Tag Archives: Agusan del Sur

[Press Release] Another palm oil harvester dies of electrocution -CTUHR

Another palm oil harvester dies of electrocution

CTUHR logoAnother harvester of the Filipinas Palm Oil Plantation Inc. (FPPI) died on March 23 a day after getting electrocuted while harvesting palm fruit bunches in Bgy. Bayugan 2, Agusan del Sur.

According to the statement of FPPI Workers’ Union (FPPWU), Cesar Muanag, 42, was harvesting palm fruits between 8 to 9 in the morning of March 22 when the long rod used for harvesting caught a live wire that electrocuted him. Muanag was immediately brought to Davao Medical Center. At noon of March 23, Muanag was declared dead.

Muanag worked for FPPI as a harvester for 12 years. Despite his length of service, he remained in casual status and was paid below the minimum wage. He also did not receive social security benefits such as SSS, PAG-IBIG and Philhealth and did not enjoy paid leaves and 13th month pay which are all provided in the law.

Muanag is the fifth FPPI worker to die of electrocution since November 2011 while four other survived similar accidents. The union said that the victims were all casual employees who worked between 2 to 12 years in the company. Because of their employment status, they reportedly did not receive just compensations even after catching an accident.

FPPI is a Filipino-Malaysian company that operates in Agusan del Sur, in Mindanao.

Armand Hernando, CTUHR coordinator for documentation said that FPPI should be made accountable for the death of Muagan and it must devise safety measures to avoid similar accidents. “Five workers have died in less than two years because of electrocution, both FPPI and the government must not wait for another worker to die and they must immediately act on this,” Hernando avered.

“More importantly, FPPI must be held liable for violating the workers’ right to security of tenure and other benefits. The company is practically depriving the workers of their rights even until their death. This is totally disturbing. FPPI’s massive and long term contractualization and disobedience to labor standards must be stopped.”

To date, there are still some 289 workers who are fighting for reinstatement in their work in FPPI after the company dismissed them following the ocular inspection conducted by the regional DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) in October of 2012. The ocular inspection confirmed FPPI’s non-implementation of labor standards such as minimum wage, social security among others. This issue prompted the union to hold a 62-day strike which only ended last January 2013 after the DOLE Secretary imposed an Assumption of Jurisdiction order forcing the striking workers to go back to work. (See related story.)

“We challenge the government to side with the workers and give justice to Muagan’s death and the other victims of accidents in FPPI. And this can only be achieved if FPPI is made to answer for its violations of workers’ basic rights and safety,” Hernando added.

26 March 2012

For reference: Arman Hernando, CTUHR Coordinator for Documentation, 02.411.0256

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[In the news] New Caraga police director says drive vs illegal logging, mining a priority -MindaNews

MindaNews » New Caraga police director says drive vs illegal logging, mining a priority.

By Erwin Mascariñas
August 14, 2012

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/14 August) – The newly appointed police regional director for Caraga said the campaign against illegal logging and mining are among his top priorities.

Chief Superintendent Carmelo E. Valmoria made the statement during the turnover of command ceremony at Camp Rafael C. Rodriguez in Barangay Libertad, Butuan City Monday morning.

“We are not the lead agency on this matter but we will look into it that we would be there to provide support when needed. We have a comprehensive approach when it comes to apprehensions since several stakeholders are involved in the campaign, like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the local government units,” he said.

In the command conference that followed after the ceremony, Valmoria summoned his unit commanders to assess what needed to be done including a possible revamp and stepping up security measures.

He stressed he would not tolerate wrongdoings by his subordinates.

“We are the people’s police, and they are our masters, that we have to provide them quality service and ensure protection from all kinds of dangers. We will continue as mandated to enforce the law to prevent and control crimes to maintain peace and order to ensure public safety and provide security with the active support of the community, our local officials and stake holders,” he said.

Read full article @ www.mindanews.com

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Event] “KNOW ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE”, a mini film expo on the global phenomenon of enforced or involuntary disappearance

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) in cooperation with the Committee on Human Rights of the House of Representatives invite you to “KNOW ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE”, a mini film expo on the global phenomenon of enforced or involuntary disappearance. The film showing will be held on 01 March 2012 in Rooms 1&2, RVM Bldg, House of Representatives, 1:00 -4:00 PM.

Slated for screening are: “Unsilenced”, a documentary film on the enforced disappearance of six sub-contractual workers of a paper factory in Agusan del Sur and “Rendition”, a 2007 true-to-life drama film on extraordinary rendition directed by Gavin Hood and starring Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep and Jake Gyllenhaal among others.

The film expo aims to promote human rights awareness more particularly of the right against enforced disappearance and to urge the Philippine government to enact an anti-enforced disappearance law and to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

An open discussion will follow after each film showing.

Come join in this collective endeavor and be one with us in making human rights a reality for all.

[Blogger] Of Lolong’s captivity and our freedom – KAMPAY

by Rapha-el Olegario

In the news today, Lolong, the 21-foot crocodile caught in the marshlands of Agusan still refuses to eat, according to the Inquirer. The crocodile, was caught last September 2, 2011. The crocodile is suspected to have eaten a farmer, a 12 year old girl, and some farm animals including a carabao. The crocodile may be the longest crocodile so far as the last recorded crocodile caught was only 5.5 meters long, compared to the 6.7 meters of Lolong the Crocodile. The crocodile is now in an eco-park somewhere in Agusan.

According to some animal experts, the reason why Lolong is unable to eat is that he is too stressed to eat. After his ordeal during his capture, there were instances that he became too hostile, and probably, the reason he was captured was because he became weak after a long arduous struggle to set himself free. He may be in an eco-park but that is not his natural habitat. Since the croc was born not from captivity, its ability to adapt in an enclosed area may take some time if not at all.

My point here is the croc’s natural habitat belongs to the wild. It feeds on living or maybe carcasses of animals. Its capability is to hunt down, strike on its prey and eat. That is its nature, and a living animal like him belongs to the wild and this is the only way he can survive. Take him away from it and who knows he can die of stress and inability to adapt.

We humans are extraordinary beings. We are extraordinary in the sense that we can go beyond our natural animal instinct. Apart from our beings as an animal, we have one distinct characteristic: We are rational beings. We are endowed with an ability to understand the things around us, adapt on it, do something about it and develop ourselves and our community.

But for a human being to fully actualize his abilities, he needs the same thing as animals do. Food, water, clothing, shelter, fellow beings and the like. But as human beings, we need more than that. We have a natural propensity to develop. Here comes education, jobs, decent wages, family, clean environment, technology and the like. One good thing about us humans is that our consciousness can go beyond the self and extend to others. No! I am not talking about mind control! What I mean is that we don’t just think about ourselves but we also think of the betterment of the others: Conscientious, emphatic, sympathetic, solidarity.

Now take away all of it, what becomes of a human? Like what Lolong experienced, from being taken away from his natural habitat and being a captive and displayed like a prized trophy, we are all taken off from our natural being. Dehumanized is the best word to see it. The sad part is, the more we fight to regain our humanity, our dignity, the more we are challenged to regain back what is ours for it is not given like a piece of candy. To retake it, we must pay for it with our blood and sweat. Our heroes have done it and we still have to continue the fight.

In this day of commemoration of martial law, let us not forget that during those days, our life as a human being and as a freedom loving Filipino was salvaged and we’re brainwashed to accept that it was a necessary step for peace and order. That it was Marcos’ key so he can amass more power and wealth and to destroy the very fabric that the nation our heroes like Bonifacio, Rizal, Jacinto, Sakay, Ninoy, Alejandro and the countless, nameless, faceless victims of martial law died for. Let us not forget them for even animals do not forget their prey and aggressors.

Read more of Oleg’s blog, visit KAMPAY.

[Press Release] Special Treatment: A Bonus for Impunity Ex-Gov. Leviste in the NBP, Cpl. Billones in Agusan del Sur

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) strongly criticizes the special treatment of former Gov. Antonio Leviste and other influential affluent inmates in the National Bilibid Prison.  It not only adds insult to injury to the victims of these privileged inmates, but also, as perceived by those sensitive to justice, a mockery of our justice system.  PAHRA Chairperson, Max de Mesa said, “Such special treatments are nothing more than a bonus to impunity and encourages its further perpetration and perpetuation.”

The “open secret” of special treatment of select inmates officially made public now by DOJ Usec. Francisco Baraan, III, should be determinedly and thoroughly investigated with due diligence so that the perpetrators and their accessories are meted out corresponding punishment and/or disciplinary actions towards totally expurgating these corruptive practices.

De Mesa stressed that: “Another “open secret” that should be officially exposed is the special treatment accorded to some military personnel out of “camaraderie”.”  A long-standing example is the PICOP 6 case and convicted Army Cpl. Rodrigo Billones of the 62nd Infantry Battalion. Six workers of the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP) were forcibly disappeared in October 14, 2000 with strong evidences of the involvement of 12 members of the 62nd Infantry Battalion assigned in Agusan del Sur.

In July 11, 2008, Executive Judge Dante Luz N. Viacrucis in a landmark decision convicted Corporal Billones not as a principal but as an accomplice to the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of the six PICOP workers. For each of the six victims, the court sentenced Corporal Billones to the indeterminate penalty of 9-15 years of imprisonment. The court also sought the indemnification of the heirs of each of the six victims with the sum of P50, 000 as life indemnity and P50, 000 as moral damages.

Meanwhile, the period Corporal Billones spent under preventive detention since 28 June 2001 shall be credited to the service of his sentence. Despite the seriousness of the crime for which Billones was convicted and the significant prison term he was given — lives with his wife and two children in a house outside of the fence surrounding the Agusan del Sur provincial jail, though within the prison compound.  The warden, reported to be a military reservist, is said to have granted this privilege to Billones out of “camaraderie”.

De Mesa stated that “This special treatment has been confirmed by CHR Region 13, FIND and even by an international human rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch (HRW).”

“This was even brought to the attention of the Human Rights Office of the AFP,”  de Mesa added.

The families of the PICOP 6 victims has demanded the transfer of Billones to a regular prison.  The DOJ has already been informed of the situation.  Chairperson de Mesa concluded: “In the Billones special treatment case, the AFP has the opportunity to help correct the anomalous arrangement and to make true their policy of ensuring the primacy of human rights in its institution.”

25 May 2011
Reference: Max de Mesa (0920) 9080480
Candy Diez (0927) 4012416

[Press release] TDC on the End of Agusan Hostage Crisis- teachersdignity.com

Finally, all the remaining hostages in Agusan Sur crisis are now free. After five days of being captives by armed men in the mountains of Agusan they will soon be reunited with their families. We are happy for them and we thank all those who joined us in prayers.

We commend the efforts made by the authorities especially the local crisis management committee for this successful negotiation. However, we reiterate our constant reminder to the government, especially the police and military to protect the schools to deter the same incidents in the future and we challenge the president to include it in his priorities. Finally, we would like to remind the DepEd to begin the inventory of hardship posts and provide additional compensation to teachers in areas of armed conflicts.

-Benjo Basas, TDC Chairperson

[News release] TDC wants hazard pay for teachers in conflict areas- teachersdignity.com

Photo source: findallvideos.com

Amidst the on-going hostage crisis in Agusan, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) reminds DepEd of its obligation to pay hardship allowance to teachers in conflict areas. According to the group, the secretary of education is tasked by RA 4670 or the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers to determine the areas where teachers are exposed to hardships and provide an allowance equivalent to 25% of their basic pay.

Benjo Basas TDC

Benjo Basas, a Caloocan City teacher and the group’s chairperson says “the law is a 1966 vintage, yet the implementing guidelines were promulgated only in December 2007.” The guidelines, which were released by the DBM through National Budget Circular 514, specifically identifies the presence of armed conflict in work area as one of the hazard posts and thereby entitles the teachers and school personnel a special hardship allowance.

“But even that is not an assurance that teachers in the so-called areas of armed conflict enjoy this privilege. In most cases, this not implemented.” Basas added.

The Agusan crisis is the fifth major abduction case involving teachers since year 2009 in Mindanao alone. Three teachers from Zamboanga City were kidnapped in January and another three were also kidnapped in March. In November of the same year, a Sulu principal was kidnapped and later beheaded by his kidnappers. And in December 2009, 75 people, including teachers were also being held hostage in Agusan Sur by armed men lead by Ondo Perez. Perez is a relative of the perpetrators of the current kidnapping whose demand is his freedom from jail.

“No doubt, teachers are exposed in hardships and hazards in these areas and therefore must be properly compensated.” Basas continued quoting Prosperidad Mayor Alvin Magdamit who earlier said “This is tragic because these are lowly paid teachers who are being held.”

Basas said that teachers might refuse to be assigned in those areas, because aside from a very minimal compensation, they fear for their safety, “such scenario would lead to failure to deliver the basic right of Filipino children to education.”

The group also quoted Secretary Luistro’s earlier statement that says “it is very disturbing that teachers who offer their lives for the community always fall victims to these crimes.”

TDC challenges the DepEd to start the inventory of all those who may possibly be qualified for the special hardship allowances.

Aside from the additional compensation, Basas reiterates his group’s demand of providing more security forces in the vicinity of schools. The group argued that the presence of law enforcers alone would deter the criminal activities of groups in the area.

“We pray that this Agusan incident will end peacefully very soon and we hope that this will be the last.” Basas ended. #

For details: Benjo Basas, 0920-5740241/385-3437 www.teachersdignity.com

[Petition] Justice for the PICOP 6 victims of enforced disappearance

(The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), a national alliance of human rights organizations and individuals in the country launched its petition on-line calling for justice for a decade old enforced disappearance case of the six (6) PICOP workers namely Joseph Belar, Jovencio Lagare, Romualdo Orcullo, Diosdado Oliver, Artemio Ayala and Arnold Dangkiasan.  Please support the campaign for justice for the PICOP 6 disappeared workers and their families by signing the on-line petition below. for more details of the case pls. click www.philippinehumanrights.org and/or cannotallowtorture.blogspot.com)


To:  Pres. Benigno Aquino III, Philippines

Dear Honorable President Aquino,

Greetings of peace!

I am writing to express my concern regarding the safety of Sgt. Esequias Duyogan, a key witness to the ten-year enforced disappearance case of six contractual workers from the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP).

PICOP 6 workers by FIND

I learned that Sgt. Duyogan witnessed how the PICOP 6 workers – Joseph Belar, Jovencio Lagare, Romualdo Orcullo, Diosdado Oliver, Artemio Ayala and Arnold Dangkiasan, were tied with a rope and approached the camp while being manhandled by armed privates. He identified 12 military personnel to have led the six workers inside the army camp and saw how they bashed the heads of the victims with iron pipes, dug graves and buried the bodies at the back of the PX building. They dug up the bodies three days later, loaded them on a Chevrolet service vehicle, and burned them at the “Rampid” at Km. 57 in Barangay Nueva Gracia, Trento.

With his testimony, Executive Judge Dante Luz N. Viacrucis convicted Corporal Rodrigo Billones as an accessory for the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention of the six PIOP workers.

A joint criminal complaint for multiple murder, grave coercion, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and torture were also filed against Col. Eustaquio Cabando, 2nd Lt. Enrico Calumag, PFC Miguel Bachecha, Sgt. Fernando Cagadas, Sgt. Angel Perilla, Sgt. Cesar Polito, PFC Jocelo Pitos, MSgt. Ventorito Saballa, PFC Bienvenido Veto, Sgt. Renante Castaneda, PFC Jesus Patrimonio and PFC Ronda for the PICOP 6 workers. The case is still under preliminary investigation, to which the clarificatory hearings were postponed several times in the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor in Patin-ay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

With his participation in the conviction of Corporal Billones and the subsequent filing of criminal charges to 12 other military personnel, Sgt. Duyogan Sgt. Duyogan’s personal safety is seriously at very high risk.

I was informed that he was dishonourably discharged from service due to his supposedly absence without leave (AWOL). Unidentified men also subjected him and his family to constant surveillance.

In August 11, 2010, he was able to avoid what Sgt. Duyogan perceived as an attempted ambush against him. According to Sgt. Duyogan, he was riding a motorcycle on his way to his farm in Sitio Suti, Brgy. Burboanan, Bislig City when he saw two of the accused, Tsg Angel Perilla and Cpl Jocelo Pitos with several members of a tribal group hiding behind lauaan trees along the road between Sitio Suti and Sitio Mabog. Upon seeing the threat, Sgt. Duyogan alighted from the motorcycle and returned to Sitio Mabog through an alternate route.

He is also currently suffering from legal harassments. I have learned that in a 900-page counter-affidavit of the accused military personnel, a bigamy case was attached as an annex. Although the case was based on factual evidence, Duyogan’s legal counsel learned that the bigamy case materialized because of several interventions i.e. frequent house visits and persuasion made by military representatives to the legal wife. Further interviews with the legal wife revealed that she was not the one who initiated the filing of the bigamy case. Duyogan’s legal counsel believes that the bigamy is being used to destroy his credibility as a witness.

In December 17, 2010, Sgt. Duyogan and the PICOP 6 family members attended the summons for a clarificatory hearing for the multiple murder case in the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor failed to show up in the said hearing. Fiscal Vicente Abugho just notified the complainants that the hearing was postponed on the same day.

I have learned that immediately after the postponed hearing, members of the Philippine National Police Regional Mobile Group (RMG) from Santiago, Agusan del Norte led by a certain “Unzalan” suddenly confronted Sgt. Duyogan with a warrant of arrest. He was transported and detained in Ormoc City for allegedly violating Republic Act 9262. He was not aware of the existence of the said case and has not received any subpoena. He is now released after posting bail and is being secured by concerned organizations.

However, his wife and their two children in Agusan were not spared from threats. Human rights organization, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) received calls from Sgt. Duyogan’s wife that unidentified men climbed up the roof of their house the previous night. The following morning, men with bonnets were seen closely monitoring their house.

In this context, I am calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ), Hon. Leila de Lima to ensure the safety of Sgt. Duyogan and his family.The DOJ must also expedite the resolution on the murder case which had been going on for more than two years now and a speedy trial as soon as the charges are formally filed.

There were also reports that the convicted Corporal Billones is currently living in a house within the prison compound but separate from the prison facility. With his situation as a convicted criminal, Corporal Billones should not be given luxuries and privileges provided for a free man. He must be immediately committed to the National Bilibid Prison or the nearest regular penitentiary in Agusan.

I would like to appeal that:

1. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), through Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales, support and closely monitor the case, as well as assist in the welfare of the families of the PICOP 6 workers and of the witness, Sgt. Duyogan

2. The Armed Forces of the Philippines – Human Rights Affairs Office conduct an investigation and monitoring of the case against the accused military officials including the allegations of threats to Sgt. Duyogan and his family as well as FIND Agusan coordinator Rose Deano.

3. The Office of the President certify as urgent and subsequently pass bills criminalizing the act of enforced disappearance. The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance should also be signed by the honourable President Aquino and ratified by the Philippine Senate.

Thank you! I trust that you will favourably act on this matter.


to sign the on-line petition please follow this link-  http://www.petitiononline.com/PICOP6/petition.html