces ‘CPP legal front’ tag, news website takedowns

Dec. 26, 2018

On December 26, 2018, several news outfits carried stories about a certain Mario Ludades, who claims to be a former ranking officer and founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, accusing the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines of being one of the supposed “legal fronts” of the revolutionary movement.

On the same day, the alternative media outfits Bulatlat and Kodao – which both house NUJP chapters – were taken down almost simultaneously before noon.

That these assaults on freedom of the press and of free expression took place on the 50th founding anniversary of the CPP is clearly no coincidence.

This is, of course, not the first time the NUJP has been the target of such lies. The organization was also one of those identified as “enemies of the state” in the PowerPoint presentation “Knowing the Enemy” created in 2005 by the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and which the military showed in schools and other venues.

In the case of Ludades, who identifies himself as spokesman of the “No to Communist Terrorist Group Coalition” and an indigenous people’s leader in the Cordillera region, it does not take rocket science to guess who is behind him and the lies he spouts.

The charge of being a “legal front” of the communists is so absurd it is tempting to dismiss it outright. Nevertheless, we are treating it seriously because it puts the organization, its officers and members in potential risk.

On the other hand, the takedowns of Bulatlat and Kodao, which state security forces have also time and again accused of links to the revolutionary underground, bear similar signs as the attack that led to the shutting down of the NUJP site a few months back.

The attack on the alternative media outfits happened soon after they posted stories about the CPP.

They also come after an incident last week when armed men in civilian clothes believed to be military or police operatives were seen in the vicinity of the office building that houses Kodao and a number of activist organizations that the government openly tags as “front organizations” of the communist revolutionary movement.

We stress that the “alternative media” are a legitimate part of the Philippine media community whose take on current events and issues broaden the national discourse and provide an invaluable contribution to the growth of democracy.

Only those who seek to suppress freedom of thought and of expression would seek to silence them and, for that matter, independent media as a whole.

If Ludades and his handlers, and those behind the taking down of the Bulatlat and Kodao sites, couldn’t be more wrong if they think they can intimidate us with stupid stunts like these.

The NUJP and all independent Filipino journalists have not and will never be cowed into giving up the continued struggle for genuine freedom of the press and of expression in the country. This is not a boast. It is a fact.

See related article here: https://www.gmanetwork.com/…/ex-cpp-member-exposes-…/story/…

NATIONAL DIRECTORATE

‘Masugid na peoples’ lawyer’

Si Ben Ramos ay isang masugid na people’s lawyer, abogado ng mga magsasaka, abogado ng napakaraming political prisoner. Dahil dito, siya ay pinatay.–Atty. Rey Cortez, Secretary General, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)

Meme by Carlo Francisco

Panayam kay Dan Balusio ng BAYAN Bikol sa ika 46th na Komemorasyon ng Martial Law

Setyembre 21, 2018 – Panoorin ang panayam kay Dan Balusio, Secretary-General ng BAYAN Bikol hinggil sa kalagayan at panawagan ng mamamayan ng rehiyong Bikol tungkol sa Martial Law mula noon hanggang ngayon.

Filipinos defiant under US-Duterte police state

As police troops deploy a tight cordon around Rizal Park on the 46th anniversary of martial law, persecuted Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno dare speak at the Luneta rally.

The crowd chants “never again to martial law.”

Joining the rally are farmers from as far as the Bicol region, workers, women and youth organizations, scientist and artist groups led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and the Philippines Chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Phils).

The rally was held simultaneously with other protest actions in the country and Philippine embassies in other countries. (Contributed video)

 

Rights groups assail Duterte’s fascist attacks

Human Rights group Karapatan and other progressive groups held a Black Friday Protest, September 14, at Gate 2 of Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City to call for an end to the attacks of the Duterte regime against the Filipino people.

According to Karapatan, the Duterte regime is a danger to the Filipino people.

Duterte’s reign of terror through its counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan and its imposition of martial law in Mindanao are taking advantage of alleged terrorist activities as pretext to attacks against civilians, the group said.

Two farmers from Compostella Farmer’s Association (CFA) were killed last August 19. Couple Gilbert and Jean Labial on their way home after visiting a wake from a fellow CFA member. They were killed by suspected elements of 66th IB because of their opposition to the entry of mining companies in their area, the protesters said.

Karapatan also cited the recent killing of Haide Malalay Flores last August 21 in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental who was shot dead while on her way home. She was a businesswoman and an activist for peasant advocacies.

Karapatan reported as well the case of spouses Edison and Divina Erece who were arrested by elements of military and police last September 3 in Calayan, Cagayan. The couple were members of the peasant group Amihan-Cagayan.

They were charged with illegal possession of explosives, murder, arson and qualified assault.

Political prisoners now number 509, majority of whom are poor peasants, Karapatan said.

Meanwhile, Antonio Flores, secretary-general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), stressed that aside from killings of 150 farmers, the Duterte government also slapped trumped up charges against peasant activists.

The filing of criminal offenses and red-tagging of farmer leaders as members of New Peoples Army are the trademark of this administration. Instead of addressing the problem of landlessness and poverty, continuos military operations and human rights violations happened almost everyday, Flores added.

Estrellita Bagasbas of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) said that even urban poor people were victims of Duterte’s attacks.

She cited the violence in Pandi Bulacan where “fake and ousted members” of KADAMAY are allegedly being used by the police as intelligence agents.

Some organizers and leaders of KADAMAY also recieved death threats and harassments, KADAMAY said. # (Video and report by Joseph Cuevas)

Groups hit Marcos-Duterte alliance on dictator’s 101st birth anniversary

The Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (CARMMA) and groups belonging to the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) denounced what they call an alliance between the family of the late dictator and President Rodrigo Duterte in a picket protest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on the 101st birth anniversary of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Tuesday, September 11.

The protesters said Duterte sponsored the wholesale accomodation of the ousted tyrant’s family by allowing him burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and enabling them to be firmly entrenched back into power.

BAYAN also slammed Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos’ statement that those against their family should “move on and accept the reality.”

“How can we  forget the atrocities under Martial Law and the ill gotten wealth amassed by the late dictator and his family? The Marcos regime was a curse to the Filipino people and the dictatorship  that devasted the people are now treated by President Duterte as heroes,” BAYAN said in a statement.

They also warned Duterte against attempts to revise the history and impose his own Marcos-inspired brand of dictatorship.

“Almost one third of the country is under Martial rule and Duterte has already surpassed Marcos in terms of extra-judicial killings,” the protesters said.

CARMMA and BAYAN called on the Filipino people to join the United People’s Action Rally in Luneta on September 21 to thwart “threats of another dictatorship.” (Video and report by Joseph Cuevas)

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.#