Archive for the ‘killings’ Category

Gunman in Bicol broadcaster’s killing surrenders to police

August 18, 2008

NAGA CITY: The suspect in the murder of Camarines Sur broadcaster Ronaldo Julia surrendered early morning on Sunday but his companion who was identified as the nephew of a former mayor remains at large.

Polide identified the suspect as Efren Barosa alias Pitay and a former barangay kagawad, a brother-in-law of the former Magarao town mayor.

Julia, 42, also a consultant of the Magarao municipal office on environmental matters was gunned down at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday near his residence at Barangay San Isidro in Magarao. He was riding his motorcycle when the suspects reportedly flagged him and fired at him four times using a .38 caliber revolver.

A former station manager of radio station dzRC in Legazpi City during the early 90’s, he then transferred to radio station dzLW in Naga City as station manager.

Until his death, he was a radio reporter of dwLV and at the same time a staff of The Weekly Informer published by his elder brother Mike Julia.

Supt. Rodolfo Llorca, Camarines Sur Philippine National Police (PNP) Provincial Diretor, said the suspect surrendered to him Sunday morning, refusing to elaborate beyond saying he was under investigation.

He said a certain Aven Villa­raza who was allegedly with the gunman during Julia’s murder remains at large. Villaraza is a nephew of former Mayor Lourdes Senar of Magarao.

The former mayor was defeated by her vice mayor, Nelson Julia, brother of the victim, during her third reelection attempt in the 2007 elections. She would have succeeded her husband who ran for vice mayor; both were defeated. Salvador Senar is a first cousin of budget secretary Noynoy Andaya.

Mike Julia, brother of the victim, said he received information that the gunman was a helper of the Senar family, using a gun allegedly provided by a member of the Senar family.

Julia said the suspect decided to surrender because the gunman who is himself a neighbor of the victim, thought there was no one who witnessed the murder, as he allegedly shot the victim four times a few minutes before midnight.

Amy villafuerte, president of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Plipinas-Camarines Sur chapter and Bert Luquinario, president of the Association of Radio-TV announcers of Camarines Sur issued statement condemning Julia’s murder.
— Manny T. Ugalde(Manila Times)


My Take:

A sad news to media world.

Worst is, Amy Villafuerte of ABS-CBN Naga (she’s the station manager then when we pioneered the bikol sarimanok team), is now the province’s KBP head.

Worst news i ever heard.

Human rights group condemns militant leader’s slay

August 18, 2008

By Malu Cadelina Manar


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DAVAO City-based human rights group Karapatan has condemned the killing last Friday of a militant in Monkayo town in Compostela Valley.

In a statement, the Karapatan in Southern Mindanao identified the latest victim of the so-called extra-judicial killing as Roel Doratot, 33, organizer of militant partylist Bayan Muna in Monkayo.

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The killing, according to Karapatan secretary-general Kelly Delgado, took place around 1 p.m. on Friday at Purok Narra, Barangay Banlag.

According to reports, Doratot was driving a “habal-habal” with his six passengers and was on his way to Purok Narra, when shot by one of the two still unidentified men, who were standing some 10 meters away from the victim.

One of the suspects, according to witnesses, was wearing a black helmet and stood beside an XRM motorcycle with no plate number, while the other suspect was wearing a black ski mask.

Before the killing, one of the witnesses saw the suspects’ vehicle parked just few meters away from the habal-habal terminal.

“When it was Doratot’s turn to move, the suspects immediately started the engine and went ahead of the victim. Just few meters away, they blocked the path, which made Doratot to stop. Then one of the suspects shot Doratot,” Delgado said in a press statement.

The suspects, based on police investigations, used a caliber .45 pistol in killing the victim.

“The killing of Doratot is highly condemnable and unfortunately falls in the pattern, manner and motives of execution targeting so-called political dissenters,” the group said.

Karapatan hinted the killing of Doratot could be linked to his expose of the abduction, torture, and the frustrated murder of a certain Renante Romagos of Monkayo.

In his testimony last December 12, 2007, Doratot pointed to some members of the Army as behind Romagos’ attempted killing.

It was also Doratot who led Romagos to Bayan Muna in Davao City to help him in his quest for justice.

“The recent killings in Compostela Valley are alarming,” said the group.

In July 2008, two peasant leaders identified as Nolie Llanos, 47, and Diego Encarnacion, 48, were also shot dead in Barangay Linda in Nabuntoran town. The group hinted a suspected military asset was behind the murders.

“The recent massive troop deployment in Compostela Valley has caused massive human rights violations and has terrorized the civilian population as the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) intensify their military operations, which pave the way for development aggression in the area,” Delgado said. (SunStarDavao)

Satur condemns killing of Bayan Muna member in Compostela Valley, calls on government to scrap Oplan Bantay Laya program

August 16, 2008

Death toll now at 132

Satur condemns killing of Bayan Muna member in Compostela Valley, calls on government to scrap Oplan Bantay Laya program

Bayan Muna Representative Satur C. Ocampo today strongly condemned the killing of Wawie Dutarot, Bayan Muna organizer in Brgy. Banlag, Monkayo, Compostela Valley yesterday and called on the Macapagal-Arroyo government to abandon its Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) counter-insurgency program which has resulted in the killings and abductions of scores of activists.

“We vehemently condemn the killing of Wawie Dutarot and directly hold the Macapagal-Arroyo government responsible for this latest atrocity attributed to troops and militias under her control as Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Ocampo said.

He added,” Dutarot’s killing shows that Oplan Bantay Laya remains in place and that the recommendations of UN Rapporteur Philip Alston are not complied with by Mrs. Arroyo. In fact, the AFP deems the OBL a ‘success’ as it targets to supposedly dismantle 40 guerilla fronts of the New People’s Army within the year but in reality targets members of legal organizations. “

“The AFP’s continued implementation of OBL bodes ill for activists and poses more grave abuses of human rights,” he said.

Initial reports state that Dutarot, a resident of Brgy. Casoon in Monkayo, was shot to death at around 1:00 p.m. yesterday by two armed men on board a motorcycle. Further details of Dutarot’s killing are still being gathered.

Dutarot is the 132ndrd Bayan Muna member killed under the Arroyo government. Prior to this, Willy Jerus was killed on April 16, 2007 in Sorsogon.

The human rights organization Karapatan has documented 910 victims of extrajudicial killings, 193 victims of enforced disappearances, and 331 cases of frustrated killings since Arroyo’s presidency in 2001. #

Quirante Sisters: A Tale of Continuing Injustice

August 13, 2008

Arrested by the military on false charges of child abuse allegedly for recruiting a minor to the NPA, which has already been dismissed, and rebellion, sisters Emilia and Maricris Quirante have been languishing in jail for more than a year now. Worse, the fact that the city has no fiscal for the past three months has been delaying the hearings.

Vol. VIII, No. 27, August 10-16, 2008

GUIHULNGAN CITY – A local peasant woman leader and her sister have been detained at the district jail here for charges of child abuse and rebellion.

Emilia Quirante, municipal chairperson of Kaugmaon, a peasant organization affiliated with the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP of Peasant Movement of the Philippines), her brother Renante, chairperson of the local chapter of Anakpawis partylist and her sister Maricris were arrested on March 24, 2007.

Renante has been released after the case against him has been dismissed.

In an interview, Emilia related that the policemen presented a search warrant, indicating that high-powered rifles were to be found inside their house. She said the police found a dilapidated air gun that their father used for hunting.

Another gun, a 45 caliber pistol, was shown to her, Emilia said. She said that the pistol was planted by the police.

Meanwhile, Maricris just got back from a training funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) when she was arrested. She served as a teacher in a literacy program for children in different rural areas in Mindanao.

Emilia said that the police claimed they also seized “subversive” documents.


Emilia said she found out that the witnesses who testified against her are sons of members of Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu).

On the charge of child abuse, she was accused of recruiting Renante Magallon, a minor, to the NPA. Emilia denied the accusations saying that she did not even know Magallon.

The witness for the rebellion case Christopher Garde claimed that Emilia told him, “Kung naniwala pa sana sa akin ang tatay mo, di siya mamamatay.” (If only your father continued to believe in me, he would not be killed.)

Emilia said that the NPA admitted killing Garde’s father for alleged cases of murder, physical abuse and theft.

Meanwhile, Emilia’s neighbor named Arnel, 16, wrote in his affidavit that Magallon took him to the military camp. They were with Dakila Reyes, an intelligence agent, said Emilia. Arnel said he saw Emilia’s name in a list with the amount P50,000 written beside it.

Emilia suspected she was ordered killed and the P50,000 could be the reward. She said her neighbors warned her that armed men had been asking about her.


Emilia related that before the arrest, the military tagged her as a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).

She said that during that time, the military was campaigning for the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD). Emilia was then campaigning for Anakpawis.

She said, “NPA daw ako kasi marami akong tauhan.” (They said I am an NPA because I have many followers.) Emilia said that the residents refused to go to meetings called for by the military.

Emilia said the military told the local residents that she would ask for money to buy rice and cellphone with camera. “Di naman naniwala ang mga tao.” (The people did not believe them.)

On Dec. 8, 2006, about 36 elements of the army led by 2nd Lt. Dave Angelitod went to their house and told her to surrender to ANAD. Emilia said that Angelitod warned her that if she does not surrender, her family would be implicated.

‘Fight goes on’

The charge of child abuse has already been dismissed for lack of evidence. The rebellion case is up for reinvestigation.

However, the regional trial court of Guihulngan City has no fiscal for three months now. No hearings have been conducted in the past months, Emilia said.

Emilia said that the fight continues. “Wala nang atrasan,” (There’s no turning back.) she said.

She said that intensive military operations affect the livelihood of farmers and the military presence brings no development to the people of Guihulngan. Bulatlat

Army killed Kalinga hunter – Rights group

August 11, 2008

BAGUIO CITY —Another farmer-hunter was killed in cold-blood by the military elements in Kalinga.

According to the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), Rocky “Ungki” Aboli a village councilman, went to his farm in Mt. Bulos in Upper Uma last July 20 to guard his crops from wild animals.

At around 4:15 P.M., residents heard gunshots and immediately sent some youth to check what is it all about. The military in the area, however, did not allow them to pass through and just said that Aboli was safe with them and was being fed.

The next day, some members of the Uma tribe went to the site of the incident and found Aboli dead on the ground. The AFP troops just said to the community members that Aboli fired a gun to their direction and thus was fired back.  The CHRA identified the troops as belonging t the 21st and 77th Infantry Battalion f the Philippine Army.

The military, in a press statement by the 5th Infantry Division based in Upi, Gamu, Isabela, said Aboli was killed during an encounter between the military and members of the rebel group New People’s Army (NPA).

But according to a July 25 statement sent to the media by the Lejo Cawilan Command of the NPA-Kalinga, the military’s reports are nothing but “brazen lies.”

The NPA command said Aboli was shot to death by troops led by Lt. Jay Alambra, Lt. Aries Apduhan and a certain Major Domingo.

It was not the first time this year that elements of the 21st IB murdered a civilian, the statement added. Two witnesses identified Apduhan as the commanding officer of the troops who killed Rey “Aginawang” Logao in Kalasan, Mabongtot, Lubuagan on April 4.

According to CHRA statistics, at least 13 civilians were already killed by the government’s armed forces in Kalinga since 2002, all of whom were either wrongly accused of being combatants or supporters of the communist armed group.

“We, condemn in the strongest terms these military atrocities, the culture of impunity and the killings of innocent civilians,” the CHRA statement said. # (BarangayRP News Team)

Editorial Cartoon: Media Attack

August 8, 2008

RMN got 1-2 punch from the terrorists.

Another RMN broadcaster shot and killed

August 8, 2008

A broadcast journalist of the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) in Roxas City, Capiz, who is also an officer of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in the province, was shot and killed yesterday in a broad daylight attack.

The NUJP said the murder of Martin Roxas, 32, anchorman of RMN station dyVR and host of the station’s noontime program, “Targetanay sa Udto,” by two motorcycle-riding gunmen, came three days after RMN broadcaster Dennis Cuesta was seriously hurt in a shooting attack in General Santos City. Cuesta still lies in a comatose state.

Reports from Capiz said Roxas, who is auditor of the NUJP Capiz chapter, had just finished his program and left the radio station in Barangay Punta Tabuc at 1 p.m. riding his motorcycle when the gunmen pursued him.

“The gunmen shot him at a place some one kilometer from the city proper and fled,” said John Heredia, NUJP Capiz chairman.

Roxas died at past 2 p.m. at the Capiz Emmanuel Hospital, where he was taken. He died of a bullet that hit his spinal column, Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Western Visayas police director, said.

Policemen questioned two persons who were intercepted at a checkpoint.

Cuevas said a task force headed by Senior Supt. Josephus Angan, Capiz police director, has been formed to investigate the murder. He also said the investigation will look into the possibility that the killing was work-related, noting that Roxas tackled various sensitive issues.(MB)

Karapatan files raps vs Army, village officials

August 7, 2008

BACOLOD CITY – In what could be a retaliation for Linan-tuyan villagers declaring them “personae non gratae” and keeping them out, human rights group Karapatan and its allied organizations filed criminal and administrative charges against Linantuyan barangay leaders and police and military officials of Guihulngan, Negros Oriental before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly attacking their persons and rights.

Karapatan-Negros secretary general Fred Cana said charges filed against barangay officials led by chairman Elpedio Villar, Lt. Col. Franco Nemesio Gacal, 11th Infantry Battalion commander; 1Lt. Joseph Buencamino and Chief Insp. Petronilo Gracia, Guihulngan police chief were for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Pubic Officials, Rules of Government Officials and Employees, grave coercion, grave threats and libel. He said the accused must be held accountable for their vicious systematic attacks on the person and right of leaders who participate in the investigative mission in the upland areas of Guihulngan.

He claimed the Army’s harassment, intimidations, vilifications and actions are among the first steps in the established pattern of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearance.

Gacal and Villar said Kara-patan’s move was pure harassment and propaganda. “The principal motive is to intimidate us, to slow down our efforts in exposing their criminal activities,” Gacal said. “If they think we are intimidated, they are wrong.

He said Karapatan is desperate over the criminal charges filed against them by Linantuyan residents – whose officials also barred them from the village – over its alleged role in the kidnapping, serious illegal detention, murder, grave threats and coercion of civilians. – Gilbert Bayoran(Malaya)

Group Urges Cordi Farmers to ‘Bear Arms’ vs Soldiers

August 5, 2008

A Cordillera-based activist group is urging the region’s farmers to bear arms to defend themselves from government soldiers who, two weeks ago, allegedly murdered a farmer in Lubuagan, Kalinga.

Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 26, August 3-9, 2008

BAGUIO CITY (246 kms north of Manila) – A Cordillera-based activist group is urging the region’s farmers to bear arms to defend themselves from government soldiers who, two weeks ago, allegedly murdered a farmer in Lubuagan, Kalinga.

Windel Bolinget, a native from Bontoc, Mountain Province and secretary-general of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) which is the largest group of village-based organizations in the region, called on farmers and tribes in the Cordillera to defend themselves from soldiers who have been allegedly killing them.

Two innocent farmer-hunters have already been killed by soldiers from the 21st and the 77th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) in Kalinga, said Bolinget.

The latest victim was Rocky “Ungki” Aboli, a Barangay Kagawad (village councilman) of Upper Uma in Lubuagan town who was “executed” on July 20. Aboli’s family and villagers said the victim went to his farm in Mt. Bulos, Duyaas, Uma to check on his crops.

On that same day at around 4:15 in the afternoon, villagers heard gunshots from the area where the victim was headed.

Five young villagers were sent to check but were reportedly stopped by soldiers, who claimed that Aboli “is safe and he is being fed.”

The next day, Uma tribesmen went to check on Aboli and found him dead.

Maj. Gen. Melchor Dilodilo, commanding general of the Philippine Army’s 5th Infantry Division, denied that Aboli was summarily executed by his men. “It was a legitimate encounter with the NPA (New People’s Army),” he said. In fact, the officer said, “we recovered a U.S. carbine from him.”

Dilodilo claimed “this is all propaganda aimed at discrediting the military.”

Bolinget said that on April 4  this year, the same soldiers were allegedly involved in a killing of another innocent farmer-hunter in Mabongtot, Lubuagan.

Rey “Aginawang” Logao and another companion were reportedly on their way to get some cows in their pastureland in Mabongtot, to be butchered during a wake of their neighbor, when they met around 15 to 21 soldiers from the 21st and 77th Infantry Battalions based in Bantay, Tabuk City and headed by 2Lt. Aris Apduhan.

Logao was shot when he tried to raise his hands, Bolinget said.

Jude Baggo, an Ifugao native and secretary-general of the Baguio-based Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), strongly denounced what he called as “the on-going atrocities, gross violations of indigenous peoples and collective rights being perpetrated by the 21st and 77th IBPA against innocent civilians in Kalinga.”

The victims, Baggo said, should be given justice and the perpetrators must be punished.

Based on data from the CHRA, at least 13 civilians have been killed in the Cordillera by the military since 2002.  “All these victims were falsely accused as combatants and members or supporters of the NPA,” Baggo said, as he also condemned the “culture of impunity” in the killing of civilians tagged as “NPAs.” Contributed to Bulatlat

No Justice, Impunity Prevails

August 5, 2008

Relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances deplore the fact that up to now justice still remains elusive and impunity still prevails even as the Supreme Court promulgated new remedies such as the writ of amparo. Worse, the Court of Appeals has dismissed the cases that they filed thereby providing the conditions for the “re-escalation” of human rights violations.

Vol. VIII, No. 26, August 3-9, 2008

That victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances have yet to receive justice is, their relatives say, could embolden the perpetrators of these crimes to “commit more of the same.” This, for them, shows that impunity still prevails. While the Supreme Court has made available to them new remedies such as the writ of amparo, the Court of Appeals has dismissed several of the cases they have filed, providing the conditions for what a lawyer has described as the “re-escalation” of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

Thus, even as the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances appear to have subsided, the relatives of those who have fallen prey to these find no reason to be happy.

“The relatives of the victims cannot be happy with that, because what is needed is that the killings and disappearances stop altogether,” said Erlinda Cadapan, mother of missing University of the Philippines (UP) student Sherlyn Cadapan, in an interview. “Also, the perpetrators must be punished.”

Lorena Santos, daughter of abducted National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants Leo Velasco and Elizabeth Principe, expressed a similar view in a separate interview. “The reduction in the numbers does not matter so long as we don’t see our relatives given justice,” she said.

Sherlyn was abducted by soldiers together with fellow UP student Karen Empeño and farmer Manuel Merino on June 26, 2006 in Hagonoy, Bulacan. She was doing youth organizing work in a village there, while Empeño was doing research for her BA Sociology thesis. The two UP students remain missing, while Merino is reported to have been killed by their abductors.

Velasco was in the list of 50 persons charged by the Department of Justice (DoJ) with rebellion in the wake of the alleged “Left-Right conspiracy” to topple the Arroyo government in 2006. He was abducted in Cagayan de Oro City on Feb. 19, 2007 and has not been found since then.

Principe, meanwhile, was “arrested” on Nov. 28, 2007 in Cubao, Quezon City supposedly on the strength of standing arrest orders for six criminal cases. For almost three days after that she went missing, but was eventually presented by Army officials to the media as a high-ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Most of these victims were seized by state security forces in 2006, when extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances were at their peak.

Data from Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) shows that there have been 910 victims of extrajudicial killings and 193 victims of enforced disappearances from January 2001 – when Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was catapulted to power through a popular uprising – to June 30, 2008.

In the first half of 2008, 20 people fell prey to extrajudicial killings while one was forcibly disappeared.

From 2001 to 2008, the three regions with the most victims of extrajudicial killings are Southern Tagalog with 165, Central Luzon with 137, and the Bicol Region with 128. Most of the victims are peasants (numbering 424) and indigenous people (85). Among political organizations, the party-list group Bayan Muna (People First) and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) have the highest number of victims, with 132 and 106, respectively.

Meanwhile, the three regions with the victims of enforced disappearances are Central Luzon with 62, Southern Tagalog with 28, and Eastern Visayas with 24.

Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, the Bicol Region, and Eastern Visayas are all marked as “priority areas” in the government’s counter-insurgency operations dubbed as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL or Operation Freedom Watch).

United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston went on a mission to the Philippines in 2007 to investigate the spate of extrajudicial killings and came up with a report specifically pointing to the military’s involvement in these. “In some parts of the country, the armed forces have followed a deliberate strategy of systematically hunting down the leaders of leftist organizations,” Alston, who is also a professor at New York University (NYU), said.

Following are the yearly breakdowns for the numbers of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances:

Victims of Extrajudicial Killings, 2001-June 30, 2008

































2008 (1st half)








Source: Karapatan

Victims of Enforced Disappearances, 2001-June 30, 2008

































2008 (1st half)








Source: Karapatan

In the rates of both extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, there are marked escalations in 2005 and 2006, after which these crimes noticeably slowed down after these caught the attention of the local and international community. The European Union, Finland, the US Senate, US corporations such as Wal Mart, among others expressed concern over the spate of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

For relatives of the victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, the drop in the rates of these human rights violations is not really something to be happy about.

“One one hand there is success in our campaign to stop the killings and disappearances, since there is a drop in their rates…but still, we are not happy because we haven’t seen our loved ones, and there is still no justice,” Santos said.

Among the legal remedies made available to the likes of Cadapan and Santos is the writ of amparo, the rules for which were approved by the Supreme Court in 2007.

A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC, which took effect on Oct. 24 last year, provides that the writ of amparo shall cover threats or actual cases of “extralegal killings” and enforced disappearances. The writ of amparo, among other things, seeks to provide protection for persons under threat of “extralegal killings” or enforced disappearances, as well as allows access to military and police camps where victims of enforced disappearances are suspected to be kept.

Several relatives of human rights victims, including Cadapan and Santos, have sought to avail of the writ of amparo.

The Court of Appeals, however, has recently dismissed four high-profile amparo petitions one after the other. These are the petitions for Jonas Burgos, Elizabeth Principe, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, and the Gumanoy sisters.

Jonas Burgos, a peasant organizer in Bulacan, was abducted by soldiers in a restaurant in Quezon City on April 28, 2007 and remains missing. The plate number of a van used in the abduction was traced to a vehicle impounded by the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Rose Ann and Fatima Gumanoy, daughters of slain peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy, were recently abducted by elements of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) and placed under custody.

National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) secretary-general Neri Javier Colmenares, in a recent legal analysis of which Bulatlat received a copy, criticized this series of decisions. Wrote Colmenares:

“These decisions unfortunately disregard the actual state of human rights in the Philippines today that has prompted the promulgation of the new remedy in the first place. This spate of decisions will only encourage the re-escalation of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances because of the continuing impunity which has unfortunately and unwittingly been judicially engendered further.”

Cadapan and Santos, in their interviews with Bulatlat, expressed similar observations.

“The perpetrators of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances will surely be emboldened to commit more of the same,” Cadapan said. “The rates may have decreased, but because of what has been happening in the Court of Appeals, we can be almost sure that the killings and disappearances will again escalate.”

“Yes, in a way it encourages more human rights violations, especially extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, because it shows the impunity of the perpetrators, because the Court of Appeals shows that the perpetrators need not answer for their crimes,” Santos said. Bulatlat

‘Amparo Dismissals Encourage More Killings’

July 30, 2008


The NUPL strongly criticizes the recent spate of decisions by the Court of Appeals dismissing amparo petitions which are indicative of a failure to comprehend the intent and nature of the new judicial remedy that initially brought a ray of hope for the victims, families and human rights defenders. These decisions unfortunately disregards the actual state of human rights in the Philippines today that has prompted the promulgation of the new remedy in the first place. This spate of decisions will only encourage the re-escalation of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances because of the continuing impunity which has unfortunately and unwittingly been judicially engendered further.

Misunderstanding Amparo

The Court of Appeals has recently dismissed amparo petitions for the supposed failure of the victims-petitioners to prove that their rights to life, liberty or security were violated or under threat. In the case of survivor-witness Francis Saez who implicated Gen. Jovito Palparan – the epitome of a vicious and remorseless human rights violator who “got away with it” – to the killing of two human rights workers in Southern Tagalog, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition because “it appears” to have been precipitated by “fear that something might happen to him, not because of an apparent or visible threats to his life, liberty or security”. The CA also dismissed the amparo petition of Nilo Baculo, a media man who believes he is also under threat. Similar petitions for the writ were also recently dismissed one after the other in the case of activist-farmer Jonas Burgos, peace consultant Elizabeth Principe and – only yesterday – the Gumanoy sisters, daughters of one of the said Southern Tagalog human rights workers.

Firstly, the CA decisions seem to have sorely misunderstood the nature of amparo petitions and the interim relief for a temporary protection order demanded in the Saez and Baculo cases. The rule states under Rule 14 (a) that:

(a) Temporary Protection Order. – The court, justice or judge, upon motion or motu proprio, may order that the petitioner or the aggrieved party and any member of the immediate family be protected in a government agency or by an accredited person or private institution capable of keeping and securing their safety. If the petitioner is an organization, association or institution referred to in Section 3(c) of this Rule, the protection may be extended to the officers involved.

Clearly, the Court may grant a temporary protection order motu proprio or “on its own initiative or discretion” even without a request or motion from the petitioner. Unlike the other interim reliefs, protection orders may be granted without a hearing. The intent of the rule, therefore, is to facilitate these protection orders rather than make it a burden for the petitioners to prove that they are under threat. The Protection Order is precisely a mantle intended to protect the victim should his claim to threats be true. No injury is caused if the Court will grant it and state that “even if the threat has not yet been fully established by direct evidence, the Court grants you protection and warns any person or entity not to violate your right to life, liberty or security”. The writ of amparo is in the nature of an affirmative action wherein the Court should grant the protection order if the respondents fail to prove that they are not threatening the life of the victim. Dismissing a petition on the unsure ground that the threat “appears” to be baseless is surely not the intent of the amparo rule.

Secondly, The CA decisions’ unreasonable standard of asking the victims for “clear evidence” of “apparent or visible” threats to the life of the petitioner could be misplaced. Judicial decisions will have to be in touch with the reality outside the immaculate walls and towers of the courtyards. There have been 900 extra judicial killings, several hundreds of disappearances, and daily accounts of almost routinary torture of the most heinous kinds in the Philippines since 2001 and there has been very little “visible or apparent” evidence gathered by the police to identify the perpetrators. The only time when the victims will have the opportunity to get a “visible or apparent” evidence of the threats is when a gun is already pointed at them and the trigger is about to be pulled. To place that burden on the victims rather than government agencies is clearly a misreading of the amparo rule.

The Supreme Court declared that the writ of amparo is not a criminal action requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt, nor is it a civil or an administrative proceedings, but a prerogative writ intended to protect human rights. In the above cases, it seems that the Court of Appeals did not find the allegations of petitioners “relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept to support a conclusion that there is a real and actual threat” to the life, liberty or security of Saez, a survivor-witness himself who implicated a notorious general for the killing of his two fellow human rights workers and who is being asked to “spy” on his own lawyers who are themselves members of NUPL. The decision considers the report of surveillance, and the “tailing” of the victim as nothing more than a mere baseless “fear”. This brings to mind a report to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on September 9, 1985 on the human rights situation of Chile under Gen. Augusto Pinochet:

On March 14, 1980 the teacher Oscar Salazar Jahnsen appeared before the Santiago Appeals Court, and complained of the conspicuous tailing to which he had been subject and expressed his fear of being illegally arrested and requested that he be granted adequate protection. When the respective report was requested from the Minister of the Interior, the Minister replied, “in this Department of State there is no information about this person” (confidential official letter 873 of March 18). x x x Six days later the court rejected the application and on April 28 the teacher Salazar was killed in a “security operation”. Concerning this event the media reported:

according to the versions supplied to the press, the event was the consequence of the tailing of Oscar Salazar for several days. Security officials followed him yesterday from the downtown area and in Lo Cañas Street ordered him to surrender. It was not stated why the arrest had not taken place earlier.

102. The account given indicates that the Judiciary has shown serious negligence in processing the applications submitted to it for safeguarding the personal liberty, the physical integrity, and even the life of many persons opposed to the Government. This attitude has favored, by omission, the condemnable practices of the Government, which have not been investigated with the decisiveness .

The New Template of “Voluntary custody”

In the case of the habeas corpus petition of 17 year old Fatima Gumanoy and the amparo petition of Juvy Ortiz and Jeffry Panganiban, the Court of Appeals dismissed their respective petitions on the ground that the subjects purportedly chose to remain in the custody of the military. This ruling is a far cry from the groundbreaking decision of the Dipolog and Davao RTC which ordered the release from military custody of petitioners Ruil Munasque and Luisito Bustamante both of whom also signed “affidavits of voluntary custody” with the AFP. The courageous Davao and Dipolog RTC judges who, despite Munasque’s and Bustamante’s affidavit professing voluntary custody with the military, released the victims to the custody of their family with an admonition that they can go back to the military’s custody the very next day should they persist on their declaration that they want to remain under the military’s custody. The RTC judges showed a keen perceptiveness of the conditions on the ground, the reality and context of human rights violations and sensitivity to the victims’ plight when they ordered their release.

The basis of the custody of the military must be a legal basis, not upon the whim or request of anyone, even the victim especially since the AFP is not a hotel or a boarding house where anyone can just demand board and lodging. If there is no arrest warrant or commitment order, the Court of Appeals cannot order that a victim remain in the custody of the AFP as in the case of Gumanoy, who is a minor.

Secondly, the Court of Appeals must be conscious or take note of the credible allegations, pervasive public perception and independent findings – both here and abroad – and hundreds of complaints in different national and international fora that the military, police and their agents are involved in human rights violations, abduction and enforced disappearance including torture. This immediately puts a legal responsibility on the courts to frown on claims by subjects that they ‘want’ to be in military custody as testimonies most likely given under duress. A decision dismissing an amparo petition because a subject ‘wants’ to be under the military’s custody, rather than with his family, is based on an unrealistic assessment of the facts and, denies reality and even common human experience. It simply taxes one’s credulity.

In his speech before the Court of Appeals, Chief Justice Reynato Puno reminded the CA justices that amparo is intended to protect human rights and exhorted them to do so when he declared:

The power to interpret law is therefore a power that can make a difference. The power is weak only in the hands of weaklings; the power is puny only to those whose minds no longer dream and dare.

Together with the rulings in Saez, Baculo, Gumanoy, Panganiban and Ortiz and more recently, the rulings in the Jonas Burgos and Elizabeth Principe petitions, it seems that the heralded promise that was amparo is floundering not in any local RTC who might be more in touch with reality but in the ivy towers of the Court of Appeals. After giving the amparo a chance, where else can the victims really go for real justice?

Date : 27 July 2008

Reference : Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares, Secretary General

Fishers’ group scores dismissal of libel raps vs Palparan

July 23, 2008

By Tonette Orejas
Central Luzon Desk
First Posted 07:57pm (Mla time) 07/22/2008

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines — The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya, National Federation of Fisherfolk Organizations) on Tuesday assailed a public prosecutor for dismissing a P20-million libel case against retired Army general Jovito Palparan Jr.

In her resolution, Quezon City Assistant Prosecutor Corazon Romano cited improper venue for the dismissal of the complaint filed in 2006.

The complaint arose from Palparan’s published statements in a July 2, 2006 story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of in which he alleged that Pamalakaya, the party-list group Anakpawis, and the New People’s Army committed wrongful activities in the coastal towns of Bulacan.

At that time, Palparan headed the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, his last tour of duty before retiring in September 2006.

Romano said in her one-page resolution that a “perusal of the complaint and its allegations disclosed the alleged defamatory and libelous statements were committed at the time where the respondent was indeed holding office in Tarlac City.”

The division is based in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya national chair, said the “issue of proper venue or lack of jurisdiction is one absurd legal technicality that is often used to score a perpetual denial of justice against [people seeking] truth and justice.”

“Something is really, really wrong here. The prosecutor should have [gone] beyond the issue of technicality and correctly [addressed] the issue that is a matter of life and death to victims of Palparan’s raging campaign of terror,” Hicap said in a statement, referring to the alleged string of human rights violations when Palparan was still in active military service.

Learning of the dismissal, Palparan said: “That’s okay. Thank you.”

In the July 2, 2006 story, Palparan was sought for reactions to Pamalakaya’s allegations that a “climate of terror had intensified” in Bulacan and that the group and the party-list group Anakpawis were “often singled out and accused of supporting the NPA.”

“We’re only a few there, not 600,” Palparan had said. He also confirmed that Pamalakaya and Anakpawis leaders and members were being singled out because “they were the ones causing problems there.”

He said these groups had been “intimidating civilians, recruiting for the NPA, seizing fishponds or extorting P50,000 monthly from fishpond owners.”

“Dapat lang [It’s necessary to single out those groups],” Palparan then said.

Hicap said Pamalakaya took Palparan’s statement as an open endorsement of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the province.

The group accused Palparan of tarnishing its image, stature and reputation as well as “indirectly threatened its officials, organizers and members with ‘grave dangers’ to their lives, security and safety.”

Court rules against Jonas Burgos’ mother

July 22, 2008

By Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:14:00 07/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines—The Court of Appeals Monday ruled that the mother of Jonas Burgos had failed to show that the military was behind the kidnapping of her son and that her evidence was either possibly fabricated or hearsay.

But the court criticized the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), saying their investigations into the April 28, 2007, disappearance of the son of the late press freedom icon Jose “Joe” Burgos left “much to be desired.”

Edita Burgos said she was “extremely disappointed” with the decision.

“I followed all the steps and contrary to their decision there is a direct link between the military and the abduction of Jonas,” Edita told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of

“To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I was hoping to find my son through the court.”

The 64-year-old Edita had gone to court on a habeas corpus petition in a bid to force the AFP and PNP to produce her son, an agriculturist who helped peasants cultivate farms using organic fertilizer.

This plea was later consolidated with a subsequent petition for a writ of amparo, which was adopted by the Supreme Court late last year to provide relief to victims of human rights abuses, extra-judicial executions and disappearances.

The Court of Appeals threw out the habeas corpus petition, but partly granted her plea for a writ of amparo when it directed the military and police to provide Edita with documents she required in her investigation and to look into her allegations against the security forces.

AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano was ordered to conduct a thorough investigation of any military involvement in Jonas’ kidnapping and inquire into the loss of a license plate in its custody that was similar to that used by the abductors.

The court also ordered PNP Director General Avelino Razon Jr. to investigate the abduction thoroughly and to file charges against those responsible.

Both Yano and Razon were directed to submit a compliance report within 10 days after the completion of their respective investigations and to provide documents about Jonas required by his mother.

No satisfactory link

The Court of Appeals denied Edita’s bid to inspect any military camp possibly holding her son, saying that such a request would only be allowed after a hearing, and the place should be stated in detail and supported by evidence.

In its 50-page decision penned by Associate Justice Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente, the court said the evidence presented by Edita had failed to show conclusively that the military took her 38-year-old son from the Ever Gotesco mall in Quezon City.

“We are not concluding at this time that the military is, or is not involved in the alleged enforced disappearance of Jonas. What we are saying is that the evidence of petitioner does not satisfactorily establish the ‘direct link’ of the abduction to the military,” the decision said.

It said Edita failed to establish that her son’s disappearance was caused by the suspicion that he was a member of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Order of battle fabricated

The court said Edita’s evidence of a supposed order of battle listing Jonas as an NPA member with the aliases Ramon/Raymond/Mon/Simon was unsigned, unauthenticated, unidentified and appeared to be fabricated. The document also stated that he was supposedly “neutralized.”

It said the alleged author, Lt. Jaime Mendaros, had noted inaccurate entries in the document, which also lacked his signature. The document was also dated March 12, 2007, even though Jonas was abducted April 28, 2007.

“This bolsters our suspicion that the document could be fabricated. Petitioner claims that this document (order of battle) was given to her by a friend in the military whose name she refused to reveal,” the court said.

The e-mail submitted by Edita from an anonymous writer who claimed to have seen the abduction and followed the men who took her son to Camp Aguinaldo was also found to be inadmissible for being hearsay. The court pointed out that she did not even present or identify the writer.

Edita’s belief that her son’s disappearance was connected to the ongoing court-martial of a military official who was allegedly caught passing information to two NPA members was unsubstantiated, the court said.

But the appellate court said the military and the police failed to take the proper action with regard to Jonas’ disappearance.

The court said that Edita was able to establish that the license plate TAB-194 used in the maroon Toyota Revo in Jonas’ abduction was later traced to a vehicle impounded at the compound of the 56th Infantry Battalion. The license plate was later deemed lost by the military.

PNP probe ‘shallow’

The court said that given these facts, it was the AFP’s burden to exercise “extraordinary diligence” to determine the “why and wherefore” of the loss of its license plate and its appearance in the Revo.

The military should also tie up loose ends in connection with “Ka Ramon” and Edita’s claim that Ka Ramon was her son as stated in the supposed order of battle, according to the court.

The PNP’s probe of Jonas’ disappearance was also “shallow,” the court ruled. It pointed out that Supt. Jonnel Estomo only looked at the administrative aspect of the liability of military officials, but added that it was not the PNP’s duty to investigate this.

The PNP’s recommendation that Mauro Mudlong, owner of the impounded vehicle with the TAB-194 license plate, be charged was also baseless, the court said. It noted that Estomo was able to establish that Mudlong owned the vehicle, but not how the license plate ended up with Jonas’ abductors.

The PNP should not be too quick, either, to believe the claim that it was actually the NPA that abducted Jonas, the court said, adding the PNP should not rule out as well the possible involvement of the AFP.

President can’t be sued

“As a criminal investigative body, the PNP should be circumspect and should consider all possible leads to solve the case,” the court said.

It dismissed Edita’s habeas corpus petition because the issue was her son’s enforced disappearance. It also dropped President Macapagal-Arroyo as a respondent because she could not be sued.

The court also “strongly reminded” the parties that they could be cited for contempt if they discussed the case before the media and if these discussions tended to influence or interfered with the judicial process.


AFP: Several mines may be planted in settlement areas

July 17, 2008

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines fears that the New People’s Army (NPA) may have planted landmines in areas near inhabited places.

The military has condemned the use of pressure-released anti-personnel mines by the rebels in Maco, Compostela Valley that exploded last Sunday and injured two soldiers.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman Major Armand Rico said they received intelligence reports that landmines were planted by the rebels near residences of Barangay New Leyte.

He said the same type of explosives was also recovered by the military during an encounter with the rebels in Barangay Suason, Kapalong in Davao del Norte.

“The use of such personnel mines was already banned under the international humanitarian law. That is why we are condemning its use by the NPA rebels,” Rico said.

Two Army soldiers were wounded when they accidentally stepped on a landmine while on a military operation in Maco, Compostela Valley Sunday morning.

Rico identified the two wounded as Private First Class Nasser Usman and Private Glenn Durias.

Both sustained minor injuries from the said blast.

Rico said the elements of the Army’s 28th Infantry Battalion were clearing the vicinity of the Barangay New Leyte around 11 a.m. of July 13 when the explosion occurred. (BOT)


My Take:

Baka mamaya nyan e magplant dyan ng land mine tapos mambintang na naman habang naghihirap ang mabibiktimang sibilyan. Huwag naman po sana.

Released Philippine eagle killed in Mt. Kitanglad

July 17, 2008

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — A local airgun hunter killed a three-year-old Philippine Eagle named “Kagsabua,” an environment official said.

Felix Mirasol, community environment and natural resource officer, said the hunter did not recognize that the bird he was shooting was a Philippine Eagle (pithecophaga jefferyi), an endangered specie.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

The 4.7-kilogram blue-eyed Kagsabua was last sighted on July 7 near Barangay Lupiangan, Sumilao, Bukidnon, the village where he was released just four months ago and was known to be missing between July 8 and 10, Mirasol said.

A search operation, he added, was immediately launched upon learning the said report.

On July 12, Mirasol said the transmitter gadget attached to the eagle’s body was found buried at least six inches in the bank of a creek.

Kagsabua is the first eagle fitted with a satellite transmitter and a VHF radio to monitor his activities.

No carcasses were found, but Mirasol said feathers identified to be that of the eagle were found near the gadget.

Walter Yabunan, head of the Kitanglad Porters Association, said they recovered last July 15 two avian feet believed to have belonged to Kagsabua.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Northern Mindanao have ordered a full-blown investigation of the shooting.

Celestinano Yabunan, head of the Kitanglad Guard Volunteers (KGV), told DENR officials that three witnesses saw a young man who shot and ate the male eagle in Barangay La Fortuna, a village next to Lupiagan.

He said the witnesses told him that the hunter was not among those who attended the information drive about the Philippine Eagle conducted in the villages around Barangay Lupiagan.

Kagsabua was also shot and captured in 2006. But it was rescued and brought to the Philippine Eagle Foundation center in Calinan, Davao City until he was released back to his home at Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park last March.

The killing of Kagsabua is a setback to local efforts to conserve the Philippine Eagle and its habitat.

Fitted with a satellite transmitter and a VHF radio that could track its activities, scientists hope to track Kasagbua to determine how vast is an eagle’s territory.

Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park covers 28 barangays in the towns of Lantapan, Impasugong, Sumilao, Libona, Manolo Fortich, Baungon, Talakag, and Malaybalay City. The park’s highest peak, Mt. Dulang-dulang, is the country’s second highest peak after Mt. Apo. (Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)

Armadong grupo sa Bikol kinukunsinti ng militar?

July 17, 2008

Soliman A. Santos

Binatikos ng Karapatan-Bikol ang militar dahil umano sa pangungunsinti nito sa mga armadong grupo sa Sorsogon at ang sunud-sunod na paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa Albay.

Ayon kay John Concepcion, tagapagsalita ng Karapatan-Bikol, may itinayong armadong grupo sa probinsiya na tinatawag na Hukbalapas o Hukbong Bayan Laban sa mga Pasmado, na itinulad sa Hukbalahap o Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon noong Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig.

Subalit sa halip na mga Hapon, mga “pasmado” ang target ng Hukbalapas na tumutukoy sa mga New People’s Army.

Sinabi ni Concepcion na nabuo ang armadong grupo sa pamamahala ng 2nd Infantry Battalion ng Philippine Army.

“Kinukondena namin ang gawaing ito at gusto naming maparusahan ang nagbuo sa Hukbalapas. Siguradong magdaragdag ito sa mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa Bikol at maaaring tularan pa ng iba pang armadong grupo,” ani Concepcion.

Marcos’ legacy lives on under Arroyo’s presidency, says biking priest

July 13, 2008

DAVAO CITY, July 12, 2008―Ferdinand Marcos the dictator is gone, but his legacy lives on under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said Redemptorist priest Amado Picardal.

Recalling the 23rd anniversary of the disappearance of Redemptorist Fr. Rudy Romano, then assigned in Cebu, Picardal said Romano was actively involved in struggle against the Marcos dictatorial regime.

“As we remember Fr. Romano, I am appalled that cases of forced disappearances and political killings are still happening under this supposedly democratic government. Many continue to be missing – among them Jonas Burgos. Marcos the dictator is gone – but his legacy lives on under the presidency of Arroyo. Some of those involved in the abduction and death of Fr. Romano are probably still around and occupying high positions in the military, hiding their dirty secrets and continuing their dirty war,” said Picardal in his blog

Under the presidency of Arroyo, hundreds of extra-judicial killings of media persons and human rights activists and several instances of allegedly forced disappearances have been reported, most of the cases are linked into politics and military, which the present administration has denied.

Romano courageously spoke out against the abuses of military under martial law. On July 11, 1985, he was abducted by military intelligence agents and since then has not been found. Romano is presumed to be dead, according to Picardal.

“Romano was one of the hundreds of disappearance-victims of the dictatorial rule. After Marcos was deposed by people power (EDSA I), we heard from sources within the military that he died during interrogation. Until now we still don’t know where they buried him,” said the biking priest.

Picardal have known Romano since 1972 when he was assigned in Iligan. He accompanied Romano in the parish mission in Balingoan during Picardal’s summer vacation in May 1972, a few months before the declaration of martial law. Picardal recalled how he was impressed by Romano’s missionary zeal as both moved from village to village conducting mission evangelization seminars among the people.

“Never again! This was our cry after the fall of the dictator Marcos. Now we have more of the same. When, O Lord, can we be truly freed from evil? When can we be freed from corruption and abuses of those in power?” Picardal asked.

“I hope that someday, the truth will come out and those responsible for the abduction and death of Fr. Romano and thousands of disappearances under the Marcos regime and the Arroyo administration will be brought to justice,” said Picardal.

Picardal (54) has been based in Davao as professor and academic dean of St. Alphonsus Seminary. He is also a theologian and BEC expert, poet, environmentalist, occasional hermit, healer, musician, scuba diver, tai-chi practitioner, mountaineer, cyclist and peace advocate. He biked for peace across the Philippines in 2000, 2006 and 2008.(Santosh Digal)

US puts RP on ‘trade review’ for labor killings

July 11, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — The United States Trade Representative (USTR) will keep the country under “active scrutiny” for possible violation of international labor standards in its “no union, no strike” policy in special economic zones that has allegedly resulted in the rise of killings of labor leaders between 2001 and 2007, an official from an international watchdog said Thursday.

The July 3 USTR decision was in response to a petition by the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) in June 2007 requesting a USTR inquiry into whether the Philippine government has ensured that all Filipino workers enjoyed the right to freedom of association, ILRF lawyer Brian Campbell told in an exchange of e-mail.

US law requires that a country afford its workers’ “internationally recognized worker rights,” including the right to freedom of association, in order to participate in its Generalized System of Preferences program.

The USTR ruling, thus, puts in possible jeopardy the Philippines’ participation in the GSP program which extends preferential treatment to Philippine exports to US.

The US remains the Philippines’ largest trading partner with more than a billion dollars in trade between the two countries every year.

While the USTR ruling does not suspend benefits to the Philippines, Campbell said the US office would closely monitor reforms by the Philippine government.

“[The] USTR will…convene another hearing this fall to assess whether the GRP [government of the Republic of the Philippines] has made any steps to remedying the problems raised in the petition,” he said.

The USTR also ruled that it would continue to review whether the Philippines was eligible to participate in the GSP program. It seeks to ensure that the Philippine government is protecting its workers’ internationally recognized labor rights.

“We welcome the USTR’s decision to deny the Philippine government’s request to end the inquiry and instead to keep the review open,” Campbell said.

“We hope that the Philippine government will take the necessary steps to end the impunity enjoyed by those who kill and harass trade unionists so that businesses in the Philippines can continue to enjoy preferential trade benefits under the GSP program,” the ILRF said.

Aside from the rise in killings of trade union leaders between 2001 and 2007, the ILRF also cited efforts by Philippine government authorities to deny its workers the freedom of association through enforcing “no union, no strike” policies in the special economic zones and by assuming jurisdiction to end labor disputes in violation of international standards.

After a hearing conducted by the USTR in October 2007, Campbell said ILRF requested that the inquiry remained open pending a showing by the Philippine government that it had taken concrete steps to implement all of the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, Phillip Alston, as well as the recommendations of the International Labor Organization’s Committee on the Freedom of Association, which has repeatedly found the Philippines’ assumption of jurisdiction regulations in violation of international standards.

“We are hoping that the Philippine government will take this seriously and begin to implement reforms that the international community has been calling for years and not needlessly place the nearly one billion in trade benefits it receives at risk,” he said. (PDI)

Arroyo Welcomes More U.S. Participation in the ‘Killing Fields’ of RP

July 11, 2008

A historic event worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records may have occurred in Washington in the last week of June. The worst “torture” president that the United States has ever had met the most corrupt and brutal president ever inflicted on the Filipino people. Grotesque or farcical? George W. Bush is now credited with the horrendous deaths of nearly a million Iraqis, over four thousand American soldiers, the cruelties of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and a severe economic recession. Arroyo claims the distinction of having scored several thousand victims of paramilitary violence (903 extra-judicial killings and 193 enforced disappearances, according to the Philippine human-rights monitor Karapatan, or Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), open bribery of officials by raiding the public treasury, unscrupulous cheating in elections, and untold kickbacks from government transactions (such as the ZTE Broadband scandal, among many) – all with impunity.

Monthly Review
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 22, July 6-12, 2008

A historic event worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records may have occurred in Washington in the last week of June. The worst “torture” president that the United States has ever had met the most corrupt and brutal president ever inflicted on the Filipino people. Grotesque or farcical? George W. Bush is now credited with the horrendous deaths of nearly a million Iraqis, over four thousand American soldiers, the cruelties of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and a severe economic recession. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo claims the distinction of having scored several thousand victims of paramilitary violence (903 extra-judicial killings and 193 enforced disappearances, according to the Philippine human-rights monitor Karapatan, or Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), open bribery of officials by raiding the public treasury, unscrupulous cheating in elections, and untold kickbacks from government transactions (such as the ZTE Broadband scandal, among many) – all with impunity.

Scourge of Human Rights

International groups – from Amnesty International and the World Council of Churches (WCC) to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) – have all concurred on the outrageous truth of the “killing fields” in the U.S. neocolony. An editorial of the Philippine Star (6 June 2007) noted that the country is one of the “least peaceful countries in the world, ranking 100th among 121 in the first-ever Global Peace Index drawn up by the Economic Intelligence Unit.” United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Philip Alston reported to the 8th session of the UN Human Rights Council that Arroyo’s “state security forces have been involved in many of the killings of left-wing activists, indigenous leaders, trade union and farm leaders and civil society organization members and that the military remains in a ‘state of denial’ over these killings” (see E. San Juan, U.S. Imperialism and Revolution in the Philippines, New York, 2007). “Not a single soldier has been convicted,” Alston added, urging the Arroyo regime to end the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) policy of “systematically hunting down the leaders of [legal and open] leftist organizations” such as Bayan Muna and assassinating their members (see the website of the UN Human Rights Council).

The Arroyo regime recently defied the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session by rejecting the recommendation to strengthen the Witness Protection Program and approve the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. In its comprehensive survey “Scared Silent: Impunity for Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines,” Human Rights Watch observed that in spite of public-relation ploys such as the Melo Commission and Arroyo’s refrain that there is “no state policy of killing people,” not one case has been solved, not a single military officer or soldier prosecuted for the murders and disappearances of activists such as Jonas Burgos, Luisa Posa Dominado, Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeño, and thousands more (, 5 October 2007).

Last year the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) concluded its meticulous appraisal of massive evidence with the judgment that the Arroyo regime and its sponsor, the Bush administration, were guilty of “gross and systematic violation of human rights, economic plunder and transgression of the Filipino people’s sovereignty.” The first session of the Tribunal on the Philippines in 1980 unequivocally condemned “the dominant economic and political role of the U.S. in the Philippines and in the region through the implementation of an imperial policy” (PPT Verdict 2007). Arroyo’s ritual obeisance to Washington may be cited as one more proof, falling in line with a tradition of subservience of the Filipino oligarchy since the time of Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon to the first president of the 1946 Philippine Republic Manuel Roxas up to Presidents Ramon Magsaysay (sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency) and Diosdado Macapagal (Arroyo’s father) to the notorious Marcos dictatorship and its unconscionable successors. No wonder both John McCain and Barack Obama parroted worn-out clichés about “Asia’s first democracy,” the Philippines as a faithful client regime during the Cold War and the current crusade against terrorists personified by politically informed combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the New People’s Army.

Subaltern Medicancy Forever

Winding down as a tiresome fiasco and farcical boondoggle, Arroyo’s road show to the Empire’s heartland this June may have been cursed by the sinking of the Philippine ferry MV Princess of the Stars and the ravages of the deadly typhoon Frank. Thousands of victims and their families await her sycophantic pilgrimage with cries of help and anger. After wasting at least $1.5 million of public funds and getting a promised aid of $100,000 from State Dept. bureaucrat John Negroponte, infamous for organizing mass carnage in Central America, the Arroyo entourage is returning a the feckless attempt at fanfare. One episode of de facto president Arroyo’s visit strikes this writer as particularly telling. George W. Bush surpassed his father’s “I-love-your-democracy” apologia for the despot Marcos when he praised “the great talent” of “Philippine-Americans” whenever he dines at the White House – a nod to Filipina chef Chris Comerford. Arroyo’s pathetic “thank you” sums up over a century of gruesomely asymmetrical “U.S.-Philippines” relations so beloved by U.S. experts on the Philippines and their Filipino acolytes. Sadly hilarious but also infuriating to those out in Manila streets demonstrating against the brutality and injustice of Arroyo-U.S. neoliberal privatization program.

Meanwhile, we learn that on June 17, retired Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (not one of Bush’s talented ‘Philippine Americans”), in his testimony to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, accused Bush and his henchmen of committing war crimes by authorizing the use of harsh interrogation techniques. Taguba headed the committee that investigated the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Subsequent inquiries by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups have revealed the scale and depth of the current administration’s violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights and the Geneva Convention on the treatment of what the U.S. calls “unlawful” enemy combatants, otherwise considered political prisoners.

Arroyo’s trip was ostensibly made to lobby for the passage of the Veterans Equity Bill – Senate Bill No. 1315, approved by the Senate but pending at the House. This bill would set aside $350 million (out of $1 billion) for ten years to pay for the basic needs of thousands of Filipino veterans of World War II, most of whom are now dead, who were denied their rightful veterans’ back pay. Without Arroyo’s help, local organizers (such as the National Federation of Filipino American Associations) have mobilized enough support for the passage of the bill in the Senate. So Arroyo’s opportunistic appearance in Washington is clearly intended to prop up her severely damaged image after Senator Barbara Boxer, chair of the U.S. Senate sub-committee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and several congressmen chided her last year for her intolerable record of flagrant human-rights violations.

Just as Arroyo’s early trip in August 2005 was besieged with indignant protests, likewise her visit last week was met with numerous “lightning” demonstrations by outraged Filipino-Americans decrying her insensitivity to the plight of thousands of disaster victims, and the millions suffering from the rice shortage, fuel crisis, and unemployment brought about by the short-sighted neoliberal policies of the regime. With over half of 90 million citizens subsisting on $2 a day, the Philippines exports daily 3,000 contract workers to 186 countries around the world, getting in return $10 to $12 billon in overseas remittances, enough to pay the heavy foreign debt. In 2007 the U.S. Congress allocated $30 million of citizens’ tax dollars for the beleaguered AFP on condition that Arroyo implements Alston’s recommendations, a condition still unfulfilled in deeds up to now. The aid rocketed by 1,111 percent when Bush declared the Philippines the “second front” in his war after 9/11 (IBON Media Release, 21 Sept 2006). Between 2000 and 2003, U.S. loans and grants to Arroyo increased by 1,176 percent, primarily funding for counter-terrorist schemes in addition to USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) spending for livelihood projects and infrastructure – activities that camouflage intelligence or special police operations in communities sheltering NPA (New People’s Army) or MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) partisans.

Pentagon to the Rescue

Less to pacify Arroyo’s entourage and more to threaten Myanmar’s junta, China, North Korea, and other recalcitrants – Al Qaeda supporters – in the Asia-Pacific region, Bush ordered the deployment of the strike group led by the nuclear-armed carrier USS Ronald Reagan to the Philippines. The alleged task of this armada of aircraft carrier, cruiser, three destroyers, and a frigate is to assist in the rescue of the survivors of the capsized MV Princess of the Stars, now being attended to by the Philippine Coast Guard. This may be the first time in military history that a nuclear-powered carrier has been assigned to perform distribution of relief goods in a situation far smaller in scope than the cyclone disaster in Myanmar or the earthquake destruction in China. But again, it’s a war against those unruly subjects, impoverished peasants and workers, including the Moros and the Filipino communists, that justifies this illegitimate intrusion.

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon questioned the utility of an aircraft carrier of that size (with 6,000 crew and numerous F-18 airplanes) designed mainly for combat and rescue of distressed airplanes. As of this writing, the USS Ronald Reagan was moored near the coast of northwest Panay, clearly within Philippine territorial boundary (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 28 June 2008). In addition, the U.S. Embassy revealed that the USNS Stockham and U.S. Navy P-3 planes are on standby to provide maritime surveillance and other security needs (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 26 June 2008). This substantiates once more public suspicions of the sustained complicity of the US with the AFP campaigns against Moro insurgents, in particular the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – including the notorious bandit-group with ties to local military and politicians, the Abu Sayyaf – and the Communist Party-led NPA guerrillas active in Panay and Negros, the two islands that suffered the most from the typhoon Frank. This intrusion of the USS Ronald Reagan is an outright violation of the Philippine Constitution and bilateral treaties with the U.S.

A local group, Pamalakaya, accused Arroyo of committing an impeachable crime: the Philippine Constitution expressly prohibits the entry of nuclear weapons into the country. While Arroyo’s spokesmen claimed that the USS Ronald Reagan is only “nuclear-powered,” the US Embassy is silent on the presence of nuclear weapons in the possession of the task force group. Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya’s chair, charged that the presence of the U.S. naval group is intended not only “to warn and provoke the local armed resistance groups [NPA, MILF] but also to score a psywar victory against China and North Korea that Washington is capable of shifting and redeploying US troops at any given situation or time” (, 26 June 2008). At present, the US stations over 100,000 troops in Asia and the Pacific under its Pacific Command, with 80,000 troops based in Japan and Korea, and several hundreds at any one time in the Philippines.

Terms of Mutual Endearment?

How did this happen? The peculiarity of the presence of U.S. combat troops in the Philippines may be explained by the leech-like stranglehold of the U.S. on the Filipino ruling class and its military/paramilitary establishment. A series of unequal bilateral treaties sealed this toxic partnership. Obama correctly pointed to the 1954 Manila Pact that “formed a cornerstone of U.S policy in Southeast Asia during the Cold War.” But that was only the beginning.

The real key to U.S. control may be found in the Military Bases Agreement of March 14 and March 21, 1947 between the two governments. The first allowed the U.S. extensive military facilities in the Philippines for 99 years, chief of which were Clark Air Base (130,000 acres) and Subic Naval Base which housed nuclear-armed submarines for decades until both were scrapped in 1992. Thereafter 14,000 U.S. troops left the Philippines. This agreement prohibited the Philippines from granting base rights to any other country. It put no restrictions on the use of the bases or on the types of weapons the U.S. could store or deploy in them. Despite minor amendments, this agreement allowed the US to use the bases as springboards for unlimited U.S. intervention in Asia, such as the aggression in Korea, Vietnam, and lately Afghanistan and Iraq (see Civil Liberties Union, A Question of National Security, Manila 1983). The second agreement allowed the US to provide military aid to the Philippines on the condition that a US. military advisory group be assigned to supervise the AFP and that Filipino military personnel be sent to the US for training. It also prohibited the Philippines from accepting military aid or advisers from any other nation without the consent of Washington. In the context of the campaign against the Huks, communist-led peasants fighting for land and justice at the time, the weapons and advisors supplied by Washington were used to suppress and kill Filipino “subversives” and preserve oppressive oligarchic rule, as well as subsidize the Marcos dictatorship and its repressive sequels. Under the framework of the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, the Joint RP-U.S. Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) continues to this day to be one crucial agency in perpetuating the reactionary, anti-people orientation of the AFP and its cognate institutions, the state security personnel of every administration up to Arroyo (see the relevant documents conveniently catalogued in Daniel Schirmer and Stephen Shalom, The Philippines Reader, Boston, 1987, including details of military aid to Marcos). It may be added here that a JUSMAG/CIA functionary, Col. Nick Rowe, was slain by rebel forces on April 21, 1989, while allegedly shadowing “Cuban” advisors helping the NPA in South-Central Luzon.

Although the bases were shut down in 1992, the U.S. maintains its dominance through JUSMAG and the Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Board (established in 1958), which operates as a “new bilateral defense consultative mechanism” to oversee military cooperation between the two countries. These two mechanisms were reinforced by the Security Engagement Board (SEB) in 2006 designed to deal with nontraditional security threats such as terrorism, piracy, natural disasters (for example, the recent ferry sinking and typhoon), bird flu, and the like not falling under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty that calls for battling external security threats in either countries. This was supplemented by the Mutual Logistics and Support Agreement (MLSA) signed in November 2002.

Very few know the details of this notorious MLSA. Its salient provision is its mandating the Philippine government to supply all the logistical support and supplies needed by the Pentagon during its exercises and redeployment. Pretty much a bargain compared to the costly Clark and Subic bases of the good old days. Of course, the humanitarian services performed by the troops are only a pretext for the U.S. to interfere in local civil wars in the region, labeling them “international terrorism.” This agreement with the client regime thus insures a virtually un-evictable presence of the U.S. military as police watchdog to promote and secure US economic and geopolitical interests – from profits in oil, energy, and mineral resources to safeguarding the Malacca Straits where 25 percent of all globally traded oil passes.

Immediately after 9/11, the U.S. Department of State promptly labeled the NPA as a terrorist organization so that Arroyo can call on U.S. troops to help her counterinsurgency campaign, even though the Philippine Constitution (Art. II, Sec. 3) prohibits foreign troops’ involvement in internal security matters. Aside from infringing on Philippine sovereignty, the SEB allows the US (to quote IBON, 26 May 2006) “to maintain a prolonged military presence in the country which suits the U.S. military’s current strategy of seeking temporary access to facilities in foreign countries that enable U.S. forces to conduct training and exercises” rather than spending for permanent physical bases. Moreover, the Philippines functions as an important link in the security chain of the U.S. in the Western Pacific. The SEB enhances the U.S.’s limited infrastructure for refueling and logistics needed in its operations in the Arabian Gulf and Western Pacific areas. Mindanao and Sulu islands have been considered strategic locations for monitoring developments in Muslim countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. where there is a rising trend of “Islamic revivalism,” of which the MILF is an instance.

There are also numerous clandestine partnerships allowed by executive “understandings” and philanthropic channels. But it is primarily the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that legitimizes unrelenting U.S. intervention in the Philippines. Initiated by former president Fidel Ramos under the rubric of “Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement” drawn up by the Pentagon, the VFA was finally approved during the Estrada administration (Daniel B. Schirmer, Fidel Ramos: The Pentagon’s Philippine Friend, 1992-1997, Cambridge, MA, 1997).

Made fully operational after Sept. 11, 2001, the VFA makes up for the loss of Subic and Clark in a much more efficient way. It allows the Pentagon to land anywhere in the country without entailing the cost of maintaining physical structures and insuring environmental safety. It also has no responsibility in whatever damage it can cause by its joint exercises with the host country. While the MLSA (renewed for another 5 years) permits the U.S. to use the Philippines as a launching pad for wars of aggression through the pre-positioning of war material in “virtual bases,” the VFA allows the unhampered entry of U.S. troops for covert operations in the course of “Kapit-Bisig” war games and “Balikatan” joint exercises with its surrogate army, the AFP. Sara Flounders’ sharp analysis of this new Pentagon concept of “Cooperative Security Locations” – 5,458 discrete military installations around the world – highlights its key features: facilities with rotational U.S. presence, containing prepositioned equipment, rapidly scalable and expandable, offering bilateral and regional training. One virtue is the overwhelming influence gained by the U.S. on smaller and developing nations, verified by former U.S. Pacific commander Admiral Thomas Fargo who explained in March 2003 that “relationships built through exercises and training are ‘our biggest guarantor of access in time of need'” (Sara Flounders, “Expansion of U.S. Bases Spurs Philippine Resistance,” International Action Center, 29 March 2008).

The virtually permanent presence of U.S. troops in the Philippines can be accounted for by the VFA, MSLA, and other instrumentalities enforced by a subservient government parasitic on U.S. military aid and political sponsorship. The Arroyo regime easily fits the bill. Because other countries in the region (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia; Myanmar has rebuffed U.S. humanitarian offers) cannot tolerate U.S. ships or troops stationed in its territory, the U.S. has no alternative but to support authoritarian rulers like Marcos and Arroyo if it wants to curb Al-Qaeda influence, check China’s expansion, and project its military might in the Asia-Pacific geopolitical sphere. Surely, the splintered tiny Abu Sayyaf always used to rationalize U.S. troops in the Philippines is no threat to U.S. global hegemony. U.S. military basing in the Philippines can only be explained by the long-range global strategy of preserving U.S. superpower status by preventing the rise of competitors such as China (Herbert Docena, “In the Dragon’s Lair,” Foreign Policy in Focus, 26 February 2008).

Carnage and Mayhem All Around

Immediately after 9/11, the Pentagon announced that it would be sending 3,000 troops to the Philippines for joint operations against the Abu Sayyaf. Over 1,000 troops were eventually sent to participate in “Balikatan 2002” that took place in the combat areas of Basilan and Zamboanga where guerillas of the MILF were operating. This differed from previous exercises since it was now located in war zones, with soldiers using live ammunition, with no time constraints.

In July 2002, an International Solidarity Mission conducted a thorough fact-finding mission that led to three important conclusions: “1) American soldiers were directly involved in the raiding and shooting of an unarmed civilian in his house; 2) human rights abuses are continuing unabated under the Arroyo regime and are abetted by US military forces; and 3) the U.S. military support operations that displace and violate the rights of Moro people and other Filipinos, including women and children” (Solidarity Mission Statement, July 2002). Because of such incidents, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel accused the regime of “treason,” turning the country into a deadly laboratory for the testing of the effectiveness of U.S. troops, tactics and weaponry against the so-called terrorists” (Ellen Nakashima, “Philippines Debates U.S. Combat Role against Rebels,” Washington Post, 23 Feb. 2003).

Another involvement of U.S. troops in counterinsurgency plots may be cited here. In 2004, US troops made the University of Southeastern Mindanao as their temporary camp, an area claimed by the MILF as their territory. The U.S. in effect converted civilians into human shields, potential collateral damage, in the event of armed confrontation between known antagonists in the region. This was part of the annual “Balikatan” exercise, this time in Carmen, North Cotabato. The humanitarian medical missions, distribution of toys, and building of Gawad Kalinga homes all serve as cover for U.S. military intelligence-gathering and other tactical operations. In 2006, the “Balikatan” exercise from February to March was the biggest, involving 5,500 U.S. troops and 2,800 Filipinos. This took place in the hotly contested regions of Jolo, Maimbung, Patikul and Panamao, Sulu, and North Cotabato.

A recent incident reveals how deeply entangled the U.S. is in local counterinsurgency programs of the neocolonial state. In the town of Ipil, Sulu, last Feb. 4, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) killed eight non-combatants (women and children), including a soldier on vacation. The widow of the slain soldier testified that she saw four U.S. soldiers in a Navy boat. Subsequently, General Ruben Rafael, commander of Philippine troops in Jolo, stated in an interview that “a U.S. military spy plane circling high above the seaside village provided the intelligence that led to the Feb. 4 assault” and that “the crew of the P-3 Orion turboprop, loaded with a sophisticated array of surveillance equipment pinpointed the village as a stronghold and arms depot for the radical Islamist Au Sayyaf movement” (Paul Watson, “U.S. Role in Philippine Raid Questioned,” Los Angeles Times, 9 March 2008). This same P-3 Orion spy planes was mentioned by the US Embassy as ready to be used for the disaster relief in Panay and Negroes where the NPA guerillas are vigorously challenging AFP terrorism. U.S. embassy spokesperson Karen Schinnerer in Manila admitted that “an aerial reconnaissance vehicle” gathered intelligence over Sulu “at the request of Philippine forces.”

Heavy saturation bombings in Barangays Buansa and Cagay, a camp of the MILF in Indanan, Sulu, were carried out for five hours on April 30. Early last year, U.S. troops participated in attacks on the Moro resistance fighters in this region. Witnesses of this latest genocidal foray attested to US-supplied “smart bombs” dropped by OV-10 airplanes, slaughtering many members of the 360 families who fled the area. Based on the research of Alexander Martin Remollino, U.S. troops in Sulu belong to the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines that employs U.S. Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations personnel “to conduct deliberate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in very focused areas, and based on collection plans, to perform tasks to prepare the environment and obtain critical information requirements” (Bulatlat, 4-10 May 2008). In lay idiom, this means clearing the area of enemy forces by spying and utilizing all weapons and logistics necessary to “neutralize” hostile elements. Although the AFP claims that those attacks were aimed at the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemayah Islamiyah, an Indonesian-based group, the MILF has responded by declaring that the territory involved is theirs and that no other group is allowed to operate from within the premises.

What is happening in the southern Philippines is clearly a carefully designed war to occupy and sanitize a whole region rich in natural and human resources, as well as a potential strategic base for military adventures. The problem is that it is inhabited by Moros, aboriginal peoples, and other Filipinos resisting U.S. imperial conquest and oligarchic despotism. Prodded by the International Monitoring Team headed by Malaysia that helped enforce a ceasefire, the MILF and the Arroyo government were close to signing an agreement last February on wealth-sharing and ancestral domain. But the U.S.-Arroyo attacks have worsened the displacement of 75,000 Moro civilians – the loss of property, farmland, and livelihood, not to speak of innocent lives – and permitted more extra-judicial killings, illegal detentions, and torture of Moro dissenters and ordinary citizens (Sandra R. Leavitt, “Pressure Brings Continued Progress in Mindanao Peace Negotiations,” Shigetsu Newsletter No. 912, 18 Feb. 2008).

Approaching the Endgame

What is the future for Arroyo’s brutal authoritarian rule? Collaborating with the torture president in the White House and his deceptive “iron fist and hand of friendship” policy, Arroyo has dug herself a grave deeper than all her corruption and ruthless political maneuverings can. If U.S. troops succeed in building infrastructure – presumably better roads, schools, clinics, ports, which testifies to the failure of local governance – will that wipe out Moro separatists, local civilians who demand jobs, dignity, social services, and a measure of communal autonomy that are due them under Philippine laws and the UN Charter? A BBC reporter displayed her ignorance of the fraught history of U.S. colonial domination of the Philippines – its civic culture, social practices, and institutions – when she reduced the whole complex fabric into a question-begging dilemma: “If Philippine government bodies could manage their resources to shelter and assist their own people, maybe all those special forces [U.S. troops] could go home” (“U.S. Plays Quiet Role in the Philippines,” 28 March 2008).

But how can this moribund state apparatus controlled by U.S.-loving oligarchs and their self-serving intelligentsia and bureaucrats manage to do that? The economic crisis gripping the country seems irresolvable by Arroyo’s handouts and paltry rhetoric. The undefeatable MILF is withdrawing from peace talks with the Arroyo regime, just as the National Democratic Front or NDF (together with its “terrorist” affiliate, the NPA) has postponed negotiations unless the U.S.-decreed stigma of “terrorist” is repudiated and extra-judicial killings halted. Surely, 90 million Filipinos, with their long tradition of fierce insurrections, will not allow the shameless puppetry of the Arroyo regime, with her generals and kowtowing officials, to continue for another hundred years. As a UPI Asia Online forecast puts it, the decrepit Arroyo band-wagon faces “bigger, bolder insurgency” in the years to come, despite the super-power’s “humanitarian” schemes and grotesque patronage. Posted by Bulatlat

E. San Juan, Jr. was recently a visiting professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. His recent books are In the Wake of Terror (Lexington Books) and US Imperialism and Revolution in the Philippines (Palgrave Macmillan). He will be a fellow of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University, in Spring 2009.

New crop of officers reject failed ‘Palparan solution’

July 10, 2008

QUINAPONDAN, EASTERN SAMAR—A top military officer admitted on Tuesday that the “Palparan solution” did not help any in solving the country’s communist insurgency problem.

Lt. Gen. Pedro Ike Inserto, commanding general of the AFP Central Command, was referring to retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who became controversial for instigating an all-out war against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA).

Hundreds of alleged extra-judicial killings and human rights abuses took place in areas where Palparan was assigned.

“Nothing came out with this Palparan solution. Look at him, he has long retired from the service yet he is still being hounded by allegations of human rights abuses,” Inserto said.

Inserto mentioned the “Palparan solution” several times in his talks with the 801st Infantry Brigade commander, Brig. Gen. Francis Lanuza, other military officials and five town mayors in the province, but he declined to elaborate what he meant to local journalists.

“You know about it,” was Inserto’s curt answer.

The Central Command chief, however, belied claims of human rights groups that Palparan had enjoyed the support of Malacañang and the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Inserto went to this town, the base of the Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion under the command of Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce, to assess the counterinsurgency campaign in Eastern Samar province.

Palparan served as the top Army officer in Eastern Visayas for eight months in 2005 and vowed to end the region’s insurgency problem.

According to the human rights group Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas, 36 extra-judicial killings and 712 human rights abuses were committed during his stint. Palparan, however, denied any involvement in the allegations.

Palparan assumed command of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division based in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija province on Sept. 1, 2005. His first stint in Central Luzon was in 1981 when he was executive officer of the 24th IB based in Pampanga province.

New generation of officers

According to Inserto, there is now a “new and young generation” of AFP officers headed by Armed Forces chief Gen. Alexander Yano, who do not condone any human rights abuses.

“We have realized that winning the battle is not through an armed struggle but winning the hearts and minds of people. The (military) operations that we have conducted were one of the reasons why up to now, the insurgency problem still persists in the country,” Inserto said.

He urged the military to closely cooperate with other sectors in society, like local government units, church leaders, journalists and the villagers in their battles against the CPP rebels.

“We have to work especially with the Church. When a priest says that you are ugly, though you look like Fernando Poe Jr., people will believe him,” Inserto said.

‘Benevolent Torturer’ tag

As early as 1981, Palparan earned the tag “Benevolent Torturer” for releasing activists after interrogation and torture.

In an approach never done by commanders before him, Palparan expanded the theater of war by deploying special operation teams (SOTs) in about 200 towns and cities where suspected CPP front organizations flourished. The military called these white areas.

The human rights group Karapatan said at least 71 summary executions, five massacres, 14 frustrated killings and 46 disappearances occurred in all of Central Luzon’s seven provinces from February 2001 to August 2006 during Palparan’s 11-month stint. With a report from Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

Gunmen kill shipping firm executive

July 6, 2008

POLICE authorities are eyeing business rivalry as the possible motive in the killing of a shipping firm executive in Zamboanga City.

Ever Lines shipping firm manager Faustino Saavedra, 69, was shot by gunmen riding tandem in a motorcycle shortly before 6 p.m. Thursday in the village of Canelar.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Saavedra, accompanied by his wife, was driving his vehicle. They were on their way home.

He was rushed to the Ciudad Medical Center for treatment but died shortly after 8 p.m. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) investigation chief Danilo Tendero said business rivalry is most likely the motive in the killing of Saavedra.

Tendero said investigation continues to unmask the gunmen responsible in the killing of Saavedra.

Saavedra has been into the shipping business for the past several years.

Ever Lines owns a fleet of ferries that ply from this city to Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga del Sur. (BPG)


My Take:

This is what i’ve been telling you people.  The government’s seemingly inaction to the hundreds of political killings perpetrated by motorcycle-riding terrorists encourages some like-minded individuals to do it, without fear of getting caught.

Or maybe they are the same ones… hmmm. Just thinking out loud.

Illegal loggers behind broadcaster’s slay?

July 4, 2008

Were illegal loggers behind the killing of broadcaster Robert Sison?

Quezon Gov. Dante Nantes said Sison, who was exposing illegal logging activities in their province, told him he had been receiving death threats in the past few weeks.

Speaking at the Usapang Daungan news forum in Quezon City, Nantes said the killing of Sison was triggered by his hard-line campaign against illegal logging and fishing.

He said authorities have already made a breakthrough in their investigation of the case.

“We have already a strong lead, and it’s just a matter of time before the brains and the killers will be arrested,” he said.

Meanwhile, police have arrested two suspected hit men following a manhunt for the killers of Sison in Sariaya, Quezon Wednesday night.

However, Senior Superintendent Fidel Posadas, Quezon police director, said investigators have yet to gather more evidence to link Simeon Esguerra Aguila, 23, of San Juan, Batangas, and Joselito Cabrera, 32, of Matina, Davao City, to Sison’s murder.

“As of now hindi pa namin sila pwedeng ituro na sangkot sa pagpatay kay Sison dahil illegal possession of firearms pa lang ang pwede naming ikaso laban sa kanila,” he told The STAR.

Posadas said Esguerra and Cabrera were arrested for possession of two unlicensed caliber .45 pistols.

Police will test the guns seized from them and match these with shells recovered from the site where Sison was ambushed, he added.

The guns are owned by their employer, a certain barangay chairman Aristeo Ilao who owns a farmland in Barangay Sampaloc 2, the suspects told police.

However, a reliable source said Cabrera’s paraffin test showed that he was positive for powder burns.

Gov’t told to probe killing

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the government to thoroughly investigate the murder of Sison.

“We are deeply troubled by Bert Sison’s killing and implore the local authorities to investigate his death swiftly,” said Joel Simon, CPJ executive director.

“The Philippine government must do all it can to ensure that journalists will not be harmed for performing their duties. Our condolences go out to the Sison family.”

CPJ is investigating whether Sison’s murder is connected to his work as a journalist.

The CPJ said the Philippines ranks among the deadliest nations for journalists.

In its Global Campaign Against Impunity, CPJ has partnered with local press groups to raise awareness on the unresolved killings of dozens of journalists. – Perseus Echeminada, Arnell Ozaeta(PhilStar)

Radio man killed in Quezon

July 2, 2008


A RADIO host and reporter in Quezon province was killed Monday night in Sariaya by two men on board a motorcycle.

Bert Sison, 60, a correspondent of the weekly Regional Bulletin and host of radio program Harana aired over dzAT-AM based in Lucena City, was driving home to Barangay Guisguis in his Toyota Corolla (PEU-887) when he was waylaid in Barangay Lutucan Bata. He was with daughters Liwayway, 30, and Almira, 24, both correspondents of the same paper.

“Sison was killed on the spot from nine bullet wounds, shielding one of his daughters,” said Senior Supt. Fidel Posadas, Quezon police chief.

He said the daughter seated behind the driver’s seat was hit in the arm.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said Sison was the second Quezon newsman gunned down by motorcycle-riding killers.

In May 2003, Apolinario “Polly” Pobeda, a Lucena-based radio announcer was also shot dead while on his way to work.

“This climate of impunity against journalists has to end. The government must now act decisively to stop all these killings and harassments of journalists,” the NUJP said.

The Philippines has been tagged one of the most dangerous places in the world to work as a journalist. Since President Arroyo came to power in 2001, at least 57 reporters have been killed.

Under fire for its failure to protect hundreds of journalists and left-wing activists killed over the past seven years, the government has vowed to track down killers of reporters but there have been few convictions.

In April, the New York-based journalism watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists ranked the Philippines at sixth in its index of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press. – With Reuters(Malaya)

Torture Persists: Tales of Two Survivors

June 30, 2008

June 26 is the United Nations’ (UN) Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Even as the Philippine government has been a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture for more than 20 years, the practice of torture persists in the country. Just last month, Pastor Rodel Canja went through the horrors of torture.

Volume VIII, No. 21, June 29-July 5, 2008

June 26 is the United Nations’ (UN) Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Even as the Philippine government has been a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture for more than 20 years, the practice of torture persists in the country.

Torture under Martial law

Romeo Luneta or Ka Romy to his colleagues, now 65, could not exactly remember the day and time when he was, in his own words, “arrested-abducted” by military men in plainclothes. It was sometime in October 1972 somewhere in Batangas City.

No warrant of arrest was presented, no charges filed against him in court.

Three armed men approached him that day. One blindfolded him and the other two forced him to ride what he believed to be a military jeep. They asked, “Ikaw si Jose Luneta ‘di ba?” (You are Jose Luneta, right?) Jose is his younger brother.

He said that he was not Jose. One of his captors pointed a gun at his forehead and said, “Gusto mo nito?” (You want this?) The man threatened him that if he did not give the information they needed, he would be thrown off a cliff.

One of the men slammed the butt of a gun to his forehead, causing it to bleed. Throughout the two or three hours of travel, his captors kicked and punched him.

When the vehicle came to a halt, Ka Romy was led to a concrete room similar to a prison cell with no windows and just an iron gate. His captors left him for a while.

Just when he almost fell asleep, they returned and hit him with a “kaburata”, a hard elongated object shaped like an eggplant. They struck his stomach many times but the beating left no marks.

To stop the beatings, he said he is Jose Luneta. “Komunista ka. Founder ng KM. Bakit n’yo kinakalaban ang gobyerno?” (You are a Communist. A founder of Kabataang Makabayan. Why do you fight this government?)

The next day, his captors went back to him. “Hayop ka! Hindi naman pala ikaw si Jose Luneta,” (You animal. You are not Jose Luneta.) said one.

He told them he just said so because it was what they wanted him to say. “Pilosopo ka!” (Smart ass!)

Then, they began to ask the whereabouts of his siblings.

A few hours after came the water cure. They poured water into his face, almost relentlessly that he could not breathe. Then they took off all his clothes. Naked, he was tied to a “tarima,” a cot made of steel. His hands and feet spread apart.

Then, he was given the electro-shock. First, they put the wire on his wrist. Later, they electrocuted his genitals. The interrogation continued until he passed out.

When the worst was over, somebody treated his wounds and bruises. For quite some time, they left him alone. They would give him something to eat, congee or rice and vegetables.

It turned out to be the ‘soft approach.’ Ka Romy was offered to help his captors. He just said that he could not help them in any way. He told them, “Pagkatapos ng lahat ng dinanas ko, nasabi ko na siguro sa inyo kung may nalalaman ako.” (After everything I went through, I could have confessed to you everything that I know.)

Later, Ka Romy identified his captors as Rolando Abadilla, Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Billy Bibit. All three were considered by human rights groups as the most brutal torturers during martial law.

Ka Romy was transferred to Camp Vicente Lim. There he met many other political prisoners. He was released in 1975 but was ordered to report regularly to high-ranking military officers.

His siblings Maxima, Jose, Domingo, Francisco, Franco and Ernesto were also arrested in separate incidents. They, too, were subjected to physical and psychological torture.

Jose was injected with truth serum. Ernesto was thrown to a swimming pool with both hands and feet tied. Domingo’s head was sunk in a toilet bowl filled with human feces and urine.

The nightmare haunted Ka Romy for many years. There were nights when he would wake up screaming and squirming, sweating profusely. For three years, he had erectile dysfunction. He has difficulty hearing from his left ear. His eardrums were damaged when he was hit constantly at both ears.

Scars on his wrist are still clear, as lucid as his memory of those days and nights.

His two brothers, he said, have to drink alcohol to be able to sleep. Soon, they became alcoholic. They, too, could not forget.

A new case of torture

Rodel Canja is a pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). On May 6, he went to their church in Pillilia, Rizal together with another church worker.  They were there to meet the other delegates to the UCCP Northeast Southern Tagalog Conference.

Canja left his companion to go to a nearby store. He needed to buy some load for his cell phone; and he had to make a call. He had no idea he would then be taken by unidentified men.

A van stopped by in front of him. A man in his 40s alighted from the vehicle. The man put his hand around Canja’s shoulder and told the latter not to cause any commotion. He was ordered to ride the van. He saw another man inside, pointing a gun at him. He found himself obeying. Inside, he saw two more men, the driver and another armed man in the front seat. Then, his nose was covered with a handkerchief and he lost consciousness.

When he woke up, he found himself inside a room. One of his captors asked him, “Kilala mo ba si Guerrero?” (Do you know Guerrero?) He did not answer at once. He asked, “Sinong Guerrero?” (Guerrero who?)

The other man said, “Si Berlin Guerrero, iyong nagpapastor-pastoran?” (Berlin Guerrero, the one pretending to be a pastor.)

Guerrero was abducted in May, 2007 by men believed to be soldiers from the Philippine Air Force. He was subjected to physical and psychological torture before being turned over to the Philippine National Police. Only then did he learn that he has been arrested for murder charges, the warrant shown to him was dated 1988.

Canja told his captors what he knew about Guerrero. “He was my roommate. We worked together in the church. He has a wife and children.” By this time, one of the men was pulling his hair forcefully.

Exclaimed one, “Alam na namin iyan. Hindi iyan ang gusto naming marinig.” (We already know that. That is not what we want to hear.) The man interrogating him cocked his gun then asked Canja, “Ano pang alam mo?” (What else do you know?)

He was too afraid to speak. The man asked, “Anong alam mo sa P?” (What do you know about the P?) Canja asked back, “Anong P?” (What P?)

The man yelled invectives at him and pointed the gun to his face. “Alam namin na si Berlin ay miyembro ng P. Di ba may mga code names pa nga kayo. Alam namin ‘yon.” (We know that Berlin is a member of P. Isn’t it that you even have code names. We know that.)

Canja said he did not know anything about the P they were mentioning. His captors kept on pointing a gun at him. They also asked him about two more pastors.

The next day, they got his cell phone and wallet. The men told him that many things could happen in the coming days, adding that they have the ID of his sister and brother.

Then, one of the men, said, “Aamin ka ba o hindi? Ito na ang huling tanong namin sa ‘yo.” (Will you confess or not? This is our last question.) Canja did not speak; he knew he might be killed.

His interrogator inserted the barrel of a gun inside Canja’s mouth; the pastor was already crying and shivering from fear. The man was shouting, repeating his question. Canja said nothing; then, a gunshot. He thought he was shot at. The men laughed loudly. Then, everything became black.

The following day, he was told to change his pair of pants and to use the pair of shorts they gave him. One of the men warned him not to say anything to anyone. They threatened him that something bad may happen to his brother and sister; they got their ID pictures from his wallet.

Then, they blindfolded him and led him to a vehicle. While traveling, the men were talking. One said, “Patayin na lang kaya natin, ‘wag na nating ihatid.” (What if we just kill him?)

They finally stopped. They reminded him of their warnings. When he alighted from the van, he did not immediately recognize the place where they dropped him off, it was already dark. He asked a woman selling balut (duck eggs).  The vendor pointed to both directions of the road saying that one direction led to Cogeo and the other to Cubao.

Pastor Canja arrived home that early morning, before the sun came out. Since then, he has never seen the following days the same as before.

No justice

Ka Romy was among the martial law victims who filed a class action suit against the Marcoses in 1989. He joined the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Para sa Amnestiya (SELDA). The case is now pending at the Sandiganbayan after the US Supreme Court turned over the case to the Philippines.

Ka Romy said, “Ang gusto namin, tunay na hustisya. Inaasahan namin noon na mapapakulong ang mga Marcos. Hindi namin inaasahan ang pera” (What we want is genuine justice. We wanted to see the Marcoses in jail. We were not expecting compensation.)

Asked to comment on the present state of human rights in the country, he said, “Maswerte pa kami noon. Pag tinortyur ka, mabubuhay ka pa. Sa Oplan Bantay Laya I and II ni GMA, papatayin ka na, susunugin ka pa.” (We were still lucky then. When you get tortured, you would still live. Under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s counter insurgency programs Oplan Bantay Laya I and II, you will just be killed and burned.)

He was referring to the case of Manuel Meriño, abducted on June 26, 2006 in San Miguel, Bulacan together with Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.

Ka Romy criticized Arroyo’s policy of “state terrorism.” He said that as head of state, she is guilty of gross violations of human rights perpetrated by state agents.

Asked to comment about Arroyo’s signing of Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), Ka Romy said, “It’s just for show.” Bulatlat

How_to_train_ death_squads_ and_quash_ revolutions_ from_San_ Salvador_ to_you

June 28, 2008

> How to covertly train paramilitaries, censor the press, ban unions,
> employ terrorists, conduct warrantless searches, suspend habeas
> corpus, conceal breaches of the Geneva Convention and make the
> population love it
> JULIAN ASSANGE (investigative editor)
> Monday June 15, 2008
> Wikileaks has released a sensitive 219 page US military
> counterinsurgency manual. The manual, Foreign Internal Defense
> Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces (1994, 2004),
> may be critically described as “what we learned about running death
> squads and propping up corrupt government in Latin America and how to
> apply it to other places”. Its contents are both history defining for
> Latin America and, given the continued role of US Special F orces in
> the suppression of insurgencies, including in Iraq and Afghanistan,
> history making.
> The leaked manual, which has been verified with military sources, is
> the official US Special Forces doctrine for Foreign Internal Defense
> or FID.
> FID operations are designed to prop up a “friendly” government facing
> a popular revolution or guerilla insurgency. FID interventions are
> often covert or quasi-covert due to the unpopular nature of the
> governments being supported (“In formulating a realistic policy for
> the use of advisors, the commander must carefully gauge the
> psychological climate of the HN [Host Nation] and the United States.”)
> The manual directly advocates training paramilitaries, pervasive
> surveillance, censorship, press control and restrictions on labor
> unions & political parties. It directly advocates warrantless
> searches, detainment without charge and (under varying circumstances)
> the suspension of habeas corpus. It directly advocates employing
> terrorists or prosecuting individuals for terrorism who are not
> terrorists, running false flag operations and concealing human rights
> abuses from journalists. And it repeatedly advocates the use of
> subterfuge and “psychological operations” (propaganda) to make these
> and other “population & resource control” measures more palatable.
> The content has been particularly informed by the long United States
> involvement in El Salvador.
> In 2005 a number of credible media reports suggested the Pentagon was
> intensely debating “the Salvador option” for Iraq.[1]. According to
> the New York Times Magazine:
> The template for Iraq today is not Vietnam, with which it has often
> been compared, but El Salvador, where a right-wing government backed
> by the United States fought a leftist insurgency in a 12-year war
> beginning in 1980. The cost was high ― more than 70,000 people were
> killed, most of them civilians, in a country with a population of
> just six million. Most of the killing and torturing was done by the
> army and the right-wing death squads affiliated with it. According to
> an Amnesty International report in 2001, violations committed by the
> army and associated groups included ”extrajudicial executions,
> other unlawful killings, ‘disappearances’ and torture. . . . Whole
> villages were targeted by the armed forces and their inhabitants
> massacred.” As part of President Reagan’s policy of supporting
> anti-Communist forces, hundreds of millions of dollars in United
> States aid was funneled to the Salvadoran Army, and a team of 55
> Special Forces advisers, led for se veral years by Jim Steele, trained
> front-line battalions that were accused of significant human rights
> abuses.
> The same article states James Steele and many other former Central
> American Special Forces “military advisors” have now been appointed
> at a high level to Iraq.
> In 1993 a United Nations truth commission on El Salvador, which
> examined 22,000 atrocities that occurred during the twelve-year civil
> war, attributed 85 percent of the abuses to the US-backed El Salvador
> military and its paramilitary death squads.
> It is worth noting what the US Ambassador to El Salvador, Robert E.
> White (now the president for the Center for International Policy) had
> to say as early as 1980, in State Department documents obtained under
> the Freedom of Information Act:
> The major, immediate threat to the existence of this government is
> the right-wing violence. In the city of San Salvador, the hired thugs
> of the extreme right, some of them well-trained Cuban and Nicaraguan
> terrorists, kill moderate left leaders and blow up government
> buildings. In the countryside, elements of the security forces
> torture and kill the campesinos, shoot up their houses and burn their
> crops. At least two hundred refugees from the countryside arrive
> daily in the capital city. This campaign of terror is radicalizing
> the rural areas just as surely as Somoza’s National Guard did in
> Nicaragua. Unfortunately, the command structure of the army and the
> security forces either tolerates or encourages this activity. These
> senior officers believe or pretend to believe that they are
> eliminating the guerillas.[2]
> Selected extracts follow. Note that the manual is 219 pages long and
> contains substan tial material throughout. These extracts should
> merely be considered representative. Emphasis has been added for
> further selectivity. The full manual can be found at US Special
> Forces counter-insurgency manual FM 31-20-3.
> DISTRIBUTION RESTRICTION: Distribution authorized to U.S. Government
> agencies and their contractors only to protect technical or
> operational information from automatic dissemination under the
> International Exchange Program or by other means. This determination
> was made on 5 December 2003. Other requests for this document must be
> referred to Commander, United States Army John F. Kennedy Special
> Warfare Center and School, ATTN: AOJK-DTD-SFD, Fort Bragg, North
> Carolina 28310-5000.
> Destruction Notice: Destroy by any method that must prevent
> disclosure of contents or reconstruction of th e document.
> […]
> Counterintelligence
> […]
> Most of the counterintelligence measures used will be overt in nature
> and aimed at protecting installations, units, and information and
> detecting espionage, sabotage, and subversion. Examples of
> counterintelligence measures to use are
> Background investigations and records checks of persons in sensitive
> positions and persons whose loyalty may be questionable.
> Maintenance of files on organizations, locations, and individuals of
> counterintelligence interest.
> Internal security inspections of installations and units.
> Control of civilian movement within government-controll ed areas.
> Identification systems to minimize the chance of insurgents gaining
> access to installations or moving freely.
> Unannounced searches and raids on suspected meeting places.
> Censo rship.
> […]
> PSYOP [Psychological Operations] are essential to the success of PRC
> [Population & Resources Control]. For maximum effectiveness, a strong
> psychological operations effort is directed toward the families of
> the insurgents and their popular support base. The PSYOP aspect of
> the PRC program tries to make the imposition of control more
> palatable to the people by relating the necessity of controls to
> their safety and well-being. PSYOP efforts also try to create a
> favorable national or local government image and counter the effects
> of the insurgent propaganda effort.
> Control Measures
> SF [US Special Forces] can advise and assist HN [Host Nation] forces
> in developing and implementing control measures. Among these measures
> are the following:
> Security Forces. Police and other security forces use PRC [Popu lation
> & Resources Control] measures to deprive the insurgent of support and
> to identify and locate members of his infrastructure. Appropriate
> PSYOP [Psychological Operations] help make these measures more
> acceptable to the population by explaining their need. The government
> informs the population that the PRC measures may cause an
> inconvenience but are necessary due to the actions of the insurgents.
> Restrictions. Rights on the legality of detention or imprisonment of
> personnel (for example, habeas corpus) may be temporarily suspended.
> This measure must be taken as a last resort, since it may provide the
> insurgents with an effective propaganda theme. PRC [Population &
> Resources Control] measures can also include curfews or blackouts,
> travel restrictions, and restricted residential areas such as
> protected villages or resettlement areas. Registration and pass
> systems and control of sensitive items (resources control) and
> critical supplies such as weapons, food, and fuel are other PRC
> measures. Checkpoints, searches, roadblocks; surveillance,
> censorship, and press control; and restriction of activity that
> applies to selected groups (labor unions, political groups and the
> like) are further PRC measures.
> […]
> Legal Considerations. All restrictions, controls, and DA measures
> must be governed by the legality of these methods and their impact on
> the populace. In countries where government authorities do not have
> wide latitude in controlling the population, special or emergency
> legislation must be enacted. This emergency legislation may include a
> form of martial law permitting government forces to search without
> warrant, to detain without bringing formal charges, and to execute
> other similar actions.
> […]
> Psychological Operations
> PSYOP can support the mission by discrediting the insurgent forces to
> neutral groups, creating dissension among the insurgents themselves,
> and supporting defector programs. Divisive programs create
> dissension, disorganization, low morale, subversion, and defection
> within the insurgent forces. Also important are national programs to
> win insurgents over to the government side with offers of amnesty and
> rewards. Motives for surrendering can range from personal rivalries
> and bitterness to disillusionment and discouragement. Pressure from
> the security forces has persuasive power.
> […]
> Intelligence personnel must consider the parameters within which a
> revolutionary movement operates. Frequently, they establish a
> centralized intelligence processing center to collect an d coordinate
> the amount of information required to make long-range intelligence
> estimates. Long-range intelligence focuses on the stable factors
> existing in an insurgency. For example, various demographic factors
> (ethnic, racial, social, economic, religious, and political
> characteristics of the area in which the underground movement takes
> places) are useful in identifying the members of the underground.
> Information about the underground organization at national, district,
> and local level is basic in FID [Foreign Internal Defense] and/or
> IDAD operations. Collection of specific short-range intelligence
> about the rapidly changing variables of a local situation is
> critical. Intelligence personnel must gather information on members
> of the underground, their movements, and their methods. Biographies
> and photos of suspected underground members, detailed information o n
> their homes, families, education, work history, and associates are
> important features of short-range intelligence.
> Destroying its tactical units is not enough to defeat the enemy. The
> insurgent’s underground cells or infrastructure must be neutralized
> first because the infrastructure is his main source of tactical
> intelligence and political control. Eliminating the infrastructure
> within an area achieves two goals: it ensures the government’s
> control of the area, and it cuts off the enemy’s main source of
> intelligence. An intelligence and operations command center (IOCC) is
> needed at district or province level. This organization becomes the
> nerve center for operations against the insurgent infrastructure.
> Information on insurgent infrastructure targets should come from such
> sources as the national police and other established intelligence
> net s and agents and individuals (informants) .
> The highly specialized and sensitive nature of clandestine
> intelligence collection demands specially selected and highly trained
> agents. Information from clandestine sources is often highly
> sensitive and requires tight control to protect the source. However,
> tactical information upon which a combat response can be taken should
> be passed to the appropriate tactical level.
> The spotting, assessment, and recruitment of an agent is not a
> haphazard process regardless of the type agent being sought. During
> the assessment phase, the case officer determines the individual’s
> degree of intelligence, access to target, available or necessary
> cover, and motivation. He initiates the recruitment and coding action
> only after he determines the individual has the necessary attributes
> to fulfill the needs.
> ; All agents are closely observed and those that are not reliable are
> relieved. A few well-targeted, reliable agents are better and more
> economical than a large number of poor ones.
> A system is needed to evaluate the agents and the information they
> submit. The maintenance of an agent master dossier (possibly at the
> SFOD B level) can be useful in evaluating the agent on the value and
> quality of information he has submitted. The dossier must contain a
> copy of the agent’s source data report and every intelligence report
> he submitted.
> Security forces can induce individuals among the general populace to
> become informants. Security forces use various motives (civic-
> mindedness, patriotism, fear, punishment avoidance, gratitude,
> revenge or jealousy, financial rewards) as persuasive arguments. They
> use the assurance of protection from reprisal as a maj or inducement.
> Security forces must maintain the informant’s anonymity and must
> conceal the transfer of information from the source to the security
> agent. The security agent and the informant may prearrange signals to
> coincide with everyday behavior.
> Surveillance, the covert observation of persons and places, is a
> principal method of gaining and confirming intelligence information.
> Surveillance techniques naturally vary with the requirements of
> different situations. The basic procedures include mechanical
> observation (wiretaps or concealed microphones) , observation from
> fixed locations, and physical surveillance of subjects.
> Whenever a suspect is apprehended during an operation, a hasty
> interrogation takes place to gain immediate information that could be
> of tactical value. The most frequently used methods for gathering
> information (ma p studies and aerial observation) , however, are
> normally unsuccessful. Most PWs cannot read a map. When they are
> taken on a visual reconnaissance flight, it is usually their first
> flight and they cannot associate an aerial view with what they saw on
> the ground.
> The most successful interrogation method consists of a map study
> based on terrain information received from the detainee. The
> interrogator first asks the detainee what the sun’s direction was
> when he left the base camp. From this information, he can determine a
> general direction. The interrogator then asks the detainee how long
> it took him to walk to the point where he was captured. Judging the
> terrain and the detainee’s health, the interrogator can determine a
> general radius in which the base camp can be found (he can use an
> overlay for this purpose). He then asks the detainee to identify
& gt; significant terrain features he saw on each day of his journey,
> (rivers, open areas, hills, rice paddies, swamps). As the detainee
> speaks and his memory is jogged, the interrogator finds these terrain
> features on a current map and gradually plots the detainee’s route to
> finally locate the base camp.
> If the interrogator is unable to speak the detainee’s language, he
> interrogates through an interpreter who received a briefing
> beforehand. A recorder may also assist him. If the interrogator is
> not familiar with the area, personnel who are familiar with the area
> brief him before the interrogation and then join the interrogation
> team. The recorder allows the interrogator a more free-flowing
> interrogation. The recorder also lets a knowledgeable interpreter
> elaborate on points the detainee has mentioned without the
> interrogator interrupting the continuity established during a given
> sequence. The interpreter can also question certain inaccuracies,
> keeping pressure on the subject. The interpreter and the interrogator
> have to be well trained to work as a team. The interpreter has to be
> familiar with the interrogation procedures. His preinterrogation
> briefings must include information on the detainee’s health, the
> circumstances resulting in his detention, and the specific
> information required. A successful interrogation is contingent upon
> continuity and a welltrained interpreter. A tape recorder (or a
> recorder taking notes) enhances continuity by freeing the
> interrogator from time-consuming administrative tasks.
> […]
> Political Structures. A tightly disciplined party organization,
> formally structured to parallel the existing government hierarchy,
> may be found at the center of some insurgent movements. In most
> instances, this organizational structure will consist of committed
> organizations at the village, district province, and national levels.
> Within major divisions and sections of an insurgent military
> headquarters, totally distinct but parallel command channels exist.
> There are military chains of command and political channels of
> control. The party ensures complete domination over the military
> structure using its own parallel organization. It dominates through a
> political division in an insurgent military headquarters, a party
> cell or group in an insurgent military unit, or a political military
> officer.
> […]
> Special Intelligence- Gathering Operations
> Alternative intelligence- gathering techniques and sources, such as
> doppelganger or pseudo operations, can be tried and used when it is
> hard to obtain info rmation from the civilian populace. These pseudo
> units are usually made up of ex-guerrilla and/or security force
> personnel posing as insurgents. They circulate among the civilian
> populace and, in some cases, infiltrate guerrilla units to gather
> information on guerrilla movements and its support infrastructure.
> Much time and effort must be used to persuade insurgents to switch
> allegiance and serve with the security forces. Prospective candidates
> must be properly screened and then given a choice of serving with the
> HN [Host Nation] security forces or facing prosecution under HN law
> for terrorist crimes.
> Government security force units and teams of varying size have been
> used in infiltration operations against underground and guerrilla
> forces. They have been especially effective in getting information on
> underground security and communications sys tems, the nature and
> extent of civilian support and underground liaison, underground
> supply methods, and possible collusion between local government
> officials and the underground. Before such a unit can be properly
> trained and disguised, however, much information about the
> appearance, mannerisms, and security procedures of enemy units must
> be gathered. Most of this information comes from defectors or
> reindoctrinated prisoners. Defectors also make excellent instructors
> and guides for an infiltrating unit. In using a disguised team, the
> selected men should be trained, oriented, and disguised to look and
> act like authentic underground or guerrilla units. In addition to
> acquiring valuable information, the infiltrating units can demoralize
> the insurgents to the extent that they become overly suspicious and
> distrustful of their own units.
> […]
& gt;
> After establishing the cordon and designating a holding area, the
> screening point or center is established. All civilians in the
> cordoned area will then pass through the screening center to be
> classified.
> National police personnel will complete, if census data does not
> exist in the police files, a basic registration card and photograph
> all personnel over the age of 15. They print two copies of each
> photo- one is pasted to the registration card and the other to the
> village book (for possible use in later operations and to identify
> ralliers and informants).
> The screening element leader ensures the screeners question
> relatives, friends, neighbors, and other knowledgeable individuals of
> guerrilla leaders or functionaries operating in the area on their
> whereabouts, activities, movements, and expected return.
> The screeni ng area must include areas where police and military
> intelligence personnel can privately interview selected individuals.
> The interrogators try to convince the interviewees that their
> cooperation will not be detected by the other inhabitants. They also
> discuss, during the interview, the availability of monetary rewards
> for certain types of information and equipment.
> […]
> Civilian Self-Defense Forces [Paramilitaries, or, especially in an El-
> Salvador or Colombian civil war context, right wing “death squads”]
> When a village accepts the CSDF program, the insurgents cannot choose
> to ignore it. To let the village go unpunished will encourage other
> villages to accept the government’s CSDF program. The insurgents have
> no choice; they have to attack the CSDF village to provide a lesson
> to other villages considering CSDF. In a sense, the psycho logical
> effectiveness of the CSDF concept starts by reversing the insurgent
> strategy of making the government the repressor. It forces the
> insurgents to cross a critical threshold-that of attacking and
> killing the very class of people they are supposed to be liberating.
> To be successful, the CSDF program must have popular support from
> those directly involved or affected by it. The average peasant is not
> normally willing to fight to his death for his national government.
> His national government may have been a succession of corrupt
> dictators and inefficient bureaucrats. These governments are not the
> types of institutions that inspire fight-to-the- death emotions in the
> peasant. The village or town, however, is a different matter. The
> average peasant will fight much harder for his home and for his
> village than he ever would for his national government. Th e CSDF
> concept directly involves the peasant in the war and makes it a fight
> for the family and village instead of a fight for some faraway
> irrelevant government.
> […]
> Members of the CSDF receive no pay for their civil duties. In most
> instances, however, they derive certain benefits from voluntary
> service. These benefits can range from priority of hire for CMO
> projects to a place at the head of ration lines. In El Salvador, CSDF
> personnel (they were called civil defense there) were given a U.S.-
> funded life insurance policy with the wife or next of kin as the
> beneficiary. If a CSDF member died in the line of duty, the widow or
> next of kin was ceremoniously paid by an HN official. The HN
> administered the program and a U.S. advisor who maintained
> accountability of the funds verified the payment. The HN [Host
> Nation] exercises a dministrative and visible control.
> Responsiveness and speedy payment are essential in this process since
> the widow normally does not have a means of support and the
> psychological effect of the government assisting her in her time of
> grief impacts on the entire community. These and other benefits
> offered by or through the HN government are valuable incentives for
> recruiting and sustaining the CSDF.
> […]
> The local CSDF members select their leaders and deputy leaders (CSDF
> groups and teams) in elections organized by the local authorities. In
> some cases, the HN [Host Nation] appoints a leader who is a specially
> selected member of the HN security forces trained to carry out this
> task. Such appointments occurred in El Salvador where the armed
> forces have established a formal school to train CSDF commanders.
> Extreme care and close su pervision are required to avoid abuses by
> CSDF leaders.
> […]
> The organization of a CSDF can be similar to that of a combat group.
> This organization is effective in both rural and urban settings. For
> example, a basic group, having a strength of 107 members, is broken
> down into three 35-man elements plus a headquarters element of 2
> personnel. Each 35-man element is further broken down into three 1 l-
> man teams and a headquarters element of 2 personnel. Each team
> consists of a team leader, an assistant team leader, and three 3-man
> cells. This organization can be modified to accommodate the number of
> citizens available to serve.
> […]
> Weapons training for the CSDF personnel is critical. Skill at arms
> decides the outcome of battle and must be stressed. Of equal
> importance is the maintenance and care of weapons. CSD F members are
> taught basic rifle marksmanship with special emphasis on firing from
> fixed positions and during conditions of limited visibility. Also
> included in the marksmanship training program are target detection
> and fire discipline.
> Training ammunition is usually allocated to the CSDF on the basis of
> a specified number of rounds for each authorized weapon. A supporting
> HN government force or an established CSDF logistic source provides
> the ammunition to support refresher training.
> […]
> Acts of misconduct by HN [Host Nation] personnel
> All members of training assistance teams must understand their
> responsibilities concerning acts of misconduct by HN personnel. Team
> members receive briefings before deployment on what to do if they
> encounter or observe such acts. Common Article 3 of the four Geneva
> Conventions lists prohibited acts by parties to the convention. Such
> acts are-
> Violence to life and person, in particular, murder, mutilation, cruel
> treatment, and torture.
> Taking of hostages.
> Outrages against personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and
> degrading treatment.
> Passing out sentences and carrying out executions without previous
> judgment by a regularly constituted court that affords all the
> official guarantees that are recog-nized as indispensable by
> civilized people.
> The provisions in the above paragraph represent a level of conduct
> that the United States expects each foreign country to observe.
> If team members encounter prohibited acts they can not stop, they
> will disengage from the activity, leave the area if possible, and
> report the incidents immediately to the proper in-country U.S.
> authorities. The country team will ide ntify proper U.S. authorities
> during the team’s initial briefing. Team members will not discuss
> such matters with non-U.S. Government authorities such as journalists
> and civilian contractors.
> […]
> Most insurgents’ doctrinal and training documents stress the use of
> pressure-type mines in the more isolated or less populated areas.
> They prefer using commandtype mines in densely populated areas. These
> documents stress that when using noncommand-detonate d mines, the
> insurgents use every means to inform the local populace on their
> location, commensurate with security regulations. In reality, most
> insurgent groups suffer from various degrees of deficiency in their
> C2 [Command & Control] systems. Their C2 does not permit them to
> verify that those elements at the operational level strictly follow
> directives and orders. In the case of the F rente Farabundo Marti de
> la Liberation Nacional (FMLN) in El Salvador, the individual that
> emplaces the mine is responsible for its recovery after the
> engagement. There are problems with this concept. The individual may
> be killed or the security forces may gain control of the area.
> Therefore, the recovery of the mine is next to impossible.
> […]
> Homemade antipersonnel mines are used extensively in El Salvador,
> Guatemala and Malaysia. (Eighty percent of all El Salvadoran armed
> forces casualties in 1986 were due to mines; in 1987, soldiers
> wounded by mines and booby traps averaged 50 to 60 per month.) The
> important point to remember is that any homemade mine is the product
> of the resources available to the insurgent group. Therefore, no two
> antipersonnel mines may be the same in their configuration and
> materials. Insurgent groups depend to a great extent on materials
> discarded or lost by security forces personnel. The insurgents not
> only use weapons, ammunition, mines, grenades, and demolitions for
> their original purpose but also in preparing expedient mines and
> booby traps.
> […]
> A series of successful minings carried out by the Viet Cong
> insurgents on the Cua Viet River, Quang Tri Province, demonstrated
> their resourcefulness in countering minesweeping tactics. Initially,
> chain-dragging sweeps took place morning and evening. After several
> successful mining attacks, it was apparent that they laid the mines
> after the minesweepers passed. Then, the boats using the river formed
> into convoys and transited the river with minesweepers 914 meters
> ahead oft he convoy. Nevertheless, boats of the convoy were
> successfully mined in mid-channel, indicating that the mines were
> again laid after the minesweeper had passed, possibly by using
> sampans. Several sampans were observed crossing or otherwise using
> the channel between the minesweepers and the convoy. The convoys were
> then organized so that the minesweepers worked immediately ahead of
> the convoy. One convoy successfully passed. The next convoy had its
> minesweepers mined and ambushed close to the river banks.
> […]
> Military Advisors
> […]
> Psychologically pressuring the HN [Host Nation] counterpart may
> sometimes be successful. Forms of psychological pressure may range
> from the obvious to the subtle. The advisor never applies direct
> threats, pressure, or intimidation on his counterpart Indirect
> psychological pressure may be applied by taking an issue up the chain
> of command to a higher U.S. commander. The U.S. commander can then
&g t; bring his counterpart to force the subordinate counterpart to comply.
> Psychological pressure may obtain quick results but may have very
> negative side effects. The counterpart will feel alienated and
> possibly hostile if the advisor uses such techniques. Offers of
> payment in the form of valuables may cause him to become resentful of
> the obvious control being exerted over him. In short, psychologically
> pressuring a counterpart is not recommended. Such pressure is used
> only as a last resort since it may irreparably damage the
> relationship between the advisor and his counterpart
> PSYOP [Psychological Operations] Support for Military Advisors
> The introduction of military advisors requires preparing the populace
> with which the advisors are going to work. Before advisors enter a
> country, the HN [Host Nation] government carefully explains their
> introd uction and clearly emphasizes the benefits of their presence to
> the citizens. It must provide a credible justification to minimize
> the obvious propaganda benefits the insurgents could derive from this
> action. The country’s dissenting elements label our actions, no
> matter how well-intended, an “imperialistic intervention. ”
> Once advisors are committed, their activities should be exploited.
> Their successful integration into the HN [Host Nation] society and
> their respect for local customs and mores, as well as their
> involvement with CA [Civil Affairs] projects, are constantly brought
> to light. In formulating a realistic policy for the use of advisors,
> the commander must carefully gauge the psychological climate of the
> HN [Host Nation] and the United States.
> […]
> PRC [Population & Resources Control] Operations.
> Advisors assist their counterparts in developing proper control plans
> and training programs for PRC measures. They also help coordinate
> plans and requests for materiel and submit recommendations to improve
> the overall effectiveness of operations. They can be helpful in
> preparing to initiate control.
> Select, organize, and train paramilitary and irregular forces.
> Develop PSYOP [Psychological Operations] activities to support PRC
> operations.
> Coordinate activities through an area coordination center (if
> established) .
> Establish and refine PRC operations.
> Intensify intelligence activities.
> Establish and refine coordination and communications with other
> agencies.
> References
> ↑ Newsweek.Special Forces May Train Assassins, Kidnappers in Iraq by
> Michael Hirsh & John Barry, Jan. 14, 2005, http://www.msnbc.
> id/6802629/site /newsweek/print/ 1/displaymode/ 1098/
> ↑ US State Department, FOIA record, http://foia. documents/
> elsalvad/738d. PDF
> ____________ _________ _________ _________ ________
> vvawnet mailing list
> vvawnet@vvaw. org
> http://lists. mailman/listinfo /vvawnet
> ************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ****
> Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc.
> (773) 276-4189
> e-mail:
> http://www.vvaw. org
> Fighting for veterans, peace and justice since 1967

http://wikileaks. org/wiki/

Paano magpipista kapag dalawang taon nang nawawala ang anak mo?

June 22, 2008

Rolando Tolentino, Pasintabi

HINDI ko kilala sina Nanay Connie at Tatay Oca. Kaya rin nag-atubili ako nang maimbitahan ng kakilala ng kakilala na dumalo sa pista sa kanilang baranggay sa Masinloc.

Ang inisip ko, hindi pa ako napunta sa bahaging ito ng Pilipinas. Kaya mabuti itong pagkakataon. Hindi ko akalain na anim na oras pala ang biyahe, at tunay na puwedeng magluto ng pandesal sa upuan namin.

Hindi tapos na bahay sa looban ang sa mag-asawa. Pangmeryendang oras na kami dumating. At dahil madalas ang kantiyawan sa stopover na huwag magpakabusog, nagmistula kaming hayok nang isa-isang inilabas ang pagkaing itinago para sa grupo.

Ang mga hipon at talangka ay huli sa pangunguryente sa dalampasigan. Ang inihaw na bangus ay galing sa fishpen sa baybayin. Hindi na umabot ang malagkit na kanin. Napanis na sa kaantay dahil ilang oras pa lamang nagkakaroon ng kuryente, matapos ang bagyo ilang araw pa lang ang nakararaan.

May ref cake din na inihanda. At dahil pista, labas-pasok ang mga tao. Maraming ipinakikilala, at nag-uusyoso ang mga kapitbahay. At nang matapos ang mabilis na pagkain, nag-usap naman kung ano pa ang gagawin kinabukasan.

Gusto raw mag-beach ng mga batang lalakeng kasama namin. Sige, magpipiknik daw, sabi ni Nanay Connie. At inilibot niya kami sa kapaligiran ng bahay. Nagtumba ang mga puno ng mangga sa taniman ng kapitbahay.

Naglipana ang pagkarami-raming manok sa bakuran. Na sabi nga ni Nanay Connie, ayon kay Tatay Oca, puwede raw silang kumain ng isang manok araw-araw at di mauubos ang mga ito ng isang taon. Imbes na ang tirang pagkain ay ipakain sa aso, mga manok ang naghahabulan sa mumo.

Nag-posing kami sa isang nabuwal na puno ng manggang inakyat. Naging musmos ang lahat. Pinagtatawanan ang lahat nang puwedeng mapagtawanan: laki ng mga katawan ng kasama, imahinaryong pag-aaring asyenda, pati ang kakulitan ng tahimik at cute na apo ng mag-asawa.

Natuloy ang pagpunta sa beach. Umarkila sila ng isa pang tricycle para magkasya ang grupo. Puwedeng mag-surfing sa beach sa Masinloc. Malakas ang alon dahil kababagyo nga lang. Kami ay nasa pampang lang at nag-aantay itulak ng inaabangang alon.

Hindi pa nakuntento sa beach. Dinala rin kami sa ilog na pinagpipiknikan ng iba pang grupo. Nagtatalunan ang mga musmos at teenager sa ilog, samantalang ang grupo namin ay nagbababad lamang sa tagiliran ng ilalim ng kalsada.

Sa panahon ng digicam, walang takot na magkukuha ng pix. ‘Yung dalawang lalake ay panay ang posing dahil ilalagay raw nila sa kanilang Friendster. Dinala kami ni Nanay Connie sa kanyang paaralan. Prinsipal siya at nakasaad ito sa mga marker. Kami na ang pumansin nito.

Hapon na nang bumalik kami sa bahay. Malakas ang buhos ng ulan. Gumagayak na kaming bumalik sa aming buhay sa Manila. Si Nanay Connie ay naghahanda ng pasalubong package para sa lahat: suman, mangga, kasoy wine, daing, at langka. Bawat isa sa amin ay binigyan niya rin ng trucker’s cap.

Napayakap ako kay Nanay Connie. Gaya nang ibang nauna sa akin, hinalikan ko rin siya sa pisngi na para ko ring nanay. Tinapik ang balikat ni Tatay Oca. Naglakad kami habang nag-aantay ng tricycle pabalik sa sakayan ng jeep.

Iniisip ko, para lang ba kaming multong nagpakita sa mag-asawa? Na tulad ng mga diplomang naka-laminate sa dingding at graduation picture ni Karen Empeño, estudyanteng dinampot at magdadalawang taon nang nawawala, ay nagpaparamdam nang alaala ng pagkakamit at kawalan? Nang pag-aantay at pagbabakasakali?

Dumating kami pero hindi umalis. Dumating din sila sa amin at hindi kailanman aalis pa.(PinoyWeekly)

Remembering Celso Pojas

June 18, 2008

As the spokesperson of Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) in Southern Mindanao, Pojas was concerned over the plight of these Lumad farmers, still struggling for their ancestral land but ended up being displaced.

Davao City– On that early morning of May 15 this year, Celso Pojas, 45, was sipping a cup of coffee inside the Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) office in Bugac, Maa when he got up, told a colleague he had to buy few cigarette sticks and went outside.

Nobody had an inkling it was to be their last time to talk to him.

As the secretary- general of Farmers’s Association of Davao City (FADC), Pojas was preparing to go to Compostela town as part of the support groups to attend to hundreds of Lumads, who were fleeing their homes in Monkayo and Compostela because of military operations there.

Pojas learned they were housed inside a gym and he was increasingly worried because he received reports the previous night that the evacuees were becoming uncomfortable with the presence of armed soldiers at the evacuation site.

As the spokesperson of Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) in Southern Mindanao, Pojas was concerned over the plight of these Lumad farmers, still struggling for their ancestral land but ended up being displaced.

He was supposed to stay in Compostela for the duration of the evacuation and aside from his organizing work with farmers there, he was also assigned to cook food and to negotiate with soldiers who often visited the gym.

But only minutes after he got out of the office, his colleagues heard four gunshots, looked out and found his body sprawled just outside the gate.

As the first political activist killed in Davao city since President Arroyo assumed power, Pojas’s death alarmed militant group leaders, who used to view Davao city as a “safer” place for activists amidst the climate of political killings prevailing in the whole country.

Some of them, Bayan secretary-general for Southern Mindanao Jeppie Ramada, for instance, noticed being spooked around.

Days after Pojas’s death, Ramada noticed a person acting crazy, weeding an idle lot next to his house. Strange cars were also seen parking outside the offices of militant groups.

Since October last year, Pojas has been receiving death threats, the latest of which occurred during the transport strike organized only two days before his death.

Edil Gonzaga, spokesperson of the transport group Transmision-Piston, recalled how Pojas already felt being followed around during the transport strike that colleagues saw to it that they never broke away from him.

KMP was about to move to another office even before Pojas’s death but concerns about what happened in Compostela diverted their attention.

Pedro Arnado, vice-chairperson of KMP- SMR said that farmers agitating for land reform have mostly become the targets of extrajudicial killings in the country. Of the 903 political activists killed in the country since Arroyo assumed power, majority were farmers.

It was Friday, May 23, when Pojas was laid down to his final rest. For the first time since the 1980, people gathered at Davao’s Freedom Park, and paraded the casket of the slain peasant leader along the streets of Davao, reminiscent of the funeral march during the time of Martial Law.

Farmers coming all the way from Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental marched with Pojas’s family and friends from Freedom Park to the Davao Memorial Park, passing through the streets of F. Torres, Araullo, Quirino, Claveria and Ponciano.

“He was five years old when I brought them to Davao because I did not want them to be away from me,” said his father Felix Pojas, now 75 years old. Pojas’s mother died when he and his sibling were young.

Poverty prevented him from going to college after he finished high school. When his father remarried, Pojas helped support the family. His siblings remember him as the brother who sacrificed his life to become the breadwinner of the family.

He used to work for the Lapanday banana plantation but after seven years, he was fired when he joined the workers’ demand for increase in wages. Then, he worked as a canal surveyor in a banana packing house in Cabaguio, where he was also terminated after joining calls demanding insurance benefits from the company.

In 1991, he started joining a farmers’s group known as the United Farmers of Fatima (UFF).

Back to his farm, he was awakened to the conditions of peasants and started joining farmer’s groups. He was active in the struggle for genuine land reform to break off the chain of land monopoly from the hands of few big landlords and big capital. He joined the Mandug Farmers’ Association (Mafa) in 2001, an affiliate of FADC and two years after, became a council member of FADC.

Pojas’s father is a farmer beneficiary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in Fatima, Mandug. Despite the government’s touted claim to distribute land to the farmers, the land that was supposed to be for him under CARP was still difficult to obtain because the family had a hard time paying for the amortization fee.

Joel Virador, Bayan Muna national vice chairperson, said that the tragedy that happened to Pojas could usually drive people to desperation. “That’s why, some people opt to support armed struggle, because their demand for genuine agrarian reform and food for their families are oftentimes met with bullets,” Virador said during the Freedom Park rally.

Filled with grief over his passing, fellow activists said they were not cowed by what happened and pledged to continue his fight. “It is very clear for us who killed Celso Pojas,” Kelly Delgado said.

“We raise our fist to hail him the peasants’s hero,” said Gonzaga.

Danilo Ramos, the KMP national secretary- general who read a poem on the last night of Pojas’ wake, said that for every grain of rice that Pojas fought for, was life not only for farmers but also for the Filipino people.

“He lived such a deep and meaningful life,” Ramos said. (Grace S. Uddin/

Comrades light candles as a symbolic way of saying that with a light of one torch, hundreds, thousands will follow the step of Pojas. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

CULPRIT. Danilo Ramos, KMP National Secretary- General holds a portrait of President Arroyo. According to him, hundreds had been killed under the administration’s Oplan Bantay Laya II. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

Members and leaders of progressive organizations sign the KMP flag with their names to pledge their unceasing commitment in serving the people. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

A FATHER’S GRIEF. Felix Pojas laments over the death of his eldest child. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

His death is heavy on the hearts of the farmers, his friends, comrades and family. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

FUNERAL MARCH. Colleagues want to show to the people of Davao City what the Arroyo regime and the military have done. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

JUSTICE! For slain peasant mass leader Celso Pojas. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

FAREWELL peasant hero. ( photo by Jonald Mahinay)

A father’s last look at his son. ( photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Brother of NPA commander shot dead in Tagum

June 16, 2008

TAGUM CITY(MindaNews) –  Two motorcycle-riding armed men shot dead a younger brother of a New People’s Army (NPA) commander operating in Southern Mindanao inside a passenger tricycle Friday at around 4:50 p.m. Friday.

The shooting also injured the driver.

Killed was Danilo Santiago, 42, married, a member of the Davao del Norte’s provincial civil security services and resident of Mankilam, this city.

PO3 Nathaniel Apolonio, city police investigator, said Santiago is a younger brother of Leonardo Pitao, popularly known as Kumander Parago of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Company operating in the Davao provinces. Santiago’s real family name is Pitao, the police said.

The victim sustained several gunshot wounds in various part of the body.

Miguel Uriarte, the tricycle driver, was also hit at the right side of the abdomen and
immediately rushed to Davao Regional Hospital here.

Apolonio said Santiago was on his way home on board the tricycle when two still unidentified armed men who were riding a motor bike suddenly overtook them at the right side of the road in Katuparan village, west side of this city.

He added that one of the armed men immediately pulled his gun and fired several shots hitting the victims.

The killers immediately fled toward unknown direction after the incident. The police recovered eight 45. cal empty bullet shell and three  slugs at the crime scene.

Santiago’s wife, Revite Santigao, told reporters that her  husband was last seen together with certain Sgt. Melvin Bitang of Military Intelligence  Battalion. Bitang could not be reached for comment. (Alden Pantaleon, Jr./MindaNews)


My Take:

Kasalanan na pala ngayon ang magkaroon ng kapatid na NPA?

Nagpakita na naman ng kaduwagan ang mga elementong ito ng ating pamahalaan.  Porke ba hindi nila madale ang tunay na NPA, e titirahin nila ang sibilyan, na nagtatrabah pa man din sa gobyerno (ibig sabihin, he is serving our government)?

Huwag naman sanang itulak ng mga ganitong klase ng atakeng-militar ang mga NPA na gumanti sa mga pamilya ng sundalo.  diyos na mahabagin, siguradong mas maraming pamilya ng kasundaluhan ang mabibiktima kung mangyayari ang ganito.

kaya sana, tigilan na ang ganitong pamamaslang, magharapan na lang silang mga lehitimong armadong grupo (NPA at AFP) sa isang lehitimong armadong labanan.  Huwag na sana nilang idamay ang sibilyan.

Militant group tags Canete as AFP spokesperson

June 14, 2008

THE regional office of Karapatan Human Rights Alliance tagged Special Investigator Jesus Canete of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as the spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Negros Oriental.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

Vimarie Arcilla, information officer of Karapatan-Central Visayas, issued the statement after Canete “cleared” AFP members deployed in Linantuyan village in Guihulngan for their alleged involvement in any form of human rights violations.

Canete earlier went to the Linantuyan village upon orders of CHR Regional Director Alejandro Alonso when they heard reports of violations from broadcast stations and print outlets on the alleged arson, rape and other forms of harassments committed by members of the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in the countryside of Guihulngan.

“We believe he (Canete) should first should do real investigation, instead of just parroting out what Lieutenant Colonel Nemesio Gacal says,” Arcilla said.

She said what Canete claimed as one-man investigation was actually a platoon-sized charade directed by 11th Infantry Battalion soldiers who herded residents in a “pulong-pulong” with him.

“In this light we ask: When did Jesus Canete become the mouthpiece of the Armed Forces of the Philippines?” the Karapatan official said.

According to her, Canete has no capacity to delve into the human rights violations since he is not “even wise enough to ask and investigate both sides of the story.

“Canete didn’t even bother to ask and investigate Lourdes Baloy, the victim of the malicious vilification campaign by the AFP,” she said, adding that Canete only reiterated worn-out lines of the AFP maligning legitimate organizations such as Karapatan.

“How should one investigate? Why Canete didn’t consider the background of the four peasants prior to the execution of the affidavits? Perhaps, it would interest him to know how the peasants end up in the detachments. Or does he really believe that the peasants have a choice to turn down a summon or ‘invitation’ from the military. If he does not think that ‘mere invitation from police and military already constitute an arrest,’ then he should review his Constitution,” said Arcilla. (SunStarDumaguete)

HRVs heighten in Abra mining town

June 12, 2008

BAAY-LICUAN, Abra — Human rights violations have reportedly been taking place in the upland indigenous communities of the Binongan in Baay-Licuan, Abra, where community consultations are ongoing regarding the operations of Canadian mining company Olympus Pacific Minerals, Inc.

The 503rd IB Reconnaissance Coy and the 502nd Composite Coy replaced the 41st IB, which pulled out in March 2008.

The Binongan tribe set out a tide of petitions against Olympus as early as March 2007 due to violation of their right over their ancestral domain at Mt. Capcapo. Olympus and local conduits AMIC and Jabel explored and drilled in a 4,300 hectare mining claim at Mt. Capcapo in February 2007 without securing the communities’ FPIC which was also the case on the approval of the Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) issued to the local companies without the communities’ consent.

Sustained opposition temporarily suspended the exploration and drilling, and prompted the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) regional and provincial offices to call the attention of Olympus to comply with the legal requisite of acquiring the FPIC.

Community leaders through Baay-Licuan Takderan Omnu a Karbengan (Balitok) and the Cordillera Peoples Alliance in Abra (Kastan) said that elements of the said Reconnaissance Coy have camped under three houses in Brgy. Poblacion and have been taking videos of community meetings on May 29.

The following day, on May 30, the soldiers started conducting a census in the barangay while still taking videos of the community folk. This angered the residents as they questioned the purpose of the census. They disallowed further questioning. “Census” was also conducted in barangays Lenneng and Caoayan.

“It is not the job of the military to be conducting census and this is just being done as a guise for surveillance and harassment, especially since the communities are firmly reiterating their collective decision and stand that they do not want Olympus or any large mine to operate in their ancestral domain”, said CPA Secretary-general Windel Bolinget.

Moreover, Balitok leaders, including CPA and Kastan staff who continue to provide assistance on mining education in the communities are tagged as members of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

“Branding these organizations and community leaders as such makes them open targets and enemies of the state thereby giving the military a license to attack and violate the rights of civilians and communities whose activities and opposition to defend their ancestral land, life and resources are just and legitimate,” Bolinget explained.

Starting June 1, the military posted fliers in the rice granaries in Poblacion containing a list of “terrorist fronts,” of which the CPA is included. It was also reported to the CPA that on June 6 in Brgy. Caoayan, elements of the Reconnaissance Coy threatened residents that those who have been giving food to the NPA are supportive of them and thus are members themselves.

“We ask the public to join us in urgently calling for the pullout of the military before any graver human rights violation takes place,” Bolinget added.

Communities’ still say No to Olympus

Community consultations started on April 15 in Brgy. Bolbolla, followed by (April 16), Tumalip (April 17), Nalbuan (April 18), Subagan (April 19), Caoayan (May 3), Mogao (May 5), Domenglay (May 6), Poblacion (May 7), Lenneng (May 8) , and Bunglo (May 10). “The prevailing and collective stand of the communities was not overcome during these consultations as they have in fact strengthened their position against Olympus”, Bolinget said. # AT Bengwayan


June 11, 2008

Malaking-malaki ang salitang iginuhit sa mukha ng diyaryo: Napatay ng mga sundalo sa isang engkuwentro si Alfredo Collantes, 31, tubong Tobog, Oas, Albay na kilala rin sa alyas na Ka Lando, Ka Waway, at isang mataas ng opisyal ng New People’s Army (NPA) sa Timog Katagalugan… Matindi naman ang pagpapabulaan ng kanyang inang si Matilde. Aniya’y magbubukid lamang ang kanyang anak na dinukot ng mga sundalo noong gabi ng Mayo 13, sa bahay nito sa Legaspi…

Inilathala ng Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

Naalimpungatan siya. Hindi, nagulantang.


Bigla siyang sinalakab nang matinding takot. Naririyan na naman sila. Sinulyapan niya ang nawala sa ayos na relo sa dingding: alas-dos ng madaling-araw.

Sinundan ang pagsabog ng rapido ng armalite. “Bratatatatat!”

Tiplag siya. Unti-unti siyang gumapang at sumilip sa siwang ng sawali. Nagpupulasan ang ilang kalalakihang naka-khaki.

Blag! May sumipa sa pintuan, nakakita siya ng kisap, biglang nagdilim ang buo niyang paningin.

GUMIGITI ang pawis sa kanyang noo samantalang kumikirot pa rin ang noong kinulata ng puluhan ng armalite.

“Aminin mong ikaw si Ka Lando,” sabi ng anino. Nalalambungan ng dilim ang mga mukha nilang paikut-ikot sa kanyang kinauupuan. Nakatali siya sa silyang narra.

“H-h-hindi ko ho alam ang sinasabi n’yo. Wala akong, uunnggh!” tanging ang kirot sa kanyang dibdib ang naramdaman niya nang hampasin ng yantok. Hindi siya makahinga. Buwisit! Mga putang ina n’yo! Hindi mausal dahil sa tindi ng kirot ng kalamnan, mga kasukasuan.

Kssst! Sabi ng kawad ng pinagdikit. Binasa siya. Hindi, binuhusan siya ng tubig na pakiramdam niya’y sinalok lamang sa kung saang pusali. Saka idinaiti sa balikat niya, sa dibdib, sa bayag, sa utin. Kzzztt! Napapatiplag siya sa pagdaan ng daan-daang boltaheng dumadaloy sa kayang laman at ugat.

MANHID na siya nang tantanan ng mga anino. Nanghihina siya. Hindi na siya makapanlaban, hindi makagulapay. Naramdaman na lamang niyang kinalagan siya, kinaladkad na parang patay na hayop at saka ibinalibag sa mapanghing karsel.

Nakatulog siya dala na rin marahil ng pagod. O talagang nagdilim na ang isip niya dahil sa matinding kirot at hirap na naramdaman kanina?

NAKATANGHOD sa kanya ang hindi kilalang lalaking naka-fatigue nang magising siya.

“Alberto Dimasalang y Cunanan ba ang buo mong pangalan?” anito. Nasa harap sila ng makinilya. Amoy niya ang lansa ng sariling dugong natuyo sa kanyang punit-punit nang damit—mula pantalon hanggang kamiseta.

“Hindi. Alfredo Collantes po.”

Tiningnan siya nang masama ng nagtatanong.

“Ikaw si Alberto Dimasalang y Cunanan, ‘di ba?” angil nito. Para niyang nakikita ang musang na handang sumagpang sa manok.

“Hindi nga po…” mahina niyang sagot. Wala na siyang lakas para makipagtagisan pa.

“Titingnan natin ang totoo,” anito. Gumapang muli ang kilabot sa buo niyang katawan. Mauulit ba?

ILANG ARAW na rin siyang nakakarsel nang magpunta ang kanyang ina.

Nang makita siya, pumalahaw ng iyak. Awang-awa ang matanda sa kanyang bunso.

“Ano’ng kasalanan mo sa kanila?” tanong ni Aling Matilde. Hindi siya kumibo. Nakatulala siya.

Nagpaalam ang ina. Pasumandali lamang siyang aalis at sa pagbabalik, may dalang pagkain at damit para sa anak. Nakatulala pa rin siya.

Napatangis muli ang ina. Takipsilim na nang umalis ang matanda. Umiiyak pa rin. Tumutulo na rin ang luha niya subalit walang rehistro nang anumang emosyon ang mga mata niyang nakatuon sa kawalan.

Parang muli niyang narinig ang mga yabag, ang pagsabog, ang mga putok at naramdaman ang kirot ng kanyang buong katawan.

Nakita niyang muli ang dalawang lalaking dumukot sa kanya sa kanyang kubo noong nakaraang linggo. Papalapit sa kanya. Hahawakan siya sa dalawang bisig ngunit manlalaban siya, aagawin ang kalibre .45 na nakasukbit sa baiwang nang isa. May putok na aalingawngaw.

MALAKING-MALAKI ang salitang iginuhit sa mukha ng diyaryo:

Napatay ng mga sundalo sa isang engkuwentro si Alfredo Collantes, 31, tubong Tobog, Oas, Albay na kilala rin sa alyas na Ka Lando, Ka Waway, at isang mataas ng opisyal ng New People’s Army (NPA) sa Timog Katagalugan… Matindi naman ang pagpapabulaan ng kanyang inang si Matilde. Aniya’y magbubukid lamang ang kanyang anak na dinukot ng mga sundalo noong gabi ng Mayo 13, sa bahay nito sa Legaspi… Inilathala ng Bulatlat

Compel RP To Implement Alston Recommendations – HR Groups

June 11, 2008

The UPR Watch, a delegation composed of representatives of human rights, church groups, and non-governmental organizations that attended the Universal Periodic Review of the human rights record of the Philippine government before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) urged the UN to compel the Arroyo government to implement the recommendations drawn up by Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, after his investigation of the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines late last year.

Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

The UPR Watch, a delegation composed of representatives of human rights, church groups, and non-governmental organizations that attended the Universal Periodic Review of the human rights record of the Philippine government before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) urged the UN to compel the Arroyo government to implement the recommendations drawn up by Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, after his investigation of the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines late last year.
“The conclusions of Professor Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions are a stinging indictment of the human rights record of the Philippine Government  and a mockery of its continued membership in the UN Human Rights Council,” said the UPR Watch in a statement released to the media.

In her oral intervention during the interactive dialogue at the 8th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Ms. Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Secretary General of KARAPATAN and a member of the Philippine UPR Watch, said Alston’s basic conclusions do not speak well of the Philippine Government, which is as a member of the Council. Members of the UNHRC are supposed to observe the highest standards in  human rights protection and promotion.

Enriquez delivered her oral intervention at the interactive dialogue following the report of Prof. Alston.  Her statement was supported by the Commission of Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches (WCC CCIA), the Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC) and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL).

”Despite the open hostility and the undiplomatic tirade of the Philippine Mission on the report and the person of Alston, the Philippine UPR Watch supports and commends the conclusions and recommendations of the highly respected Special Rapporteur,” said Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes, secretary general of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and head of UPR Watch.

Reyes added, “The vituperative language and aspersions cast by the Philippine Mission together with the reportedly 50-member government delegation on Prof. Alston were the total reverse of the public relations spin by high government officials in Manila who immediately went to town trumpeting the ‘good grades’ the government supposedly received in the UN.  Alston consistently concluded that the counter insurgency program of the government is one, if not the primary, reasons for the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. “

”Alston also noted that while state security forces have been involved in the killings of
workers, farmers, church people, activists, media persons, indigenous peoples, lawyers, and other members of mass and people’s organizations, the military still remains in a state of denial and that no convictions were made on military personnel.”

Enriquez reported to the UN Human Rights Council that Jonas Burgos, a peasant organizer and son of Philippine press freedom icon Joe Burgos, has been missing for over a year despite evidences pointing to the involvement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the abduction. His mother Dr. Edita Burgos has exhausted all legal remedies in the country to no avail.
She confirmed to the Council that the killings have not stopped.  The human rights alliance KARAPATAN, Enriquez said, has documented 13 cases of extrajudicial killings and two cases of enforced disappearance since the beginning of 2008.  There were also hundreds of victims of displacement due to military operations, Enriquez added.

Enriquez appealed to the UN to compel the Philippine government to comply with the recommendations of Prof. Alston, especially with regards instituting changes in the counter-insurgency program of the government and the AFP, abolishing the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group, as well as all the general recommendations of the Special Rapporteur.

The Philippine UPR Watch also urged the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to ensure that the Philippine Government will actually honor its pledges and commitments to the UNHRC. Bulatlat

Bayan demands results from Task Force Pojas

June 10, 2008

Davao City – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) held a protest rally on May 29 at Camp Leonor, San Pedro St., Davao City to demand from Task Force Pojas the results of their investigations on the killing of peasant leader Celso Pojas.

Pojas was killed last May 14 at the height of his involvements in the anti-militarization campaign in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental and in the independent investigation of the Diarog killing. He was at that time chairperson of the Farmers Association of Davao City, a member organization of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

“We have not heard any development regarding the investigations that Task Force Pojas has been conducting since its formation a day after Celso Pojas was killed. Weeks have passed and we fear that their investigations are going nowhere,” Bayan secretary general Jeppie Ramada said.

Bayan reiterated that the killing of Celso Pojas was an execution under Oplan Bantay Laya 2 of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Arroyo government. “While the killings continue to claim innocent lives, the suspects remain at large with impunity,” Ramada added.

Ramada also revealed the ongoing surveillances on the offices of Bayan and other progressive organizations in Davao City. “Unidentified men are seen constantly tailing our mass leaders including myself,” Ramada added.

Ramada urged the Local Government Unit and the Davao City Council to act decisively to end the series of extrajudicial killings happening in the city.

“The city’s peace and order situation is getting so alarming and we call on the people to be vigilant in protection of their lives and of those who stand courageously for truth, justice, and equality,” Ramada ended.(DavaoToday)

‘Exodus’ calls for end to militarization in countryside

June 10, 2008

Concerned organizations and individuals form an alliance called Exodus for Justice and Peace to call for a stop of the militarization in the countryside and for the return of hundreds of Lumads displaced from their communities. The alliance also seeks justice for the death of tribal chieftain Dominador Diarog, peasant leader Celso Pojas and other victims of human rights violations. ( photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Lawyer Beverly Musni, one of the convenors of EXODUS for Justice and Peace, talks about the displacement of lumads in Mindanao during the time of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo. She estimates about a million people displaced in different parts of Mindanao from 2001- 2008. ( photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Exodus’s members sign a statement of unity calling attention to the daily needs of victims, including health and medical services, psychosocial therapy sessions for women and children, legal services, moral support, among others. ( photo by Jonald Mahinay)

Hanjin guards blamed for death of fisherman

June 9, 2008

By Tonette Orejas
Central Luzon Desk
First Posted 06:24pm (Mla time) 06/08/2008

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines–A woman is blaming the guards of the Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Phil. Inc. for the death of her husband from cerebral hemorrhage on June 5 after the guards allegedly harassed him and nine other fishermen on Rendondo Bay in Subic, Zambales.

Julieta Ebale, 45, said she wanted the Korean firm Hanjin and its three Filipino guards punished for the death of her husband, Anastacio, 39.

“We were in the waters of Nagyantoc, pulling our nets when three Hanjin guards came on a speedboat and shouted expletives at us. One of the 10 fishermen, Leo Banela, tried to reason by saying we have the right to fish in the area. One of the guards shouted, ‘Pu#@* mo,’ pulled out his firearm, which looked like an Armalite rifle, and threatened to shoot us,” Ebale told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a telephone interview.

At that point, she said, her husband collapsed.

“We tried to give him first aid to no avail,” she said.

This happened between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Thursday, she said.

The death certificate showed “cerebral hemorrhage” as the cause of Anastacio’s death. “His blood pressure rose,” Ebale said, citing the information given her by a doctor.

She said her husband must have been “very shocked” because Hanjin guards beat him up when he went fishing in the same area on May 1.

Tirso Rosal, security consultant of Hanjin, said the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, which has jurisdiction over the Redondo bay area, approved a 200-meter no-fishing zone from the coast of the shipyard.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza confirmed the fishing ban in the zone where the company has been anchoring its newly built ships.

Hanjin president Jeong Sup Shim expressed “regret” for the death of Anastacio and offered condolences to his family.

“We are conducting our own investigation on the matter and [we] will cooperate fully with SBMA’s official investigation. The HHIC condemns all forms of inhumane treatment and will not tolerate any abuses from any of its employees or contractors,” Jeong said in a statement.

Jeong said Hanjin would “take full responsibility should it be established that its employees were responsible for [Anastacio’s death] and will turn over these employees to the proper authorities.”

Arreza said he asked Hanjin to “turn over for immediate investigation all Hanjin security personnel involved in the incident.”

“Appropriate charges will be filed against them should the investigation prove the allegations to be true,” Arreza told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“SBMA will continue to ensure that the rights of these fishermen [are] protected and upheld,” he said.

Ebale said those involved in the June 5 incident wore no nameplates.

“But I can identify them by their [facial and other features],” she said.

She said one wore a military uniform while the two others wore life vests over their green shirts. The vests were marked with the word “safety” in orange letters, Ebale said.

“We were far from the no-fishing zone,” she said.

Anastacio’s death left her as the sole breadwinner in the family. She has two children, aged 11 and 12.

Peasant leader killed in front of family in Negros–police

June 9, 2008

By Carla Gomez
Visayas Bureau
First Posted 09:13pm (Mla time) 06/08/2008

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines–A peasant leader was executed in the presence of his wife and 11-year-old son in Manapla, Negros Occidental, the police said on Sunday.

PO3 Ron Somondong of the Manapla police identified the victim as Armando Dolorosa, 45, vice president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers chapter at Hacienda Marian, Barangay (village) San Pablo in Manapla.

Three unidentified persons, armed with high-powered firearms and wearing bonnets, summarily executed Dolorosa at his house at Hacienda Marian at around 7:30 p.m. on Friday (June 6), according to his wife Janetta.

Janetta said her husband died of 23 gunshot wounds in different parts of the body.

She said her family believed that her husband’s killing was related to the implementation of the agrarian reform program in Negros Occidental.

Somondong said the victim might have known the killers, one of them he was heard to have called “Tol,” as he even welcomed them to his house.

Janetta, in a separate interview, recalled that a burst of gunfire followed after her husband invited the perpetrators to enter their house.

She said she saw her husband’s assailants run away but they immediately returned and pumped more bullets into the body of her husband, to make sure he was dead.

Policemen recovered 12 empty shells of M-16 and .30 rifles from the crime scene, Somondong said.

Janetta told police investigators her husband and 36 other agrarian reform beneficiaries were given Certificates of Land Ownership Awards by the Department of Agrarian Reform 2007 over a portion of land in Hacienda Marian.

Janetta said that since then, Dolorosa had been receiving death threats from persons whom she described as “planters.”

She, however, hinted that one of the gunmen whom her husband called “Tol” was a family friend.

Dolorosa recalled that the animosity started between her husband and “Tol” after agrarian reform beneficiaries in the hacienda got their CLOAs. “Tol” was not one of the beneficiaries, she said.

Armando was the third local NFSW leader who was killed in Manapla since 2003, police records show.(PDI)


My Take:

This only shows that the government’s seemingly approval of these type of crime (as seen thru its inaction), invites more perpetrators to sow terror in the countryside.

Dahil walang hinuhuli at napapagpanagot, pati ang mga simpleng alitan ay nagiging dahilan na rin para magpatayan.

Kasalanan ito ng gobyerno.

Evacuees reiterate call for local gov’t; church to broker MOA with military for pull-out

June 8, 2008

DAVAO CITY (Nabokasa/6 June) — Lumad and farmers who evacuated to Davao in search for safer grounds are appealing to the local government of Compostela Valley Province as well as church leaders to support their demands for a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the military so that they may finally be able to back home.

“We appeal to the local government and other agencies to heed our demands for peace. We’ve been here for 21 days, knocking on doors of the NCIP, the church, and the local government. We’ve also picketed the military command in the region but our calls for peace are unheard. We want to go home but only if there is an assurance that abuses won’t happen again,” Rey Guimboloy, the chairperson of the NABOKASA, the local Ata-Matigsalug organization in Compostela said.

Aside from safe passage, the evacuees demand a complete military pull-out from their communities, a stop to the human rights violations such the use of civilians as military guide and the use of civilian places such as homes, schools and places of worship for military purposes.

The evacuees also challenged the regional offices of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to perform their duties.

“What now is the response of the NCIP to the petition and human right cases we filed at its office? The only clear answer they told is that they do not have funds to help us. But more than that, what have they done?” Jimmy Saipan, a farmer from Brgy. Ngan also in Compostela town which has also been affected by the spate of military operations from April to May this year.

In some reports the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has already looked into the alleged series of abuses against Allan Autan who is one of the evacuees now staying at the Bankerohan Gym.

The report said that this may be “the first documented case of human rights abuses to be presented to Pope Benedict XVI.”

Reverend Jurie Jaime, a UCCP pastor and convener of the recently-formed Exodus for Justice and Peace supported the demands of the evacuees.

He said “The evacuees are yearning to go back home, especially since the children don’t want to miss school. But they want a strong agreement that they can hold on to.”

He added, “Our peace building efforts only go as far as the victims pursue peace. Here we see people who are fighting for justice and peace. They need the support of the civil libertarians and rights defenders especially the church and the real public servants in the local government.”

The Exodus for Justice and Peace was formally launched on May 27 in response to the series of forcible evacuations that happened in the Davao region since the start of the year.

Its head conveners are members of the major religious organizations and civil libertarian groups in Davao City , namely, Sr. Luz Mallo, ma, and Sr. Irene Kaharian of the Missionaries of the Assumption, Bishop Delfin Callao of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Bishop Constante Claro of the UCCP – Southern Mindanao Jurisdiction Bro. Noelvic H.. Deloria, sc, Bro. Jose Godofredo G. Sapigao, sc and other church workers.

June 6, 2008.

Rey Guimboloy
Chairperson, NABOKASA
(Ata-Matigsalug lumad organization)

4 bank rob witnesses seek police protection

June 7, 2008

By Ed Amoroso
Saturday, June 7, 2008


Page: 1


CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna – Police have taken in their custody four witnesses in the RCBC bank robbery and massacre in Cabuyao, Laguna last May 16 after they expressed fear for their lives, Senior Superintendent Felipe Rojas, Laguna provincial director, said yesterday.

Rojas said the witnesses sought police protection after they received death threats from unknown persons.

Three of the witnesses were placed in the custody of the Laguna police, and the fourth, under the RCBC Task Force, Rojas said.

He said they have requested the Department of Justice to place the four witnesses under the government’s witness protection program, “but until now, we are still waiting for the result.”

One of the witnesses recounted seeing two armed men on board an unlicensed motorcycle roaming around his neighborhood in Barangay Turbina, Calamba City.

“I’m not interested in the P2-million reward if my family will be in danger. I just want to have a peaceful life,” the witness told The STAR.

“Sometimes I’m thinking of not testifying once the court hearing starts because my life is in danger,” he said.

Meanwhile, despite the claim of neighbors of former soldier Ricardo Gomolon that he was not involved in the RCBC robbery, the Philippine National Police is not likely to exclude him from the case.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome said Gomolon can use the statements of his neighbors in defending himself from the robbery with multiple homicide charges filed against him with the Laguna prosecutor’s office.

“We will consider (the statements of Gomolon’s neighbors); these will form part of the investigation. The defense of Gomolon will also be considered,” he said.

Bartolome, however, denied allegations that police have made shortcuts in their investigation and arrested innocent individuals to satisfy public clamor for the arrest of the perpetrators of the bloody bank heist.

“We don’t resort to shortcuts in solving crimes… evidence, testimonies will be properly considered,” he said. “The police would rather have one guilty person out on the street than have an innocent person put in jail.”

“Our investigators have their own way of determining who will be included in the charges… If ever there are some personalities who vouched for Gomolon, he can use it in his defense,” he added.

More than five friends and neighbors of Gomolon have reportedly claimed to have seen him on the morning of May 16, when the robbery took place.

Police said Gomolon was riding on a bicycle when a police asset saw him with a gun – a caliber .38 revolver – bulging from his waist. Responding lawmen promptly arrested him.

But Gomolon’s friends claimed that the former soldier was nabbed in his home without a warrant of arrest. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe(PStar)

Gov’t intervention urged in Sultan Kudarat land conflict

June 6, 2008

SENATOR NINOY AQUINO, Sultan Kudarat — Local government officials called on the National Government to intervene in the worsening land conflict in the area that has already turned violent.

Mayor Rafael Flauta Jr. specifically urged government law enforcement agencies to conduct a deeper probe on the escalation of violence in Sitio Blangas in Barangay Midtungok last May 16, wherein a farmer was killed when armed escorts of Filipino-American land claimant Florence Case-dela Peña allegedly fired upon a group of residents.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

The victim was identified as Robert Rodriguez, 32, a resident of Sitio Blangas, Barangay Midtungok of this municipality.

Sultan Kudarat Vice Governor Donato Ligo, Mayor Flauta, and municipal officials attended the victim’s burial in Sitio Blangas on May 24.

Eulogio Rodriguez, the victim’s father, said they want the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and other concerned agencies to investigate the incident.

Dela Peña, who was allegedly escorted by heavily armed men clad in military fatigues but with no name plates, came to the area along with personnel from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Land Management Services-Region 12 to conduct a perimeter survey on the 374 hectares of land under her claim.

According to witnesses, a group of residents, composed of Ilocano and Ilonggo settlers and members of the area’s Manobo Dulangan tribe, were reportedly starting to gather near the Sitio Blangas Elementary School around for a scheduled consultation-dialogue related to the survey when violence erupted.

Dela Peña’s group immediately fled the area after the incident.

However, the accompanying surveyors from the DENR’s Land Management Services were forced to abandon their commissioned Elf truck and Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment.

The area claimed by dela Peña, who is reportedly a resident of General Santos City, covers at least seven sitios of Barangay Midtungok that are part of the ancestral domain of the Manobo Dulangan tribe as declared by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-Southern Mindanao.

The Kulaman Manobo Dulangan Organization (KMDO) has long been fighting to secure land titles for their ancestral domain through the assistance of the NCIP’s Kulaman Community Service Center and the Tri-People Concern for Peace, Progress and Development of Mindanao Inc. (Tricom).

Tricom Inc. has been assisting IP communities in their struggle to own and develop their ancestral domains in various parts of Mindanao. (SunStarGenSan)

Death Squad Freely Roams in Abra Town

June 3, 2008

A death squad is reported to be freely roaming around the town of Tineg, Abra despite being identified as the group behind a spate of killings that started after the May elections last year. The victims of these killings so far include a Sangguniang Bayan (People’s Council) member in Bangued, who was slain on May 20.

Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 17, June 1-7, 2008

A death squad is reported to be freely roaming around the town of Tineg, Abra despite being identified as the group behind a spate of killings that started after the May elections last year. The victims of these killings so far include a Sangguniang Bayan (People’s Council) member in Bangued, who was slain on May 20.

“The Police Regional Office in the Cordillera (PROCOR) Director Eugene Martin has failed to put a stop to the killings,” said Estelita Cordero, lawyer of Tineg Mayor Edwin Crisologo.

The PNP can easily arrest the perpetrators. “How can the court issue arrest warrants when the police have not filed the appropriate cases? They (police) sit on these cases,” she added in a text message.

Fearful and indignant residents are now urging PNP director-general Avelino Razon to relieve Martin for his failure to stop the perpetrators, Cordero said.

Two political allies of the mayor in the SB are said to have been victims of the death squad.

Nordis has not received answers to its queries sent in text messages to Martin and PNP-Abra chief Alex Pumecha.

Latest death squad victim

Believed to be the latest victim in the spate of killings was Pedro Inon, 65, a member of the Tineg Sangguniang Bayan. He was shot dead on May 20 while inside his residence at Kalaba, Bangued, Abra.

Cordero added that another Tineg SB member, Resty Eduarte, and three companions were shot at last March 29 in Bangued. Eduarte was wounded while his companions were unhurt. The gunman was never arrested, she added.

Eduarte and Inon, the top Tineg SB members, are political allies and all members of the local Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), headed by Crisologo.

More victims

The killings attributed to the said Tineg death squad involved the following victims: Jonard Gaoilan, Aquino Buyao, and Tony Deog on Feb. 1 at the Malecnac River (in Tineg); Dominador Balucas and Renato Liya who were ambushed on Sept. 30, 2007 at the Sitio Vira, Alaoa (Tineg); and Brenda Crisologo, wife of the Tineg mayor, who was shot on May 17, 2007 in Bangued.

Brenda Crisologo’s killer Tony Buyao – an alleged ally of Lenin Benwaren who is an opponent of Mayor Crisologo, was reportedly killed by pursuing PNP operatives on the same day.

Witnesses at the Malecnac River killings described the perpetrators as six fatigue-wearing men, who were later identified as Antolin Lidao, Jaworski Ayaba, Magno Blanco, Roger Dican, Agapito Cammagay, and Ricky Latawa. All are allegedly allied with the Benwarens.

Witnesses at the Alaoa ambush identified the alleged perpetrators as Boyet Ayaba, Ricky Lantawa, Jaworski Ayaba, Leny Saguid, Rey and Roy Tandi, all residents of Alaoa, Tineg.

All the witnesses issued their sworn statements, Cordero said in a press statement.

Call for impartial investigation

Nordis learned that the Tineg Sangguniang Bayan has passed a resolution condemning the killing of Inon and has called for “a swift and credible investigation of Inon’s murder.”

The widow Estelita Inon denies that Crisologo has anything to do with the fatal shooting of Inon. “The mayor and Inon are close political allies and are even relatives,” she said in a text message.

Cordero said she has appealed to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for an independent investigation and a police contingent to Abra to dismantle the Tineg Death Squad.

Stop the reign of terror

Luis Putol Sawadan, a youth leader in Tineg, urged for the creation of a task force to be headed by a neutral PNP officer. “The PNP should hunt the fatigue-wearing gunmen and arrest their employers too,” he said.

He added that the “reign of terror” in Tineg and the rest of Abra must stop “since we do not want to inherit a ghost town, with the remaining residents cringing in fear as the Tineg Death Squad members roam around freely, fearing neither the police nor the law.”

“My fellow farmers have stopped attending to their fields, dreading any encounter with the Tineg Death Squad, who shoot people as if they are birds,” added Marlyn Batoon of the Cagayanan Farmers Association.

Upland Tineg, the biggest town of Abra, has a total land area of 82,893 hectares. Its population of 6,000 are mostly farmers who traverse rugged trails, rivers and mountains to deliver their agricultural produce to the lowlands. Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat

Corruption, weak rule of law roots of RP problems — US

June 1, 2008

By Cynthia Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:16:00 06/01/2008

DESPITE A LONG TRADITION of democracy, the Philippines remains “vulnerable to political turmoil, recurring attempts to use extraconstitutional means to resolve leadership crises, human rights abuses and concerns about credibility of elections,” according to a United States state department report.

In “Advancing Freedom and Democracy Reports 2008” released on May 23, the US Department of State said corruption and weak rule of law continued to be the underlying factors exacerbating this vulnerability.

It said that while the Philippine government generally respected the human rights of its people, there continued to be serious problems in certain areas, particularly extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and forced disappearances.

In 2007 the government intensified its efforts to investigate and prosecute these cases, and there has been a significant decrease in the number of killings and disappearances, the report noted.

It said high voter turnout in the 2007 national and local elections, which was marred by violence and fraud, demonstrated the country’s continuing commitment to the democratic process as 99 percent of the 17,000 seats available nationwide were filled without controversy.

It commended civil society monitoring groups in the country for playing an active role as poll watchers to ensure fairer election counts.

To counter these problems, the report said, US-funded programs currently support civil society initiatives that monitor election tabulation; allow NGOs to monitor campaign finance in selected electoral contests and media reporting, and assist electoral modernization efforts in preparation for local and national elections.

It said the US Embassy in Manila coordinated and deployed a multi-agency team of 86 American officials to observe the May 2007 national elections, an initiative that clearly demonstrated to the Philippine electorate the US government’s strong support of a free and fair democratic process.

“The Philippines has struggled with EJKs and forced disappearances for most of its modern history. US government officials use every opportunity to convey the message that these killings and disappearances must cease and must be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted,” the report said.

In support of this priority, assistance programs are underway to build the capacity of journalists to report credibly, accurately and professionally on human rights violations; to strengthen the justice sector’s effectiveness in prosecuting cases of extrajudicial killings and disappearances, and to professionalize the security forces, the report said.

Other points the paper made were:

The US government also provides assistance to law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and the courts to investigate, prosecute and convict human rights abusers and to devise strategies to prevent future abuses.

To encourage respect for due process among members of the armed forces, various US military assistance programs help to strengthen the professionalism, commitment to human rights and discipline of the Philippine military.(PDI)

House committee holds hearing on human rights in Leyte

May 31, 2008

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — Human rights groups in Eastern Visayas attributed over 1,000 human rights violations to the military since 2001 during a hearing conducted by the House committee on human rights.

But the military denied the allegations and maintained that their personnel were not involved in human rights abuses.

The committee, composed of Representatives Lorenzo Tañada III, Saturnino Ocampo and Liza Maza, held a six-hour hearing on human rights violations in the region last Thursday.

The human rights group, Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas, made a presentation on the alleged human rights abuses that included testimonies of the family members of the victims.

Lawyer Katrina Castillo, regional coordinator of the group, claimed that there have been 1,475 human rights violations committed by the military in Eastern Visayas since 2001, the year President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office.

Out of this number, 108 involved extra-judicial killings, Castillo said.

She said cases of human rights abuses peaked when the controversial retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan was the region’s top Army officer from February up to September 2005.

“In his stint 712 human rights abuses were committed,” she said.

Castillo added that 36 of this number involved extra judicial killings. The slain activists included Fedilito Dacut, who was then the regional coordinator of Bayan Muna when he was gunned down on March 14, 2005, and Rev. Edison Lapuz, who served as Bayan’s regional coordinator who was killed on May 12, 2005.

The last extra-judicial killing that occurred in the region involved Pastor Felicisimo Catambis of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines who was gunned down last January 23.

Catambis’ wife Linda asked members of the committee to help her find justice for her husband’s death.

Captair Allan Tiu, chief of staff of the 8th Infantry Division’s judge advocate office, denied that the military had a hand in the killings in the region.

Tiu said that just last year, there were 57 extra-judicial killings perpetrated by New People’s Army in different parts of the region, most notably in the Samar provinces.

“And we don’t condone any (illegal) acts within the ranks. In fact, just last year, there were 150 soldiers in the region who were either dismissed or faced sanctions because of their abuses,” Tiu said during the hearing.

Several police officials in the region led by Senior Superintendent Rey Lanada, chief of operations of the PNP in Region VIII, personnel of the Commission on Human Rights and Bishop Jose Palma of the Diocese of Palo, also attended the public hearing, which started at 11 a.m.

Ocampo, himself a former rebel leader, said that all the data that they gathered during the public hearing would be collated together with other information that they obtained in their previous public hearings in other parts of the country like those in Lucena City.

“In the conduct of our investigation, we are fair and unbiased. We hear both sides,” Ocampo said.

Tañada also said the Lower House could come up with laws against various forms of human rights abuses that would include command responsibility could be passed by them as a way to check human rights violations in the country.

Death Squad-Style Murders Rise in GenSan

May 30, 2008

PHILIPPINES: A series of unsolved murders reveals the lack of
investigations into even the worst crimes in the country

The Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC) has in recent months
documented a pattern of murders of persons supposedly either involved
in criminal activities or who are victims of motorcycle robberies.
These have been taking place in General Santos City (GSC), in the
South of the Philippines. The utter failure by the authorities to
investigate these grave crimes points to the inadequacies of the
State in protecting its citizens, notably their right to life. This
inadequacy has also previously been seen with regard to the spate of
hundreds of targeted extra-judicial killings of leftist activists
that have placed the Philippines under the spotlight in recent years.
Despite international condemnation with regard to these killings, the
Philippines have promised much but delivered little, and one of the
main causes of this can be put down to the unwillingness and
inability to thoroughly investigate crimes and human rights
violations. How can the Philippines live up to its pledges to promote
and protect human right to the highest standards when it does not even
move to investigate multiple murders?

Between February 4 and May 14, 2008, the ALRC has been alerted to 17
murders in GSC and it is believed that this is not an exhaustive
list. Seven of those murdered, including a 16-year-old boy, have been
accused by the police investigators of having criminal records, being
former detainees or persons involved in committing motorcycle
robberies. In several other cases, the victims are persons illegally
working as motorcycle taxis, who were killed when criminals stole
their motorcycles. This paints a picture of deep lawlessness, which
is compounded by a lack of investigations by the authorities into
both the robberies and the killings. Nobody has been held to account
despite the police’s initial findings that the murders could have
been perpetrated by a group, based on ballistic evidence recovered
from the scene of the crimes.

The city’s mayor, Pedro Acharon Jr., has implied that six of the
murders were carried out by rival gangs of criminals, repeating such
claims made previously by the police. However, these statements have
been made without any reasonable and convincing proof. The ALRC is
seriously concerned by the evident lack of investigations being
carried out in such grave cases. A similar lack of investigation into
other crimes, including where those responsible are thought to be
State agents, is at the source of the ongoing wide-ranging serious
human rights violations that are present throughout the Philippines,
both in terms of torture, extra-judicial killings, forced
disappearances as well as violations of a range of economic, social
and cultural rights, including the right to food. Where the right to
life is not respected or protected, what hope is there for other

This right is enshrined under Article 6 (1) of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Human Rights
Committee’s General Comment No. 6 1982, par. 3, states that:
“the protection against arbitrary deprivation of life which is
explicitly required by the third sentence of article 6 (1) is of
paramount importance. The Committee considers that States parties
should take measures not only to prevent and punish deprivation of
life by criminal acts, but also to prevent arbitrary killing by their
own security forces (sic)”.

The responsibility of the Philippine National Police (PNP) is clearly
stipulated in the Republic Act (RA 6975), section 24: “Powers and
Functions: (a) enforce all laws and ordinances relative to the
protection of lives and properties; (b) maintain peace and order and
take all necessary steps to ensure public safety and (c) investigate
and prevent crimes, effect the arrest of criminal offenders, bring
offenders to justice and assist in their prosecution (sic)”.

Instead of ensuring that each of these murders is investigated and
that the perpetrators are held accountable in court, the police and
Mayor’s baseless excuses do not exonerate the authorities from their
duties to investigate and protect.

Case details:

Motorcycle drivers:

1. 45 years old Danny Ramirez was murdered on April 27 in Barangay
(village) Labangal in GSC. He was the father of five children and the
family’s bread-winner. He was murdered when on his way to ferry

2. 22 year old Steward Devenagracia was shot dead by one of his
passengers on April 21 at around 10 pm in Barangay Labangal, GSC. He
was last seen ferrying a female passenger from a wharf in Makar, in
the same village. The attackers stole his motorcycle.

3. 33 year old Romy Aristoteles was killed on April 9 at 8:30 pm at
the corner of Magsaysay Avenue and Salazar street, in downtown GSC. A
lone gunman, armed with a .45 caliber pistol, shot him from behind and
calmly walked away after shooting him. He was waiting for passengers
when he was shot in the head.

4. Jun Villamor was shot dead on April 1 by two of his passengers he
had picked up as he was driving along San Pedro Street, Mateo Road,
Barangay (village) Bula. Witnesses heard gunshots before the
motorcycle crashed into the back of a utility vehicle parked along
the roadside .The two alleged perpetrators then reportedly tried to
steal the motorcycle, but then ran away.

5. 45 year old Danilo Bactol was found dead on March 10 at around
9:15 pm in Purok Bulaong Extension, Barangay Labangal. His motorcycle
was also stolen shortly after he was last seen ferrying two other
passengers. He suffered gunshot wounds to his belly and back which
eventually resulted in his death. The police were able to recover two
empty shells from a .45 caliber pistol at the scene.

Alleged criminals:

1. 24 year old Rene Taluna was shot and killed by two attackers in
the evening of May 14 as he arrived home in B’laan Village, Barangay
Labangal. The two suspects, riding on a motorcycle, had followed the
victim before shooting him dead. He suffered gunshot wounds to his
head and chest. The community police have done little except claim
that Rene was on file for cases of theft and robbery.

2. 18 year old Epedilito Vallenti was shot by gunmen riding on a
motorcycle on May 12 at around 2:20 pm near his home. The victim is
said to be the leader a small of gang of teenagers.

3. 23 year old Roger Bagalangit was shot dead on April 20 in front of
his sister, Resalie. They were waiting for a ride on their way home,
when a gunman armed with a .45 caliber pistol, appeared and shot
Roger. He was hit in the back of the head and died. The police have
concentrated thus far on finding out whether the victim had a
criminal record.

4. 30 year old Jonathan Lanciso was shot on April 18, while watching
volleyball game in public, by two gunmen armed with .45 caliber
pistols, in Sitio Lanton, Barangay Apopong. Nobody has identified the
gunmen to date. Jonathan had previously been detained and then
released, having been falsely charged with the theft of a firearm.

5. 23 year old Gabriel Sintosas and 21 year old Emerson Estocado were
killed on March 19 in Purok Malok and Purok San Roque, Labangal,
respectively. Their attackers rode motorcycles. The police quickly
made public statements that the two had been killed due to suspicions
that they were involved in series of motorcycle robberies in the city.
However, they gave no proof to substantiate these claims.

6. 16 year old Rolen Daganio (a.k.a dugong bunso) was shot dead by
unidentified gunmen riding on a red XLR motorcycle on March 18,
around 9:55 pm along Barangay City Heights. Rolen is said to be a
repeat offender and had been detained by the police on several
occasions. The social welfare was supposed to be taking custody of
him when he was killed.

7. 28 year old Nasser Kamid was killed on March 7 along Amao Road,
Barangay Bula, by three attackers riding on a motorcycle, armed with
a .45 caliber pistol. The police have yet to conclude their
investigation, but have suggested that the victim had been previously
detained at the Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol). Three empty shells from
a .45 caliber pistol were recovered by the Scene of the Crime
Operatives (SOCO) team.

Prior to these killings, escalating incidents of robberies of
motorcycles in which the drivers were killed had been taking place
since late-2007. The failure by the police to investigate these has
meant that no perpetrators have been brought to justice. The growing
disappointment concerning the police’s failure may have led to
vigilante killings, which have been tacitly approved by many, which
has been aggravated by the police and mayor’s statements. As a
result, the murders of several innocent persons have now been
committed, and the authorities are doing nothing to stop them.
Regardless of whether a person is innocent, however, vigilante
killings cannot be accepted. The Philippines lauds its having got rid
of the death penalty recently, but vigilante and other extra-judicial
killings continue to undermine this apparently positive development.

The Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC) urges the concerned government
agencies to ensure that each case of murder or extra-judicial killing
is promptly and effectively investigated upon. The local government
and the police must recant their statements that are justifying these
killings. They must, according to the provision of RA 6975, implement
and enforce all necessary measures to ensure that any form of
arbitrary deprivation of life is prevented and that those responsible
are brought to justice.

# # #

About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent
regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative
status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It
is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The
Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive
action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national
levels throughout Asia.


Gonzalez twits CHR chief for Tanauan ‘rubout’ findings

May 28, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez insinuated that Commission on Human Rights chair Leila de Lima may have violated human rights herself when she declared a controversial incident in Tanauan, Batangas, that led to the deaths of three men a “rubout” based on preliminary findings.

“How come these people are always crying out loud whenever a criminal or crime suspect is killed during a legitimate encounter? It seems they are more sympathetic to the suspects rather than their victims,” Gonzalez said Wednesday.

“I am not protecting these police officers. In fact, I agree with the grounding of these police officers. But they can’t just watch on the sidelines if criminals or crime suspects are firing guns at them,” he added. “We just can’t send them out [policemen] in the streets and have their arms tied behind their back.”

De Lima had earlier said that an initial investigation by the CHR indicated that former village chief Vivencio Javier, 55, Angelito Malabanan, 35, and Rolly Lacheca, 50, were summarily executed and not killed in a shootout as claimed by police.

Nine policemen, including Superintendent Gilbert Sauro, intelligence chief of the Batangas police, have been placed on administrative relief pending an investigation into the incident.

The other suspended policemen were identified by the Philippine National Police’s Public Information Office as Superintendent Marceliano Villafranca, Senior Police Officer 3 Narciso Amante, Senior Police Officer 1 Reynaldo Salazar, Police Officers 3 Fernan Hernandez, Roberto Godoy, Edwalberto Villas, Renie Malveda and Police Officer 1 Leonardo Aquino.

The killing of the three happened in the course of an operation that local police said was a crackdown on criminal syndicates in the wake of the bloody May 16 robbery of the Rizal Commercial and Banking Corp. (RCBC) branch in Cabuyao, Laguna, in which eight bank employees, a security guard and a client were murdered.

Although national police officials initially claimed the three slain men and another one, Pepito Magsino, who was killed earlier, were suspects in the RCBC, local police said there was no indication that any of them were involved in the bank robbery.

But they claimed Javier, Malabanan and Lacheca were members of the Javier Lucido group, a gang operating in Southern Luzon.

Gonzalez said a proper investigation should have been conducted first before drawing any conclusions about the incident, especially since “they are accusing the police of violation of human rights.”

He pointed out that modern forensic technology has made it easier to determine whether a shootout or rubout occurred, compared to a decade or two earlier.

“We can always subject them to paraffin and ballistics tests to determine if the encounter if legitimate or not,” he said.

De Lima has said the CHR will conduct a more thorough investigation, including having the victims autopsied.

“I am just telling her not to pass judgment on matters not yet concluded,” Gonzalez said. “Di naman kasi ito election case na pagharap mo sa House or Senate Electoral Tribunal o sa Comelec [Commission on Elections] ay sasabihin mo agad na dinaya ang kliyente mo [This is not an election case in which, when you face the House of Senate Electoral Tribunal or the Comelec you immediately say your client was cheated].”

This was an apparent reference to De Lima’s having been an election lawyer who represented opposition candidates in the 2007 elections, among them Senator Allan Peter Cayetano and defeated senatorial candidate Aquilino Pimentel III.

“I don’t know if that is what Ms. De Lima does. Maybe she will be a good surrogate to Alston,” he added, a pointed reference to United Nations human rights expert Philip Alston, who Gonzalez earlier chided for blaming the extrajudicial murders of activists on a government counterinsurgency strategy that targeted leaders and members of organizations openly tagged as “legal fronts” of the communist rebel movement.


Editorial Cartoon: OBL is Anti-People and Anti-Christian

May 27, 2008


(Ang 23 dito ay tumutukoy lag sa mga church-workers na pinaslang.)

More church people become victims of HR violations—Karapatan

May 27, 2008

MANILA, May 26, 2008—More and more church peoples become victims of various human rights violations since Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s coming into power after the peaceful Edsa People Power 2 in 2001.

In the latest report of the human rights alliance Karapatan, there have been 23 church workers extrajudicially executed from January 2001 up to March 31, 2008.

Most of them are members of Kapatirang Simbahan para sa Sambayanan or Kasimabayan, an ecumenical organization of pastors, priests and religious coming the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR), the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), and from churches including Catholics, Aglipayans and Protestants.

Besides the summary executions, there had been one (1) victim of enforced disappearance, according to the report.

Southern Tagalog region has recorded the most number of extrajudicial killings, not only among church workers but other sectors as well, totaling to 163, followed by Central Luzon with 137 victims.

Last month, Karapatan and the newly formed human rights watchdog, UPR Watch, told the media that they will tap the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to look into the matter and if possible, to help them reach the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and ask the pontiff to personally review the human rights situation in the Philippines. (Noel Sales Barcelona )(CBCPNews)

Editorial Cartoon: Cleaning the RCBC Mess

May 27, 2008


On Tanauan Killings: It was a rubout–not a shootout, says CHR

May 27, 2008

By Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:29:00 05/27/2008

MANILA, Philippines—No gun battle took place. It was an out-and-out execution.

These were the findings of an investigating team sent by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to Batangas to look into the deaths of three men killed by policemen searching for the robbery gang that massacred 10 people inside a provincial branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC).

“There was no shootout. There is a reasonable certainty to believe that it was a case of a rubout, an out-and-out summary execution of the three men,” newly appointed CHR Chair Leila de Lima announced at a press conference Monday.

De Lima said the absence of bullet marks in an area where there should have been such marks, as well as the physical setup of the place where the shooting happened, strongly suggested the three men did not engage the policemen in a shootout.

Also, there was no basis for the police to implicate the three men in the May 16 robbery-murders at the RCBC branch in Cabuyao, Laguna, said De Lima, a well-known election lawyer who assumed the CHR chairmanship just a week ago.

Confronted with the CHR findings, the Philippine National Police denied there had been a rubout and insisted that what happened was a “legitimate” encounter.

Police claimed the encounter occurred during their follow-up operation in Barangay Pagaspas in Tanauan City, Batangas on May 22.

In a separate development Monday, police said they had identified five suspects in the RCBC bloodbath and that two of them belonged to the “uniformed services”—meaning they were members of either the police or the military.

No basis

The three men killed were Vivencio Javier, Angelito Malabanan and Rolly Lachica. Their families have also claimed the three were victims of a police execution.

A fourth man, Pepito Magsino, whom the police said was also suspected of involvement in the RCBC robbery, was killed a day earlier in what police said was another “shootout” in Barangay 4, also in Tanauan.

The CHR said it had not yet established if Magsino was also a rubout victim.

Earlier, authorities said the four men were suspected members of the Javier-Lucido robbery group operating in Southern Luzon.

De Lima said the initial findings of the CHR quick-reaction team, led by Region 4 Director Cresencia Pedrosa and including civilian investigators Edgar de Luna and Dennis dela Peña, found no traces of a hot pursuit as far as the three men were concerned.
De Lima also noted that policemen had no search warrants or warrants of arrest against the slain men.

“The police had no basis in so far as implicating these men in the RCBC massacre. Dossiers, information of the men’s possible involvement were just being gathered so why conduct the operation in such manner?” De Lima said.

Witnesses to the killings

The CHR chairperson said the “comprehensive report” submitted by Pedrosa’s team was based on firsthand accounts of 10 witnesses, ocular inspection of the site and the gunshot wounds sustained by the victims.

De Lima said the report “will be further validated” by a bigger team of CHR investigators from the main office.

She said the CHR could not yet conclude that Magsino’s case was also a rubout for lack of any firsthand accounts from any witnesses.

Investigation of Magsino’s death mainly relied on the testimony of his wife, which De Lima described as “hearsay.”

Witnesses to the killing of Javier, a former barangay captain, said around 10 men in civvies barged into his house and went upstairs after ordering his sons to face the wall.

Bullet marks

One of the witnesses said Javier shook hands with a man he addressed as “Sir.” Moments later, four shots were heard.

An inspection of the room where Javier was killed showed no traces that he fired back.

The four bullet marks on the windowpane strongly indicated that the shots came from the room and not from anyone outside the house.

Eyewitnesses said Malabanan was shot in the head while his arms were raised. He was shot at least 14 times more while down on the ground.

An inspection of the site—near the gate of a farmhouse—showed that bullet marks were concentrated on the spot where Malabanan was killed. Pedrosa stressed this was unlikely to happen in a shootout.

Dragged from bed

Lachica was found dead outside the farmhouse with a bullet in his head. His blanket still wrapped around him strongly suggested he might have been dragged out of bed.

The PNP disputed the CHR findings.

“We are standing by our position that it was a legitimate shootout,” Chief Superintendent Ricardo Padilla, Calabarzon police regional director, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview.

Police said the Task Force RCBC members were casing the area when they were fired at.

“Anyone who lost a loved one can do cover-ups,” Senior Supt. Aaron Fidel, head of Task Force RCBC and police deputy regional director for operations, said.

Referring to the wounding of a police officer in the operation against Magsino, Fidel said: “No officer in his right frame of mind would shoot his colleague just to make it appear as a shootout.” With reports from Nikko Dizon in Manila and Niña Catherine Calleja, Inquirer Southern Luzon

State terrorism highlights workshop sessions among Southeast Asian countries

May 27, 2008

Rick R. Flores/MindaNews contributor
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 08:03
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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 May) — Civil society organizations in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are finding ways to curb the “endless cycle of state terrorism in their respective countries” through dialogue, engagement with the media, and more grassroots-based development programs.

This was the result of the first workshop at the Conference on Counterterrorism Measures and Development in South and Southeast Asia at Waterfront Insular Hotel. The “working conference” was organized by Cordaid, Western Mindanao State University, the Mindanao PeaceWeavers, and the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID).

In Sri Lanka, many CSOs experience the “harsh government action which has taken its toll on public discourse which can be seen as unpatriotic among government agencies.” Religious groups have mobilized also because they are also affected by the crisis, especially in relation to counterterrorism measures.”

George Lopez, a professor at the Notre Dame University in Indiana, US, who reported a workshop proceeding, said many CSOs in Sri Lanka “operate in a climate of increasing fear, forced disappearance, and extra-judicial killings.”

Government critics in Bangladesh are engaged into “classic human rights activism” by conducting independent investigation on alleged abuses of the state, collecting data from the grassroots affected by the government’s CTMs, and involving the media for alternative reporting.”

Malaysia’s Internal Security Act (ISA) also legitimizes state oppression against vocal CSOs while engaging in a state-sponsored propaganda aimed at suppressing democratic space, according to Binky Palm-Dallupan, who reported the case experiences of CSOs in Malaysia.

A parliamentary committee was also set up by Malaysia’s legislative chamber to undertake a “questioning process among NGOs which seems like a loyalty check among Malaysian CSOs.”

Women in South Thailand are also complaining about the government’s counterterrorism measures because it infringes on their gender rights.

Challenging through dialogue

A non-violent approach to engage the governments of Bangladesh, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, is through dialogue, said Dallupan “because that is the only way where CSOs can lay down their cards and to start influencing.”

Solidarity movements among CSOs in Southeast Asia as they deal with CTMs “must be anchored also in dialogue that transcends boundaries in the South.” This regional movement will also “enhance collective advocacy among nations needing international support and establish linkages and networking within the region.”

Dallupan said that CSOs need to come up with pro-active strategies to challenge the security paradigms of governments which include a “continuing dialogue with the military and possible training with them on CTMs.”

However, terrorism must be clearly defined first before CSOs embark on policy dialogue with their respective governments,” Jenny Chapman said.

Chapman the bigger challenge among CSOs is “how to work out for an acceptable definition of terrorism” (See other story)

Alternative information

Media has a critical role to play in advancing the legitimate issues of CSOs, the participants found out during the workshops.

Chapman said many people in Sri Lanka “don’t know the real CTM situation in their own country because of the lack of alternative information available for the people.”

“Alternative information is necessary to bring up the issues from the communities,” said Lopez, adding that “presenting real-life situations need a better media.”

Sri Lankans don not have a broader view and understanding of the counterterrorism activities in their country thus making them more vulnerable to state oppression and terrorism,” Chapman said. “They are not allowed to grasp the exact view of what is happening in their own country,” she added.

“The current situations in Southeast Asia enabled CSOs to widen their creativity by focusing less on advocacy-based work to more information-based community development programs,” Dallupan said.

Bottom-top organizing

Still, it is going back to basic organizing at the grassroots level, conference participants realized.

“We can only make CTMs work for us if we link ourselves to the grassroots, their experiences, and their issues,” Dallupan said.

Deepening of understanding about CTM and conscious probing into the context of the global war on terror can strengthen South to South solidarity, Chapman noted. This interplay, according to Dallupan, will also institutionalize cross-border advocacy work among CSOs.

“Many NGOs are involved in the peace process and now that there is this CTMs anywhere, it is necessary for them to involve their communities and strengthen basic community organizing,” Dallupan said. (Rick R. Flores/MindaNews contributor)

Dureza: governments need CSOs to frame “more acceptable” definition of terrorism

May 27, 2008

Rick R. Flores/MindaNews contributor
Tuesday, 27 May 2008 08:04
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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 May) — Even with the Human Security Act of 2007 in place, the Philippine government still faces challenges in crafting a “more acceptable definition of terrorism that would dissociate genuine civil society organizations (CSOs) from terrorists,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said.

“While CSOs are important in raising the level of discussion related to counterterrorism because they are in the midst of the ongoing efforts for peace and development,” Dureza told participants during the opening of the Conference on Counterterrorism Measures and
Development in South and Southeast Asia at the Waterfront Insular Hotel.

Despite the ongoing debate on defining terrorism concretely at the United Nations General Assembly, Dureza said many countries still face the problem of “finding an acceptable definition, as well as the concept, of terrorism.”

“We face the difficulty of framing a national legislation related to counterterrorism because there is a tendency for governments to bank on their own notion of national security and territorial integrity as a response to terrorism,” he said.

The controversial law, Republic Act 9372 or the “Act to Secure the State and Protect our People from Terrorism,” was signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on March 6 last year.

Commonly termed as “The Human Security Act of 2007,” the law was widely criticized by human rights advocacy groups for its loose definition of terrorism and its tendency to curtail basic liberties of the people.

Last year, the Alternative Law Group (ALG) composed of rights-based NGOs, including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, filed a petition before the Supreme Court to question the legality of the several provisions of the law which they deemed to be “repressive actions.”

Dureza also cited a UN report that stressed the need to strengthen the capacities of Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, to check local long running conflicts, marginalization of many communities, lack of good governance, and cultural and religious disparities.

“Unfortunately, many lives have been sacrificed in the altar of counterterrorism, destroyed democratic space, curtail basic human rights, and posed threats to development  work among many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and CSOs,” Dureza said.

He added that governments “need the help of CSOs to eliminate the paranoia on terrorism and separate what is good and not good,” while cautioning that “funding from many donor agencies today are taken from their security  funds which are intended to expand the counterterrorism projects of their own governments.”

Prof. George Lopez of the Notre Dame University of Indiana, US, observed that  it was only in 2005 that the UN Security Council considered “bringing in the CSOs into a dialogue about forming a new architecture on defining counterterrorism measures.”

“Such is an action-oriented approach to redefine the concept of security, the challenge of redefining terrorism in relation to security and CSOs,” Lopez said.

“We must be aware that counterterrorism has deep cultural and religious undertones, especially when developed countries like the US, deals with countries in the South,” Lopez said, adding that, “participatory security and development for marginalized communities is the only defense against terrorism.”

Lopez said even the US, the main proponent of the global war on terror (GWOT), is slowly realizing that the military approach against terrorism “is failing” and that Pentagon is considering applying a “new military doctrine because military responses are ill-advised.”

“Non-military measures organized by military for security purposes is essential while bringing marginalized sectors into peace and development process,” Lopez said.

He said that CSOs have the capacities to bring potential insurgents into a process of non-violent dialogue as a new counterterrorism measure.

The conference here is the organized by Cordaid, Western Mindanao State University, and the Mindanao Peaceweavers, and the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID).

On May 29, participants are to meet government leaders in a policy dialogue in Manila. Around 50 participants representing development organizations from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines, are attending the conference. (Rick R. Flores/MindaNews contributor)