PHILIPPINES: Indigenous activist accused of being a rebel is exonerated
ISSUES: Extrajudicial killing; human rights defenders; indigenous people; victim’s assistance & protection
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is pleased to inform you that an indigenous villager, one of the claimants of a disputed ancestral land whom the police had earlier suspected of being a rebel who was wounded in a fight, has already been cleared. The police investigation which they conducted after an appeal was issued on his case concluded that the local police have not accused him of being a rebel.
In our appeal issued on July 25, 2012, we mentioned that Daniedo Cambo, one of the indigenous villagers claiming their ancestral land in Malalag, Davao del Sur, had been wounded in a shooting on April 26, 2012. He was shot few days after the couple Mylen and Loreto and two other villagers, Arnel Cambo and Reynaldo Libay, were also threatened by armed civilian intelligence agents working for the policemen. For details please see: AHRC-UAC-134-2012
The perpetrator in Daniedo’s shooting has not been identified; however, when the police investigators from the Malalag Municipal Police Station (MMPS) went to see him at the hospital to investigate they suspected him of being a rebel who was wounded in a gunfight. In our appeal, we expressed concern as this conjecture places the victim open to attack and police will not take responsibility for his protection.
In a letter dated September 30, 2012, P/Dir. General Nicanor Bartolome, the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), wrote to the AHRC denying the allegation that the local police made such assumptions on Daniedo Cambo, and explained what actions they have taken after they received the information about the threats and shooting.
“Contrary to reports, a case of Grave Threat against the suspects, Messrs. Angelito Libay and Nemesio Legaspi has already been referred before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, Digos City, Davao del Sur docketed under NPS No. XI-04-INV-12H-00368″
“The allegation that the Malalag Municipal Police Station (MPS) assumed that Mr. Daniedo Cambo is a rebel is unfounded. The Malalag MPS, upon reciept of information about the shooting incident, immediately exerted efforts to check the veracity of the report, as well as the condition of the victim, who was confined at the Paulino Hospital.”
The AHRC stands by its story in the appeal that the local police had indeed made such assumptions and conjecture; however, whether the police would now admit or not, the result of their investigation report confirms our earlier claim that the victim is not a rebel. It also affirmed that the threats and attack on the victim and his fellow villagers resulted from their ongoing demand to reclaim their ancestral land.
In another development, on August 10, acting on our urgent appeal the Commission on Human Rights, regional office XI (CHR XI) also conducted its own investigation by sending investigators to where the incident happened in Bolton, Malalag, Davao del Sur. They went to visit and speak with the victims to ascertain their condition. The CHR spoke to the couple, Mylen and Loreto Cambo, Arnel Cambo and Reynaldo Libay.
The CHR also summoned Angelito Libay and Nemisio Legaspi, the two civilian intelligence officers who were accused in threatening and harassing the victims. Libay and Nemision are members of Barangay (village) Intelligence Network (BIN), an intelligence unit, attached to the Malalag Municipal Police Station.
The AHRC appreciates the action that the CHR has taken on this; however, we are disappointed that they have not provided arrangement to ensure security for the victims. Also, as at the time of writing, the CHR has not released the result of its investigation on this case.
Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (email@example.com)
AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines
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