Tag Archives: Crime and Justice

[Featured Story] Political Prisoner Longs for Freedom, The Story of Juanito Itaas (Part 1)- TFDP

Political Prisoner Longs for Freedom, The Story of Juanito Itaas (Part 1)
by Task Force Detainees of the Philippines

HRonlinePH.com published this article by TFDP in July 2011. We decided to reshare this article one more time in support of TFDP’s #FREEourDEFENDERS Campaign.

Juanito Itaas source: jezzdave.wordpress.com

Amidst the sound of merrymaking, Juanito Itaas addressed the visitors and his fellow inmates during the Paskuhan sa Kampo at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) last year.  He called on President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to pay attention to the plight of all political prisoners and detainees and act for their immediate release.

After his speech, a calmer Juanito, more fondly known as Nitoy, approached some of the staff of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) to chat.  His zeal was still very evident, but there seemed to be a tinge of sadness in his eyes, which became more evident when he started to speak.  Christmas, after all, is just around the corner, and despite the joy brought about by the visit of relatives and friends during the Paskuhan sa Kampo, the fact remains that for more than two decades already, Nitoy has spent Christmas locked behind the cold bars of his prison cell.

He has been previously recommended for release.  But the wheels of fate did not turn in his favor.


Nitoy is one of the ten children of Mamerto and Fausta Itaas of Barangay Sinuron, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.  Nitoy’s family tended root crops, corn and coconut as their primary source of income.  Aside from farming, Nitoy’s father was a part-time pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).

Those who knew Nitoy said that he has a big heart – helping those in need and standing up for the weak.   He also joined mass mobilizations and demanded land for the tillers. When Nitoy was 15 years old, he worked in a shoe factory where he stayed for two years.  After which, he sold tapes, radios and textiles in a mining site in Davao del Sur.  The idea of social justice was not lost in him as he witnessed the injustices experienced by the miners.  For every ten sacks of ore dug by the miners, only three remain with them.  Six went to the owner of the tunnel and one to the military positioned at the entrance.

In 1981, Nitoy became a full time organizer.  The death of his brother, a guerilla fighter, in 1982 all the more pushed him to continue with his involvement.

In 1984, Nitoy met Glenda, who later became his wife, in Tagum, Davao.  In 1986, they got married.  They continued to live in Tagum until one fateful day in 1989.

In the evening of August 27, 1989, Nitoy was with a companion and onboard a jeepney along Lizada Street corner Quezon Boulevard in Davao City, when a vehicle cut across their path.  Several men alighted from the vehicle and declared a hold up.  Nitoy’s companion, later identified in the newspapers as Constabulary 2nd Class Camilo Maglente, suddenly held his arms tight.  Nitoy resisted but there was another vehicle whose passengers pointed their guns at him.  His legs and arms were bound.  He was blindfolded and in a matter of seconds, he was thrown into the back of the van.  He was brought to an unidentified military barracks where he was held for questioning.  The many different questions thrown at him confused Nitoy.

Based on TFDP documents, Nitoy’s military captors under the Philippine Constabulary – Criminal Investigation Service (PC-CIS) and Regional Security Unit (RSU) headed by then Lt. Cesar Mancao were the ones who tortured him.

The next morning, the interrogation continued, but Nitoy did not provide any information.  The interrogators were not able to get any information from Nitoy.  Hence, when his arresting officers, Lt. Mancao and a certain Boy Erno of the RSU failed to get anything from him, he was turned over to two unidentified military men where his agonizing experience began.

Immediately after he was blindfolded, handcuffed at the back, and covered at the mouth with a masking tape, the men dragged him into a vehicle.  Inside, heavy blows reduced Nitoy into a shapeless heap.  His captors also used the “dry submarine”  on Nitoy.  He eventually blacked out.  After he regained consciousness and another round of punches, he admitted everything that was accused of him.  The men stopped hurting him.

Nitoy further related that he lost track of the time.  He was taken to several places and subjected to intense interrogation.  He then remembered that when his blindfold was removed, flash bulbs blinded his strained eyes.  He was presented to the media as the government’s prized catch.

A few minutes later, they went to a local airport and took a Manila-bound flight where he was accompanied by Gen. Ramon Montano, military escorts and a number of media.  That was Nitoy’s first time to go to Manila.  He was then committed at the Camp Crame in Quezon City where he was kept in solitary confinement for one week.

On September 1, 1989, charges of murder and frustrated murder docketed as Criminal Case Numbers Q-89-4843 and Q-89-4844 were filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 88, for the killing of Col. James Rowe and the serious wounding of his driver, Joaquin Vinuya.  The two cases were filed without preliminary investigation.

On September 8, 1989, Gen. Montano talked to him about his alleged involvement in the Rowe killing.  Nitoy retracted the statements he made in Davao.  He said he was only forced to admit the accusations against him because of the severe pain that was inflicted on him.  Donato Continente, the other suspect in the Rowe killing, failed to identify Nitoy during a brief confrontation.

During the trial, nine witnesses were presented by the prosecution.  But only one, a certain Meriam Zulueta identified Nitoy as the gunman. On cross-examination however, Zulueta admitted that her eyewitness identification was based on a single fleeting glimpse of a stranger during a startling occurrence; and that she did not have an adequate opportunity to observe the gunman’s physical feature since he was in motion when she saw him, and was holding and firing a long firearm, thus preventing her from getting a good look at him.

Aside from the testimony of Zulueta, the only evidence presented against Nitoy was his alleged extra-judicial confession, in which he purportedly admitted that he was part of a New People’s Army (NPA) assassination team responsible for the Rowe killing.  The confession was signed in the presence of a lawyer, a certain Atty. Felimon Corpuz, who later admitted when he testified in court that he was a retired military lawyer and said he was summoned not by Nitoy but by the CIS to “represent” Nitoy.

Atty. Corpuz also revealed that he was not familiar with the rights of the accused when he was unable to enumerate such rights during cross-examination.

Despite the tenuous and unreliable testimony of Zulueta, the absence of a competent and independent counsel when Nitoy allegedly confessed, and Nitoy’s confession which was made under duress, the trial court rendered an unfavorable decision.

On February 27, 1991, Nitoy and his co-accused, Continente, were found guilty by Judge Tirso D. C. Velasco of RTC-Quezon City Branch 88.  They were sentenced to life imprisonment (reclusion perpetua) plus a minimum of ten (10) years and a maximum of 17 years, four months and one day for the frustrated murder.  Both appealed the RTC decision in 1993.

On August 25, 2000, the Supreme Court (G.R. Numbers 100801-02) affirmed the conviction of Nitoy and ruled that he was the lone principal in the killing of Rowe.  Continente’s case was modified to that of an accomplice.  His jail sentence was reduced to a minimum of 12 years to a maximum of 14 years and eight months for the Rowe killing and a minimum of six months and a maximum of two years and four months for the wounding of Vinuya.  Continente therefore had an aggregate sentence of 12 years and six months as minimum and a maximum of 16 years.  After serving his sentence, he was released on June 28, 2005.

On the other hand,  the life sentence of Nitoy was retained for the Rowe killing plus another six years as minimum to nine years and six months as maximum for the Vinuya wounding.

U.S. Army Colonel James Rowe

The United States government took a great interest in the case of Nitoy.  They kept a watchful eye from the time he was arrested to his incarceration and conviction.  And it was not difficult to figure out why.  Nitoy, after all, was accused, and later convicted for the murder of Rowe, considered to be an American hero.

James Nicholas “Nick” Rowe was a graduate of the West Point Military Academy.  He later became a decorated war veteran.  He joined the United States Army’s elite Green Beret Special Force and went to Vietnam in the early 1960s.  He was one of only 34 American Prisoners of War (POWs) to escape captivity during the Vietnam War.  Rowe was assigned as Executive Officer of Detachment A-23, 5th Special Forces Group, a 12-man “A-Team” in Vietnam in 1963.  On October 29, 1963, after only three short months in Vietnam, then Lieutenant Rowe was captured by Viet Cong guerillas, along with Capt. Humberto R. Versace and Sgt. Daniel L. Pitzer.  Separated from his comrades, Lt. Rowe spent 62 months in captivity with only brief encounters with fellow American POWs.  He escaped from his Vietnamese captors on December 31, 1968.  He authored the book, “Five Years to Freedom,” an account of his years as a prisoner of war.

Rowe retired from the United States Army in 1974.  In 1981, he was recalled to active duty to design and build a course based upon his experience as a POW.

“Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape” (SERE) is now a requirement for graduation from the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course.  SERE is taught at the Colonel James “Nick” Rowe Training Compound at Camp Mackall, North Carolina.

He was placed in command of the First Special Warfare Battalion at Fort Bragg in 1985.  In 1987, he was sent to the Philippines.  Rowe was assigned as Chief of the Army Division of the Joint RP – U.S. Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG).  He led a group who trained the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officers on counter insurgency.  He worked closely with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on a strategy to infiltrate the ranks of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA.

By February 1989, Rowe acquired intelligence information that the communists were planning a major terrorist act.  He warned Washington that a high-profile figure was about to be assassinated and that he himself was second or third on the assassination list.

On April 21, 1989, while Rowe was on his way to the JUSMAG Compound, his car was ambushed at the corner of Tomas Morato Street and Timog Avenue in Quezon City.  Gunmen who were on board an old model Toyota Corolla car suddenly fired at his car.  Rowe was instantly killed while Vinuya, his driver, was seriously wounded.  The two were initially brought to the V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City.  They were later transferred to the Clark Air Base Hospital in Pampanga where Vinuya was confined for four days.  He sustained injuries in the head, shoulder and back portion of his left hand.

Rowe was buried on May 2, 1989 in Section 48 of the Arlington National Cemetery.  Reports said that he was the highest U.S. military officer killed in the Philippines, a feat “that the United States government can hardly stomach.”

Even though the NPA owned up to the assassination, Nitoy and Continente were still arrested.

[to be continued]

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[Featured Video] Liwanag Sa Dilim (by Rivermaya) feat the Bilibid Dancing Inmates by Baliklaya

Liwanag Sa Dilim (by Rivermaya) feat the Bilibid Dancing Inmates

“Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars.” (Frederick Langbridge)

The human spirit never loses its brilliance no matter what challenges it encounters. In the face of darkness, it shines even brighter with its light igniting the light of others.

“Liwanag sa Dilim” (roughly translated in English as “Light in Darkness”) is a creative representation of the daily life of inmates in the New Bilibid Prison.

We see how one prisoner’s optimistic outlook in life can spark change in all areas of Bilibid.

We witness the talents and skills that have been developed behind bars through rehabilitative endeavors in education, sports, small enterprises, arts and crafts.

The production of this video is in line with the 10th year celebration in prison service of Baliklaya, the only student-run prison service organization in the Philippines.


Baliklaya, a non-profit, non-political, student-run group, is an applying organization of the Ateneo de Manila University. Before it became a full-pledged organization last 2009, it was the flagship program of Ateneo Lex, a separate accredited organization.


Baliklaya envisions the formation of a community composed of legally, economically, and socially-aware youth, engaged in alleviating the challenges of communities deprived of justice and fundamental human rights.


To steer its membership towards the task of nation building and to inculcate in them a strong desire for social commitment, the organization shall undertake projects which uplift the dignity, worth, and welfare of one of the most misconceived, marginalized, and impoverished sectors of Philippine society – the prisoners.


Baliklaya’s advocacy is prisoner rights, particularly that of the inmates inherent right to human dignity, realized through the organization’s various Bilibid-based prison service endeavors and intense advocacy campaign. While, in truth, any human being’s dignity can never be taken away (not by any court of justice or societal condemnation), inmates can’t help but feel a loss of dignity, because of their circumstances (the errors they have committed and the guilt that stems from such, as worsened by poor living conditions). Thus, by providing them venues for wellness development and opportunities for productivity, the organization empowers said inmates, with the hopes of restoring this lost sense of dignity.

Balik means to go back, laya is freedom. While the organization does not aim to literally free prisoners, it pursues a different sort of freedom, one that frees the prisoners from societal stereotypes and the feeling of lack of dignity.

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[From the web] Position paper of the Psychological Association of the Philippines on the amendment to the Juvenile Justice and Welfare act

Position paper of the Psychological Association of the Philippines on the amendment to the Juvenile Justice and Welfare act

Source: www.pap.org.ph

The House Bill No. 6052, titled “An Act Strengthening the Juvenile Justice System in the Philippines,” was approved in the House of Representatives of the Philippine Congress. Referring to “youthful offenders” and “children in conflict with the law,” the bill seeks to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 years of age, provided that criminal responsibility attaches only when the minor “acted with discernment.”

We in the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) are against this amendment and take the stand that the minimum age of criminal responsibility should NOT be lowered from 15 to 12 years old. We call for the strengthening of the juvenile justice system through the strict implementation of existing laws that prosecute adults who coerce children to engage in criminal behavior and protect and rehabilitate children in conflict with the law (CICL) through restorative means.

We present the following evidence and implications from Psychology research:

Scientific research on adolescent development and juvenile delinquency provide evidence that children and adolescents differ significantly from adults in decision-making, propensity to engage in risky behavior, impulse control, identity development, and overall maturity. The developmental immaturity of juveniles mitigates their criminal culpability. Although they may be able to discern right from wrong action, it is their capability to act in ways consistent with that knowledge that is compromised by several factors at this stage:

1. Deficiencies in Decision-making Capacity

• The adolescent brain is still under development. Significant changes in brain anatomy and activity are still taking place in the (prefrontal) regions that govern impulse control, decision-making, long-term planning, emotion regulation, and evaluation of risks and rewards. These abilities, which are involved in criminal behavior, do not fully form until young adulthood, making early and middle adolescents (ages 12-16) especially vulnerable to risky and reckless behavior.
• The adolescent is psychosocially immature compared to adults. Because of still-developing cognitive abilities and limited life experiences, adolescents are less able and less likely than adults to consider the longer-term consequences of their actions.
Adolescents differ from adults in their assessment of and attitude towards risk. Compared to adults, adolescents place relatively less weight on risk, and give more weight to rewards. They also have different goals and values than adults. These may result in youth giving more importance to, for example, peer approval than safe behavior.

2. Heightened Vulnerability to Coercive Circumstances

• As minors, young people lack the freedom that adults have to assert their own decisions and extricate themselves from criminogenic settings. There is local evidence that children are often used and abused by adults to engage in criminal acts. Youth are powerless in such circumstances because they fear retribution, do not have or are not aware of alternative actions, or look up to or are emotionally attached to the criminal proponents.
• Adolescents are more susceptible to peer influence than are adults. Because of the desire for approval and belonging at this stage, adolescents’ choices reflect what they believe will merit the approval of their peers. Peers and adults serve as models for behavior that adolescents believe will help them achieve their goals. The fact that juvenile crimes tend to take place in groups or gangs points to the significant role of peer influence and pressure.

3. The Disadvantaged Environment and Profile of the Filipino Child in Conflict with the Law (CICL)

• The typical CICL is poor, lacking in education, a victim of parental neglect and/or abuse, and lives in a criminogenic environment. These clearly place the young person at a disadvantage, making deficiencies in decision-making and vulnerability to coercion all the more pronounced. To place such a young person, already victimized, into the hands of the criminal justice system further curtails his or her future prospects, and pushes them further towards a negative life trajectory.

The aforementioned characteristics of youth indicate that they are less capable than adults—even at age 15, but most certainly at age 12—to behave in accordance with what they may discern or know to be right versus wrong action. Although transitory, these developmental limitations are not under the volitional control of the young person.

Moreover, adolescence is still a time of self and identity development, and antisocial behaviors do not reflect “criminal identity” at this stage. Research indicates that most youth abandon antisocial behavior at the time that they exit adolescence, and that only a minority persists in criminal behavior as a function of pervasive neurological and environmental risk factors. In fact, exposure to the criminal justice system, where the child will be labeled a criminal and where he or she is exposed to criminal models, will more likely establish the “criminal identity” of the young person. Studies have shown that encounters with the adult justice system results in greater subsequent crime, including violent crime, for the juvenile.

The PAP reiterates its position against the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 years old. We urge the government and relevant stakeholders to implement restorative justice and appropriate interventions for CICL. CICL should experience sanctions in community and family settings whenever possible, especially for first and nonviolent offenses. They should be excluded from the adult criminal system and given full opportunities to develop into responsible adults who can make meaningful contributions to society.

References and recommended resources:

Adhikain Para sa Karapatang Pambata (2004). Research on the situation of children in conflict with the law in selected Metro Manila cities. Quezon City: Save the Children (UK)-Philippines.
Alampay, L.P. (2006). Risk factors and causal processes in juvenile delinquency: Research and implications for prevention. Philippine Journal of Psychology, 39(1),195-228.

Alampay, L.P. (2005). A rights-based framework for the prevention of juvenile delinquency in Philippine communities. Manila: United Nations Children’s Fund.

MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice: http://www.adjj.org/content/index.php

Steinberg, L., & Scott, E. (2003). Less guilty by reason of adolescence: Developmental immaturity, diminished responsibility, and the juvenile death penalty. American Psychologist, 58(12), 1009-1018.

Steinberg, L., & Haskins, R. (2008). Keeping adolescents out of prison. Policy Brief, The Future of Children, Vol. 18 No. 2, 1-7.

University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies-Program on Psychosocial Trauma and Human Rights and Consortium for Street Children. (2003). Painted Gray Faces Behind Bars and in the Streets, Street Children and the Juvenile Justice System. Quezon City

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[In the news] Bumbaran villagers flee, seek refuge in Talakag – MindaNews.com

Bumbaran villagers flee, seek refuge in Talakag
By Walter I. Balane
January 23, 2012

 MALAYBALAY CITY -An estimated 100 persons fled sitios Kahayagan and Katipunan in Bumbaran, Lanao del Sur due to clashes between armed groups of alleged bandits and farmers in the area, Nestor Macapayag, mayor of neighboring town Talakag, Bukidnon told MindaNews Sunday noon.

Macapayag said residents sought refuge in Sitio Tigason, Barangay Dominorog, in his Talakag town following the firefight between the armed groups at around 9 a.m. on Friday morning.

He said Jojo Pesigan, a member of the farmers’ group, was killed.

Bumbaran is a town bordering Talakag, Bukidnon.

Maj. Duphar Chris Cuaresma, chief of police of Talakag town reported in an SMS to Col. Rustom Duran, Bukidnon police director that a certain Mama Orak, allegedly a bandit, led some 40 armed Maranaos in the clash with armed settler-families.

Read full article @ www.mindanews.com

[From the web] Working towards a world without the death penalty – www.ohchr.org

The death penalty is carried out in ways that violate international norms, such as the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as anti-discrimination standards,” said UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay in an opinion piece on the question of the death penalty.

[Death chamber © EPA/ Paul Buck] “Abolishing the death penalty,” she said “is a long process for many countries, which often only comes to closure after a period of difficult and even acrimonious national debate. “Until they reach that point, I urge those States still employing the death penalty to place a formal moratorium on its use with a view to ultimately scrap the punishment altogether everywhere.”

Countries are working towards a world without the death penalty, according to a report (PDF) of the UN Secretary-General. Some States have substituted the death penalty by life imprisonment with the possibility of pardon or amnesty, conditional freedom or alternative means after having served at least 30 years of imprisonment. Even in countries where the application of the death penalty remains, there have been noticeable steps towards restricting its use.

About 140 of the 193 States Members of the UN have abolished the death penalty or introduced a moratorium either legally, or in practice, states the report.

However, only 73 States have so far ratified the Second Optional Protocol, which was added to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1989, with the aim of abolishing the punishment.

Ratifying the Protocol, which entered into force on 11 July 1991, “is a key step for States moving towards abolition,” said Mona Rishmawi, a senior official with the UN Human Rights Office.

“States which have ratified the Protocol have taken upon themselves not to execute anybody sentenced to death, to take all necessary steps to definitively abolish the death penalty, and to report on what they have done to this effect,” Rishmawi said, speaking at an event on the abolition of the death penalty . “In addition, they accept, as a legal obligation, not to extradite individuals to a country where they would face the death penalty, nor can they reintroduce it in their own.”

Rishmawi highlighted that while positive developments should be celebrated, “challenges remain.”

Those States that impose the death penalty must provide transparency in relation to the specifics of the processes and procedures under which it is imposed, said at the event Christoffel Heyns, the UN independent expert on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions.

“The death penalty is only lawful if imposed after a trial conducted in accordance with fair trial guarantees, including judicial independence, the right to counsel, an effective right to appeal, and the right not to be coerced or tortured to give evidence,” he said.

The event, titled, “Towards universal abolition of the death penalty” was organized in late September to mark the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Second Optional Protocol at the initiative of the Belgian Mission to the UN with the support of the UN Human Rights office and the World Coalition against the Death Penalty – an alliance of more than 120 NGOs, bar associations, local authorities and unions.

Abolishing the death penalty has been on the UN agenda for years.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the UN in 1966, permits the application of the death penalty in countries that “have not abolished” it only if it is imposed for “the most serious crimes”. Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence, which may be granted in all cases. Otherwise, its imposition will amount to an arbitrary deprivation of life by the State. Furthermore, sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women.

Ten years on, in 1977, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (PDF) providing that throughout the world, it was desirable to “progressively restrict the number of offenses for which the death penalty might be imposed, with a view to the desirability of abolishing this punishment.”

Principles related to the imposition of the death penalty were further elaborated in the Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of those Facing the Death Penalty, approved by the UN Economic and Social Council in 1984.

In recent years, the international community has continued its efforts towards the definitive abolition of the death penalty. In December 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (PDF) calling upon States to respect international standards that provide protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty and to progressively restrict its use and reduce the number of offences for which it may be imposed.


[Blogger] Youth must be sent to schools rather than in jails – sdkonline.wordpress.com

Youth must be sent to schools rather than in jails

Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) strongly opposed the proposal of some legislators to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility. The current minimum age is 15 years old under the Juvenile Justice Act.  The said proposal is a mere blame game on the government’s failure to address the problem of increasing numbers of children involved in crimes.

Violation of the Child’s Rights

Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC), a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years of age.  The indicated age should enjoy his/her right to be free from any criminal responsibility (e.g. capital punishment, life imprisonment etc.) It is very clear that our government would be violating the said international convention of which we are a signatory if the said proposal will be adopted.

Rehabilitation, not punishment

SDK affirm its belief that youth offenders do not deserve punishment, most of the said offenders who committed crimes belong to the poor and working class families who have longed been deprived of a decent life.  They were pushed to resort on illegal activities because they need to survive on a barbaric world of consumerism.  The real culprit on this menace is no other than the government itself, who failed to provide a real program to rehabilitate youth offenders for them to be reintegrated and assume a constructive role in our society. The proposal to lower the minimum age on criminal responsibility will only make the real culprit (the government) get out of its responsibility.  It will not solve a single problem on the issue of youth perpetrated crimes.

They should be in schools, not in jails

Youth perpetrated crimes will be lessened or in the maximum be non-existent if the youth are enjoying their right to education. But in reality, drop-out rates in schools are increasing due to extreme poverty. Worst of all, the government continues to cut budgets in education and promotes commercialization. This is the government’s worst crime, depriving the youth of his/her right to be educated and build their capacity to live decently.

We call on the legislators to stop this non-sense blame game and focus on creating policies that will ensure our right to education and to live with dignity. Lowering the minimum age on criminal responsibility will never create a substantial solution. But ensuring our rights will definitely generate a more progressive, responsible, empowered and dignified citizens in the future.

September 15, 2011


[In the news] Kidnap-murder case closed | Sun.Star

Kidnap-murder case closed | Sun.Star.

By Teresa Ellera-Dulla

THE Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 27 sentenced to 120 years in prison 12 police officers who were accused of kidnapping and murdering three victims in August 2, 2003.

After eight years of waiting, the family of former Pahanocoy barangay captain Eleuterio Salabas, maritime instructor Ricardo Suganob and Maximo Lomoljo, finally achieved justice.

However, only three of the 12 accused policemen were apprehended: Chief Inspectors Clarence Dongail, Jimmy Fortaleza and Senior Police Officer 2 Freddie Natividad.

Twelve other civilians were also accused.

Elizabeth Orola Salabas, Eleuterio’s widow, said she believes that not only their family attained justice but also the other victims of the policemen who were convicted.

Read full article at Sunstar.com.ph

[In the web] They are Still Killing the Children – www.preda.org

by Fr. Shay Cullen

Photo source: http://www.preda.org

It was a diabolical act of murder so foul, so vicious and merciless, that the good people in Zamboanga city are throwing up. They never saw anything as cruel and ghoulish like this. They are aghast, outraged, and shocked at the cruelty and blood lust of the killers. But surely they are determined, no doubt, to get the killers, vindicate the victims and cut away their shame courageously with the sword of justice.

The three mutilated corpses, found hog-tied, their lips taped, mouths gagged, horrific torture marks all over their skinny frail childish bodies, evidence of a slow agonizing death at the hands of their monstrous killers. They were innocent street children, begging, running errands, selling plastic bags to survive another day around the bus terminal. What despicable human being could have done such an evil act and why?

The youngest is Jerry Escober. He was just 12 years old. His corpse was found dumped like garbage covered in blood. Fourteen (14) year-old Elive Dablo Jr. and Carlo Catalan, 15, bore similar wounds, evidence of a deliberate, hate-driven torture session to cause as much pain and suffering as possible. Their hands were tied in front of them, their fingers frozen in death, out-stretched in pain, as if begging for mercy but there was nothing there that was human, just hate-filled creatures filled with vicious contempt, ridicule and drunk with the pleasure of inflicting unbearable pain on others. To know that the world has an abundance of such  inhuman people, most armed and dressed in uniforms, makes one not want to live unless a just reckoning can be had.

It has been reported by City Police Director Sr. Supt. Edwin De Ocampo that the children’s mutilated bodies were found by a farmer in a ditch beside an irrigation canal in Sitio Gapuh, Barangay Talabaan, Zamboanga city recently. This heinous crime will live in infamy until the killers are caught and convicted. The screams of those children being brutally tortured were silenced with packing tape. Their agonized cries were stifled and unheard. From the grave they appeal and beg for justice and peace. Their cries are shouting for us to save other children from the same treacherous evil and merciless murderers.

All who come to know of it must speak out, raise our voices in protest, write our words of outrage, and cry out for justice for all the abused and tortured children. May none have peace of mind and heart that remain silent and indifferent. Make your voice heard when the voices of the children are gagged and silenced. How can we live in peace and comfort knowing such atrocities go unpunished and ignored?

What good is it having heavenly spirituality, religious rituals and rites, pious prayers, fasting and faith, and not have the will power to act for justice and protest evil to protect children?

The prophet once said of his own prophecy, “embrace not this, if you have no heart empowered with the love of justice and truth, no feelings of righteous anger, no care for they who ask for love and freedom. Then go, heartless loveless one, into the darkness of a useless life. Yea! Come thou the brave, come into the light, be true to the goodness of your inner self, embrace my words, understand, stand forth and lead the way to justice with courage and unwavering virtue.”  Metesla.

It was reported, but not confirmed, that the three youth were arrested and brought to the police station accused of robbing a female police officer out of uniform. They were later released when there was no evidence against them. Did her male uniformed companions infuriated, pick them up and did this to avenge her? We may never know. But the police know.

It is not an isolated case. Death Squads, acting with impunity, have killed hundreds of youths in Davao in the past decade. Two more were killed last February there.  Other cities have their “killer corps” too and the bodies pile up. As the prophet said, we cannot be silent, we must “lead the way to justice with courage and unwavering virtue.”

JOIN OUR APPEAL. Please send a letter direct to Secretary Leila De Lima, Department of Justice, Padre Faura, Manila 1000, Philippines, or send it to the Preda Center, P.O. Box 68, Olongapo City 2200, Philippines, for hand delivery or e-mail to preda [@] info.com.ph.

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)