[Urgent Appeal] A farmer advocating for land reform killed -AHRC

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Forwarded Urgent Appeal: AHRC-FUA-007-2012
18 July 2012


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PHILIPPINES: A farmer advocating for land reform killed
ISSUES: Extrajudicial killings; human rights defenders
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is forwarding to you an appeal from the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) about the killing of Moises Fuentes, a farmer advocating for land reform in Maramag, Bukidnon.

For more details, contact the TFDP: National Center, 45 Saint Mary Street Cubao, Quezon City, the Philippines; (+63) 2 437 8054; 2 995 0246; (fax) 2 911 3643

Thank you.
Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
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URGENT APPEAL URGENT APPEAL URGENT APPEAL

Dear friends,

Asian Human Rights CommissionTask Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), writes to inform you about the killing of Moises C. Fuentes, a human rights defender from Maramag, Bukidnon. The victim is a member of Human Rights Defenders Pilipinas- Bukidnon chapter.

The victim is a local leader, since 1999, of a farmers organization known as Kuya Christian Farmers Association, in Barangay Kuya, Maramag, Bukidnon. This organization has been struggling for the land they tilled located in Ocaya ranch in their area and later awarded to them in 2011.

Name of the victim: Moises C. Fuentes, 63 years old, farmer with 7 children
Date of Incident: June 16, 2012 at about 1:00PM
Place of incident: Barangay Kuya, Maramag, Bukidnon
Perpetrator: Unidentified

CASE DETAILS:

A human rights defender, a member of Human Rights Defenders Pilipinas-Bukidnon chapter and a local leader of a farmers organization known as Kuya Christian Farmers Association was gunned down by an unknown assailant at his residence in Barangay Kuya, Maramag, Bukidnon on June 16, 2012 at about 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon. The victim sustained five (5) gunshot wounds (4 at his chest and one in his throat) which caused his instant death. The victim was Moises C. Fuentes, 63 years old, married with seven (7) children.

According to the victim’s wife Florenza, a certain man went to their house looking for her husband and even called his name. The victim answered back that he was in the storage shanty at the back portion of their house. Florenza saw the man go there and had a conversation with her husband. Immediately after, without provocation, he shot the victim. The distance of the assailant was about a meter away from the victim.

Due to fear, Florenza immediately dropped to the floor for safety and then she heard more gun shots. When she raised her head after several minutes, Florenza saw her husband on the floor bathed in his own blood. She ran outside but the assailant had already fled. She went to her relative’s house asking for help.

Florenza said that the assailant was wearing maong pants with a light green jacket and a hat, brown complexion, medium built and in his middle 30’s.

A few months prior to the killing of Fuentes, allegedly a text message was read in a local radio station in Maramag, Bukidnon enumerating some names of persons to be killed. The list contained the names of leaders of the farmers group who petitioned the Ocaya ranch to be subjected to land reform. In that list was the name of Moises Fuentes.

Fuentes has been the leader of their group since 1999. They struggled for the land they tilled at the Ocaya ranch, but they did not file any petition during their first land occupation. The area they occupied and tilled was a former forest area then later converted into ranch and was occupied by the Ocayas.

In 2007-2009, there were several People’s Organizations that applied for Community Based Approach Forest Management (CBFM) in the area and resulted in pressure to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to surface the map, PLS 506-D. The farmers discovered that almost ninety (90) hectares of the area was already available as Alienable and Disposal (A & D). Thus, the People’s Organizations including the organization led by Fuentes filed petition at the office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

On February 22, 2010, the Office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), distributed a total of fifty (50) hectares to the farmer-beneficiaries, representing the five (5) people’s organization including the organization handled by Fuentes.
The organization of Fuentes has thirty (30) members and they were awarded a total of 9.8 hectares. But because of harassments they encountered from the security guards of the Ocaya ranch, the petitioners left the area.

On December 18, 2011 the farmer-beneficiaries were again installed by the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) of the Department of Agrarian Reform and then they settled in the area.

Requested Action:

Please write to the authorities in the Philippines urging them to:
1. Call upon competent authorities to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the killing of Moises C. Fuentes.
2. To provide immediate protection of the victim’s family if they have experienced harassment.
3. To create a task force for the immediate resolution of the case and bring perpetrators to justice.
Thank you.

SAMPLE LETTER:

RE: KILLING OF A HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER IN MARAMAG, BUKIDNON

Dear_______,

Greetings of peace!

I am writing to express my grave concern regarding the killing of a human rights defender, Moises Fuentes a resident of Barangay Kuya, Maramag, Bukidnon.

I have been informed that the victim, Mr. Moises C. Fuentes, 63 years old, is a member of Human Rights Defender Pilipinas-Bukidnon chapter and also a local leader of a farmers organization known as Kuya Christian Farmers Association.
I have also known that the victim was gunned down by an unknown assailant at his residence in Barangay Kuya, Maramag, Bukidnon on June 16, 2012 at about 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon. The victim sustained five (5) gunshot wounds (4 at his chest and one in his throat) which caused his instantaneous death.

I was told, that the victim’s wife Florenza narrated that a certain man went to their house looking for her husband and even called his name. The victim answered back that he was in the storage shanty at the back portion of their house. The man went there and the two had a conversation. Immediately, without provocation, he shot the victim. The distance of the assailant was about a meter away from the victim.

Due to fear, Florenza immediately dropped to the floor for safety, and then she heard more gun shots. When she raised her head after several minutes, Florenza already saw her husband on the floor bathed in his own blood. She ran outside but the assailant had already fled and she went to her relative’s house asking for help.

I was informed that a few months prior to the killing of Fuentes, allegedly a text message was read in a local radio station in Maramag, Bukidnon enumerating some names of persons to be killed. The list contained the names of leaders of the farmers group who petitioned the Ocaya ranch to be subjected to land reform. In that list was the name of Moises Fuentes.

This vital information if investigated thoroughly by the police can be one of the motives for the killing. Therefore, I am calling for a fair, impartial investigation to be conducted by the police and other concerned government agencies to unmask the killer of Fuentes and bring him to trial.

I trust that you will act favorably. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Please send your letters to:

1. His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street , San Miguel
Manila 1005
Philippines
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
Email: corres@op.gov.ph /opnet@ops.gov.ph

2. Hon. Leila M. De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice (DOJ)
Padre Faura Street
Ermita, Manila, 1000
Philippines
Fax: +63 2 523 9548
Tel: + 63 2 521 1908
Email: lmdelima@doj.gov.ph / doj.delima@gmail.com

3. Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Philippines
Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188
Fax: +63 2929 0102
Email: rosales.chr@gmail.com

4. Police Director Nicanor Bartolome
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City, Philippines
Fax: +63 2 724 8763/ +63 2 723 0401
Tel: + 63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

5. Hon. Emilio Gonzalez
Deputy Ombusdman
Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military
And other Law Enforcement Offices
3rd Flr., Ombudsman Bldg.,
Agham Road, Diliman, 1004 Quezon City
Fax: +63 2 926 8747
Tel: +63 2 926 9032

6. Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya
Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights-Palais Wilson
CH 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Email: urgent-action@ohchr.org
Fax: +41 (0) 22.917.90.06
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Thank you.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)
AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines
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