[Urgent Appeals] Overt surveillance on a peasant leader in Bataan -AHRC

PHILIPPINES: Overt surveillance on a peasant leader in Bataan
ISSUES: Threats and intimidation; human rights defenders
3 September 2013

Asian Human Rights Commission

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that renewed surveillance is being carried out on peasant leader in Bataan. The victim has actively participated in campaigns and human rights activities. A series of surveillance operations had been recognize by his family at their residence.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation by Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (KARAPATAN))

On 2 August 2013 at 11am Rodolfo “Ka Rudy” Sambajon, Secretary General of Makabayan Coalition-Central Luzon, a local chapter of the Patriotic Coalition (Makabayan) and the National Chairperson Emeritus of the National Federation of the Small Fisherfolk Organization in the Philippines (Pamalakaya), noticed a man riding a Kawasaki motorcycle passing by when he arrived at his home in Orani, Bataan. One reason he noticed this particular motorcycle was because it had an improvised “lost plate” licence plate of vehicle registration number.

According to Ka Rudy, the man riding in the motorcycle had a military haircut and was about 5’7” tall. Ka Rudy’s son also reported that he had seen the same man coming out of an alley near their house and looking around.

On 4 August, Ka Rudy’s wife sent him a text message warning him not to go home. She noticed unfamiliar men going around their place and especially hawkers whom she suspected to be government intelligence agents.

The incident happened almost three weeks after Ka Rudy joined a Quick Response Team (QRT) on 14 July 2013 to look into the case of the reported abduction of farmers in Bataan by soldiers of the 24th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA). Also in July, the National Office of Karapatan received a report that Ka Rudy has been targeted for assassination by the 72nd Military Intelligence Company, a unit of Sgt. Antonio Hilario. Antonio Hilario is the brother of M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario, a co-accused of Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan for the enforced disappearance of the two University of the Philippine students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

In 2002, Ka Rudy, then the National Chairperson of National Federation of the Small Fisherfolk Organization in the Philippines (Pamalakaya), was in a protest action against the demolition of houses in Brgy. Ambulong, Tanauan City, Batangas. The demolition was part of the plan to put up a “development project” and a beach resort at the foot of the Taal Lake which will destroy the livelihood of more than 20 families.

On 14 March 2002, an estimated 400 elements from the Batangas, Laguna, and Manila Philippine National Police backed up some 150 members of a demolition team arrived. The residents and their supporters barricaded the area but the police and demolition team attacked the barricade. While Ka Rudy, with the community leaders of farmers and fisher folk, tried to negotiate with the police and the court’s sheriff, one of the police men got angry and pulled out his gun and threatened to shoot Ka Rudy. A farmer, Roberto Dumampo, saw this and struck the police’s hand. The gun fired and the bullet nearly hit the head of Dumampo. This led to gunfire by the police during which seven people injured due to the violent dispersal of the police and 22 families were dislocated due to the demolition.

On December 2006, Ka Rudy was harassed after he joined a fact-finding mission on the cases of extrajudicial killings and frustrated extrajudicial killings in Orani, Bataan.
The barangay captain and a number of neighbours reported to Ka Rudy that some men were asking people about a man named “Ka Rudy Sambajon.” For his own safety, Ka Rudy decided to leave his home and stayed in peasant communities where he is organizing or helping out farmers on land disputes.

For more than four years, Ka Rudy was unable to go home for fear that his family might experience the same harassment from suspected military agents.

In 2010, Ka Rudy learned from his colleagues that motorcycle-riding men wearing ski masks were looking for him at the house he was staying in Bataan. These men came to the said house a couple of times. (See 2010 Karapatan Year-End Report on the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines)
On 11 September 2010, in Brgy. Gen. Lim, Orion, Bataan, Ka Rudy was in a meeting of the Samahan ng mga Magsasaka at Mamamayan ng Bangad (SMMB) or the Association of Farmers and Residents of Bangad. During the meeting, the members noticed that three unidentified men arrived on two motorcycles without plate numbers. The SMMB members saw the three men observing them.

After the meeting, Ka Rudy left and waited for a bus at a street corner about 100 meters away from their meeting place. Two men on motorcycles approached him and asked for his name and what he was doing in the meeting.

Ka Rudy in turn asked them who they are and asked for their identification cards. The man driving the motorcycle said, “We are policemen! What is your name?” However, their questioning was cut short and immediately left when they saw a member of the SMMB approaching them.

Ka Rudy was about to go back to the venue of the meeting to relay to his colleagues what happened but, not far from the corner, he saw the two motorcyclists following him. Ka Rudy was forced to enter the nearest yard to ask for help. The men on the motorcycles approached him. One of the men pulled out a gun and shouted, “Do not try to run! Come here! What is in your bag?”

The owner of the house came out upon hearing the noise and the two men were frightened away. Ka Rudy immediately reported the incident to a member of the SMMB who went to the house. While the two were talking, the motorcycle riding men came back and one of them pointed his finger at Ka Rudy.

The SMMB member took Ka Rudy to his tricycle and away from the community. The two motorcyclists who had earlier pointed a gun at Ka Rudy tailed them but were lost when Ka Rudy and his companion drove around the community to shake off the men. Ka Rudy was able to get out of the area safely.

In the afternoon of the same day, seven men threatened a member of the SMMB to get Ka Rudy’s house address. The same men were reported to be asking around residents about Ka Rudy – what he looks like and where his home is. Another report came to Ka Rudy that men were keeping watch on his house.

The surveillance at Ka Rudy’s house by suspected police and military agents continued until 13 September 2010.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the concerned authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case.

The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PHILIPPINES: Overt surveillance on a peasant leader in Bataan

Name of the victim: Rodolfo “Ka Rudy” Sambajon, 67 years old, fisherman, Secretary General of Patriotic Coalition – Central Luzon (Makabayan). He is the National Chairperson Emeritus of National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organization in the Philippines (Pamalakaya).

Alleged Perpetrators: unidentified men
Date of incident: 2 and 4 August 2013 at 11am
Place of incident: Family residence in Orani, Bataan.

I am writing to draw your attention regarding the surveillance to Rodolfo “Ka Rudy” Sambajon, Secretary General of Makabayan Coalition-Central Luzon, a local chapter of Patriotic Coalition (Makabayan) and National Chairperson Emeritus of National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organization in the Philippines (Pamalakaya), on 2 August 2013 at 11am. He noticed a man riding in a Kawasaki motorcycle passed by when he arrived at his home in Orani, Bataan. One reason he noticed this particular motorcycle was because it had an improvised “lost plate” licence plate of vehicle registration number.

According to Ka Rudy, the man riding in the motorcycle had a military haircut and was about 5’7” tall. Ka Rudy’s son also reported that he had seen the same man coming out of an alley near their house and looking around.

I am aware that on 4 August, Ka Rudy’s wife sent him a text message warning him not to go home. She noticed unfamiliar men going around their place and especially hawkers whom she suspected to be government intelligence agents.

The incident happened almost three weeks after Ka Rudy joined a Quick Response Team (QRT) on 14 July 2013 to look into the case of the reported abduction of farmers in Bataan by soldiers of the 24th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA). Also in July, the National Office of Karapatan received a report that Ka Rudy has been targeted for assassination by the 72nd Military Intelligence Company, a unit of Sgt. Antonio Hilario. Antonio Hilario is the brother of M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario, a co-accused of Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan for the enforced disappearance of the two University of the Philippine students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.

I urge you to conduct an effective investigation in order to identify and held to account those responsible in conducting the surveillance on Rudy Sambajon. Also, ensure the safety of the victim and his family. They must be afforded with adequate security and protection promptly. It is disappointing that despite previous similar incidents, there has not been any progress to ensure their protection and safety.

I trust that you will take appropriate action in this.

Yours sincerely,

——————————
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Benigno 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

2. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com

3. Police Director Alan LM Purisima
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City, Philippines
Fax +632 7248763
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

4. Ms. Leila de Lima
Secretary
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: soj@doj.gov.ph

Thank you.
Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)

AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines
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——————————————————
NEW REPORT:
Special Report: The Philippines’ hollow human rights system
http://www.article2.org/pdf/v11n0203.pdf

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