December 7, 2015
(PHILIPPINES) The harassment of the staff of Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI), a network of people’s organizations (POs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and church/faith-based groups – active in the campaign against mining.
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) writes to inform you about the harassment of the staff of the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI), a network of people’s organizations (POs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and church/faith-based groups – that is at the forefront of campaigns against mining.
Account of the incident:
Human rights defenders Ms. Yolanda Esguerra, Ms. Candy Hidalgo, Mr. Edel Garingan and Mr. Victor Morillo, all connected with the Philippine-Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) have been subject of alleged intimidation by the Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) as appeared on the column written by Ellen Tordesillas with the Abante and Malaya, reportedly published online on September 8 and 9, 2015.
According to the said articles, HMC project manager Mr. Arnilo Milaor filed a libel suit against the four PMPI staff on June 20, 2015 (*Abante) and a libel suit under the Republic Act No. 10175 otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (*Malaya), also on June 20, 2015 http://malaya.com.ph/business-news/opinion/truth-only-please. The case is reportedly linked to the anti-mining activities of the PMPI in Guiuan, Eastern Samar where the HMC operates.
Tordesillas went on to write that “Ang pagtulong sa kapwa ay hindi dapat rason para magsinungaling. Kung ang isang tao o grupo, ay walang kiyemeng mag-imbento ng kwento para lang makuha ng atensyon ng media sa kawsa na kanilang isinusulong, medyo nakakaduda yata. Panloloko na yata ‘yun.” Tordesillas’ statement allegedly implied that the above-mentioned PMPI staff are using their organization’s advocacy to deceive people.
The PMPI staff however did not receive the said complaint cited in Tordesillas’ articles. When the articles were posted online, the PMPI communicated with the Office of the Prosecutors in Borongan and Guiuan, Eastern Samar about the said complaint but to no avail. There were no legal documents sent to them and in fact, the said possible complaint was only discovered through the Internet posts by Mr. JB Baylon, vice president for Communications of Nickel Asia Corporation, HMC’s mother company, who has also allegedly posted vague threats towards PMPI. One such threat was his comment on the picture shown below, and the other (has since been deleted) which allegedly said “Napipikon na ko sa isang NGO, kailangan bigyan ng leksyon.
On October 9, 2015, copy of the subpoena was delivered to and received by the PMPI. They have been summoned to appear before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Taguig City last October 30, 2015 at 10:00AM to answer the charge of cyber crime libel by the HMC represented by Mr. Milaor.
The PMPI is a legally registered network of people’s organizations (POs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), church/faith-based groups and Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany based in Aachen, Germany.
“Even before Typhoon Yolanda hit the country in November 2013, PMPI already had partner community organizations in both islands under their anti-mining campaigns: Save Manicani Movement (SAMAMO) and Homonhon Environmental Rescuers Organization (HERO).” The PMPI has an ongoing post-Yolanda initiative called Project Pagbangon, which initially started as a relief effort to support partner communities of member organizations in Panay and Eastern Samar. The main objective of the project is to secure the survival of the affected communities, with the perspective to help in the early recovery phase of the islands.
· PMPI has been at the forefront of the anti-mining campaigns in Manicani Island where HMC operates.
· According to PMPI, the possible reasons for the filing of cases against them are:
o The letter sent by Edel Garingan to Mines and Geosciences Bureau
o Press release of PMPI about the mining situation in Manicani, and
o Social media posts of PMPI regarding the mining situation in Manicani
PLEASE SEND LETTERS TO THE CONCERNED GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO BRING TO JUSTICE THE PERPETRATOR OF HARASSMENT AND ENSURE AND GUARANTEE THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF THE STAFF OF PHILIPPINE MISEREOR PARTNERS, INC. (PMPI) – MS. YOLANDA ESGUERRA, MS. CANDY HIDALGO, MR. EDEL GARINGAN AND MR. VICTOR MORILLO.
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
This is to express my grave concern regarding the harassment of the staff of Philippine Misereor Partners, Inc. (PMPI), namely Ms. Yolanda Esguerra – national coordinator of PMPI, Ms. Candy Hidalgo – deputy coordinator, Mr. Edel Garingan – Anti-Mining Campaign project officer, and Mr. Victor Morillo – AMC advocacy officer.
I have learned that Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) project manager Mr. Arnilo Milaor filed a cyber libel suit against the four PMPI staff on September 1, 2015 and a libel suit under the “draconian Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012” also on September 1, 2015 but that the PMPI staff received no such copy of the complaints and instead only found out about the case filed against them via the articles written by Ellen Tordesillas in Abante and Malaya.
But on October 9, 2015, a copy of the subpoena was delivered to and received by the PMPI. They have been summoned to appear before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Taguig City last October 30, 2015 at 10:00 AM to answer the charge of cyber crime libel by the HMC represented by Mr. Milaor.
I have also learned that the said complaint was filed in relation to PMPI’s campaign against mining in Manicani Island.
I express my grave concern that the PMPI staff are being harassed in line with their efforts to fight for the rights of the residents and fisher folk of Manicani Island.
I am writing to ask for immediate action in favor of PMPI and its staff, Ms. Yolanda Esguerra, Ms. Candy Hidalgo, Mr. Edel Garingan and Mr. Victor Morillo:
1. For the security and safety of Ms. Yolanda Esguerra, Ms. Candy Hidalgo, Mr. Edel Garingan and Mr. Victor Morillo.
2. For the immediate and impartial investigation of the harassment committed by Hinatuan Mining Corporation.
3. For the perpetrator be held accountable for their actions against the PMPI staff.
PLEASE SEND LETTERS TO:
1. His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III
President, Republic of the Philippines
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila
Tel: +6327356201/5641451 to 80
2. Hon. Alfredo Benjamin Sabater Caguioa
Secretary, Department of Justice (DOJ)
Padre Faura Street
Fax: +63 2 523 9548
Tel: +63 2 521 1908
3. Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
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