Tag Archives: Agence France-Presse

[In the news] Don’t let Philippines become a ‘forgotten crisis’ – UN chief -InterAksyon.com

Don’t let Philippines become a ‘forgotten crisis’ – UN chief
By Agence France-Presse
December 22, 2013

MANILA – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on donor nations Sunday to ramp up aid to typhoon-battered Philippines as it grapples with a funding shortfall on the long road to recovery.

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“We must not allow this to be another forgotten crisis,” Ban told reporters a day after touring the storm-ravaged city of Tacloban.

He said the UN had only achieved 30 percent of the $791 million in aid it had appealed for to boost relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan last month.

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[In the news] OFWs allege abuse in Saudi immigration crackdown -INQUIRER.net

OFWs allege abuse in Saudi immigration crackdown.
Agence France-Presse
November 4, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – Thirty Filipino workers expelled from Saudi Arabia returned home Monday and alleged they were abused amid a crackdown on illegal migrants there.

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They were among an estimated 6,700 Filipino workers stranded in parts of the oil-rich Middle Eastern kingdom where an amnesty for undocumented foreigners ended over the weekend.

“They treated us like animals,” said domestic helper Amor Roxas, 46, who burst in tears while narrating her ordeal.

She claimed Saudi police rounded them up and placed them in a crowded cell for four days before they were paraded from the immigration center to the airport.

“Our feet were chained,” added Yvonne Montefeo, 32, in between sobs.

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[In the news] Philippine vote seen as referendum on Aquino -InterAksyon.com

Philippine vote seen as referendum on Aquino
By Agence France-Presse
May 13, 2013

InterAksyon logo2MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines goes to the polls Monday to choose thousands of local leaders plus national legislators in what is seen as a referendum on the presidency of reformist Benigno Aquino III.

Police and the military have been placed on heightened alert for expected poll-related violence that has already claimed about 60 lives since campaigning began in February.

“The president is asking voters to put their confidence in those on the administration slate to help him carry out the rest of his reform agenda as they have committed,” deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte told AFP.

“We reiterate our appeal for everybody to go out and exercise your right to suffrage and your right to vote.”

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[In the news] How the military hid the truth behind Jonas Burgos abduction -bulatlat.com

How the military hid the truth behind Jonas Burgos abduction
By RONALYN V. OLEA, Bulatlat.com

bulatlatMANILA – Following the recent developments on the case of missing activist Jonas Burgos, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it would submit to the legal processes.

The Special 7th Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) issued a ruling holding the AFP accountable for the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos. Also this week, the victim’s family filed an urgent motion before the Supreme Court (SC) urging the re-investigation of the case.

“The AFP condemns any act of violation of the basic and constitutional rights of individuals. We are doing every necessary step to ensure that all our personnel strictly follow the AFP rules, regulations and policy which are consistent with the internationally accepted agreements and laws,” the AFP said in a statement.

The Jonas Burgos case itself, however, is a testimony to what the family calls “institutional cover-up” of the military in cases of human rights violations.

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[In the news] AFP vows ‘cooperation’ after CA tags military in Jonas Burgos ‘abduction’ -InterAksyon.com

AFP vows ‘cooperation’ after CA tags military in Jonas Burgos ‘abduction’
By Abigail Kwok, InterAksyon.com
March 28, 2013

InterAksyon logo2The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Thursday pledged to cooperate and comply with Court directives aimed at fully uncovering the details behind the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos, one day after the Court of Appeals affirmed suspicions that the military was behind Burgos’ abduction in April 2007.

The AFP said it has yet to receive a copy of the Court of Appeals ruling on the matter, and declined any further comment pending the official transmission of the report. Both AFP spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Burgos and Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang said they would give a more detailed statement after they obtain the official report of the CA.

However, Colonel Burgos said “the AFP in all its undertakings will continue to follow the rule of law and strictly adhere to the protection and promotion of human rights and International Humanitarian Law.”

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[In the news] Rights body hails CA ruling AFP behind Burgos abduction -INQUIRER.net

Rights body hails CA ruling AFP behind Burgos abduction
By Gil C. Cabacungan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
March 28, 2013

inquirerThe Court of Appeals (CA) ruling declaring the Armed Forces of the Philippines and not Leftist rebels was directly responsible for the “enforced disappearance” of journalist and activist Jonas Burgos is being hailed as a “concrete, positive step” towards getting to the bottom of the climate of impunity which gripped the Arroyo administration.

Commission on Human Rights Chair Loretta Ann P. Rosales on Wednesday bared the March 18 decision of the Court of Appeals on the petition for habeas corpus filed by Burgos’ mother, Edita, against the AFP and its officers led by former Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon which she said reinforced the perception of a military cover-up of the abduction.

In a statement, Rosales said the CA decision recognized the abduction of Jonas Burgos as an enforced disappearance case covered by the rule on the writ of amparo. “The decision is noteworthy because it categorically declares the AFP, as an institution, directly accountable for the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos. This conclusion effectively discredits the theory propounded by the Armed Forces that Jonas was the victim of an internal CPP-NPA plot,” said Rosales.

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[In the news] Jonas Burgos was ‘abducted by AFP’, court commission concludes -InterAksyon.com

Jonas Burgos was ‘abducted by AFP‘, court commission concludes
By InterAksyon.com
March 27, 2013

InterAksyon logo2MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED 5:18PM) The Court of Appeals has completed its Supreme Court-directed inquiry into the abduction of Jonas Burgos and declared the military, “particularly the Philippine Army, accountable for the enforced disappearance” of the activist-farmer who has become the poster boy for Philippine desaparecidos.

In a report capping a nearly three-year inquiry, the CA ruled to recognize “the abduction of Jonas Burgos” as an enforced disappearance covered by the Rule on the Writ of Amparo”—the most damning official confirmation yet that the Armed Forces of the Philippines had seized Burgos on April 28, 2007 as he lunched in a Quezon City mall. His family had insisted on this right from the start, but the AFP repeatedly denied it.

The ruling, signed by CA Associate Justice Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente, was concurred in byAssociate Justices Francisco Diamante and Remedios Salazar-Fernando, the former chair of the special Former 7th Division that was first tasked by the high tribunal to conduct the investigation when the Burgos family, led by Jonas’s mother Edita, first sought a writ of amparo.

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[Blog] Humanity must come together as One to crush all forms of madness, inhumanity, superstition and fanaticism by Jose Mario De Vega

Humanity must come together as One to crush all forms of madness, inhumanity, superstition and fanaticism
by Jose Mario De Vega

Mario De VegaI refer to the shocking news at happened last week In Papua New Guinea. According to the reports of the AFP:

A young mother who was accused of sorcery was stripped naked, doused with petrol and burned alive in front of a crowd including schoolchildren in Papua New Guinea.

The National newspaper, named the woman as Keapari Leniata, a 20 year old, who at the time of her brutal death have an eight-month-old daughter.

Besides her inhumane manner of death, it was also reported that she was also “tortured with a branding iron and tied up, splashed with fuel and set alight on a pile of rubbish topped with car tyres”.

Her crime?

She was torched by the villagers for allegedly claiming to have killed a six-year old boy through sorcery.

If she indeed, committed a crime, the villagers have no right whatsoever to stripped her naked, tortured with a branding iron, tied up, doused with petrol and torched to death.

Let the courts of law ascertain the facts of the case and render the appropriate judgment.

What irritates and angered me with this gruesome and undeniably barbaric act is the unfortunate fact that while those murderous villagers are putting the law into their own hands, the law enforcers, the police, were outnumbered by onlookers and unable to intervene.

This is a shame!

I am wondering: do they not have any guns, issued to them by the government? If they do, then, how come they did not fire a warning shot or two into the sky to stop the mob from carrying out this barbaric and indescribably horrendous act?

Added insult to injury is the preposterous report that “a fire truck that responded to the incident, which took place on Wednesday morning in Mount Hagen city in the Western Highlands”; which to my surprise and shock was also chased away.

Does it mean that that bloody truck has no water to disperse the crowd?

I cannot understand all of this! This is a perfect case of a comedy that ends in tragedy!

Imagine and picture the whole situation: you have some policemen that cannot enforce the law; second you have a fire truck that is waterless or perhaps the driver is so stupid that that idiot does not know what to do under the circumstances.

Third, you have a bunch of villagers that does not recognize the duly constituted authorities.

Net effect: you have a society that is backward, primitive, idiotic, barbaric, intolerant and truly unenlightened.

I understand that “there is a widespread belief in sorcery in the poverty-stricken Pacific nation”, but that is not a valid reason to burn another human being.

The police “said they were treating the torching as murder and preparing charges against those responsible”. I doubt the sincerity and courage of these individuals. How could they bring to the bar of justice the perpetrators of this horrible and violent act, when they are there exactly at the scene of the crime and they did not even lift a finger to stop the mod from violating the law?

Now, they are telling that they will do something, how come they did not do it — on the spot — right there and then?

I concur with the local Bishop David Piso’s contention that “many innocent people had been killed.”

Further he stated that:

“Sorcery and sorcery-related killings are growing and the government needs to come up with a law to stop such practice…”

I also subscribed to the statement issued by the US embassy in Port Moresby in strongly condemning the “brutal murder” of Leniata, who had an eight-month-old daughter. It also added that said act against the young woman is evidence of “pervasive gender-based violence”.

Portion of the statement reads in part that:

“We add our voice to those of Papua New Guinean religious and civil society leaders who have spoken out against the brutality inflicted upon Ms Leniata…”

“There is no possible justification for this sort of violence. We hope that appropriate resources are devoted to identifying, prosecuting, and punishing those responsible for Ms Leniata’s murder.”

Is this the kind of world we want?

A world divided by prejudice, by inhumanity of man by man, of paranoia, of distrust and mistrust, racism, ethnocentrism, of hate and bias, of anger and rage?

We have to come together as one, because we are one, despite the difference in the color of our skin, or the diversity of our background; we are all human beings and we share the same planet, we all live in the same place, breathed the same air and share the same blood!

We must all rise up from this madness, this idiocy, this inhumanity for the future of the greater mankind!

It is in this great sense that I condemn the barbaric act of those brainless and murderous villagers in burning to death Leniata.

On behalf of the international community, I call upon the duly elected authority of Papua New Guinea to do everything within its powers to bring to the bar of justice all those bloody bastards who participated in carrying out this dastardly and utterly unspeakable acts of madness, inhumanity and fanaticism.

In the immortal words of Voltaire:

Let us therefore reject all superstition in order to become more human; but in speaking against fanaticism, let us not imitate the fanatics: they are sick men in delirium who want to chastise their doctors. Let us assuage their ills, and never embitter them, and let us pour drop by drop into their souls the divine balm of toleration, which they would reject with horror if it were offered to them all at once.

Humanity must come together as One to crush all forms of madness, inhumanity, superstition and fanaticism.

Justice for Leniata and all victims like her…

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
Concurrent Lecturer

College of Arts and Letters
Department of Philosophy
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

And

Institute of Arts and Sciences
Department of Humanities, Literature and Philosophy
Far Eastern University

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[Statement] Walang demolisyon hangga’t walang maayos na relokasyon, ayon sa mga maralita sa mga estero’t tabing-ilog

Walang demolisyon hangga’t walang maayos na relokasyon, ayon sa mga maralita sa mga estero’t tabing-ilog

Mga maralita mula sa mga estero, tabing-ilog at ilalim ng tulay, o yaong tinatawag na “waterways” ang may banta ng demolisyon. Ayon kay DILG Usec Francisco Fernandez (Agence France-Presse, Enero 12, 2013), may tinatayang 105,000 pamilyang iskwater na naninirahan sa mga waterways o tabing-ilog at estero sa Kalakhang Maynila (NCR). May inilaan umano silang P10B ($246M) para sa proyektong demolisyon at naghahanda umano sila para magtayo ng mga “medium-rise building” bilang tahanan ng mga iskwater.

Nababahala ang mga maralita kaya nais nilang sa maagang yugto pa lang ngayong Pebrero ay malaman na nila ang buong plano ng pamahalaan upang hindi sila mabigla sa pagdating ng demolisyon sa Hunyo. Kailangan nila itong paghandaan at depensahan ang kanilang mga karapatan. Handa silang lumaban at kung kinakailangan ay makipagbatuhan kung sapilitang tatanggalan sila ng kanilang tahanan, kahit barungbarong man iyan. Kailangan ng maayos na negosasyon. Kailangang ihayag at ilabas ng pamahalaan ang lahat ng dokumento at plano na tatama sa mga maralita. Maaaring sabihin ng DILG, sa Hunyo na lang ito pag-usapan matapos ang eleksyon. Ngunit para sa maralita, dapat na sa maagang yugto pa lang ngayong Pebrero ay malaman na nila ang buong plano upang kanila itong paghandaan.

Tanong ni Glen Mendina, tagapagsalita ng Koalisyon Kontra Demolisyon (KKD), “Itatapon ba ang maralita sa malalayong lugar na walang serbisyong panlipunan, malayo sa kanilang trabaho, at di sapat na pabahay? Ang nais ng maralita ay in-city relocation dahil malapit ang ganito sa kanilang pinagkukunan ng ikabubuhay, at nais nilang sapat, maayos, matibay at ligtas ang mga bahay na pagdadalhan sa kanila.”

Huwag itago ng pamahalaan ng totoong proyekto, dahil baka walang kasiguruhan ang proyekto ng pamahalaan kung pagbabatayan ang iba’t ibang lugar ng relokasyon kung saan itinapon sa mga relocation sites ang mga maralita na naniniwalang aayos ang kanilang buhay doon, ngunit kabaligtaran ang mga nangyayari – walang tubig, di matibay na bahay, malayo sa trabaho, gutom ang inaabot ng mga pamilya, banta sa kalusugan, malayo ang serbisyong panlipunan.

Ngayong Pebrero na ito pag-usapan, ayon sa mga maralita. Huwag sa Hunyo kung saan mabibigla sila sa agarang demolisyon.

Para sa karagdagang impormasyon at katanungan, mangyaring makipag-ugnayan kina Glen Mendina, spokesperson ng KKD sa CP # 09398149517 at Tita Flor Santos sa cp# 09164816585

KOALISYON KONTRA DEMOLISYON (KKD)
PRESS STATEMENT
Pebrero 8, 2013

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[From the web] AFP should show proof that security guard Rolly Panesa is CPP’s “Benjamin Mendoza” -Karapatan

AFP should show proof that security guard Rolly Panesa is CPP’s “Benjamin Mendoza”
January 25, 2013

karapatan_logo4Karapatan dared the Philippine Army of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to prove before the Court of Appeals that the man they arrested illegally and tortured is indeed who they claim to be in their press releases as CPP’s high ranking official ‘Benjamin Mendoza’ “because clearly, they picked the wrong man,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said at today’s hearing at the Court of Appeals for detained Rolly Panesa’s Petition for Habeas Corpus.

“Panesa has been in jail for three months since his abduction on October 5, 2012, yet the government has not presented any document to prove their claim. The man should be immediately released and indemnified,” Palabay said.

Marites Chioco, Panesa’s common-law wife and petitioner to the habeas corpus case, submitted to the court Panesa’s birth certificate, baptismal certificate, school records, records of his employment, Social Security System Identification Card, Philhealth Card, driver’s license, NBI clearance and a certificate that he has gone through a training for the CAFGU.

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[Press Release] Green groups ask new AFP chief to pull our military in controversial mining project -ATM

Green groups ask new AFP chief to pull our military in controversial mining project

atm-logoAlyansa Tigil Mina wrote the new Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista calling for an investigation on the increased presence of military in the communities surrounding the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project and total pullout of the said military detachments.

Jaybee Garganera, ATM national coordinator said: “We believe that the presence of military detachments in Tampakan and nearby villages will heighten the tension in the area and further escalate the threat of human rights violations against anti-mining communities, especially indigenous peoples.”

In January 16, MindaNews, a local newspaper in Mindanao reported that additional military were deployed in Sitio Lafla, Datal Alyong, and Datal Biao in the Municipality of Bong Mal, in Kiblawan Davao del Sur.

A recent and controversial case is the massacre of the Capion Family in Bong Mal in October 18 last year, which was immediately admitted to by the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army led by Lt. Col. Dante Jimenez. At that time, the Philippine Army was under the command of Bautista.

Garganera added: “We are gravely dismayed that the Court Martial has not been convened, when reports show that the military failed to follow rules of engagement.”

Jimenez and his team were only suspended after the said incident.

In the letter received by the AFP chief yesterday, ATM cited Bautista’s acceptance speech:

“calling for an end to armed violence and in advocating for peace, to allow us to focus on the important task of securing the sovereignty of our state and the integrity of our national territory and protecting our people from the adverse effect of climate change and environmental degradation.” (PDI, 18 January 2013)

“In this case, if Lt. Gen. Bautista is sincere when he said in hi speech that–we felt it is only right for him to command the military to pull out from sites where there are no intelligence or basis of counterinsurgency or reason for the military to roam around,” Garganera concluded.

Earlier reports identified Lt. Gen. Bautista as the brains of Oplan Bayanihan, a counterinsurgency program of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the AMMB. (30)

For more information:

Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator, nc@alyansatigilmina.net, 09277617602
Farah Sevilla, Policy Research and Advocacy Officer, policy@alyansatigilmina.net, 0915-3313361

Visit our website: http://www.alyansatigilmina.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alyansa-Tigil-Mina/141872819244724?ref=ts&fref=ts
Twitter: atm_philippines

Press Release
January 23, 2013

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[In the news] Rights victims angry at end to Marcos wealth hunt -ABS-CBNnews.com

Rights victims angry at end to Marcos wealth hunt
Agence France-Presse
January 2, 2013

ABS-CBN_News_&_Current_Affairs.pngMANILA – Philippine torture victims under the 20-year regime of Ferdinand Marcos vented their anger Wednesday at a reported government plan to wind down its hunt for the late dictator’s embezzled billions.

The proposal, now under consideration by President Benigno Aquino, would give the signal that people in power can commit crimes with impunity, said the group which calls itself Selda, the local word for a prison cell.

“We cannot just forgive and forget what the Marcoses did to us, nor must the Aquino government stop pursuing justice for martial law victims and the rest of the Filipinos,” the group said in a statement.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government, the agency tasked with recovering the Marcos wealth, said last month that it would soon wind down its operations after almost 30 years.

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[In the news] ‘DENIAL KINGS’ | Rights group scoffs at AFP disavowal of Order of Battle -InterAksyon.com

‘DENIAL KINGS’ | Rights group scoffs at AFP disavowal of Order of Battle
By InterAksyon.com
December 24, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The denial by the military and the government of the existence of an “Order of Battle” with names of alleged enemies of the state has come under fire from rights groups, who described the denial as a disservice in the wake of the passage of Asia’s first measure outlawing enforced disappearances.

The long series of enforced disappearances precisely stemmed from the existence of such a list, as the “OB” has been taken as license by some men in uniform to seize persons on the list in order to neutralize the insurgency, Karapatan said.

“It seems that acts of denial are usual responses of the Aquino government and the AFP, when confronted with questions on their accountability for human rights violations. Mga denial kings ang mga nasa Malacanang at AFP! The lies that they have sown through their counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan are now being exposed,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.

Karapatan noted the practice of the Aquino government in “continuing” such policy through the reported Joint Order 14-2012 of the Department of National Defense and the Department of Interior and Local Government, which contains an alleged list of leaders of the communist movement whose bounties for arrests amount to P466million.

“Such order, which was not even made public, is a dangerous and malicious perpetuation of the OB list as it becomes a hit list of personalities/individuals who may be persecuted, filed with trumped-up charges or killed,” commented Palabay.

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[In the news] Sting the environmentalist drops MOA Arena as concert venue -InterAksyon.com

Sting the environmentalist drops MOA Arena as concert venue
Agence France-Presse, InterAksyon.com
October 20, 2012

MANILA — Rock superstar Sting, a known environmentalist, has forced organizers to move his planned one-night concert at the SM Mall of Asia Arena to another venue in response to a lobby by local environmental activists.

The Manila leg of the British singer’s “Back to Bass Tour” on December 9 will now be hosted by Smart Araneta Coliseum, said his official website.

Earlier in the day, the local concert promoters informed the MOA Arena that Sting had called off his show there, Arena general manager Arnel Gonzales said.

Sting announced his decision after learning that pine trees growing outside SM Baguio, which is owned by the same holding company that owns the MOA Arena, were being removed for an expansion program, Gonzales added.

“Somebody misled the Englishman In New York over the venue,” Gonzales told AFP, referring to one of the British-born star’s hit songs.

Gonzales said that while Arena and SM Baguio are sister companies, the concert venue had nothing to do with the trees’ transfer.

Environmentalists had sued SM Baguio earlier this year to stop the uprooting and relocation of 182 old trees, mostly pines, growing at its property.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

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[In the news] UN: Not passing RH bill will reverse devt gains -InterAksyon.com

UN: Not passing RH bill will reverse devt gains
By Jason Gutierrez, Agence France-Presse |Chichi Conde, InterAksyon.com
August 5, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 3:39 p.m.) The United Nations warned Sunday that failure to pass a controversial birth control law in the Philippines could reverse gains in development goals amid stiff opposition from the powerful Catholic church.

The bill seeks to make it mandatory for the government to provide free contraceptives in a country where more than 80 percent of the population is Catholic and which has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Southeast Asia.

Ugochi Daniels, country representative from the UN Population Fund, said she remained “cautiously optimistic” that President Benigno Aquino III‘s allies who dominate the House of Representatives could muster the numbers to pass the bill on Tuesday after 14 years of often divisive debate.

“What is important now is to highlight the urgency of the bill,” Daniels said.

The UN, in a separate statement, said the Philippines was unlikely to achieve its millennium development goal of reducing maternal deaths by three quarters and providing universal access to reproductive health by 2015

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[Press Release] Rights Groups run to challenge Security Sector: Declare in words and deeds torture free detention centers

Rights Groups run to challenge Security Sector: Declare in words and deeds torture free detention centers

More than 600 people participate in the annual Basta Run Against Torture in time for the U.N. International Day in Support of Victims of Torture today, June 26, 2012. Now in its 6th year, anti-torture advocates challenged the security sector to declare torture free detention centers in words and in deeds.

“This year’s BRAT aims to bridge the gap between the commitments and policies on one hand and practices on the other of the security sector and other government agencies with respect to the issue of torture. It hopes to exact the commitment of AFP, PNP and BJMP to declare their places of detention as torture free and stand firm on their commitment.” Joy Lascano of Balay Rehabilitation Center, representative of UATC said in a statement.

The United Against Torture Coalition (UATC), a network of anti-torture advocates engages the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to publicly announce their commitment to proclaim a policy of complete prohibition of torture in all places of detention.

Lascano of UATC further said that, “Three years after the enactment of the Anti-Torture Law of 2009, only a handful of cases have been filed. The attempt to prosecute perpetrators is fraught with difficulties due to a lack of transparency from the security sector and the unfamiliarity of prosecutors and judges about the law on torture. None of these cases have seen a just resolution.”

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), also a member of UATC on the other hand documented 23 cases with 40 victims of torture under the P-Noy administration (as of May 2012). According to the group, the data shows that practice of torture on the ground still persists
while no one get punished.

BRAT 6 was participated by Amnesty International-Philippines, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Medical Action Group (MAG), Balay Rehabilitation Center, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and the #rememberML@40 campaign committee.

Also present are CHR, PHRC, DILG, DOJ, PNP, AFP and BJMP.

[In the news] Edita Burgos: I just want to know the truth about my son -INQUIRER.net

Edita Burgos: I just want to know the truth about my son.

By TJ Burgonio, Philippine Daily Inquirer
April 27, 2012

Throughout the five years that she has been searching for her “disappeared” son, Edita Burgos says she has already scaled down her expectations, from calling for justice to just wanting to find out the truth about what happened to him.

“My standards have gone down through the years. Whereas before, I’d say ‘Give him back to me alive and well, and let justice be served.’ Now I just want to find out what really happened. Because if I find out the truth, I’ll also find him,” she said.

“It’s not even closure that I want. I just want to know what I’ll pray for,” she added.

Family and friends who will be joining Edita in marking the fifth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance on Saturday are nowhere near finding the truth of what happened to him, his whereabouts or of obtaining justice for him.

Jonas is the middle son of Edita and the late Jose Burgos Jr., the legendary founder and editor of the Malaya newspaper.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

Suu Kyi makes election debut in Myanmar

Suu Kyi makes election debut in Myanmar.

GMA News, AFP
April 1, 2012

Kawhmu, Myanmar — Voting began Sunday in Myanmar elections seen as a test of the government’s budding reforms, with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi standing for a seat in parliament for the first time.

A victory for Suu Kyi would cap a remarkable transformation for the 66-year-old icon of the pro-democracy movement, who spent most of the past 22 years locked up by the generals who ruled the country for decades.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept to a landslide election victory in 1990 but the junta never recognised the result.

Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize the following year, was not a candidate herself on that occasion because she was under house arrest.

Her party is contesting 44 of the 45 seats at stake in Sunday’s vote — not enough to threaten the ruling party’s majority, but a seat in parliament would give the opposition leader a chance to shape legislation for the first time.

Polling stations opened at 6:00 am (2330 GMT Saturday) and were due to close at 4:00 pm, with more than six million people eligible to vote. The results are expected within about one week, according to election officials.

Observers say the regime wants the pro-democracy leader to win a place in parliament to burnish its reform credentials and smooth the way for an easing of Western sanctions.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

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[In the news] Gov’t to expand poverty alleviation scheme | ABS-CBN News

Gov’t to expand poverty alleviation scheme | ABS-CBN News.

Agence France-Presse
March 28, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The government plans to expand a landmark poverty alleviation scheme that provides cash aid to the country’s poorest households to benefit nearly 5 million families, an official said Tuesday.

Three million households currently benefit from the Conditional Cash Transfer program, which provides monetary assistance to families under a number of conditions including that they keep their children in school.

“We plan to continue to expand the program until all 4.8 million families in the (poorest 20 percent of the population) are covered,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said.

The program is seen as a key priority for President Benigno Aquino who has proposed to set aside P34.4 billion ($800 million) for the project in the government’s 2012 budget.

Read full article @ www.abs-cbnnews.com

[In the news] Philippines’ Aquino says more US troops welcome -InterAksyon.com

Philippines‘ Aquino says more US troops welcome
Agence France Presse
March 20, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Benigno Aquino said Tuesday more US troops would be welcome to rotate through the Southeast Asian nation, but ruled out permanent bases.

Aquino told AFP in an interview that talks were under way for the longtime allies to hold more military training exercises in the Philippines, as well as increase the number of times that US navy ships visited.

“We are talking with them. We will have more of the same, is what I am trying to say,” Aquino said, referring to a longstanding partnership that sees regular joint exercises and US port calls in the Philippines.

“Their ships can come and call on us, can be replenished, but our constitution will not allow any permanent berthing here in any form.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

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