Tag Archives: Extrajudicial Killings

[Statement] AMRSP solidarity statement for Mayor Aquino’s death, Otto de Vries, bloody Sunday, and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines

#HumanRights #Killings #RedTagging

AMRSP solidarity statement for Mayor Aquino’s death, Otto de Vries, bloody Sunday, and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines

From AMRSP FB page

We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.’ – Jeremiah 8:15

What is happening in our land?

Violence continues to spiral uncontrollably and with such impunity in our beloved land. So much pain and anguish, hatred and division have afflicted our peoples and nation that we seem indifferent to these deadly events happening in our midst.

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[Off-the-shelf] Activists and Journalists Targeted as Draconian Anti-Terror Law Challenged in the Philippines -CIVICUS Monitor

#HumanRights #TerrorLaw

Activists and Journalists Targeted as Draconian Anti-Terror Law Challenged in the Philippines

Screen grabbed from CIVICUS Monitor website

Philippines’ civic space rating was downgraded by the CIVICUS Monitor in early December 2020 from ‘obstructed’ to ‘repressed’. The rating change was driven by attacks on human rights defenders and journalists, the vilification and criminalisation of activists, the assault on press freedom, and the passage of new draconian anti-terror law.

On 15th December 2020, the office of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) prosecutor said there was a “reasonable basis” to believe that crimes against humanity were committed during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

In January 2021, Investigate PH, a group of individuals and civil society groups, formally launched an independent international probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines. Organised by US-based International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), the group is composed of representatives from various lawyers’ and faith-based groups, as well as trade unions in the United States, Canada and Australia. It said it would release three reports to be submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). The first two reports will be released for upcoming UNHRC sessions in March and July 2021. The group will also submit findings to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In recent months, human rights defenders, trade unions and journalists have been arrested on fabricated charges or killed. The Department of National Defence terminated a decades-old agreement that prohibits state forces from entering University of the Philippines’ campuses without prior notice to school officials while security forces raided an indigenous Lumad school in Cebu City. Civil society groups are challenging the draconian anti-terror law in the Supreme Court.

Read full report @https://monitor.civicus.org

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[Statement] Sanlakas vehemently condemns the brutal and brazen execution of Sonya Gregorio and Frank Anthony Gregorio

#HumanRights #StopTheKillingsPH #EndImpunity

Sanlakas vehemently condemns the brutal and brazen execution of Sonya Gregorio and Frank Anthony Gregorio

SANLAKAS STATEMENT ON SONYA AND FRANK GREGORIO’S MURDER

Sanlakas vehemently condemns the brutal and brazen execution of Sonya Gregorio and Frank Anthony Gregorio. This was not an isolated incident as their deaths add to the growing number of casualties whose deaths have been perpetrated by the police. The police has been emboldened by President Duterte’s marching shoot-to-kill orders against citizens on the pretext of fighting crime. This recent display of barbarism and callousness highlight the danger the public faces in the hands of the police.

Police brutality no longer hides in the cloak of darkness as impunity takes on new heights.

To date, criminal prosecution of erring police officers remains slow while crimes committed by the police continue to rise. This in itself is injustice.

There can be no justice if no less the President is quick to give scalawags in uniform a free pass.

We demand that Duterte condemn and give full justice to not just the merciless killings of the Gregorios but all murders that have been committed as a result of the bloodlust that is the war on drugs being waged in the last 4 years, and the attack on activists, workers, peasants, journalists, lawyers, and IPs.

Stop the killings NOW!

#EndImpunity

#StopTheKillingsNow

#EndPoliceBrutality

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[Statement] Justice, not only for the Gregorios, but for all victims of violence at the hands of those in power -AMRSP

AMRSP STATEMENT ON THE MURDER OF SONYA AND FRANK GREGORIO

He comes. He ever comes.

This succinctly summarizes the reason for this merriment and celebration of this Christmas season. Despite the fact that we are living in a time of pandemic, as Christians, we are forever anticipating to celebrate the birth of Christ in our world.

In the midst of all our preparations, our senses are jarred with the brutal and cold-blooded murder of Sonya and Frank Gregorio. In the video clips circulating on social media, we witnessed their fate at the hands of Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca, who, without hesitation, brandished his power as a law enforcer and shot both mother and son. This reminds us of Lamech, known in the Old Testament for his reckless killings:

“Lamech said…: “Hear my voice; … listen to my utterance: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for bruising me” (Gen 4, 23).

It pains us to see how cheap life is valued by many in power nowadays. Equally disturbing is to hear how others defend this brazen act of injustice.

As Christians, our primary duty is to protect and respect all life, from conception to natural death. Did not our Lord say that He came to earth to give fulness of life to all? (cf. Jn 10,10). This duty should be more solemnly felt this season. We cannot afford to repeat Herod’s penchant to murder even his wives, his children and other relations on the basis of suspicion. We cannot afford to repeat his ordering to murder the innocent children in pursuit of the life of the newborn Baby Jesus.

The Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines expresses our condolences to the bereaved family of Sonya and Frank Gregorio. We will keep their souls in our prayers. At the same time, we also express our concern for all those traumatized and shocked by what we saw in the videos.

We also join the many calls for justice, not only for the Gregorios, but for all victims of violence at the hands of those in power. As one nation, may we find ourselves united in breaking the prevailing culture of violence, impunity and injustice. We re-affirm our commitment for life and for peace.

As we wait for the coming of our Savior, we say:
“Halina, Hesus, aming Mananakop
dusa ng ‘Yong bayan, masda’t abut-abot.
Sa pag-ibig, salat; katarunga’y kapos.
Tangi kang pag-asa, O Hesus!”
Come, Lord, heal our minds. Heal our souls.

For the AMRSP:
Sr. Malen A. Java, RC
Fr. Cielito R. Almazan, OFM
Co-Chairpersons

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[People] Duterte has forfeited the Philippines’ EU trade privileges -by Joseph Purugganan

Duterte has forfeited the Philippines’ EU trade privileges

By Joseph Purugganan

File Photo from Focus on the Global South website

In 2014, Trade Justice Pilipinas supported the Philippines’ pursuit of favorable trade privileges from the EU, hoping they would deter human rights abuses. Six years later, that hope has disappeared, and so should those privileges.

On 17 September, the European Parliament issued a resolution expressing its “deep concern over the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines under Duterte”. The resolution condemned the “thousands of extra-judicial killings and other serious human rights violations related to the so-called war-on-drugs” and the “threats, harassment, intimidation, rape and violence against those who seek to expose allegations of extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations in the country”.

While many of the points raised in the Resolution were addressed to the Philippine government, some were directed toward the European Commission – the principal executive body of the European Union. In Item 20 of the resolution, the European Parliament “calls on the European Commission, in the absence of any substantial improvement and willingness to cooperate on the part of the Philippine authorities, to immediately initiate the procedure which could lead to the temporary withdrawal of GSP+ preferences”.

The Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) program was granted by the EU to the Philippines in 2014 to incentivize sustainable development and good governance. It allows duty-free entry of more than 6,000 exports from the Philippines to the EU. These privileges were granted on condition of the Philippine government’s fulfillment of its obligations under 27 conventions on human and labor rights. As cited in the resolution, for 2019 alone, trade preferences were given to 25 percent of Philippine exports to the EU, amounting to around 2 billion euros.

Duterte’s lieutenants responded to the European Parliament’s resolution by downplaying the concerns it raised.

“No reason for the EU to revoke these privileges,” said Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

“They have descended to the level of stupidity,” said foreign affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., referring to the European Parliament.

These flippant retorts of Duterte’s deputies are to be expected. Duterte has built his personal brand upon open defiance in the face of criticism, especially of his human rights record. More startling, however, was the response of Harry Roque, a former human rights lawyer who now serves as Duterte’s spokesperson, who said: “If they want to add to the burden of the Filipino nation during this pandemic, so be it, so be it. We will accept that as history repeating itself.”

Roque recognizes the importance of GSP+ privileges to the Philippine economy, yet he lays the blame for their potential withdrawal upon the European Parliament. He appears to be in need of a reminder that the Philippine government only secured those privileges in the first place by accepting the conditions that the government is now brazenly violating.

Roque’s retort exposes the rot at the topmost levels of the Philippine government. In the face of all criticism, this government consistently opts to shoot the messenger rather than look inward and alter its behavior. The government responded similarly to the report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) in July, which expressed concerns over “widespread human rights violations and persistent impunity.” There was no acknowledgement of shortcomings or failures, nor any commitment to correct mistakes or fulfill obligations.

Trade Justice Pilipinas (TJP), a platform convened by Focus on the Global South campaigning for just trade and investment policies, has been monitoring the Philippines’ GSP+ status from the start. When the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was preparing its application in 2014, it sought TJP’s help in securing the support of our allies in Europe for the Philippine government’s bid.

We supported the government’s application for two main reasons:

We felt any positive conditionality that could push the government to fulfill its international human and labor rights obligations should be supported.
We recognized the potential economic benefit that could arise from increased market access, which we were hoping would also benefit workers in the sectors covered by the GSP+ program.

But just as we advocated for the granting of these privileges when it seemed the conditions would be met, we have advocated just as forcefully for their withdrawal since it became obvious that the Philippine government has no interest in meeting these conditions.

The European Parliament’s resolution to withdraw the Philippines’ GSP+ status follows years of sustained advocacy at home by Trade Justice Pilipinas, the Trade Justice and Corporate Accountability Cluster of the Asia Europe Peoples’ Forum (AEPF), and the Germany-based Action Network for Human Rights (AMP), among other international networks.

In 2018, Trade Justice Pilipinas stated that “the human rights dimension must be stressed and strengthened further as a cornerstone of EU-Philippines relations”, and we called on the EU to “prove its commitment to human rights by reiterating human rights provisions in future agreements, including the proposed EU-Philippines free trade agreement. Otherwise, it risks eroding further [the EU’s] already diminished image as a defender of human rights and, at worst, highlights its complicity in the violations and atrocities being committed by the Duterte administration”.

In 2019, we issued another statement noting that under EU regulations, “where a GSP+ beneficiary country no longer fulfills the conditions or withdraws any of its binding undertakings, the Commission shall be empowered to adopt a delegated act…to remove that country from the list of GSP+ beneficiary countries”. We further noted that the regulations “allow for temporary withdrawal of the trade preferences for, among others, serious and systematic violation of principles laid down in the conventions”. The statement concluded with a call for the EU Commission “to immediately commence the withdrawal procedure of the trade preferences granted under the GSP+ mechanism”.

In 2020, we joined other human rights groups and networks in an open letter addressed to EU Trade Commissioner Paul Hogan that reiterated our concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines under Duterte and reminded the Commission of the findings of its own assessment reports:

In the GSP+ assessment reports on the Philippines covering the periods of 2016-2017 and 2018-2019, the Commission had already expressed grave concern regarding the human rights situation in the country. We underlined the fact that the latest assessment report already highlighted a number of concerning issues including the war on drugs, shrinking civil space, the attacks against human rights defenders, the possible lowering of the minimum age of legal liability, and the reintroduction of the death penalty. The report even concluded by stating: “The campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines continues to be a matter of grave concern, in particular a large number of related killings and prison overcrowding. Reintroducing the death penalty for drug-related offenses would be a worrying development and constitute a violation of the ICCPR’s Second Optional Protocol.”

To be clear, the European Parliament resolution will not cause the withdrawal or suspension of the GSP+ privileges; only the European Commission has the power to initiate this process. However, the resolution sends a very strong challenge to the Commission to live up to its responsibilities under the program.

There is now an urgency to the call for the withdrawal of GSP+ privileges. While conservative estimates place the number of extrajudicial drug-related killings at around 8,000, there is no official public record and no way to count killings that the police have not begun to investigate. Moreover, the death toll continues to rise as the government enjoys complete impunity for its deadly and useless war on drugs.

Roque wants to blame the EU for inflicting additional pain on the Philippines while the country reels from the impact of COVID-19, but he shows no remorse for the extrajudicial killings that have gone unchecked since the start of the pandemic. This is a government addicted to blaming others for its own misdeeds. To Roque and Duterte, human rights defenders are to blame for tarnishing the image of the country, and the EU is to blame for potentially damaging the economy.

The truth is the opposite. Just as the economic hardship afflicting Filipinos is a consequence of the government’s failed policies, the future losses triggered by the withdrawal of GSP+ privileges would be a consequence of the government’s ongoing human rights abuses.

We supported the previous government’s bid for GSP+ when it committed to upholding the dignity of its citizens. Now that Duterte and his cronies have abandoned that commitment, they have no one to blame for the fallout than themselves.

Joseph Purugganan is head of the Philippines office at Focus on the Global South.

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[From the web] ALRC, KARAPATAN to UNHRC: Spate of killings in PH remains

ALRC, KARAPATAN to UNHRC: Spate of killings in PH remains

On the eve of the submission of the joint statement of the Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC) and Karapatan to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, the Calago couple was killed and burned by elements of the 11th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental.

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“…Despite the Government’s assurances that it would take ‘firm measures to address the problem of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances,’ extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and targeted attacks against human rights and political activists have continued without relent under the administration of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III,” said ALRC and Karapatan in the joint statement , which was submitted to the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council and was circulated in full by the Secretary-General to the UN member nations on May 25, in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.

On May 24, 2015, at around 10 p.m., a loud sound of budyong (a sea shell used to signal for help) awakened Marcela Madronero. She immediately rose and saw the roof of her brother Endric Calago’s house in flames. Then she heard Rosalie, her brother’s wife, who shouted, “Help us, the Army is here!” Then Madronero heard a burst of continuous gunshots. Afraid that they too might be shot, Madronero and cousin Dante Flores did not go to the Calago house until 5 a.m., when Madronero heard the wailing of Erly Calago, daughter of Endric and Rosalie. When Madronero and Flores rushed to the couple’s house, they saw the house razed to the ground, including the bodies of the couple. Endric’s body was found near the balcony with several gunshot wounds. Rosalie’s body was just outside the kitchen door, totally burned.

Read full article @www.karapatan.org

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[Statement] Sentro hails arrest of Palparan, calls for no ‘VIP treatment’ and swift conviction -SENTRO

Sentro hails arrest of Palparan, calls for no ‘VIP treatment’ and swift conviction

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa eagerly welcomes the capture early this morning of fugitive retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan; but expresses at the same time apprehension that he will also be accorded VIP treatment in a “special jail” – like Janet Lim-Napoles and her “pork barrel senators” – and the lawsuits against him will drag on for years – like what happened to the Marcoses, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Ampatuans, and their ilk.

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Dubbed “the butcher,” Palparan left a bloody and terrifying trail of murders and abductions of social activists wherever he was assigned an army command – from Mindoro, Romblon, Samar to Central Luzon provinces. Like a Grim Reaper, his mere presence in an area was a portent of increased number of extrajudicial killings or “salvaging,” forced disappearances of perceived anti-government individuals, and active harassment of mass organizations. Still, Arroyo lavishly praised Palparan for his “successful” counterinsurgency campaigns from 2001 to 2006, when he retired. He went into hiding in December 2011 when a court ordered his arrest because of the 2006 kidnapping in Bulacan of two UP students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, who both remain missing.

Of course, no direct evidence was ever gathered and not a single witness has yet surfaced to implicate Palparan as the mastermind behind these heinous crimes. This is understandable since Palparan and his gang – not unlike the liquidation crew of gangsters and secret military assassination units during martial law – will ensure at all costs that incriminating proofs will be eliminated and would-be whistleblowers will be bribed or terrorized or “silenced” outright. However, an investigation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) admitted that there was “certainly (circumstantial) evidence pointing the finger of suspicion at some elements and personalities in the armed forces, in particular General Palparan, as responsible for an undetermined number of killings, by allowing, tolerating, and even encouraging the killings.”

Sentro calls on the Aquino government and the judiciary to ensure that Palparan and his cohorts should be immediately imprisoned in regular jails and not be given special treatment. They should be tried and convicted promptly so that justice will finally be served to their victims and the latter’s families.

The government should likewise vigorously work to end the impunity of violence against the people and their organizations; this includes the speedy resolution of abductions and murders of trade unionists and activists, including two Mindanao leaders of the National Confederation of Transportworkers’ Unions (NCTU-APL-SENTRO) – Antonio “Dodong” Petalcorin and Kagi Alimudin Lucman – who were slain within the span of one month (July) only last year in Davao City and Cotabato City, respectively.

Source: www.sentro.org

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[From the web] Dispatches: A Blow Against Impunity in the Philippines -HRW

Dispatches: A Blow Against Impunity in the Philippines
By Phelim Kine

The Philippines Congress took an important step on Wednesday against unlawful killings by local officials by calling for an urgent official probe into “death squad” killings exposed in a recent Human Rights Watch report.

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House Resolution No. 1222 directs the Congressional Committee on Human Rights to “conduct an immediate investigation, in aid of legislation, on the extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the Tagum Death Squad and allegedly created by local government officials in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte.” That resolution extensively references Human Rights Watch’s revelations of the existence, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, of a death squad linked to hundreds of killings in the past decade. The death squad was organized, equipped, and financed by then Tagum City Mayor Rey “Chiong” Uy and elements of the local police and municipal government.

The congressional resolution is a welcome change from the willingness of successive Philippine governments to turn a blind eye to such brutality. First in nearby Davao City and then in other cities across the country, unidentified gunmen often “riding in tandem” on motorbikes have executed petty criminals, suspected drug dealers, and street children in the name of cleaning up the city of its “undesirables.” Mayor Uy used to refer to them as “weeds.” Yet despite the magnitude of the killings, the administration of Benigno Aquino III has never gotten serious about addressing the problem.

The congressmen who co-sponsored the resolution, Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate and Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares, deserve praise for their willingness to challenge the official silence and denial regarding extrajudicial killings. But their stand against impunity demands long-overdue leadership on extrajudicial killings.

Aquino first should publicly denounce local anti-crime campaigns that promote or encourage unlawful use of force. He also needs to direct the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation into such killings in Tagum City – and elsewhere in the country. The Justice Department needs to ensure the safety of witnesses and relatives of victims to help ensure successful prosecutions in such cases. The Commission on Human Rights can raise public awareness by organizing public hearings on death squad killings in Tagum and elsewhere, and the alleged involvement of local officials.

The Philippines Congress has sent a much-needed signal that the country’s culture of impunity for extrajudicial killings needs to come to an end. Now it’s up to President Aquino to translate that signal into meaningful action.

Source: www.hrw.org

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[Statement] Apathy and alibis -NUJP

Apathy and alibis

It says much when the president of a country that time and again boasts of being a democracy insists that one of, if not the, worst wave of media murders does not constitute a national catastrophe.

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No, we don’t believe President Benigno Aquino III is in a state of denial about the three latest killings, which happened in all of two weeks’ time, bringing the death toll for media since he came to office in 2010 to at least 21.

We believe he is clearly aware of how serious the problem is. The problem is, he keeps on looking for excuses to play down what the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism has called the worst annual incidence rate under any president.

In short, he just doesn’t care.

In a meeting with Filipino journalists in Tokyo, Aquino, as reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, said he would not treat media killings as a national trend unless “somebody can say that there is some sort of an established policy to kill a journalist of this particular position, mentality.”

According to the PDI report, Aquino said a “’correlation’ must first be established: ‘What’s common among (the killings) besides (the reality) that somehow they are connected to media’.”

“’Now if you don’t identify the problem correctly, you will not come up with a solution. The point is … we are 95 million Filipinos. It’s difficult to see the intent, especially for those … some might really be wanton and merciless and totally wrong,’ he said.”

Evidently, Mr. Aquino has not been listening, if he ever did in the first place.

Mr. Aquino, in case you missed it, we have never claimed the murders of our colleagues were the result of any “established policy” unlike, say, the extrajudicial killings of activists, environmentalists, indigenous people and other dissenters that human rights experts both here and abroad have rightly linked to a murderous counterinsurgency program that deliberately targets members of legal organizations.

What we HAVE said is that these killings are the inevitable offshoot of governance by expediency, which has seen administration after administration, bar none, allowing the corrupt, the warlords, the crime lords to reign supreme in their respective personal fiefdoms in the regions and provinces in exchange for their support.

It is a system of governance that has allowed local tyrants to keep their populations cowed and silence any attempt to unmask them while the national government turns a blind eye for fear of losing their loyalty.

But of course, no self-respecting president, especially one who has staked his name on “tuwid na daan,” would ever admit to that.

Thus the search for alibis, like Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma’s describing some of the victims as “not legitimate” to justify describing the problem as “not so serious,” or the attempt by an investigator to explain the recent killings as the offshoot of the victims’ less than impeccable ethics.

Admittedly, Philippine media have their work cut out to improving ethical and professional standards. But before sanctimoniously dumping the blame on the individual practitioner, especially the grossly overworked and underpaid variety that populate our provinces, shouldn’t we look first to those who keep them so overworked and underpaid that not a few succumb to the blandishments of those would have the news slanted in their favor? And if corruption were to justify murder, shouldn’t we be wondering, given the surfeit of evidence, why our corridors of power continue to be populated by the foremost purveyors of graft and who, by all indications, are the most likely brains in the murders of our colleagues?

So there, Mr. Aquino, is the “correlation” you claim to seek, the problem identified to which you must now find a solution.

That is, if you even care a whit to.

For reference
Rowena Paraan
Chairperson

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[Press Release] CTUHR reports rampant violations of union rights under Aquino

CTUHR reports rampant violations of union rights under Aquino

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The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights reported of rampant union rights violations within the first half of Aquino’s presidency. The group cited 132 documented cases of violations to workers right to freely organize that victimized over 20,000 workers and other forms of human rights violations.

Violations of workers’ freedom to organize (also referred to as freedom of association or FOA) documented by CTUHR include non-recognition of unions, union busting, harassment of unionists inside the workplace, intervention on trade union affairs, anti-union discrimination and prohibition of the right to strike.

Forty-two (42) other cases of violations of collective bargaining agreements (CBA) and other CBA issues affecting over 11,000 workers were documented within the last three years since Aquino took office.

“The government boasts of achieving industrial peace and almost zero-strike incidence but this is not at all indicative of better conditions for unions and workers. The numerous cases of union rights violations and CBA issues is clear proof that conditions for union organizing has not improved at all,” Arman Hernando, CTUHR coordinator for documentation said.

Aside from these, CTUHR also documented over 84 cases of civil and political rights violations against workers and unionists which include cases of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, harassment, physical assault and filing of false criminal charges.

Alarmingly low union rate

The group described the number of unionized workers as “alarmingly low” covering less than 10% of wage and salary workers. Recent data on CBAs from the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES) also revealed that in 2011, only 326 CBAs are registered nationwide covering only 66,485 workers.

“This miniscule percentage of unionized and CBA-covered workers in addition to the persistence of union rights violations shows how terrible labor rights situation in the country is today. While the Aquino government is hell-bent in selling out the country to investors on one hand, it miserably fails to protect the rights of the majority who create the nation’s wealth on the other hand.”

“The right to form unions and collectively bargain is the very important to workers for it is the only means by which workers can empower themselves and claim their rights even at the factory level,” Hernando averred.

The group added that continued attacks by capitalists and state agents on workers who struggle to form organizations and unions contribute to this ever decreasing rate of unionized workers. Government policies that allow contractual labor also undermine workers right to organize.

“The Aquino government must be reminded that a truly developed society can only be achieved if its people are enjoying their rights. Economic growth or so-called ‘inclusive growth’ is meaningless and hollow if majority of the people are not empowered to claim their rights and do not feel the fruits of development,” Hernando added.

For Reference: Arman Hernando, CTUHR Coordinator for Documentation. 4110256; 0916.2484876

RELEASE
30 July 2013

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[Statement] On the killing of Davao City transport leader -CTUHR

On the killing of Davao City transport leader

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The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights strongly condemns the killing of Davao City transport leader Antonio Petalcorin, President of Network of Transport Organization-Davao (NETO-NCTU-APL). This is another blow to the working sector and a clear indication that human rights situation in the country has not improved.

According to reports, Antonio Petalcorin, was shot in the morning of July 2 by an unidentified man. Petalcorin was dead on the spot sustaining four gunshot wounds from a .45 caliber pistol. The killing happened amidst a strong campaign of Petalcorin’s group to oust the leadership of LTFRB (Land Transportation, Franchising and Regulatory Board) in Davao City because of alleged corruption.

As we mourn with Petalcorin’s family, friends and colleagues, we are also one with them on the calls for justice. We demand an immediate and thorough investigation of the case so that perpetrators may be held accountable to the law.

Moreover, we denounce Petalcorin’s killing for it is an outright attack on our collective rights and freedoms. Needless to say, extrajudicial killings hamper the workers’ and the people’s right and freedom to organize. Brazen violence has a chilling effect among the people and the community which has been used time and again by state agents to quell dissent and suppress legitimate and just demands of the people.

Petalcorin’s death highlights the persisting impunity which the Aquino administration failed to correct. In fact, human rights and labor rights situation has not changed, rather aggravated, within the first half of Aquino’s presidency. Petalcorin is the 5th transport leader killed in the first three years of the current administration. And to this day, Ernest Gulfo, Felix Cultura, Feliciano Infante and Emilio Rivera, just like hundreds of other victims of human rights killings, are still seeking justice.

As Pres. Aquino is about to deliver his State of the Nation Address in a few weeks, news on the widening gap between the poor and the rich underlines how his administration has abandoned the welfare and interests of the working class and marginalized groups. Amid this worsening economic condition for the majority, human rights killings and violations committed against workers and the toiling classes only paints a more grotesque picture of our current society.

We thus reiterate our challenge to Pres. Aquino to fulfill his promise that he shall put an end to all human rights killings. Until and unless these killings and other human rights violations are stopped and perpetrators are brought to justice can the Aquino administration actually brag of leading a straight path.

STATEMENT
11 July 2013
for Reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director, Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, 411.0256.

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[Statement] Women say YES to Development! Women say NO to Corporate Mining!

Women say YES to Development! Women say NO to Corporate Mining!

March 8 2013 Women say No to mining from HRD FB

International Women’s Day. 08 March 2013. Today, we celebrate our hopes, our rights, our voices, our movements as we continue to work towards the elimination of violence and discrimination, our right to self-determination, our right to decide on our bodies, communities and natural resources. We voice out the development we want. We move towards equality and justice. We dance until we are all free.

As we celebrate this day we stand firm against those who dare to violate our hopes, our rights, our voices, and our movements. We stand firm against those who dare to destroy the lives we choose to live and the future we dream for our children. WE STAND FIRM AGAINST CORPORATE MINING, for mining companies dared to poison us, kill us, displace us, prostitute us, exploit us.

MINING POISONS our food and waters – mine tailings seeping through the water system, backhoes excavating our rice fields, coastal areas and mountains. Women toil more than twelve hours a day to produce and secure food for their families, to bring water to their homes, to gather medicines from their forests. Women regard the land and water as source of life; but yes, mining corporations easily disregard the value of life.

MINING DISPLACES rural women – away from their homes, their farms, their municipal waters, their forests. With diminishing sources of income due to degradation of their natural resources, rural women have to find work in the cities or abroad, with the risk of falling prey to trafficking and prostitution. Women are driven away from their families and communities; but yes, mining corporations easily disregard the value of family and community.

MINING WORSENS prostitution – peddling entertainment to investors and their male workers, peddling women next to the produce of the mines. Young women get attracted to jobs near the mining areas, many fall victims to empty promises of better incomes at the cost of their bodies and dignity; but yes, mining corporations easily disregard a person’s dignity.

MINING EXPLOITS workers – subjecting them to inhuman conditions and various risks to health and danger without any occupational safety hazards, without security of tenure, without decent pay. The government promotes mining for job creation but it has not delivered any impact on employment; but yes, mining corporations easily disregard the dignity of work.

MINING KILLS indigenous women – Juvy Capion’s and Cheryl Ananayo’s children sleep at night grieving the loss of their mothers, whose last cries were for their ancestral domains. Indigenous women laid their lives for their ancestral lands not because they wanted to merely benefit or profit from it, but because they wanted to protect the ties that bind them as a people, their cultural identity and integrity. This is the reason why there is the free prior informed consent (FPIC) that would protect indigenous communities from threats of encroachment; but yes, mining corporations easily disregard the right to self-determination, and bastardize the very spirit of FPIC.

With all its dominance and violence, corporate mining perpetuates patriarchy. It has deprived women’s voice to be heard in the communities. It has justified militarization in the country side. With all its capitalist greed, multinational mining corporations perpetuate wanton exploitation of the environment, and undermines national sovereignty. It has worsened impacts of climate change. It has threatened food sovereignty and national patrimony. But mining corporations cannot do it by themselves; but yes, government has long been by their side.

Today, in one voice, women from different communities, and languages, say –

Mining poisons our food and water.

Mining kills indigenous women.

Mining exploits workers.

Mining displaces rural women.

Mining worsens prostitution.

Protect women human rights defenders in mining areas.

STOP corporate mining!

Pursue a development path that uplifts the dignity and lives of the Filipino communities, nurtures the natural resources and environment, and eliminates all forms of violence against women.

Akbayan–Youth • Alliance of Progressive Labor • Amnesty International • Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) • Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) • Asian Circle 1325 • Bagong Kamalayan • BATIS • Batis-AWARE • Buklod • Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino – Kababaihan • CATW-AP • Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) • Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center, Inc • DAKILA Palawan Collective • Development Action for Women Network • Filipino Deaf Women Health and Crisis Center (FDWHCC) • Focus on the Global South • Free Burma Coalition • Freedom from Debt Coalition • Initiatives for International Dialogue • Kababaihan-Pilipinas • KAISA-KA • KAMP • Kasibulan • Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC-KsK/Friends of the Earth-Phils) • LILAK (Purple Action for Women’s Rights) • Medical Action Group • MFA • Partido Lakas ng Masa • Partido ng Manggagawa • PAHRA • PEACE • Philrights • Piglas Kababaihan • PKKK • PREDA • RENEW • Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) • SARILAYA • Transform Asia • Unlad Kabayan • WEDPRO • WomanHealth Phils. • Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau • Welga ng Kababaihan • Women’s Crisis Center • Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE) • World March of Women – Pilipinas • numerous courageous individuals who joined through the event’s facebook page

Jean Enriquez
Executive Director, CATW-AP
Tel: 63-2-4342149
http://www.catw-ap.org

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[Statement] Unabated human rights violations continually hurt God and the Church -VCDG

Unabated human rights violations continually hurt God and the Church
Most Rev. Gerardo A. Alminaza, D.D.
Head Convenor, Visayas Clergy Discernment Group
December 10, 2012

Bp Gerardo Alminaza 2Blessed John Paul II commended the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948, as “a true milestone on the path of humanity’s moral progress” (JP 2, 34th General Assembly of the United Nations).

But as we commemorate the 64th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Universal Human Rights Day, we continue to assert that the unabated human rights violations in the country are fundamental breaches of the laws of God and the teachings of the Church.

Genesis 1:27 says that God created man in his own image. The human individual, then, possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 357). We see in our neighbors, the living image of our Creator, and we show our love of God and neighbor through respecting our neighbor’s dignity.

But the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) recently condemned the continuing human rights violations in the country under the Aquino government, particularly cases of extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders.

In Cebu, we support the advocacies of the Archdiocesan Discernment Group led by Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma in defending the rights of our marginalized brothers and sisters in the rural and urban areas.

The labor sector in the Mactan Export Processing Zone and in other factories in Cebu has to contend with unjust labor practices, union busting, contractualization, and many other oppressive and anti-labor practices.

In Barangay Luz of Cebu City, urban poor households were demolished even without adequate relocation sites facilitated. Former President Ramon Magsaysay gave them the relocation site in the said Barangay in the 1950’s.

The land tilled by farmers in Aloguinsan, Cebu since the time of their ancestors are now claimed by a rich landed family.

The local government is reclaiming seabeds in Cordova, Cebu in order to build golf courses and five star hotels. This will surely wipe out the livelihood of poor fisherfolks in the area, and will destroy seagrass beds and the ecosystem of corals connected to the double-barrier reef of the Danajon Bank in Bohol.

In other areas of the country, we are alarmed of the killing of anti-mining advocates who fight against large-scale mining.

The current human rights situation show that as a community, we have been remiss in respecting the dignity of our neighbors and the integrity of creation; and if this continues, justice and peace would be impossible to achieve.

As a community of persons, we must be steadfast in our duty to work for the good of all, the common good: to destroy the structures of sin, and build a society of justice, love and peace. May Jesus, the Prince of Peace of Christmas, defend the human rights of His brothers and sisters here in the Philippines and in the whole world.

For Reference:

BISHOP GERARDO ALMINAZA, D.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro/ Head Convenor of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG)
Tel. No. (033) 3291625

VISAYAS CLERGY DISCERNMENT GROUP
E-Mail Address: visayasclergydiscernment@yahoo.com

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[In the news] Government taking steps to stop rights violations, says Justice Secretary Leila de Lima | Sun.Star

Government taking steps to stop rights violations, says Justice Secretary Leila de Lima | Sun.Star.

September 26, 2012

MANILA — Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told a group of human rights watchdogs that had been instrumental in cutting United States military aid to the Philippines that the Aquino administration has taken steps to reduce cases of extrajudicial killings and related violations.

In a meeting on Tuesday at the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C., De Lima said the government has not used violence, intimidation or threats to curtail rights of individuals.

Militants have since accused the government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan of killing members of leftist organizations but the military claimed otherwise, saying the program is centered on resolving conflicts through peace process and community work.

“This Aquino administration can honestly and sincerely say this because we absolutely have nothing to hide,” said de Lima, former chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

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[Statement] Extrajudicial killings are inconsistent with the “straight path” of PNoy.It must stop now! -FIAN

Extrajudicial killings are inconsistent with the “straight path” of PNoy.It must stop now!

The killing of Dutch missionary Willem Geertman, in broad daylight, is a gravely serious assault on human rights. It reflects the failure of the state to protect the most basic of all human rights – the right to life.

It highlights the apparent continuing impunity in post-Arroyo administration where killings of journalists and those suspected of being sympathetic to the armed left movement, even if they are civilians, continue.

As an advocate of basic human rights, the Food-First Information and Action Network (FIAN), condemns in the strongest terms this latest act of violence. These killings are inconsistent with the “straight policy direction” of Benigno Aquino III who time and again declared that his administration will correct the wrongs of the previous government. This policy, however, must go beyond the issue of corruption. Equally important is for the Aquino administration to uphold human rights and resolve the extra-judicial killings during the Arroyo administration.

Two years into his term, however, the Aquino administration has not only failed to resolve extra-judicial killings, as reported by many local and international human rights groups but has steadfastly de-emphasized human rights by studiously remaining silent on the issue.

The continuing failure of the government to arrest former General Jovito Palparan, who was believed to have masterminded many killings under the Arroyo administration, highlights failure to resolve human rights violations. Worse, the killing of Dutch missionary Geertman gives us reasons to believe that extra-judicial killings continue with impunity under the Aquino administration.

We remind the President of the Philippines that the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva has condemned extra-judicial killings in the Philippines and that 69 countries recommended that the government take measures to stop them. FIAN Philippines welcomes the creation of a special investigation group to probe Geertman’s murder. We urge for the immediate arrest and prosecution of those responsible in order to serve justice to the victim, his family, and Filipinos whom he has served faithfully for over four decades.

It is in this regard that we would like to call on the Aquino government to swiftly resolve the killing of Geertman and bring the perpetrators to justice. His pronouncement of “Tuwid na Daan” or “Straight Path” rings hollow in the face of continuing extra-judicial killings. The killings must be stopped and they must be stopped now.
FIAN Philippines
(+632)-3517553

Contact Person:
Aurea G. Miclat-Teves
FIAN Philippines President

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[From the web] Oplan Bayanihan in full swing -KARAPATAN

Oplan Bayanihan in full swing
March 31, 2012

Karapatan  said in a media briefing that there is a marked and alarming increase in the number of human rights violations involving children due to the ongoing massive and intense military operations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the rural areas.

Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez attributed the escalation of military operations and the consequent human rights violations to the implementation of the President’s counter-insurgency program called Oplan Bayanihan, now on its second year and one year short of its target to end the insurgency in 2013. “Combat military operations now takes the frontline over surveillance and civil-military operations. These are the three components of the AFP’s triad operations used in both former President Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya and Oplan Bayanihan of President Noynoy Aquino,” said Hilao-Enriquez.

Hilao-Enriquez presented some of the initial documented results of Karapatan’s first quarter monitoring of human rights violations. The report stated that:

• Of the nine victims of extrajudicial killing during the first quarter of 2012, four are children who were victims of indiscriminate firing by the military. This brings the total number of victims of extrajudicial killings to 76 since P-Noy assumed the presidency.

Read full article @ http://www.karapatan.org/node/517

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[In the news] Human rights defenders still under attack – Bulatlat

Human rights defenders still under attack – Bulatlat.

By RONALYN V. OLEA, Bulatlat.com
March 3, 2012

MANILA – Speaking before an international conference, two Filipino human rights advocates exposed the continuing attacks on human rights defenders under the current government.

In a paper presented to the Conference on Defending Human Rights Defenders, February 24 at the Amnesty International UK Human Rights Action Centre in London, Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and Cristina Palabay, spokeswoman of Karapatan, revealed that there are 37 human rights defenders slain under the Aquino administration.

“Even with a new government that promised to pursue reforms in governance, the killings, disappearances and violations continue. Being a human rights defender still means putting one’s life on the line,” they said in a paper entitled “From Defenders to Victims: The Plight of Human Rights Defenders in the Philippines Amidst Continuing Impunity.”

Karapatan has documented 67 victims of extrajudicial killings in the one and a half years of the Aquino’s presidency. There is approximately one killing per week. Three out of nine victims of enforced disappearances are human rights defenders. Most of them are farmers, indigenous peoples, workers and the urban poor who are defending their right to land, ancestral domain, livelihood, decent housing, jobs and other basic rights.

Read full article @ bulatlat.com

[Statement] Struggle for a larger freedom of information -PAHRA

STRUGGLE FOR
A LARGER FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

February 10, 2012

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) welcomes the initial gains of a convergent struggle towards a larger freedom of information.

PAHRA acknowledges the advances made so far in the proposed bill by the staunch supporters in the legislative branch, the contribution of and vital endorsement by President Benigno Aquino III as head of the executive branch as well as the unflagging campaign of civil society through the Coalition for Freedom of Information, Right Now!

We commend the concrete provisions that expand access to information, e.g. those pertaining to the submission of the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs), to effectively prevent and prosecute graft and corruption among government officials as these adversely impact on the economic, social and cultural rights of people.

Nonetheless, full enjoyment of the right to information is still primarily a State obligation which the people must continuously demand and determinedly struggle for.

Soon, the Filipino people will be commemorating again the toppling of the Marcos Dictatorship which violated our fundamental freedoms and grossly violated our human rights with impunity. More than three decades have passed, government and military information on the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings, massacres, enforced disappearances, torture and other gross human rights violations involving economic, social and cultural rights have been suppressed. Relatives still do not know what really happened to their loved ones and who are the perpetrators of these violations and crimes.

The officially turned-over martial law documents by the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), in their present pace and diligence, while a welcome initiative, has still a long way to go to bring closure, much more to obtain justice for the victims and families of human rights violations. The President, as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief of the AFP, should order a fast, time-bound handing over of the rest of the identified 20, 000 files to the CHR.

Right to information is integral to combating impunity. The UN Updated Principles in Combating Impunity includes the right to truth. There are two aspects of this right: the first is the individual’s, as well as, the victim’s families and relatives right to know the circumstances and reasons for the victim’s torture, enforced disappearance or extrajudicial killing. The second is the collective aspect, wherein the nation should remember the tragedies that were consequent of the human rights violations. The obligation to preserve documents and other related evidences to the violations arise from the state’s duty. So is the obligation that public access is facilitated.

Thus, the proposed “Freedom of Information Act of 2012” must contain the provisions that records of official investigations of alleged gross human rights violations, particularly extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture, must be preserved. Also, information of these same human rights violations should never ever be classified as exemptions to deny public access as are crimes and wrongdoings, graft or corruption. The excuse of “national security” should not be used to protect under its umbrage the perpetrators of human rights violations.

PAHRA calls on all those who fight for fundamental freedoms and human rights to lobby and obtain a law that advances towards a larger freedom of information.

PAHRA unites with all who struggles for the right to truth to combat and end graft, corruption and impunity.

 

[Press Release] Philippines: Efforts to Improve Rights Fall Far Short – HRW

Philippines: Efforts to Improve Rights Fall Far Short
Abusive Paramilitaries, Extrajudicial Killings Persist

 (New York, January 23, 2012) – The Philippine government should disable abusive paramilitary forces and take concrete steps to hold those responsible for killings and other rights violations to account, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2012.

The administration of President Benigno Aquino III has not fulfilled its promises of reform and made little progress in ending impunity for abuses by state security forces, Human Rights Watch said. Extrajudicial killings and torture of leftist activists, alleged communist rebels, and accused criminals continue, but the government has failed to acknowledge and address involvement in these crimes by the security forces and local officials.

“After a year and a half in office, President Aquino should be delivering on his promise to end impunity for rights abuses,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “His administration will ultimately be measured by what it achieves, not by his stated intentions.”

In its 676-page report, Human Rights Watch assessed progress on human rights during the past year in more than 90 countries, including popular uprisings in the Arab world that few would have imagined. Given the violent forces resisting the “Arab Spring,” the international community has an important role to play in assisting the birth of rights-respecting democracies in the region, Human Rights Watch said in the report.

In December, after the report went to print, a court in Bulacan province issued an arrest warrant against retired army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan and other officers and soldiers for the enforced disappearance of two student activists in 2006. Palparan is the highest-ranking military officer to be charged for human rights abuses since the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. He is implicated in the abduction, torture, and killing of dozens of leftist activists in the Philippines.

The Justice Department has put up a one million peso (US$23,000) bounty for information leading to the capture of Palparan, who is in hiding. While the Justice and Interior departments have formed a “tracker team” to hunt down the fugitive general, Aquino should order the police and military to do more to arrest him, Human Rights Watch said.

Despite this unprecedented development, unlawful killings continue and the government should do more to hold those responsible to account, Human Rights Watch said. Human Rights Watch has documented at least seven extrajudicial killings and three enforced disappearances for which there is strong evidence of military involvement since Aquino took office in June 2010.

Hundreds of leftist politicians and political activists, journalists, and outspoken clergy have been killed or abducted since 2001, Human Rights Watch said. The government has largely failed to prosecute military personnel implicated in such killings, even though strong evidence exists in many cases. Only seven cases of extrajudicial killings from the past decade have been successfully prosecuted, none of which were in 2011, or involved active duty military personnel. Even in the Palparan case, it was the victims’ family – not the government – who initiated the criminal case.

The police and military were implicated in numerous incidents of torture in 2011. While several investigations are ongoing, the rigor of investigations varies and no one has been convicted under the 2009 Anti-Torture Act. In July, soldiers allegedly stripped naked, sexually assaulted, and set on fire a 39-year-old baker, Abdul-Khan Balinting Ajid, in Basilan. While the military says several soldiers involved have been restricted to barracks in Manila, no criminal charges have been filed.

“The arrest and prosecution of Palparan would be the most significant move against impunity for military abuses in the last decade,” Pearson said. “But the government should be more proactive in investigating killings and torture, arresting suspects, and vigorously prosecuting them.”

Aquino has defended the use of poorly trained and abusive paramilitary forces to fight communist insurgents and Islamist armed groups in 2011, Human Rights Watch said. Despite campaign promises to dismantle “private armies” of politicians and wealthy landowners, which have long been responsible for serious abuses, Aquino has not revoked Executive Order 546, which local officials cite to justify arming their personal forces. In October, Aquino announced the deployment of additional paramilitary personnel to provide security to mining companies.

Members of the powerful Ampatuan clan, military, police, and paramilitary personnel, among other suspects, are on trial for the massacre of 58 people, including more than 30 journalists, in Maguindanao province on the southern island of Mindanao, in November 2009. Two years later, the trial is ongoing, albeit snail-paced, with witnesses for the prosecution, including families of the victims, testifying.

In addition to abuses by government forces, the communist New People’s Army (NPA) has unlawfully killed and detained civilians and extorted “taxes” from individuals and businesses, Human Rights Watch said. NPA leaders have often sought to justify targeted killings by asserting that those killed had earlier been condemned by NPA-organized “people’s courts” for “crimes against the people.” Then-UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Philip Alston, concluded that the NPA’s court system “is either deeply flawed or simply a sham.”

In 2011, the Philippine army fabricated stories that several children taken into military custody were NPA rebels. In several cases investigated by Human Rights Watch, the army paraded the children in front of the media, publicly branding them rebels despite conclusive contrary evidence. In two of the cases, the army detained the children for several days.

“It beggars belief why two years after the Maguindanao massacre, Aquino still has not dismantled the country’s paramilitary forces,” Pearson said. “Both government forces and armed rebels should ensure compliance with the laws of war and protect ordinary civilians, who bear the brunt of the conflict.”

To read Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2012 chapter on the Philippines, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/philippines

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the Philippines, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/asia/-philippines

For more information, please contact:
In Manila, Carlos Conde (Tagalog, English): +63-917-545-5492 (mobile); or condec@hrw.org
In Washington, DC, Jessica Evans (English): +1-917-930-7763 (mobile); or evansj@hrw.org
In New York, Elaine Pearson (English): +1-646-291-7169 (mobile) or pearsoe@hrw.org
In London, Brad Adams (English): +44-7908-728-333 (mobile); or adamsb@hrw.org

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