Tag Archives: Asian Human Rights Commission

[Urgent Appeal] Husband and daughter of murdered land rights activists suffer trauma -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAU-003-2015

20 May 2015
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[Re: PHILIPPINES: One farmer killed, three others wounded after they were shot for harvesting crops they cultivated on disputed land]
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PHILIPPINES: Husband and daughter of murdered land rights activists suffer trauma

ISSUES: Human rights defenders; land rights
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regrets to inform you that the husband and daughter of a murdered land rights activist, Elisa Tulid, are suffering trauma as a result of her death. Elisa’s husband Danny Boy, and daughter, have been observed “staring into space”, “quiet and uncommunicative,” after witnessing the murder of the victim in front of them.

Asian Human Rights Commission

UPDATED INFORMATION: (Based on the documentation by the Medical Action Group (MAG)

Previously, we reported that a female land rights activist was killed in front of her husband and daughter. Her husband, Danny Boy, was able to report the incident at a nearby military camp that led to the arrest of the suspect.

The accused, Rannie Bugnot, was subsequently arrested and is presently detained at Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Gumaca District Jail, Quezon. The case is pending at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 62 in Gumaca, Quezon. For more details, please read: AHRC-FUA-004-2013.

After Elisa Tulid’s death, we have learned that her husband, Danny Boy, was observed staring into a space “tulala”, quiet and uncommunicative. He developed poor sleep, such that his daughter would talk to him at night, to help comfort him. During such talks, she would notice her father crying easily. He has poor appetite, low energy, and expressed hopelessness, as well as fear that the people behind Rannie Bugnot might also kill him.

Danny Boy admitted he suffers from an extremely poor attention span and has problem concentrating. His mind is disturbed or “gulong gulo ang isip”, such that he could not understand what other people are telling him. He developed palpitations and trembling, which occur almost daily, throughout the day. Two or three months after his wife’s death, the symptoms decreased in intensity; however, his thoughts and memories of his wife’s violent death remain easily triggered.

Mr. Tulid claimed he had improved a lot since his wife’s death. At the time of his interview, Mr. Tulid mentioned he still experiences these symptoms about four to five times a week, an improvement from daily in the past. However, he still has difficulty sleeping. Mr. Tulid constantly wonders why such things—the death of his wife—happened to him (“bakit nangyari? Walang kinalaman”)

Mr. Tulid said his daughter helps him recover. Apart from him, his younger daughter Belinda (alias), also suffers trauma, having witnessed her mother being murdered in front of her. Like her father, Belinda has also become uncommunicative and quiet. Mr. Tulid’s oldest daughter, Clarita (alias), decided to drop out of school and get married early after her mother’s death. As head of the family, Tulid was advised by his relatives to be strong for his children, and tries to show that he is in control of his emotions.

The AHRC urges the government to ensure Mr. Tulid and his daughter are afforded adequate treatment for the trauma they are suffering, and that just compensation is given to them.
Thank you.

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

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[From the web] Presumption of guilt dispenses with need for evidence -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

HONG KONG/PHILIPPINES: Presumption of guilt dispenses with need for evidence
Danilo Reyes
January 09, 2015

(Note: this article was first published in the January 4, 2015 issue of the Sunday Examiner)

Six year old Chris Angela Sales, whose father is being held on charges of murder, could not understand why her father, who brings her street food, buys her milk and puts her to bed after work, has been locked in a cell for nearly 10 months.

Asian Human Rights Commission

Angela’s 28-year-old, father, Christopher Sales, is one of the nine farmers and motorcycle drivers taken into custody by the military and handed over to the police, after being questioned at a checkpoint on March 10, in Matanao, Davao del Sur.

“When she arrived at the police station, she ran to the lock up cell. She ordered the police officer to open the lock so her father could come out. When it was not opened, she sobbed her eyes out,” her mother, Angelie Sales, said.

When soldiers questioned Sales and the eight others, they had neither any personal knowledge of the crime they were being accused of committing nor were they on any wanted list for any other crime.

In the village, when soldiers questioned the passers-by, they are expected, if not forced, to cooperate, and there is not much of a choice.

Anyone who refuses to answer or who questions the right of the police or military to interrogate them gets into trouble. The name of the game is forced, not voluntary, cooperation.

Uncooperative people are profiled arrogant. It is presumed they are probably guilty of a crime and are just trying to hide it from the law.

“If you are nothing to hide, why fear, why not cooperate?” is the usual rhetoric the soldiers and the police use.

This explains why Sales and the others are locked up. For soldiers and the police, interrogating or questioning is their usual practice. It does not matter whether they are accusing the real culprit or not they figure they can get information from anyone.

They do not initiate questioning because there is a reasonable suspicion, but on no basis all. Sales and others were indicted in court for murder. They are accused of attacking and raiding a police station. Despite forensic evidence showing none of them fired a gun, nevertheless they were charged with the murder of two policemen and wounding three others.

The question asked by six-year-old Chris Angela about why her father is in jail is also the same question the relatives of her father’s co-accused, Renante Orot, Julito Sales, Laudeemer Gama, Rufo Boy Gama, Joel Alberca, Noel Maranggit, Roger Natonton and Johnrey Pabillo,are asking. Why?
Clearly, after 28 years after the collapse of Marcos, the legacy of his dictatorial and authoritarian regime thrives deep within our law enforcement system. Prosecutors are used as a tool to meet political ends and, consequently, file politically motivated charges.

The practice of public prosecutors, as the Sales case illustrates, is that once crimes associated with internal security are alleged to have been committed, there is a presumption of guilt, certainly not innocence, or even probability of guilt.

This kind of thinking, targeting dissidents, is a policy born out of practice during the Marcos era.
In addition, many practices of the security forces from the martial law days have continued. Military checkpoints in villages or urban areas continue to operate all over the country.

It remains an enduring symbol that de facto, it is the military and not civilians that reign supreme. Civilian supremacy exists on paper only, not in practice.

In the last six years or so, the practice filing of fabricated and questionable charges against human rights and political advocates has become routine, systematic widespread.

The prosecutors are equally responsible for this and complicit with soldiers and police.
After all Angela Sales’ question to her father, as to why her father is now in jail, has no simple answer.

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About AHRC:The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-ART-003-2015

An Article by the Asian Human Rights Commission

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[Statement] Manilakbayan ng Mindanao to file a case against PNP-QCPD on Times St. Incident -KARAPATAN

Asian Human Rights Commission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-FST-087-2014
December 03, 2014

A Statement from KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: Manilakbayan ng Mindanao to file a case against PNP-QCPD on Times St. Incident

MANILA CITY – Manilakbayan ng Mindanao contingent is set to file a case against Police Superintendent Col. Pedro Sanchez and his subordinates in connection with the incident that ensued during the November 29 protest action conducted by the participants of the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao last November 29 at Times St., Quezon City.

Asian Human Rights Commission

Around 20 policemen of Police Station 2, Masambong Police Station, PNP-Quezon City Police District (QCPD) led by P/Supt. Col. Sanchez harassed and violently dispersed more than 200 lumads (indigenous people) and farmers comprising the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao contingent, and their counterparts from Southern Tagalog and the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Hacienda Luisita.

“We successfully ended our program and we’re about to leave the vicinity when all of sudden policemen armed with truncheons violently hit, grasped and pushed our fellow protesters,” Hanimay Suazo, Secretary-General of KARAPATAN-Southern Mindanao Region said.
According to a fact sheet prepared by human rights group KARAPATAN, there were 15 individuals from the ranks of the protesters who were injured including two media men. Seven   were from Southern Tagalog, 7 from Southern Mindanao Region, 2 from CARAGA Region and 1 from the National Capital Region.

Jay Apiag, spokesperson of KARAPATAN North Cotabato was hit on the neck or right clavicle that caused him to faint and was rushed to the East Avenue Medical Center.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) Secretary-General Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, one of the leaders who negotiated with Sanchez, was arbitrarily arrested during the protest. He was detained in Camp Karingal, the headquarters of QCPD, for four days.

Approximately 9:30 in the morning, the protesters started to march from the Bureau of Internal Revenue office in Quezon City. They were prevented to pass through when a police patrol car and five policemen blocked the road. It was the first confrontation between the two parties but the protesters managed to pass and positioned in front of Aquino’s gate.

The program started at around 9:55 am and additional 10 police men positioned in front of the gate while a negotiation was going on between the two parties. P/Supt. Sanchez arrived in the area around 10:05 am and commanded his men to disperse the protest. Sanchez pressured the protesters to stop the program but the group’s leaders asserted that they would end the program peacefully.

The program ended around 11:15 am. The protesters organized themselves to leave Aquino’s residence but the police kept on pushing the protesters with truncheons. Suddenly some police elements hit one of the protesters with a truncheon which ignited the commotion. P/Supt. Sanchez climbed up the mobile stage and hit Jay Apiag on the neck.

In defense, some of the protesters were compelled to fight back by throwing stones at the attacking police.  Representative Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna Partylist later arrived for negotiation.

“What happened in Times Street is a clear manifestation of police brutality, a bitter response of the Aquino administration to the people’s legitimate demands,” Suazo said.
“We cannot let the PNP get away from their atrocity, it’s ironic when they are supposed to promote justice and peace,” she said.

Jomorito Goaynon, spokesperson of Manilakbayan ng Mindanao said that “instead of addressing the demands of the Mindanaoans who traveled afar to register the human rights situation of hinterland Mindanao to the president and to the broadest Filipino people, we were met with a violent dispersal from the police.”

Goaynon said they were expecting that the president would take actions on their urgent demands, among which are the pull-out of army battalions in Mindanao, the cessation of destructive foreign agro-foreign projects, the stop of military attacks on community schools, the dismissal of trumped-up charges, and the stop of extrajudicial killings in Mindanao.

Over 300 people representing Mindanao’s different sectors and mostly indigenous people participated in the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao. They started their Manilakbayan (Journey to Metro Manila) last November 12 passing by Visayas, and the Bicol and Tagalog regions where their counterparts met and joined them.  Presently having their “Kampuhan” (People’s Camp) in Liwasang Bonifacio, their Manilakbayan ng Mindanao campaign will conclude on December 10.

Meanwhile, the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao is preparing its legal documents and assistance to file a case on the violent dispersal, arbitrary arrest, physical assault, harassment and coercion done by the PNP-QCPD.

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About AHRC:The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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[Announcement] Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives launches its new website -AHRC

WORLD: Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives launches its new website

torturemagdotorg

Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives a path breaking initiative in the discourse of torture prevention wishes to inform our readers of the launching of its new website. The website www.torturemag.org is not only for the print version of the magazine but it is a part of the expanding discourse that we have with our contributors and readers. This is partly due to the limitation we faced with the print version.

Asian Human Rights Commission

The bi-monthly started in 2012, published by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Danish Institute Against Torture (DIGNITY), and at first it was limited to the print and downloadable PDF version of each issue. However, in the new website the readers can download, not only the PDF version of the entire issue, but also to read the individual content of each issue such as articles, Op-Ed, essays, papers, etc.

The decision to create a separated website arose after concerns from the writers and readers and it was decided to expand the space for those who, are not only engaged in the discourse but, also those who victims of this inhuman practice on a daily basis.

The website, will be updated weekly and it will not limited to the content we print bi-monthly but also news, opinion and etc. related to the subjects we cover.

As we stated in the editorial of our first issue, two years ago:

“The concept of publishing a bi-monthly magazine on torture was borne of these circumstances, limitations and hopes. The publication will give prominent coverage to the atrocities committed by authorities and affiliated agencies against individuals legally under their protection. We seek to create a platform for the discussion and exposure of torture practices in Asia and around the globe.”

“Our stance is firmly against any form of torture, a practice legally and morally reprehensible, and unjustifiable under all circumstances. We call for governments to investigate thoroughly and prosecute perpetrators of such brutality. We also invite our readers to participate in this campaign against torture. The global citizenry continue to hope (and should demand) that their governments, guided by the fundamental principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international conventions, take legislative, administrative and judicial action so that not only will justice be served, but a lasting peace will be brought to humanity.”

Eradicating torture is a gradual but necessary process that we all bear responsibility for. Please support us by subscribing to the print magazine so we may broaden our readership in Asia and around the world, galvanise governments and aid advocacy groups.

Your help is critical for the circulation of a thing we, and the multitudes around the world, cherish and which cannot easily be vanquished: hope. Let us remain steadfast in that hope we profess, of a world without violence, and a future free from fear.

Visit our new website at www.torturemag.org , and share with your networks. Join us, and ask your friends to join eradicate this viciousness practice of mankind.
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-ANM-045-2014
October 20, 2014
An Announcement from the Asian Human Rights Commission

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[From the web] Poverty reflects a failure of the government not the person by Danilo Reyes

Asian Human Rights Commission

HONG KONG/PHILIPPINES: Poverty reflects a failure of the government not the person
by Danilo Reyes

(Note: this article was first published in the October 12, 2014 issue of the Sunday Examiner)

Poverty reflects a failure of the government not the person.

Seven years ago, my first cousin, 22-year –old Maricel Mahinay, died from an illness aggravated by severe malnutrition. She was three months pregnant. Her death came two years after her first child had also died from a malnutrition related illness.

Asian Human Rights Commission

Maricel, whom we called Cecil, and I lost contact in the 1990s when I moved to another city. I was working while studying at a university. I did not hear from her for many years.

My memory of her dates back to our child hood days in our sleepy and laidback hometown.

In September 2005, my mum, now a retired public school teacher, told me that Maricel’s 11-month-old son, John Paul, had died from an illness aggravated by severe malnutrition.

I was an intern at Asian Human Rights Commission at that time and was beginning to comprehend how abject poverty affects not only human societies, but ourselves – and here was my own cousin’s child dying from want of basic necessities.

When I learned about the death of Maricel’s son, I had mixed emotions. I did not know she had got married or that she had a child.

She was the daughter of my mum’s older brother who was a tricycle driver. Maricel was so poor that she had to borrow money to pay hospital bills before she could take her son’s body home and then pay for a small plot of land to bury him.

After I published the story of my cousin’s death and her circumstances, I learned that the former mayor, who is currently a lawmaker in the province of South Cotabato, Mindanao, dispatched one of his staff to locate her.

I used to interview this mayor when I worked as a journalist there. I knew that he would intervene, not because his administration had been so neglectful, but because her case tarnished the city’s image.

Reluctantly, social workers from our local government went to her house and gave her some relief goods and a health card.

When the social workers spoke to Maricel, they told her she should have approached them first. She should not have complained and exposed the death of her child in public.

These social workers might have achieved their goal, as when Maricel was dying two years after her son’s death, she did not complain.

In evaluating Maricel’s case, they concluded they could not classify her as a public services for indigent beneficiary, or the poorest of the poor, because in the Philippines, if you have a relative working in the government or overseas, your family and relatives are not considered indigent.

So for them, Maricel could not be indigent. At the time, maricel could not be indigent. At the same time, my mum was as a public school teacher and they came to know I was in Hongkong – doing an internship on a meagre allowance.

In the Philippines, the government method of assessment in identifying an indigent, who is poor and who is not or who is deserving of public services and who is not is based on the philosophy that it is the family and their relatives, and not the government that has the primary responsibility of support.

The consequence of this thinking means that any Filipino in the Philippines who has a family or relatives overseas, Hong Kong or elsewhere, cannot be considered indigent, or deserving of government assistance.

Thus, relatives of overseas Filipinos back home cannot be classified as indigent or poor.
In his column for the Sunday Examiner titled, the struggle to put food on tables, on September 14, Father Shay Cullen Notes, “More people than ever go hungry”,

He says hunger and starvation hits children the hardest. The story of my cousin, Maricel, and her son John Paul, are among those countless untold stories.

Father Cullen rightly points out that those who suffer from hunger end up severely malnourished and die quickly from hunger-related diseases.

John Paul died too young and too early because his parents had no money to buy food, let alone medicine. Like him, many other starving children go to bed every night crying for want of a meal.
The vast section of Philippine society is poor; consequently, the threshold for testing who is poor has become oddly high. But this method has only created a wrong perception that is detached from reality – that government employees and their relatives; as well as overseas workers and their relatives are not poor.

Needless to say, many of the government and overseas workers are themselves poor.

Reflecting on my cousin’s experience leads me to understand that it is highly destructive when people are made to feel that to suffer from poverty, hunger and starvation is the person’s own fault.

We should be condemning what causes this suffering, not those who suffer. To suffer abject poverty is neither a person’s own fault nor a choice.

It is a failure in the system of social government structure which takes away equal opportunity.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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[Literary] The Planned Disappearance

Asian Human Rights Commission

ASIA: The Planned Disappearance

Following is a poetic response to ASIA: Wounds in the souls of the members of disappeared people’s families can never be cured, which appeared yesterday (September 26, 2014)
by John Joseph Clancey

Will there be another tomorrow?
Or, just another wife’s sorrow,
caused by her husband’s disappearance?
Will I hear my new-born baby’s cry?
Or, will she hear her mother’s sobbing sigh,
wondering about her husband’s disappearance?
Will I be sitting with my father in the Church pews?
Or, will he be constantly waiting for news,
since the first day of his son’s disappearance?
Will tomorrow be another worry-filled day?
Or, perhaps bring a much more creative way,
to avoid the inevitable disappearance?
So many have just gone, without a trace.
Does anyone know the precise time or exact place,
of their ultimate disappearance?
Can I ensure another tomorrow?
And prevent some further sorrow,
by disappearing before the planned disappearance?
For Basil Fernando,
who, in 1989, faced the dilemma:
to disappear or be disappeared.

AHRC-ART-077-2014-1.jpg(John Joseph Clancey is a Hong Kong lawyer and the chairperson of the Asian Human Rights Commission ( AHRC) )

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Read this Article online

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-ART-077-2014
September 26, 2014

An Article from the Asian Human Rights Commission

Asian Human Rights Commission

 

 

 

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[Urgent Appeal] Three indigenous miners were found buried in a shallow grave -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: Three indigenous miners were found buried in a shallow grave
April 16, 2014
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-052-2014

16 April 2014

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PHILIPPINES: Three indigenous miners were found buried in a shallow grave

ISSUES: Extra-judicial killings; Indigenous people
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) deeply regrets to inform you that after being missing for several days, three people were found buried in a shallow grave near their hut. The three victims were last seen by their family on 2 March. The continuing presence of the military has heightened the threats and harassment in the community.

Asian Human Rights Commission

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation by the Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights (KARAPATAN) and Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) and Bulatlat)

On 7 March 2014, Freddie ‘Fermin” Ligiw, (29), Eddie Ligiw, in his mid thirties and Licuben Ligiw in his mid sixties were found in a shallow grave near their hut. Their bodies were piled one on top of the other in the grave. The body of Eddie was at the bottom. He was shirtless when found. On top of him were the bodies of his father, Licuben and his brother, Fermin.

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[From the web] Torture victims speak out – “They tortured me, used me to get reward” Video interview 14 — Asian Human Rights Commission

Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: Torture victims speak out – “They tortured me, used me to get reward” Video interview 14 — Asian Human Rights Commission.

(Hong Kong, February 6, 2014) On January 14, the Court of Appeals (CA), Fifth Division, has concluded that Rolly Panesa, a 48-year-old security guard, could not possibly be Benjamin Mendoza, a leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), rejecting the claim of the police and soldiers as justification for his arrest.

Asian Human Rights Commission

In its press release, Karapatan, a local coalition of human rights groups, argued that the Court’s decision, “strengthens the anti-torture case he filed against his arresting officers and interrogators.” Panesa filed charges for violation of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 against those who arrested and tortured him.

In its decision, the Court hearing Panesa’s petition for habeas corpus rejected the petition by the police and the soldiers asking the court to reconsider its decision in August 2013. The police and the military appealed to the court’s decision, so as to allow them to re-arrest Panesa.

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[From the web] PHILIPPINES: ‘Torture wheels’ is tip of the iceberg — Asian Human Rights Commission

Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: ‘Torture wheels’ is tip of the iceberg — Asian Human Rights Commission.

Photo by CHRP

Photo by CHRP

The discovery of a ‘torture wheel’ “inside a private subdivision in Laguna,” which is under the control of intelligence officers in Biñan, Laguna, where detainees arrested for illegal drugs are tortured and held, drew outrage as to how the police conduct its investigation into crimes.

Asian Human Rights Commission

The “torture wheel” was discovered by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after conducting onsite inspections of the detention facility. The facility, however, was not included in the list of official detention centres; and, in fact, its operation reportedly surprised the Philippine National Police (PNP). The facility is “never included in the regular status reports of all police custodial and detention centers.”

With the discovery and exposure of this practice, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) expresses its appreciation to the CHR for investigating and conducting the onsite inspection. On this occasion the CHR went out of its way by investigating promptly and effectively into the complaints of torture.

The CHR’s investigation was in response to complaints received by the public attorney attached to the Public Attorney Office (PAO) in Laguna. The PAO lawyers filed the complaint with the CHR based on the allegations of torture by victims detained by the intelligence officers and policemen.

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[Press Release] Parliamentarians key to realising Pacific health rights. -AFPPD

ASIA: Parliamentarians key to realising Pacific health rights

The important role of parliamentarians in the Pacific needs to be bolstered so as recent commitments to advance reproductive health and rights can be realised.

That’s the message of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) as they host a workshop for parliamentarians beginning at Papua New Guinea’s Parliament House in Port Moresby today, along with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

AFPPD

“There was tremendous commitment to increased reproductive health and rights in the Moana Statement consensus from MPs meeting in Suva in August and this carried through to the Pacific’s key leadership at the recent Asia Pacific Population Conference in Bangkok,” said Ramon San Pascual, Executive Director at AFPPD.

“Now we have to ensure Pacific parliamentarians are empowered to monitor how their governments go about meeting these commitments.

“We have seen some excellent improvements in health and rights in the Pacific but more needs to be done.

“Ending violence against women, comprehensive sexuality education and eliminating HIV/AIDS are priorities,” said Mr San Pascual.

The recent passage of anti-domestic violence legislation in Papua New Guinea and Kiribati were welcome legislative advances but parliamentarians also have a strong role in monitoring implementation and allocation of resources.

Further information: John Hyde, at AFPPD on +66 898723362; john@afppd.org

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

A Press Release from Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

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[Blog] Stoning to Death and Honor Killing is a Crime against Humanity By Jose Mario De Vega

Stoning to Death and Honor Killing is a Crime against Humanity
By Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to Dominic Kelly’s, “Arifa Bibi Stoned To Death In Pakistan For Possessing A Cell phone”, which appeared on Opposing Views, dated October 3.

Mario De Vega

The gruesome story is about “a young mother of two has been put to death in Pakistan for possessing a cell phone.”

As the report lucidly narrated:

“Arifa Bibi was sentenced to death by stoning by a Pakistani tribal court, and was executed on July 11 at the hands of her family. Her uncle, cousins and other family members threw stones at the woman until she died, all because she had a mobile phone. She was buried in the desert far away from her home village, and according to the reports, her family was not permitted to be involved in her funeral.”

I join the international humanistic community in condemning to the highest possible extent this act of barbarism and extreme inhumanity.

The whole matter is a complete travesty and an utter mockery of justice. Where can you find a law that punished a person simply for possessing a cell phone?

If ever there is such a ‘law’ how could the ‘authorities’ justify the penalty of death? Worst, how could they justify the execution by stoning to death?

As continued by Kelly:

“Stoning has been a common sentence in countries like Pakistan for a long time and is used against women and other vulnerable groups. Since the stoning of Arifa Bibi this summer, women’s rights groups have launched an even stronger campaign to put a ban on stoning.”

I condemn Pakistan and all countries, such as Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria who idiotically prescribes and condones stoning people to death, especially women and other vulnerable minority groups.

Stoning to death, in my view is a bloody stain in the history of civilization. This ignorant and inhume act is not only a crime to the women or to those minority groups, but also undeniably a crime against humanity.

This barbaric practice is a shame to the whole of mankind!

I concur with Naureen Shameem, the representative for women’s rights group Women Living Under Muslim Laws, when says “that stoning is used against women in particular as a way to control them.”

Shameem stated that:

“Stoning is a cruel and hideous punishment. It is a form of torturing someone to death. It is one of the most brutal forms of violence perpetrated against women in order to control and punish their sexuality and basic freedoms.”

Indeed, as the Asian Human Rights Commission explained the act of stoning against women in a recent press release:

“Stoning to death is a barbaric act from a primitive society. Society is sent the message that violence is the way to deal with women and other vulnerable groups. Women’s rights are negated through the use of these forms of punishment. Pakistani society has degenerated to the point that, for a woman, keeping a cell phone has become serious crime. It is treated as a worse crime than gang rape, murder and bomb blasts, through which many people are killed on a daily basis.”

Another idiotic issue that I wish to highlight and condemn is the so-called barbaric practice of “honor killing”.

The Human Rights Watch defines “honor killings” as follows:

“Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce—even from an abusive husband—or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.”

There is no iota of doubt that these two idiotic issues are evil in origin and irrefutably barbaric to the maximum.

These preposterous practices and nefarious acts grossly and grimly violated the United Nation Universal Declaration of Human Rights that clearly stipulates that:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Clearly, stoning to death and honor killing are undeniably a blatant negation, a sheer derogation and a complete denial of the people, especially of women and other vulnerable minority groups of their human rights and the guarantee and protection of a civil, reasonable and secular law as mandated by international law and sanctioned by universal convention and statutes!

To deny these groups or type of people their inherent and natural right to their human rights is to challenge their very humanity and reduce their dignity. This is a shame!

To impose on them a backward, preposterous and Jurassic law is to deny their humanity. This is a shame!

Incontestably, stoning to death and honor killing’s only aim is depriving people of their humanity and dehumanizing them. This is the heights of stupidity, shame and absurdity!

Henceforth, I forged solidarity and joined all relevant rights groups and humanistic international organizations who are “currently petitioning the United Nations to enact a worldwide ban on stoning.”

This twin evil practices and acts of madmen and barbarians must come to an end.

For Humanity, Equality and Justice!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

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

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[Statement/Solidarity] Attorney General plays key role to deny Adilur’s bail granted by High Court-AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

AHRC-STM-180-2013
October 9, 2013

A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission

BANGLADESH: Attorney General plays key role to deny Adilur’s bail granted by High Court

Bangladeshis authorities are trying to block the process of releasing the human rights defender Adilur Rahman Khan, today, October 9, 2013.

Asian Human Rights Commission

A Division Bench of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh granted six months interim bail to Adilur Rahman Khan yesterday, 8 October 2013. Nearly after two months since the detention started on 10 August 10 the High Court has granted bail following rejection of the bail petitions by the Magistrate’s Court once and Cyber Crimes Tribunal twice respectively. The Court passed this order after hearing Adilur’s petition, moved by Supreme Court Bar’s president Barrister AJ Mohammad Ali, in a Division Bench of the High Court. The Court ordered immediate release of Adilur, as there is no other case against him, asking the order should be served to the prison authorities by special messenger. It also directed the government and the police to explain why Adilur would not be granted regular bail.

Adilur was expected to be released from Kashimpur Central Jail-1 while the process of sending the Court’s order was in progress amidst rumours and suspicion that the authorities may re-arrest him in fresh fabricated cases, as there is such culture of re-arresting targeted persons in front of the gates of the prisons immediately after their release.

Today, in the afternoon, in less than 24 hours since the High Court granted bail to Adilur, the Office of the Attorney General has challenged yesterday’s bail order before the Bench of the Chamber Judge of the Supreme Court. The Attorney General requested the Chamber Judge’s Bench to stay the High Court’s order, however, the Court rejected the governmental plea while hearing the matter this afternoon.

The Attorney General’s appeal is part of the governmental strategy to prolong Adilur’s detention.

The Asian Human Rights Commission is aware that the government has amended the Information and Communications Technology Act, 2006, last week, ensuring that the crimes fall under Sections 54, 56, 57 and 61’cognizable’ and ‘non-bailable’ that were ‘non-cognizable’ and ‘bailable’ in the original law, despite the fact that the definitions of the crimes are mostly vague in the legislation. These amendments amount to retrospective legislation.

Constitutionally the Attorney General’s role is to appear for the government of Bangladesh. However, the Attorney General’s Office has been highly politicised and now it represents the wishes of the ruling regime.

The fate of Adilur is still uncertain. The government has established the ‘Cyber Crimes Tribunal’ headed by a Sessions Judge. According to the information received, on the 8th the Cyber Crimes Tribunal judge AKM Shamsul Alam, in the latest hearing, on 25 September, rejected Adilur’s bail petition and ordered to execute the warrant of arrest previously issued against Odhikar’s Director Mr. ASM Nasiruddin Elan. On September 18, the Tribunal, which took the cognizance of charges of committing crimes under Section 57 of the Information and Communications Technology Act, 2006, and Sections 505 (c) and 505A of the Penal Code, 1860, had set the next date of hearing the case for 21 October. However, tomorrow is the last day of court and it will not resume again on 1st November. It seems that the government is trying hard to keep Adilur behind bars so as to strangle the voice of Odhikar before the national elections.

Significantly, a number of prominent lawyers having different political and strategic backgrounds, such as Barrister Sara Hossain and Advocate Sigma Huda (a former UN Special Rapporture on Trafficking of children and women in person), appeared before the Court on behalf of Adilur while the petition was moved by former Attorney General Mr. AJ Mohammad Ali, a barrister.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the civil society organisations in Bangladesh and the diplomatic community to intervene on behalf of Adilur Rahman Khan to ensure his speedy release. We also call upon the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner’s office and the international community to intervene on his behalf.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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.

[Urgent Appeal] Another activist faces threats in Davao del Sur -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-129-2013

8 October 2013
——————————————————
PHILIPPINES: Another activist faces threats in Davao del Sur
ISSUES: Threats and intimidation; human rights defenders
——————————————————

Asian Human Rights Commission

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that an activist in Davao del Sur is facing threats. Military elements and the village council want to control and limit the activities of the victim’s organization. The victim and his family have had to leave their home due to fear of the soldiers.

CASE DETAILS: [Based on the documentation by Citizens Alliance Unified for Sectoral Empowerment – Davao del Sur (CAUSE)]

On 1 September 2013, at 5pm, Rodel Bonghanoy, a volunteer of the United Farmers of Davao del Sur (Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Davao del Sur ) was in his residence when two armed men arrived and introduced themselves as soldiers. The two men were in civilian clothes, riding a XRM-Honda, red motorcycle with no plate number. Rodel noticed that the driver appeared to be inebriated. The two men were later identified as Cpl. Najar and Cpl. Saggaan, elements of the 39th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army.

The soldier saw a motorcycle in front of Rodel’s residence and asked for the identity of its owner and driver. Rodel replied that the motorcycle was owned by the United Sugarcane Planters of Davao Cooperative (USPD) and that he was the driver. The soldier then told Rodel to log in his name at the village hall as he was visiting. He was accompanied by the soldier to the house of the village chief where he was told that they should coordinate their activities.

The soldier continued asking Rodel about his organization, members and even his personal information, all of which Rodel provided. However, the soldier became angry because he believed that Rodel was being arrogant.

Village chief Rodeto P. Muda asked Rodel why his group entered the village without his permission to organize. Rodel explained that one of their members is a barangay militia so it is not possible that their presence in the village is not coordinated. He also said that organizing is their right according to the Constitution so they don’t have to seek anyone’s permission.
According to Rodel the soldier became even angrier because he asked them to confirm that if the village chief refused to allow them permission, they would not be allowed to work. The soldiers told him that they would take him to his house in a patrol car. At that time Rodel’s wife arrived and she begged and pleaded with the soldier not to take her husband. The soldier told her that Rodel had been arrogant in answering their questions.

To this, Rodel answered: “I am not arrogant. I answer what is being asked, the village chief does not like our organization”. Gurabel, a village militia who was there, asked Rodel “why you did not ask permission while I was in the house during your meeting? I know Unified farmers and it is not good.”

Another soldier placed his hand on Rodel’s left shoulder and said: “From now on you should be cautious, God will be watchful”. Rodel was afraid because it sounded like a blatant threat. Agents of Civilian Volunteer Organization (CVO) and Civilian Security Unit (CSU) accompanied them going home. Rodel’s wife was suspicious that her husband would not be brought to his house.
Rodel was interrogated for almost three hours. At 9 pm another group of soldiers from the 39th Infantry Battalion arrived in an army truck nearby and asked their neighbor for their house. Rodel Bonghanoy and his family were forced to leave the house due to fear of the soldiers.
According to some witness an unknown person took pictures of the Bonghanoy’s house.

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.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PHILIPPINES: Another activist faces threats in Davao del Sur

Name of the victim threatened: Rodel Bonghanoy, 34 years old. He is a volunteer of United Farmers of Davao del Sur (Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Davao del Sur ).
Name of Alleged Perpetrators: 7 unknown elements of 39th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army led by Cpl. Najar, Cpl. Saggaan and Pfc. Allan Mondejar.
Name of village officials involved: Village chief Rodeto P. Muda and a certain Gurabel
Date of incident: 1 September, 2013 at 5pm
Place of incident: Kiblawan, Davao del Sur

I am writing to raise my grave concern about the case of Rodel Bonghanoy, a volunteer of United Farmers of Davao del Sur (Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Davao del Sur (NAMADDS)). On 1st September 2013, at 5pm, he was in his residence when two armed men arrived and introduced themselves as soldiers. The two men were in civilian clothes, riding a XRM-Honda, red motorcycle with no plate number. Rodel noticed that the driver appeared to be drunk. The two men were later identified as Cpl. Najar and Cpl. Saggaan, elements of the 39th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army.

The soldier saw a motorcycle in front of Rodel’ s residence and asked for the identity of its owner and driver. Rodel replied that the motorcycle was owned by the United Sugarcane Planters of Davao Cooperative (USPD) and that he was the driver. The soldier then told Rodel to log in his name at the village hall as he was visiting. He was accompanied by the soldier to the house of the village chief where he was told that they should coordinate their activities.

The soldier continued asking Rodel about his organization, members and even his personal information, all of which Rodel provided. However, the soldier became angry because he believed that Rodel was being arrogant.

Village chief Rodeto P. Muda asked Rodel why his group entered the village without his permission to organize. Rodel explained that one of their members is a barangay militia so it is not possible that their presence in the village is not coordinated. He also said that organizing is their right according to the Constitution so they don’t have to seek anyone’s permission.

I have learned that according to Rodel, the soldier became even angrier because he asked them to confirm that if the village chief refused to allow them permission, they would not be allowed to work. The soldiers told him that they would take him to his house in a patrol car. At that time Rodel’s wife arrived and she begged and pleaded with the soldier not to take her husband. The soldier told her that Rodel had been arrogant in answering their questions.

To this, Rodel answered: “I am not arrogant. I answer what are being asked, the village chief does not like our organization”. Gurabel, a village militia who was there: asked Rodel “why you did not ask permission while I was in the house during your meeting? I know Unified farmers and it is not good.”

Another soldier placed his hand on Rodel’s left shoulder and said: “From now on you should be cautious, God will be watchful”. Rodel was afraid because it sounded like a blatant threat. Agents of Civilian Volunteer Organization (CVO) and Civilian Security Unit (CSU) accompanied them going home. Rodel’s wife was suspicious that her husband would not be brought to his house but instead might be killed by the soldiers.

Rodel was interrogated for almost three hours. At 9 pm another group of soldiers from the 39th Infantry Battalion arrived in an army truck nearby and asked their neighbor for their house. Rodel Bonghanoy and his family were forced to leave the house due to fear of the soldiers.
According to some witness an unknown person took pictures of the Bonghanoy’s house.
I urge you to ensure the safety of the victim and his family; they must be afforded with adequate security and protection promptly.

I trust that you will take appropriate action in this matter.

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. Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary
Department of National Defense
DND Bldg, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
Quezon City
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email: osnd@philonline.com, dnd.opla@gmail.com

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

AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines
Follow us on:
Facebook: ahrc pilipinas
Twitter: @ahrcphilippines
Podcast: AHRC Philippines Rights Cast

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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.

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

Asian Human Rights Commission

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
Follow us on:
Facebook: ahrc pilipinas
Twitter: @ahrcphilippines
Podcast: AHRC Philippines Rights Cast

Visit our new website with more features at http://www.humanrights.asia.

——————————————————
NEW REPORT:
Special Report: The Philippines’ hollow human rights system

Click to access v11n0203.pdf

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.

[Urgent Alert] An urgent call to help millions affected by continuous torrential rains and flooding caused by Tropical Storm Trami -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: An urgent call to help millions affected by continuous torrential rains and flooding caused by Tropical Storm Trami

Asian Human Rights Commission

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding massive disruptions to normal life caused by Tropical Storm Trami (known in Philippines as Maring). The situation, unfortunately, has merely worsened by the Southwest Moonsoon or Habagat. As of now, data puts the number of affected at around 402, 415 families and 1, 928, 685 individuals spread over 16 provinces.

CASE NARRATIVE:
Over the last few weeks, the Philippines has suffered massive devastation caused by torrential rains and flooding as a consequence of Tropical Storm “Maring” (international code name: Trami). The situation was further worsened by the Southwest Moonsoon or Habagat. The areas worst affected fall in the National Capital Region (NCR) and include the Greater Metro Manila area. The rains and flooding has also seriously affected Luzon and the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR).

Estimates put the total number of affected at 402,415 families and 1,928,685 individuals. The extent of the devastation can be gauged by its geographical spread. The data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) shows that the storm has affected a total of 1,549 barangays of 123 municipalities, 33 cities, and 16 provinces. Out of these Laguna and Cavite are the worst hit by the flooding and a state of calamity had been declared there.

The situation went particularly bad on August 19-20 when relentless rains caused floodwaters as high as 2.5 meters rendering most of the major thoroughfares in Metro Manila impassable. The roads closed included South Luzon Expressway, Aguinaldo Highway and roads linking Bacoor to Zapote and Noveleta to Rosario. The rainfall was heavy and measured around 10-40 mm per hour. That is classified by the government’s weather agency, PAG-ASA as heavy to torrential rainfall.

The rains and flooding caused the collapse of a dam in Tanza, Cavite resulting in flash floods in nearby areas. Similarly, data from the Rosario Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RMDRRMC) shows that the disaster has affected 21,307 out of the total 36,805 families living in the area.

The floods have seriously affected the livelihoods of people and those dependent upon daily wages are the worst hit. Fisher folks have particularly suffered in this case as many of them have had no catch for more than three weeks now. An oil spill caused by a leaky marine pipeline of the Petron Corporation, an oil company with a depot in the municipality, has necessitated the declaration of a state of calamity in the coastal areas of Rosario, Cavite since August 8, 2013. They have not been able to fish ever since. The oil spill has affected 9 barangays in Rosario, 14 in Tanza, and 9 barangays in Naic. The Petron Corp. is now jointly owned by Ashmore Group, a London-listed investment group and the San Miguel Corp.

The oil spill forced the local government to immediately suspend fishing activities in the affected areas. However, by the time the areas were clearing up rains started on 17 August and slowly developed into a tropical storm, forcing the fishermen indoors. The food security of these fisher folks is seriously affected as they depend on a daily catch for their survival.

The situation was similar in Kawit in Noveleta and Sta. Rosa in Cavite City which experienced waist-deep floodwaters rendering the major thoroughfares impassable for almost two days. It hampered the transportation of basic goods and services and also the normal routes of passenger vehicles. Further, all the companies in the Cavite Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) suspended their operations on Monday, 19 August when the storm started to bring in floodwaters inside the zone. The flood situation deteriorated the following day when almost all the companies were flooded to different degrees. The inundation did not merely cause damage to the companies but also made them suspend their work for almost a week, leaving the poor workers in trouble as most of them work under a ‘no work no pay’policy. For its part, even the government has not announced any compensation for the workers, thus making their lives even more difficult.

The fact that Southwest Monsoon rains continues to pour down coupled with the PAG-ASA’s warning of two to three tropical storms hitting the area in the coming weeks has further deteriorate the situation. It is in this context that Workers Assistance Center, Inc, our partner organization has appealed for immediate relief and financial support for, and on behalf of the workers, the fisher folk and the urban poor communities in Cavite. The Centre need food, potable and clean water, mats and blankets and medicines and would focus on helping the most affected workers and their immediate families in the coastal communities here in Cavite.

You can send cash donations as well as the material needed on following accounts. Please remember that you can make donations in almost all important currencies.

Account Name: Workers Assistance Center, Inc,
Account Number: 1004-0178-85
Bank’s Name: Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Rosario Branch, Cavite
Address: General Trias Drive, Rosario, Cavite, Philippines
Swift Code: BOPI PH MM

For other support and materials, please send it to:
Workers Assistance Center, Inc.,
BAHAY MANGGAGAWA, Indian Mango St., Manggahan Cpd.,
Sapa I, 4106 Rosario,
Cavite, Philippines.
Tel: +63 46 884-00-76; Telefax: +63 46 438-47-36.
Emails: wacphilippines@yahoo.com.ph or wacphilippines@gmail.com

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please make donations at the address given above.

Thank you

Hunger Alerts Programme
Right to Food Programme (foodjustice@ahrc.asia)
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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[Statement] Why is there no investigation into the torture of a rape suspect two months on? -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: Why is there no investigation into the torture of a rape suspect two months on?

Asian Human Rights Commission

On June 21, we reported that Alfredo Lim, the former Mayor of Manila, had tortured a rape suspect in full view of the public, while the senior police officers present did nothing to prevent him. We rightly demanded that Lim, who perpetrated the torture and the policemen, who did nothing to stop the torture, be investigated for violation of the Anti-torture Act of 2009. The criminal liability under this law applies not only to public officials who commit torture but also those who knowingly allow it to happen and do nothing to prevent it.

In our previous statement, we also published the transcript of the video. By reading the transcript of the conversation between Lim and the suspect it was clear that the infliction of physical and psychological pain by Lim on the man was to extract a confession. In full view of the public, the suspect was forced to admit that he had raped, not one, but several women in separate incidents.

In response to our demand for a full investigation, without any reservations Lim defended his actions arguing as to why they were necessary and why he was not liable under the Anti-torture Law. In this report, Lim was quoted to have said:

The purpose of the press conference was not to extract admission from the suspect as he has already confessed to the crime before the police, the intention was for other possible victims to surface once they see the suspect’s face on television and newspapers.

In a separate report, Lim also challenged the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) “….to investigate questions being raised by an alleged group of activists”. In this he was obviously referring to the AHRC. Lim’s call for the CHR to investigate, however, was to serve his own purposes and not to shed light on the allegations of torture. Lim’s remark: “What about the victims? Don’t they have human rights, too?” clearly demonstrates his typically divisive strategy by making the public choose between the rights of a ‘criminal’ and a ‘victim’, and not whether he should be held criminally liable for having committed torture.

Lim’s style is not surprising. In fact, in November 2012, he defended the policemen who killed a man accused of murdering three women. In that report, Lim argued the “presumption of regularity” in defence of the policemen who were criticized for the killing. What Lim meant was that the policemen who took custody of the murdered suspect must be assumed to have been performing in accordance with the law; thus, to kill the suspect in custody by simply explaining that the suspect tried to grab a gun in order to escape was justified.

While we are not surprise by Lim’s actions in dealing with criminal suspects; however, the inaction by the CHR and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) is indeed shocking. If the prohibition and prevention of torture were to be absolute, either by the Constitution and Statutory laws, the failure of the CHR and the PAO to conduct a “prompt, immediate and impartial investigation” on Lim and the policemen means that the absolute freedom from torture only exist on paper and not in practice, as is evident in this case.

It is clear that neither the CHR nor the PAO did anything to investigate. Our demand for an investigation has been widely publicized; thus, it could not have been possible that the CHR and the PAO were not aware about this case. If Lim could ignore the CHR’s questioning about the custodial death of a man in police custody in 2012, we would not be surprised if Lim could, again, ignore the CHR now if it continues not to do anything.

The CHR and the PAO must explain why, two months after the incident, Lim and the policemen were never subjected to any form of investigation to answer these serious allegations. The absence of investigation into allegations of torture weakens the efficacy of the Anti-torture Law, and has since given rise to the loss of confidence in the law, not only by the torture victims, but also the public.

If the public officials and the law enforcers are not held accountable for the gravest forms of violations of fundamental rights: torture, they can hardly expect people and the public to abide by the law as well. It is completely wrong for the CHR and PAO to ignore this issue and just carryon on as if nothing has happened, especially with the violation of the law that Lim and the policemen committed.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Read this Statement online
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[From the web] Manila mayor tortures rape suspect in full view of the public — Asian Human Rights Commission

Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: Manila mayor tortures rape suspect in full view of the public — Asian Human Rights Commission.

Asian Human Rights Commission

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is demanding an explanation as to why the police did nothing to prevent Manila Mayor, Alfredo Lim, from interrogating and torturing a rape suspect in full view of the public. In this report by the GMA News, about five policemen in uniform, including a senior police officer, were present in front of Mayor Lim as he questions, extracted a confession and forced the suspect to admit he had raped a woman and attempted to rape and rob another.

The transcript from the broadcast of Mayor Lim’s questioning clearly breaches the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009. Under the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, to inflict pain either physical or psychological for purposes of extracting a confession, information and forcing a person to admit to a crime is a criminal offence:

Photo: TV grab from GMA News.

1:04-2:15 (time code)

Mayor Lim: ‘diba ikaw ang nang holdap dito? (Isn’t it you who rob this woman?)

Suspect: Hindi kami (It is not us)

Mayor Lim: (asking the two complainants) Sino ba ang nang-holdap sa iyo? (Who robbed you?) O, ikaw daw eh! Magsalita ka! (You see, she said it was you!) (Mayor Lim, in yellow dress, was seen pressing the suspect’s shoulder hard).

Suspect: Hindi (No, it is not me).

Mayor Lim: Hindi? Ibig mong sabihin nagsisinungaling ito? (No? As you saying the complainants are lying?)

1:28-2:15 (timecode)

Mayor Lim: Totoo ‘yung sinasabi n’ya? Ha? (So, what she said is true, right?)

Suspect: Oo. (Yes) (this time it is obvious that the suspect was forced to admit)

Mayor Lim: So, totoo ito inaamin mo na pinagtatangkaan mo. Naholdap eh. Na dadalhin dun sa…para gahasain. (So, you are admitting that you attempted to rape this woman. She was robbed and was attempted to be raped).

The AHRC is shocked, but not surprised, by the inaction of the police and of how Mayor Lim could openly break the law in front of the law enforcement officers. The policemen, including a senior officer, by the uniform he was wearing, did nothing to prevent Mayor Lim from torturing the victim. In a situation where a suspect is questioned in the absence of his legal counsel by an influential politician in front of senior police officers and journalists, it is likely that any suspect would admit to anything.

Read full article @www.humanrights.asia

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[Urgent Alert] Immediately relocate the victims of demolition drive in Quezon City -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: Immediately relocate the victims of demolition drive in Quezon City
ISSUES: Right to food; inhuman and degrading treatment; corruption; impunity; rule of law

Asian Human Rights Commission

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about allegedly illegal demolition of around 120 houses in Florentino St., Sto. Domingo, Quezon City on April 10-11, 2013. The information sent to the AHRC by Barangay Sto. Domingo Settlers Association through Defend Jobs Philippine asserts that the demolitions were carried out in violation of the ongoing legal case in the Court of Appeals. The organizations allege that the demolition team had neither had a court order with them nor was sheriff present at the venue.
The AHRC notes with concern the fact that the demolitions step up the ongoing assault on urban poor coupled with governmental apathy and inaction.

CASE NARRATIVE:

On April 10, 2013, the residents of Florentino St., Sto. Domingo, Quezon City found themselves surrounded by a huge police contingent. About 20 of the policemen then entered the community and informed the residents that a raid will be conducted to “video karera” machines operations. (Video horse racing is known in the Philippines, as “video karera.” These games are often raided by police as some proprietors try to evade taxes). After initially allowing the police enter on the pretext of raids, the residents were all surprised by the police who declared that this was no raid but a demolition mission. Only a few minutes after the declaration at 9.30 in the morning, a demolition team headed by Mr. Marlowe Jacutin of Task Force for the Control, Prevention and Removal of Illegal Structures and Squatting(COPRISS) descended on the scene.

The community members tried to negotiate with the policemen and the demolition team through Mrs. Betty Meneses, Secretary of #16 P. Florentino St., Sto. Domingo Settlers Association. Mrs Meneses challenged the legality of the operation as community’s legal case is still being heard at the Court of Appeals and the demolition team had no court orders validating the demolition. Even the sheriff was not present with them at that time. However, Voltaire Alcantara of COPRISS said that the said matter is already closed and that a Notice of Demolition was already signed by the City Mayor of Quezon City. He told the community that the City Mayor has already issued a Certificate of Compliance and showed a Memorandum addressed to Mr. Marlowe Jacutin of Task Force COPRISS from the Office of Mr. TAdeo Palma regarding the Request for Clearance on the Resumption of the implementation of Memorandum dated June 7, 2010 against the illegal structures within the lot owned by Melona Land Development Corp. dated February 4, 2013.

Despite the residents not being convinced, the demolition team started bringing down the houses at 10.00 in the morning. Personnel belonging to Melona Land Development Corporation were also present throughout the demolitions and were offering P25 000 “financial assistance” to the residents. Majority of the residents were forced to accept the money for many reasons and they had no other options left.

The COPRISS finished the demolitions on the second day leaving more than 120 families in pitiable situation. Apart from the houses, around 7 small stores, 2 computer shops, 1 vulcanizing shop, 2 beauty parlor shops, 1 fish store and 1 barbecue store were also demolished in the process. The victims now have no place to live or even take shelter. Their livelihood security is also seriously compromised. Worst affected by the demolitions are more than 500 children as their access to their schools located in nearby areas is now hindered.

Currently, there are around 30 families who refused to accept the financial assistance and are asserting their right to housing and rehabilitation program. They have appealed to the City Government of Quezon City as well as to the National Housing Authority which comes under the Office of the President. They have built makeshift tents in P. Floretino St., and are living in them.

After the demolitions, the residents, through their President Edith Orong, had a meeting with Mr. Tadeo Palma, the Secretary to the Mayor of Quezon City. In the meeting, they demanded immediate relocation acting upon which Mr. Tadeo Palma asked the officials of the urban Poor Affairs department of Quezon City to consider the demand of the residents. The residents were. It was only on April 12 that the residents were given the list of requirements for the relocation following which 30 residents immediately submitted requirements. The residents had a follow up meeting on April 30 but the authorities have yet not offered a concrete and immediate response barring offering a relocation site in Barangay Batia, Bocaue, Bulacan.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the authorities mentioned below demanding immediate intervention for ensuring the right to housing and livelihood of the victims of the demolition drive. You may also demand an inquiry into the legality of the demolitions.
The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination seeking an intervention in this case.

To support this case, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear_________

PHILIPPINES: Immediately relocate the victims of demolition drive in Quezon City

Name of the victims: Residents of about 120 houses on April 10-11, 2013.
Alleged Perpetrators: Officials of the Task Force for the Control, Prevention and Removal of Illegal Structures and Squatting(COPRISS) and Police
Date and Time of the incident- 10-11 April, 2013
Place of incident: Florentino St., Sto. Domingo, Quezon City

I am writing this to drag your kind attention to demolition drive in Quezon City that has rendered many families shelterless and have threatened their livelihood and food security. On April 10, 2013, the residents of Florentino St., Sto. Domingo, Quezon City found themselves surrounded by a huge police contingent. About 20 of the policemen then entered the community and informed the residents that a raid will be conducted to “video karera” machines operations. (Video horse racing is known in the Philippines, as “video karera.” These games are often raided by police as some proprietors try to evade taxes). After initially allowing the police enter on the pretext of raids, the residents were all surprised by the police who declared that this was no raid but a demolition mission. Only a few minutes after the declaration at 9.30 in the morning, a demolition team headed by Mr. Marlowe Jacutin of Task Force for the Control, Prevention and Removal of Illegal Structures and Squatting(COPRISS) descended on the scene.

The community members tried to negotiate with the policemen and the demolition team through Mrs. Betty Meneses, Secretary of #16 P. Florentino St., Sto. Domingo Settlers Association. Mrs Meneses challenged the legality of the operation as community’s legal case is still being heard at the Court of Appeals and the demolition team had no court orders validating the demolition. Even the sheriff was not present with them at that time. However, Voltaire Alcantara of COPRISS said that the said matter is already closed and that a Notice of Demolition was already signed by the City Mayor of Quezon City. He told the community that the City Mayor has already issued a Certificate of Compliance and showed a Memorandum addressed to Mr. Marlowe Jacutin of Task Force COPRISS from the Office of Mr. TAdeo Palma regarding the Request for Clearance on the Resumption of the implementation of Memorandum dated June 7, 2010 against the illegal structures within the lot owned by Melona Land Development Corp. dated February 4, 2013.

Despite the residents not being convinced, the demolition team started bringing down the houses at 10.00 in the morning. Personnel belonging to Melona Land Development Corporation were also present throughout the demolitions and were offering P25 000 “financial assistance” to the residents. Majority of the residents were forced to accept the money for many reasons and they had no other options left.

The COPRISS finished the demolitions on the second day leaving more than 120 families in pitiable situation. Apart from the houses, around 7 small stores, 2 computer shops, 1 vulcanizing shop, 2 beauty parlor shops, 1 fish store and 1 barbecue store were also demolished in the process. The victims now have no place to live or even take shelter. Their livelihood security is also seriously compromised. Worst affected by the demolitions are more than 500 children as their access to their schools located in nearby areas is now hindered.

Currently, there are around 30 families who refused to accept the financial assistance and are asserting their right to housing and rehabilitation program. They have appealed to the City Government of Quezon City as well as to the National Housing Authority which comes under the Office of the President. They have built makeshift tents in P. Floretino St., and are living in them.

After the demolitions, the residents, through their President Edith Orong, had a meeting with Mr. Tadeo Palma, the Secretary to the Mayor of Quezon City. In the meeting, they demanded immediate relocation acting upon which Mr. Tadeo Palma asked the officials of the urban Poor Affairs department of Quezon City to consider the demand of the residents. The residents were. It was only on April 12 that the residents were given the list of requirements for the relocation following which 30 residents immediately submitted requirements. The residents had a follow up meeting on April 30 but the authorities have yet not offered a concrete and immediate response barring offering a relocation site in Barangay Batia, Bocaue, Bulacan.

I, therefore, urge you to ensure that,

1. The victims are provided with an immediate relocation to livable lace not far away from their area of work,
2. Victims are provided unhindered access to basic amenities like food, water, sanitation until the relocation,
3. Victims are provided with adequate compensation for all lost and destroyed properties,
4. Legality of the demolition drive despite the ongoing court case is investigated by an independent body and those found guilty are prosecuted,
5. Ensure an independent investigation into the human rights violations of the victims during the two day drive.

.

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. Corazon Juliano-Soliman
Secretary, Department of Social, Welfare and Development
Constitution Hills, Batasan Pambansa Complex,
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Tel/Fax: +63 (2) 931-81-91

4. Sec. Joel Rocamora
Lead Convener
National Anti-Poverty Commission
3rd Floor, Agricultural Training Institute Building
Elliptical Road, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 927 9796 / 426 5249
Email: napc.gov@gmail.com

5- Herbert Constantine Maclang Bautista
Mayor,
The Local Government of Quezon City
Elliptical Road, Brgy. Central Diliman
Quezon City
Philippines
Contact:
http://www.quezoncity.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_contact&view=contact&id=1&Itemid=210

6. Mr. Marlowe Y. Jacutin
Head,
Task Force for the Control, Prevention and Removal of Illegal Structures and Squatting
6th Floor, Civic Center Building A, City Hall Compound
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES

Thank you

Hunger Alerts Programme
Right to Food Programme (foodjustice@ahrc.asia)
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Visit our new website with more features at http://www.humanrights.asia.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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sign petiton2 smallJ26 copyPhoto by TFDP

[Urgent Appeal] Court records, military asset and mil docus used as evidence to affirm fabrication of charges on activists -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAU-010-2013
3 April 2013
[RE: AHRC-UAU-036-2012: PHILIPPINES: Two urban poor leaders and 30 others falsely charged with murder]
———————————————————————
PHILIPPINES: Court records, military asset and military documents were used as evidence to affirm fabrication of charges on activists
ISSUES: Human rights defenders; administration of justice; fabrication of charges
———————————————————————

Dear friends,

Asian Human Rights CommissionThe Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing with deep concern that the investigation conducted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after our appeals concerning the fabrication of charges on two urban poor leaders was ineffective. It appears that CHR investigators did not investigate adequately and thoroughly. Rather than conducting a serious investigation they collected documents from the court, cited confessional evidence of a military asset and documents from the military to conclude their report.

UPDATED INFORMATION:

In December 19, 2012, we issued an appeal concerning the fabrication of charges on Roy Velez, regional chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Amelita Gamara, of Defend Job Philippines, and 30 others. For details please see: AHRC-UAU-036-2012.

In response to our appeal, on January 21, 2013 the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Regional Office in Naga City conducted their investigation. In their investigation, however, the CHR reaffirmed the filing of charges on them and concluded that:

“……..It appears on the evidences presented by the side of the complainant that the witnesses were former members of the NPA who positively identified the list of accused in this case. The witnesses were able to recount the incident of the attack as it happened……..

The right to due process includes the right to meet your accusers and their witnesses face to face. The witnesses in this case were willing to testify for and in behalf of the victims. They stand by their testimony that they have witnessed the commission of the crime and that they were able to identify the names of the accused for they were once of the NPA but are now rebel returnees.

The accused should face the accusations against them in order for them to be able to give their side of the case and to prove their innocence in the crime they are accused of. (Attys. Arlene Alangco & Donnah Federico-Madrona, CHR Region V sub-office Investigation Report, January 21, 2013, pp. 4-5)”

Upon receipt of the CHR’s report, the AHRC forwarded the copy to Roy Velez and Amelita Gamara who are presently forced to go into hiding.

In her reply, Gamara pointed out:

“……The contents of the report was a disappointment to me. It was a rephrased copy of the Information and Resolution from the prosecutor who filed the case before the Branch 64 Labo Regional Trial Court

…..we were denied of this right because not a single piece of this information came to our knowledge until two persons were arrested (Raul Camposano and Randy Vegas of COURAGE) under the same warrant of arrest. The CHR one sidedly relied on the complainants’ and witnesses’ statements that we live in some general location address, and conveniently stated in the resolution that no response came from the address to where they sent the notices.”

In his reply, Velez pointed out:

“In the declaration of their definition of “truth”, is it as if the CHR merely use the statements of facts information which came from only one side? If the military is the one accusing a certain person, and you are not biased, you will not use/issue a statement of fact that is purely one-sided.

Did the confirm that me and Amelita Bravante were really there? It is VERY CLEAR that they DID NOT. They did not even attempted to go to the KMU National’s office which is just a 30-minute ride from their office in UP. They did not even ask for our opinion or our side of the story and they just used the information in the court that came only from the military.

COMMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS OF THE AHRC:

In concluding their report, the CHR relied heavily on the court documents they obtained from a Court Interpreter at the Regional Trial Court Branch (RTC), Branch 64, in Labo, Camarines Norte on January 15, 2013. The CHR ignored the victims’ alibi that they could not have been physically present in Barangay Maot, Labo, Camarines Norte on April 29, 2012, where the attack that killed four soldiers took place.

In the unofficial translation of their sworn statements originally written in Filipino, in Gamara’s statement & Velez’ statement it was clear that they were both in Metro Manila, and could not have been physically present at the location where the crime happened. However, there is nothing in the CHR’s investigation report that includes their testimonies.

The testimonies of the witnesses, where the CHR pointed as evidence of the “positive identification of the accused,” were witnesses: Gil Oresaca, an intelligence person working for the military and SP02 Reynate Nacario, who neither knew the perpetrators of the attack in person or by their names. Also, the documents of the investigation the CHR has quoted is information provided by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), not the police, because the CHR did not even get the forensic investigation report despite repeated requests.

Also, it is unthinkable for Oresca to identify with accuracy the names, aliases and exact home address of the 23 rebels, two of whom are the accused Velez and Gamara, at once in a very chaotic situation of attack. Also SP02 Nacario’s ‘positive identification’ of the accused was not his identification, but from the military men who had debriefed him and given him the names of the supposed identities of the perpetrators.

Gamara and Velez were both in Metro Manila on the same day the killing happened. In fact, Gamara could not walk properly due to her illness and medical condition. Also, there were witnesses who could testify that Velez was physically present in the Silverio compound, Paranaque City, to assist the burial of a villager who was killed in a demolition.

Moreover, when the CHR conducted its investigation neither Velez nor Gamara was given the opportunity to respond to the allegations. The AHRC is deeply concerned by the manner in which the CHR is conducting its investigation in this case.

Therefore, we urged the CHR to review their investigation. The victims, who are also the accused in the fabricated criminal charges should be given an opportunity to respond substantively to the allegations against them.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)

AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines
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[Appeal] Vendors face forced eviction and food insecurity -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: Vendors face forced eviction and food insecurity
February 22, 2013

ISSUES: Right to food; inhuman and degrading treatment; hunger, starvation, corruption; impunity; rule of law
Dear friends,

Asian Human Rights CommissionThe Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from Defend Job Philippines about an eviction notice served on the vendors of Luneta Park (also called Rizal Park) in Manila. The proposed eviction will not merely leave the vendors jobless but also jeopardize their food security. It would also render many of them who stay inside their carts in the park homeless as they have nowhere else to go.
Ironically, it is not the National Parks Development Committee but the Police that has served the notice ‘informing’ the vendors that they would assist the NPDC in clearing operations.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Continuing the persecution of vendors of the Luneto Park, the Manila Police has served a notice of eviction on them through the Ermita Police Station. The notice informs them about the imminent eviction of them from all areas of the Luneto Park on 22 February while also telling them that the police would assist the National Parks Development Authority in the endeavour.

Most of the vendors have been living and vending their wares in the park for more than 15 years while some have spent even 30 years in park. Organised under the People’s Democratic Hawkers’ and Vendors’ Alliance (PDHVA), the vendors have approached the authorities innumerable times for getting their legitimate rights. The authorities, however, have been relentless in their persecution especially in the Phase 2, 3 and 4 inside the Park. Many of the vendors even live inside the park and sleep in their carts as their meager incomes do not allow them to afford renting a house and commute to the park daily. Forced eviction will force them into destitution.

The vendors has been hounded and arrested in the past at the behest of the NPDC. The situation remained unchanged even after 2004 when the Department of Tourism has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the vendors’ representatives and granted them the rights selling their wares inside the park while continuing with the negotiations. The vendors were also given a moving cart in exchange for them agreeing to keep the Park clean and orderly. The organised livelihood programme would have contributed to maintain the historical and cultural heritage of the Park but it was revoked unilaterally by the new NPDC director Juliet Vegas when she took charge. She ordered eviction of the vendors and demolition of their carts inside the park and led to huge chaos. Many vendors had to flee the Park.

The vendors led by PDHVA successfully resisted the assault and forced the NPDC to revoke a demolition order in first quarter of 2011. Further negotiations between the authorities and the vendors resulted in NPDC promising them better place in exchange for their former vending places while also asserting that it did not want the Park to look like a market. The authorities, however, surprised the vendors by going back on its promise and setting up tents in their former vending places for rent every Friday and Monday.

The director of NPDC issued another verbal order with no statutory backing ordering the vendors to pay a rent of 300 Pesos in phase 4 and 200 Pesos in phase 2. NPDC rationalized its order by arguing that they wanted to recover their expenses in setting up tents which they had rented out to big business including Retail Chains. The coming of these stores in the Park adversely affected the already dwindling income of the vendors who were now also forced to pay the unaffordable rents.

The NPDC delivered another blow to the vendors in Feburary 2012 by going back on its promise of giving them alternative space and asserted that it wanted to turn Luneta Park into a Zero Vending Zone. The vendors then approached the Department of Tourism which asked the NPDC to resolve the problem of the vendors but NPDC Director Juliet Villegas ignored the recommendation.

NPDC, instead of following the recommendation, upped the ante against the vendors and has been harassing and threatening them ever since. It forcibly evicted 15 vendors on February 6, 2012 inside the Halamanang Pilipino followed by another eviction of vendors and confiscation of their goods and personal belongings on February 15, 2012. The authorities launched another attack on the vendors on March 27, 2012 when more than 20 security person confiscated all the goods and personal belongings of the vendors while also physically assaulting them. They reportedly punched a pregnant vendor and brutally attacked the others.
The illegality of the attack is betrayed by the fact that vendors approached city mayor and got their confiscated goods released.

To assuage the vendors, officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development approached them and asked them to fill up forms to work as street sweepers and immediately vacate their vending spaces. The employment offered, however was just for 3 months, leaving the vendors, dependent on daily earnings, with no choice other than refusing to accept it. The current assault continues the cycle of violence and intimidation against them and exposes them to hunger.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the authorities mentioned below demanding immediate intervention in Ms. Sarathi Mondal’s case. You may also demand an inquiry into why she was not provided with ration card and benefit of other welfare schemes that she is entitled to.
The AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing asking for their intervention in the case.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PHILIPPINES: Vendors face forced eviction and food insecurity

Name of the victims: Vendors of the Luneta Park,
Place of incident: Manila, Philippines.

I want to draw your kind attention to eviction notice served on the vendors inside the Luneta Park. Continuing the persecution of vendors of the Luneta Park, the Manila Police has served a notice of eviction on them through the Ermita Police Station. The notice informs them about the imminent eviction of them from all areas of the Luneta Park on 22 February while also telling them that the police would assist the National Parks Development Authority in the endeavour.

Most of the vendors have been living and vending their wares in the park for more than 15 years while some have spent even 30 years in park. Organised under the People’s Democratic Hawkers’ and Vendors’ Alliance (PDHVA), the vendors have approached the authorities innumerable times for getting their legitimate rights. The authorities, however, have been relentless in their persecution especially in the Phase 2, 3 and 4 inside the Park. Many of the vendors even live inside the park and sleep in their carts as their meager incomes do not allow them to afford renting a house and commute to the park daily. Forced eviction will force them into destitution.

The vendors has been hounded and arrested in the past at the behest of the NPDC. The situation remained unchanged even after 2004 when the Department of Tourism has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the vendors’ representatives and granted them the rights selling their wares inside the park while continuing with the negotiations. The vendors were also given a moving cart in exchange for them agreeing to keep the Park clean and orderly. The organised livelihood programme would have contributed to maintain the historical and cultural heritage of the Park but it was revoked unilaterally by the new NPDC director Juliet Vegas when she took charge. She ordered eviction of the vendors and demolition of their carts inside the park and led to huge chaos. Many vendors had to flee the Park.

The vendors led by PDHVA successfully resisted the assault and forced the NPDC to revoke a demolition order in first quarter of 2011. Further negotiations between the authorities and the vendors resulted in NPDC promising them better place in exchange for their former vending places while also asserting that it did not want the Park to look like a market. The authorities, however, surprised the vendors by going back on its promise and setting up tents in their former vending places for rent every Friday and Monday.

The director of NPDC issued another verbal order with no statutory backing ordering the vendors to pay a rent of 300 Pesos in phase 4 and 200 Pesos in phase 2. NPDC rationalized its order by arguing that they wanted to recover their expenses in setting up tents which they had rented out to big business including Retail Chains. The coming of these stores in the Park adversely affected the already dwindling income of the vendors who were now also forced to pay the unaffordable rents.

The NPDC delivered another blow to the vendors in Feburary 2012 by going back on its promise of giving them alternative space and asserted that it wanted to turn Luneta Park into a Zero Vending Zone. The vendors then approached the Department of Tourism which asked the NPDC to resolve the problem of the vendors but NPDC Director Juliet Villegas ignored the recommendation.

NPDC, instead of following the recommendation, upped the ante against the vendors and has been harassing and threatening them ever since. It forcibly evicted 15 vendors on February 6, 2012 inside the Halamanang Pilipino followed by another eviction of vendors and confiscation of their goods and personal belongings on February 15, 2012. The authorities launched another attack on the vendors on March 27, 2012 when more than 20 security person confiscated all the goods and personal belongings of the vendors while also physically assaulting them. They reportedly punched a pregnant vendor and brutally attacked the others.
The illegality of the attack is betrayed by the fact that vendors approached city mayor and got their confiscated goods released.

To assuage the vendors, officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development approached them and asked them to fill up forms to work as street sweepers and immediately vacate their vending spaces. The employment offered, however was just for 3 months, leaving the vendors, dependent on daily earnings, with no choice other than refusing to accept it. The current assault continues the cycle of violence and intimidation against them and exposes them to hunger.

I, therefore, urge you to

1. Immediately revoke the eviction orders against vendors in the Luneta Park,
2. Ensure that zero vending policy and the continued harassment of vendors under the same is stooped,
3. Ensure the reinstating of the stalls and the vending spaces to the vendors,
4. Ensure than genuine livelihood project for the vendors and their families is devised in consultation with their representatives,
5. Prosecute those guilty of the violations of the human rights of the vendors.

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. Corazon Juliano-Soliman
Secretary, Department of Social, Welfare and Development
Constitution Hills, Batasan Pambansa Complex,
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Tel/Fax: +63 (2) 931-81-91

4. Sec. Joel Rocamora
Lead Convener
National Anti-Poverty Commission
3rd Floor, Agricultural Training Institute Building
Elliptical Road, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 927 9796 / 426 5249
Email: napc.gov@gmail.com

5. Director
National Parks Development Committee
NPDC Compound
T. M Kalaw St, Rizal Park, Ermita
Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +633027119
Email: info@nationalparks.ph

6. Secretary,
Department of Tourism
T.F. Valencia Circle
T.M. Kalaw St., Rizal Park
Manila.
PHILIPPINES
Email: webmaster@tourism.gov.ph

7. Mr. Jean Zeigler
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
Attn: Mr. Carlos Villan Duran
C/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10,
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9300
Fax: +41 22 9179010
Email: sect.hchr@unog.ch

8. Ms. Raquel ROLNIK
UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing
Attn: Ms. Cecilia Moller
Room 4-066/010
C/o UNOG-OHCHR
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9265
Fax: +41 22 917 9010 (ATTENTION: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ADEQUATE HOUSING)
Email: urgent-action@ohchr.org

Thank you

Hunger Alerts Programme
Right to Food Programme (foodjustice@ahrc.asia)
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Visit our new website with more features at http://www.humanrights.asia.

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – HUNGER ALERT PROGRAMME
Hunger Alert Case: AHRC-HAC-004-2013
22 February 2013

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