[Urgent Appeal] Four members of a local community organization were arrested and suffered injuries during a forced eviction

URGENT APPEAL

March 14, 2014

(PHILIPPINES) Four members of a local community organization were arrested and suffered injuries during a forced eviction

ISSUES: Human Rights Defenders; Arbitrary Arrest and Detention; Forced Eviction; Harassment; Physical Injuries; Abuse of Authority
_____________________________________________

Dear friends,

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the arbitrary arrest of four human rights defenders who also suffered injuries during a forced eviction in Muntinlupa City.

TFDP logo small

If you wish to make any inquiries please contact the Research, Documentation and Information Program of TFDP. Kindly email tfdp.1974@gmail.com or tfdp.urgentappeals@gmail.com or call +632 4378054.
_____________________________________________

Case Title: HRD Muntinlupa
Cases: Arbitrary Arrest and Detention; Forced Eviction; Harassment; Physical Injuries; Abuse of Authority
Name of Victims: Dondito Albasin, Sr., 56; Michael Poticar, 39; Alberto Jojo Llantada, 21; Virgina Barrios,28
Date of Incident: March 12, 2014
Place of Incident: Kilometer 23 West Service Road, Barangay Cupang, Muntinlupa City
Alleged Perpetrators: Police Senior Inspector Jocelyn V. Carino (male); a certain Major Salvadora (female) alleged police intelligence Aguirre
Motive: Obstruction of Justice
______________________________________________

Account of the Incident:

Four members of a local community organization were arrested and suffered injuries during a forced eviction of around 21 families last March 12, 2014, 8:00am, in Muntinlupa City.

Dondito Albasin, Sr., 56; Michael Poticar, 39; Alberto Jojo Llantada, 21; Virgina Barrios,28, were arrested arbitrarily and charged with obstruction of justice by the police.

Before they were arrested at around 8:30am, Albasin the current president of the neighborhood association (affiliated with the national organization of ‘urban-poor’ communities named, Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng mga Maralitang taga-Lungsod),   together with other officers and residents of Kilometer 23 West Service Road in Barangay Cupang, were negotiating with the demolition team and the police to postpone the eviction of houses of around 21 from the 125 families living within the 4,500 square meter lot. Albasin asserted that they already talked and discussed the matter with the city officials and representatives of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP). Albasin claimed that based on agreement, authorities allowed them to have an ample time to prepare for their eventual relocation. In fact according to Albasin, all stakeholders agreed that the demolition will push through on April 7, 2014.

The team headed by Court Sheriff Felix Falcotelo insisted that the demolition should proceed apparently since Judge Restituto V. Mangalindan, Jr. of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) branch 80 previously issued an order for settlers to vacate the premises, and has decided the case in favour of the supposed land owner, a certain Mr. Marcelo Rubio.

While the negotiation still ongoing, several stones and debris were thrown by unidentified persons at the location where the said dialogue was being held. At that very moment, the police around 200 of them including members of the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) which were carrying automatic rifles reacted aggressively which started the violence, according to the residents.

Albasin was grabbed by his shoulders and shirt by police officers and pushed towards the pavement. He was kicked on his legs. Another police hit Albasan using the muzzle of the rifle to his chest and armpit. Llantada on the other hand was punched on his lips and hit using a hard object at the back of the head. Meanwhile, Poticar was pulled and held inside a police patrol car where he was beaten by an intelligence officer, said by witnesses. Barrios (Virginia) while pacifying and calming her parents, was grabbed and pulled by a police. She fainted during the scuffle. The four of them were handcuffed and brought to the Muntinlupa City police station at around 10am.

Several other residents were hurt and also suffered injuries when the police grabbed and pushed them indiscriminately. They were punched, kicked and hit with truncheons. They are: Marvin Sua, Regie Focbit, Robert Villanueva, Jayfe Celeste, Bryan Asmolo, Roger L. Barrios, Buboy De Lima, Limney Barrios, Dondino Albasin, Joan Liantada, Ailene Brovo, and Thelma Brovo.

The video camera owned by Clarissa Lanohan being used to document the incident was confiscated by the police without any reason and has not been returned.

According to the victims, most of the police had no name tags for their identification. They only identified a few including female officer named Major Salvadora, (who apparently was the field commander at that time), Aguirre (known as a police intelligence agent who pointed a gun at Roger L. Barrios) and Police Senior Inspector Jocelyn V. Carino (male).

With their hammers, crow bars and mallets, the demolition crew eventually started the tearing down of shanties but exceeded to other houses installed not covered with the supposed court order.

Upon Intervention

At the Police station, Albasin, Poticar, Llantada and Barrios were first brought to the intelligence section office, but were later on transferred to the investigation unit. According to them, they were not given food nor allowed to buy for themselves. Until, the staff of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) came at 3:30pm and bought them food for their late lunch.

The TFDP staff requested several police officers including Police Senior Inspector Carino to remove the handcuffs of Albasin, Poticar, Llantada and Barrios, for them to properly and easily eat their meal. TFDP staff insisted that the four are not criminals and guaranteed that they will not escape from the police station if their handcuffs were removed.   However, all of them ignored and refused. Instead, Police Senior Inspector Carino scolded and instructed Albasin, Poticar, Llantada and Barrios to use their “free hand”. The police only removed their handcuffs around 10:00pm. Small abrasion markings were seen due to tight handcuffs made.

Early on, the TFDP staff pleaded for the provisional release of Albasin, Poticar, Llantada and Barrios since there were no complainants and their case has not been recorded yet.  The police denied the request. They maintained that arresting officers will be back soon to formally file the charges against the four.

TFDP staff reminded the duty officers that based on Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, arrested person(s) shall be presented for some legal ground to the proper judicial authorities within the periods of twelve (12) hours. TFDP staff added that penalties shall be imposed upon police officer who will fail to do so. But again they ignored.

Their case was only booked past 10:00pm. Later on they were brought inside a detention cell.

The inquest only proceeded the following day March 13, 2014 and a case of obstruction of justice is filed against the four.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write a letter to the following authorities, calling on them to initiate inquiries into these cases particularly the forced eviction of families, arbitrary arrest of Dondito Albasin, Sr., Michael Poticar, Alberto Jojo Llantada, Virgina Barrios, and the flagrant abused of authority by the police.

SAMPLE LETTER

I am writing to draw your attention to the forced eviction of families located at Kilometer 23 West Service Road Muntinlupa City, the arbitrary arrest of human rights defenders namely: 1) Dondito Albasin, Sr., 2) Michael Poticar, 3) Alberto Jojo Llantada, 4) Virgina Barrios, the injuand the flagrant abused of authority by the police in the conduct of their duty.

According to the report I have received at around 8:30am, Albasin the current president of the neighborhood association together with other officers and residents were negotiating with the demolition team and the police to postpone the eviction of houses of around 21 from the 125 families living within the 4,500 square meter lot located at Kilometer 23 West Service Road in Barangay Cupang, Muntinlupa City. Albasin asserted that they already talked and discussed the matter with the city officials and representatives of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP). Albasin claimed that based on agreement, authorities allowed them to have an ample time to prepare for their eventual relocation. In fact according to Albasin, all stakeholders agreed that the demolition will push through on April 7, 2014.

But the team headed by Court Sheriff Felix Falcotelo insisted that the demolition should proceed apparently since Judge Restituto V. Mangalindan, Jr. of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) branch 80 previously issued an order for settlers to vacate the premises, and has decided the case in favour of the supposed land owner, a certain Mr. Marcelo Rubio.

While the negotiation was still ongoing, several stones and debris were thrown by unidentified persons at the location where the said dialogue was being held. At that very moment, the police around 200 of them including members of the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) which were carrying automatic rifles reacted aggressively which started the violence, according to the residents.

Albasin was grabbed by his shoulders and shirt by police officers and pushed towards the pavement. He was kicked on his legs. Another police hit Albasan, using the muzzle of the rifle, on his chest and armpit. Llantada on the other hand was punched on his lips and hit using a hard object at the back of the head. Meanwhile, Poticar was pulled and held inside a police patrol car where he was beaten by an intelligence officer, said witnesses. Barrios (Virginia) while pacifying and calming her parents, was grabbed and pulled by a police. She fainted during the scuffle. The four of them were handcuffed and brought to the Muntinlupa City police station at around 10am.

Several other residents were hurt and also suffered injuries when the police grabbed and pushed them indiscriminately. They were punched, kicked and hit with truncheons. They are: Marvin Sua, Regie Focbit, Robert Villanueva, Jayfe Celeste, Bryan Asmolo, Roger L. Barrios, Buboy De Lima, Limney Barrios, Dondino Albasin, Joan Liantada, Ailene Brovo, and Thelma Brovo.

I have also learned that on the first day that they were detained Albasin, Poticar, Llantada and Barrios were not offered food and water, nor allowed to buy for themselves until the staff of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) came at 3:30pm and bought them food for their late lunch.

The TFDP staff requested several police officers including Police Senior Inspector Carino to remove the handcuffs of Albasin, Poticar, Llantada and Barrios, for them to properly and easily eat their meal. However, all of them ignored and refused. Instead, Police Senior Inspector Carino scolded and instructed Albasin, Poticar, Llantada and Barrios to use their “free hand”.

It was also brought to TFDP staff attention that the police only removed their handcuffs around 10:00pm. Small abrasion markings are seen due to tight handcuffs made.

Furthermore, TFDP staff reminded the duty officers that based on Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, arrested person(s) shall be presented for some legal ground to the proper judicial authorities within the period of twelve (12) hours. TFDP staff added that penalties shall be imposed upon police officer who will fail to do so. But again they ignored.

Their case was only booked and recorded past 10:00pm. Later on they were brought inside detention cell. The inquest only proceeded the following day March 13, 2014 and a case of obstruction of justice is filed against the four.

We now urge you to call upon competent authorities to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into these events, and ensure that adequate, effective and prompt action and reparation, is granted to the victims.

Concerned authorities must be reminded that they should strictly observe the Urban Development and Housing Act or UDHA (Republic Act 7279) that lays down the mandatory requirements for the valid execution of eviction and demolition orders, including the conduct of a sincere dialogue to resolve disputes peacefully.

And lastly, the government must guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards.

I look forward to your urgent action is this case.

Yours sincerely,
————————————————
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. President Benigno Simeon Aquino III
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. Vice President Jejomar C. Binay
Chairperson
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC)
BDO Plaza, 8737 Paseo De Roxas St, Makati City
Philippines
Fax: +63 2 811 4158
Tel: +63 2 812 8870 / +63 2 811 4168
Email: info@hudcc.gov.ph

3. Atty. Chito M. Cruz
General Manager
National Housing Authority (NHA)
Elliptical Road, Diliman, 1100, Quezon City
Fax: +63 2 921 2530
Tel: +632 921 7828 / +63 2 922 2460
Website: http://www.nha.gov.ph

4. 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

5. Police Director General Alan LA Madrid Purisima
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

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