Tag Archives: New York

[Press Release] More action needed to tackle business-related abuse of indigenous people’s rights –

More action needed to tackle business-related abuse of indigenous people’s rights

NEW YORK / GENEVA (29 October 2013) – States and businesses need to do more to tackle and prevent the violation of indigenous peoples’ human rights as a result of business-related activities, a United Nations independent expert body has said.

Pavel Sulyandziga. Photo from en.wikipedia.org

Pavel Sulyandziga. Photo from en.wikipedia.org

“Indigenous peoples are among the groups most severely affected by the extractive, agro-industrial and energy sectors,” said Pavel Sulyandziga, Chair of the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

Mr. Sulyandziga presented yesterday the UN Working Group’s first thematic report*, which explores the challenges faced in addressing the adverse effects of business activities on indigenous peoples’ rights, to the UN General Assembly in New York.

“Negative effects range from indigenous peoples’ right to maintain their chosen traditional way of life, with their distinct cultural identity, to discrimination in employment and in accessing goods and services,” the expert noted.

“There are challenges involving land use and ownership, and also displacement through forced or economic resettlement. Such disruption often leads to serious abuses of civil and political rights, with human rights defenders in particular put at risk,” Mr. Sulyandziga said. “Indigenous peoples are also often excluded from agreements and decision-making processes that irrevocably affect their lives.”

The Working Group’s report highlights how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can clarify the roles and responsibilities of States, business enterprises and indigenous peoples in addressing these problems.

“We call on States and business enterprises to increase their efforts to implement the Guiding Principles. This includes the State’s duty to protect indigenous peoples against business-related human rights abuses and corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and where abuses have occurred, to ensure people can have effective remedy,” said Mr. Sulyandziga.

The expert urged interested parties to register for the second annual Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva on 2-4 December 2013.

“It will be an opportunity to discuss challenges in implementing the Guiding Principles, in particular sectors, in operational environments and in relation to specific rights and groups, including indigenous peoples. It will also be a chance to identify good practices and opportunities for dialogue and cooperation toward solutions,” Mr. Sulyandziga said.

(*) Read the report of the Working Group to the General Assembly:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/Reports.aspx

via More action needed to tackle business-related abuse of indigenous people’s rights.

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[In the news] Gay marriage equality logo spreads on social media -philstar.com

Gay marriage equality logo spreads on social media
March 28, 2013

philstar-logo-white1NEW YORK (AP) — Companies and celebrities from Beyonce to George Takei have joined millions of social media users in posting and tweaking a simple red logo in support of gay marriage in the United States.

A square box with thick pink horizontal lines, the mathematical symbol for equal, was offered for sharing this week by the Human Rights Campaign as the U.S. Supreme Court took up arguments in key gay rights cases.

The image is a makeover of the advocacy group’s logo, usually a blue background with bright yellow lines. The HRC made it available in red — for the color of love — on Monday and estimated tens of millions of shares by Wednesday.

Read full article @www.philstar.com

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[Event/Statement] Join the Global Week of Action for Climate Justice. Join the mobilization on November 14!


Join the Global Week of Action for Climate Justice. Join the mobilization on November 14! 

Philippines: In the eye of a planetary storm

Eleven months after one of the most devastating typhoon hit the country, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan residents still bear the scar of those dreadful days. Typhoon Sendong ravaged the northern regions of Mindanao in 2011 and left 1, 257 people dead.

The monsoon rains in the first week of August of 2012 turned out to be more than what Filipinos are used to. Due to the intensity and devastation of the rains ushered in by the southsouthwest winds called habagat, to most of Greater Manila residents, habagat is now associated with the horrifying calamity that brought floods and destruction similar to that of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 which at that time was thought to be a rare phenomenon.

Typhoons Ondoy (2009), Peping (2009), Sendong (2011) and Habagat in 2012 which was not even technically a typhoon – are far becoming almost ‘normal’ occurrences for Filipinos because of climate change.

The Philippines is in the eye of a planetary storm, and it is called climate change.

• Many studies internationally show that the country is one of the most vulnerable when it comes to exposure and responding to severe weather caused by climate change.

• Aside from increase of numbers and intensity of storms visiting the country, drought is also increasing. In 2010, 16 provinces declared state of calamity due to extreme drought.

• A one meter rise in the sea level would mean a loss of 89,800 hectares according to Manila observatory. Based on other studies this would mean affecting 64 out of 81 provinces covering at least 703 out of 1,610 municipalities, which could potentially
displacing at least 1.5 million Filipinos.

• In the past years, there has been a steady rise of incidents of diseases such as leptospirosis, dengue and malaria. Studies show that there is a direct correlation between climate change and increase of incidents of these diseases.

Climate change affects the country’s food security and self-sufficiency. As warming will be worst in Mindanao, the supposedly country’s food basket will be greatly affected.

The increase in rainfall in Luzon, which usually results in massive flooding have been detrimental to rice production, where 60% of national irrigated rice production is located.

The Earth’s climate is destabilizing and the planet is in crisis Philippine experience is not isolated case. It is indicative of what has been happening in the global scale.

• Scientists predict that about 625,000 people will die each year from now until 2020 by causes driven by climate change.

• Many mountain glaciers, which act as source of water for millions of people, have significantly

• retreated. Changes in rain-fall patterns, due to climate change, are causing even greater waterstress particularly in Western Africa and South Asia.

• There is 80% less Arctic-sea ice today than in 1950. The melting of ice causes sea-level rise,

• threatening 600 million people living less than 10 metres above sea-level and coastal cities such as Mumbai, Shanghai, Manila, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Istanbul and 7 more of the world’s 20 biggest cities.

• The increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is causing ocean acidification. Some oceans are now 30% more acidic than normal, harming ocean habitats like coral reefs and destroying fish stocks. Increased ocean temperature also reduces growth-size
of fish. At least 1 billion people rely on fish for food and livelihoods.

• Crop-yields are diminishing. It is also estimated that climate-related food price hikes since 2005 have pushed more than 105 million people into poverty.

Those responsible to the climate are the industrialized countries, led by the United States of America (USA) and most countries that compose the European Union (EU), particularly their elites, transnational corporations and governments of these countries. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – ratified by more than 195 countries – states that industrialized countries are the one responsible for the historical, accumulated and continuing excessive greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. These countries are legally bound to radically cut their greenhouse gas (GHG) and provide developing countries with funds, like the Philippines, to enable them to deal with the effects of climate change.

But since the adopting the Climate Convention – the rich countries have not been fulfilling their obligations and now, led by the US, they are trying to turn their back on their commitments.

There is very little time left to prevent climate change from reaching catastrophic proportions not only for the Philippines but for the entire planet!

Mobilize for the planetary emergency and fight for climate justice!

We reiterate the call of the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice which the Philippine
Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) is a part of —

Addressing the climate crisis requires profound social transformation in all countries and at all levels – local, national and global. It requires a rapid shift to systems of production and consumption that are compatible with the limits of the planet and aimed at meeting the needs of people rather than the relentless pursuit of profit. It requires immediate action by those responsible for climate change to make deep cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions and to stop false solutions such as offsets and carbon trading, and to mobilize finance and technology for peoples and countries most affected by climate change.

These will not happen without massive mobilization of people everywhere south and north. What we have done thus far have fallen short of overcoming the persistent refusal by powerful elites, corporations and governments to meet their responsibility and obligations and their efforts to stand in the way of social change.

We need to step up our efforts to build and exercise the power of collective action, in different forms at various fronts and arenas, at a scale never seen before. We need to build our capacity for globally coordinated mobilizations during critical political moments –progressively increasing the number of people mobilized, expanding the numbers of countries and cities participating, raising the scale, intensity and boldness of our actions, developing our strength and power to prevent planetary catastrophe.

Let us begin now!

Join the mobilization on November 14 – Assembly at 9:00am Bonifacio shrine in front of LRT
Central Station near Manila City hall; March to the US Embassy via Kalaw Street.
• Climate justice now!
• Deep emission cuts by US and EU and others responsible for the climate crisis!
• Deliver climate finance for affected peoples and communities!
• No more evasion, no more deception, no more false solutions!
• System change not climate change!

Our demand:
• Deep and drastic emissions reductions by rich industrialized countries without offsets -– in fulfilment of their legally binding commitments and in line with their fair share of the global carbon budget that takes into account historical per capita emissions
• Stopping the pursuit of false solutions such as carbon trading, market-based approaches to forests, soil and water, large-scale geo-engineering and techno-fixes, nuclear energy, mega hydro dams, agro-fuels, “clean coal”;
• Delivery of adequate and appropriate climate finance on the basis of rich, industrialized countries’ responsibility for climate change and their corresponding obligation to cover the full costs of enabling peoples of developing countries and other affected
communities to deal with the impacts of climate
• Appropriate technology transfers without intellectual property barriers. Developed countries must ensure free sharing of safe, appropriate and ecologically and socially sound technologies;
• Decisive steps towards the profound transformation of the system based on equity, science and the rights of peoples to live well in harmony with and respect for Mother Earth — Transformation of social and economic structures and technologies and reorient
policies to move away from profit-driven, growth oriented, high-carbon, elitedominated exploitative systems; Just transition to people-driven, equitable, and democratic post carbon sustainable development

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[Job Announcement] 2 job vacancies in Asia – deadline 29 Oct – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

2 job vacancies in Asia – deadline 29 Oct – Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Dear friends,

Greetings from Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, the independent non-profit organization that draws attention to the human rights impacts (positive & negative) of over 5100 companies worldwide, seeks responses from companies when concerns are raised, and provides information that NGOs, companies and others need in their work.

We would be grateful if you would consider forwarding this message to others in the region who might be interested in these jobs, or who could help us spread the word.

We are currently recruiting our first Asia & Pacific Regional Director (28 to 35 hours per week) based in one of the following cities, depending on where the successful applicant is based: Bangkok, Delhi, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Mumbai, Singapore.

We are also recruiting our first Southeast Asia Researcher & Representative based in Bangkok, a half-time post (17.5 hours per week).

Applicants for both posts must have excellent English language skills, and must already have the right to work in the relevant city. Applicants for both posts must have experience working in a non-profit organization addressing human rights, workers’ rights, development, environment, or other social issues – see the job announcements for the precise experience required for each post.

The closing date for applications has been extended to 29 October.

The job announcements, job descriptions (containing information about our organization), and application forms are available via the following webpage: http://business-humanrights.org/Documents/ResourceCentreJobs

Many thanks,

Irene Pietropaoli
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
1-3 Charlotte Street, third floor
London, W1T 1RD, UK
tel: (44) 20 7636 7774 fax: (44) 20 7636 7775
Registered Charity No. 1096664
501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit in USA

See our website for contact details of our New York office, and team members in Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Senegal, South Africa, UK, Ukraine, USA

The Resource Centre provides information on the social & environmental impacts of over 5000 companies worldwide

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[Press Release] New ‘Cybercrime’ Law Will Harm Free Speech -Human Rights Watch

Philippines: New ‘Cybercrime’ Law Will Harm Free Speech
Supreme Court to Rule on Act That Worsens Criminal Defamation

(New York, September 28, 2012) – A new Philippine “cybercrime” law drastically increases punishments for criminal libel and gives authorities excessive and unchecked powers to shut down websites and monitor online information, Human Rights Watch said today. President Benigno Aquino III signed the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 into law on September 12, 2012.

The law’s criminal penalties for online libel and other restrictions are a serious threat to free expression in the Philippines, Human Rights Watch said. Several legal cases have been filed in the Philippines Supreme Court, including for the law to be declared unconstitutional because it violates guarantees to free expression contained in the Philippines constitution and human rights treaties ratified by the Philippines.

“The cybercrime law needs to be repealed or replaced,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It violates Filipinos’ rights to free expression and it is wholly incompatible with the Philippine government’s obligations under international law.”

The new law defines several new acts of “cybercrime.” Among the acts prohibited are “cybersex,” online child pornography, illegal access to computer systems or hacking, online identity theft, and spamming.

A section on libel specifies that criminal libel, already detailed in article 355 of the Philippines Revised Penal Code, will now apply to acts “committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.” The new law drastically increases the penalty for computer-related libel, with the minimum punishment raised twelve-fold, from six months to six years. The maximum punishment is doubled from six to twelve years in prison.

“Anybody using popular social networks or who publishes online is now at risk of a long prison term should a reader – including government officials – bring a libel charge,” Adams said. “Allegedly libelous speech, online or offline, should be handled as a private civil matter, not a crime.”

Human Rights Watch called on the Philippines government to repeal its existing criminal libel law. The Aquino administration has shown little inclination to support legislation pending in the Philippine Congress to decriminalize libel.

Aside from the section on libel, the new law has a provision that grants new powers to the Department of Justice, which on its own and without a warrant, can order the shutdown of any website it finds violating the law. It also authorizes police to collect computer data in real time without a court order or warrant.

The use of criminal defamation laws also has a chilling effect on the speech of others, particularly those involved with similar issues, Human Rights Watch said.

When citizens face prison time for complaining about official performance, corruption, or abusive business practices, other people take notice and are less likely to draw attention to such problems themselves, undermining effective governance and civil society.

Several journalists in the Philippines have been imprisoned for libel in recent years, leaving a blot on the country’s record on press freedom. In the case of Davao City radio journalist Alexander Adonis, who was convicted in 2007 of libel and spent two years in prison, the United Nations Human Rights Committee determined that the Philippine government violated article 19 on the right to freedom of expression and opinion of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The committee called on the Philippine government to decriminalize libel.

“So long as it stands, the new cybercrime law will have a chilling effect over the entire Philippine online community,” Adams said.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the Philippines, please visit:

To view the 2010 Human Rights Watch report “Turning Critics into Criminals,” please visit:

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[Press Release] Killings of Environment Advocates Unpunished – Human Rights Watch

Philippines: Killings of Environment Advocates Unpunished
Cease Deploying Paramilitary Forces in Mining Areas

(New York, July 18, 2012) – The Philippine government’s failure to address threats and killings of environmental advocates worsens a climate of lawlessness just as the Aquino administration is pushing for new mining investments, Human Rights Watch said today.

On July 2, 2012, President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order No. 79, which aims to institutionalize reforms in the Philippine mining sector by “providing policies and guidelines to ensure environmental protection and responsible mining.” However, Human Rights Watch said the executive order is silent on the issue of human rights abuses arising from mining investments and on the deployment of paramilitaries at the mines.

“President Aquino has enacted decrees to encourage mining investment in the Philippines but has done little to stop attacks on environmental advocates,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “He should recognize that respecting human rights is crucial for economic development.”

The government should redouble its investigations into attacks on advocates, particularly when evidence points to the involvement of the military or paramilitary forces, arrest and prosecute all those responsible, and protect witnesses at risk, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch has documented three cases since October 2011 in which critics of mining and energy projects have been killed, allegedly by paramilitary forces under military control. The activists had been vocal in opposing mining and energy operations which they said threatened the environment and would displace tribal communities from their land.

Margarito J. Cabal, 47, an organizer of a group opposing a hydroelectric dam in Bukidnon province, was gunned down on May 9, 2012. Relatives allege that the police have not investigated the killing, and no suspect has been arrested. Cabal had told relatives that he was under military surveillance and had been called to meet the military regarding his activities.

On March 5, a leader of a paramilitary group with a dozen of his men allegedly shot dead Jimmy Liguyon, a village chief in Dao, San Fernando town, Bukidnon province, in front of family members. Relatives said he was killed because he refused to sign an agreement needed to secure a mining investment, and that he had been under military surveillance. The main suspect, the leader of a group called the New Indigenous People’s Army for Reforms, faces a warrant for his arrest, but has been seen going about his usual business in the village.

The local paramilitary group Bagani (“tribal warriors”), reportedly under military control, was allegedly responsible for the fatal shooting of Italian priest Father Fausto Tentorio, 59, in Arakan, North Cotabato province on October 17, 2011. Fr. Tentorio was a long-time advocate of tribal rights and opposed mining in the area. No one has been arrested for the killing, although the National Bureau of Investigation has recommended charges against four suspects. Tentorio’s colleagues have alleged that some suspects with military ties have been deliberately left out of the case, and two witnesses and their families are in hiding while others have been threatened.

“While mining and other environmentally sensitive projects promise economic benefits for Filipinos, they should not come at the expense of basic rights, particularly the lives of environmental advocates,” Pearson said. “The Aquino government should ensure that those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice.”

Many mining investments in the Philippines are in areas with large indigenous populations or are controlled by tribal groups. Philippine law requires the “free and prior informed consent” of the local tribal communities for these investments to proceed. This often has divided tribal communities, some of whom back investors with the support of the military to acquire the necessary permits, while tribal factions opposed to the investments sometimes get support from the communist New People’s Army or other armed groups. This has resulted in proxy conflicts pitting tribal groups against each other, resulting in numerous rights abuses.

Media and local human rights and environmental groups have reported other attacks against anti-mining and environmental advocates. Sister Stella Matutina, a Benedictine nun who led a grassroots campaign to oppose destructive mining in Davao Oriental, told Human Rights Watch that she continues to fear for her life as the military persists in vilifying her as a communist. She and her fellow advocates say that she is being targeted because of her opposition to mining in the province.

And even in cases where suspects have been identified and face an arrest warrant, they may go unpunished. For instance, former Palawan governor Joel Reyes remains at large despite an arrest warrant for his role in the killing of journalist and environmentalist Gerry Ortega on January 24, 2011.

On July 9, the United Nations special envoys on human rights defenders and on extrajudicial executions issued a joint statement criticizing the Aquino administration for the attacks on human rights and environmental defenders, saying these abuses “have increased significantly over the past few months.”

Human Rights Watch reiterated its call to President Aquino to ban all paramilitary forces in the Philippines because of their long and continuing history of serious human rights violations. Aquino has backtracked from earlier pledges to dismantle paramilitaries, saying that getting rid of military-supervised groups “is not the solution.” The government claims that paramilitary forces are now better trained and better regulated than in the past. Until such groups are banned, Aquino should revoke a 2011 directive that permits these forces to provide security for mining companies.

“Aquino should disband paramilitary groups that are being used to divide tribal communities and instill fear among the residents,” Pearson said. “The government crucially needs to hold accountable the military officers who are behind these abusive forces.”

To read the report “No Justice Just Adds to the Pain,” please visit:

To read the news release “Philippines: Keep Promise to Disband Paramilitaries,” please visit:

To read the news release “Philippines: Military Leadership Should Act on Abuses,” please visit:


***To download raw footage and photos:

Killings of Environmental Advocates Investigated by Human Rights Watch

Anti-Dam Activist Gunned Down

Margarito J. Cabal, 47, an organizer of a group opposing a hydro-electric dam in Bukidnon province, and an aide to the mayor of Kibawe town, was gunned down on May 9, 2012. Photo courtesy of the Cabal family. Source: http://multimedia.hrw.org/distribute/ybxjpzorve

At approximately 6:30 p.m. on May 9, 2012, Margarito J. Cabal, 47, was shot dead by two men riding a motorcycle near his boarding house in Kibawe town, Bukidnon province. According to a police report seen by Cabal’s relatives, one of the assailants wore a motorcycle helmet, and the other a balaclava that covered his face; their motorcycle had no license plate.

Cabal was an organizer for Save Pulangi Alliance, which opposes the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the area, and a government employee for the mayor’s office. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Cabal’s son, Marjolie, told Human Rights Watch that prior to his father’s killing, the military’s 8th Infantry Battalion in nearby Maramag town had summoned Cabal on suspicion that he was working for the New People’s Army (NPA). “His job with the town mayor required that he would often go to hinterland villages. That might have given them the idea that he was an NPA,” Marjolie said. He said his father had told him he was under surveillance by the military.

The general secretary of the Save Pulangi Movement, a tribal leader named Datu Petronilo Cabungcal, said that the area has been the subject of military operations and that the military suspects his group is supporting the NPA. “We are just fighting for our land, our livelihood, that is threatened by this project. Why would that make us communists?” he said.

Cabal’s widow, Rosalie, told Human Rights Watch that the police never approached the family about any investigation and that, aside from a police report on the killing, there has not been any effort to investigate her husband’s death. “They never bothered to talk to us,” she said, adding that she did not know what would happen to the case.

Village Chief Shot Dead in Front of Family

Jimmy Liguyon, shot dead on March 5, 2012, resisted attempts by mining companies to operate in his village.Photo courtesy of the Liguyon family Source: http://multimedia.hrw.org/distribute/ybxjpzorve

Jimmy Liguyon was the village chief of Dao in San Fernando town and vice chairman of Kasilo, a tribal group opposed to mining and plantations in Bukidnon province. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that on March 5, 2012, at around 6:40 p.m., they saw Alde “Butsoy” Salusad, a known leader of a local paramilitary group, fire an M16 assault rifle at Liguyon point blank. Salusad had arrived at Liguyon’s home accompanied by about a dozen men.

Liguyon’s widow, Sharon, told Human Rights Watch that the morning before the killing, Liguyon had reiterated his refusal in a village meeting to sign an agreement with a tribal group called San Fernando Matigsalog Tribal Datu Association. Liguyon feared the agreement would facilitate the entry of big mining companies into the tribal areas, where small-scale mining is a major source of livelihood.

In her sworn statement to prosecutors, Sharon said her husband had told her in October 2011 of a phone call he received from Benjamin Salusad, Alde Salusad’s father, in which the elder Salusad threatened to have Liguyon killed for not signing a document that would allow mining companies to operate in their village.

Days after the killing, Salusad’s group, the New Indigenous People’s Army for Reforms, issued a statement claiming responsibility, alleging that Liguyon was a communist. Credible media reports also said that Salusad, in a radio interview in Malaybalay City, had admitted to killing Liguyon.

Leah Tumbalang, a colleague of Liguyon in Kasilo, told Human Rights Watch: “Since we started protesting proposed mining projects, we have been getting threats and have been followed around by men.” Tumbalang said she received a text message on October 3, 2011, warning her and Liguyon to make sure to bring their coffins when they went home that day.

Leaders of local groups said Salusad and his father, Benjamin, are the leaders of a tribal group that serves as a paramilitary force for the army in that part of Bukidnon. Both father and son are known former members of the New People’s Army; they surrendered to the military last year and, according to Liguyon’s colleagues, became members of the CAFGU, the official militia under the command and supervision of the Philippine Army.

The police have investigated the killing and a murder case has been filed, naming Salusad and 14 unknown “John Does” as the suspects. A warrant of arrest was issued against him on April 30, 2012, but has not been served. The Bukidnon police chief, Supt. Rustom Duran told journalists [media reports] that his men tried to arrest Salusad a month after the killing but failed. The governmental Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines has likewise promised to investigate the case but no official report on the investigation has been released.

According to residents interviewed by Human Rights Watch, Salusad continues to reside in Dao village, often accompanying individuals known to be close to the military.

Since Liguyon’s death, Salusad’s forces have allegedly threatened Liguyon’s relatives. Tumbalang, Liguyon’s colleague in Kasilo, claimed that she heard Salusad say in a radio interview that she “would be next” after Liguyon. The threats would come through text messages and, in some cases, Salusad’s men allegedly directly confronted Liguyon’s family members, threatening them with violence.

Italian Priest Known for Tribal Advocacy Killed
In the early morning of October 17, 2011, Father Fausto Tentorio, an Italian priest, was about to get into his vehicle inside the Catholic parish compound in Arakan town, North Cotabato province, in Mindanao, when a gunman shot him to death. Tentorio, 59, was a well-known advocate of tribal rights in Arakan and opposed mining in the area. He is the second Italian priest from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) to be murdered in the Philippines. As in the case of Father Tullio Favali in April 1985, who was killed by the Civilian Home Defense Forces militia, the suspects in Tentorio’s killing are allegedly members of a paramilitary force.”

The Tentorio case remains under investigation. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has asked government prosecutors to file cases against four individuals – Jimmy Ato, his brother Robert Ato, Jose Sampulna and his brother Dimas Sampulna – but so far prosecutors have not sought arrest warrants. One of the suspects, Jimmy Ato, is currently in NBI custody after he was arrested for an unrelated case.

The two Atos are known in Arakan as members of a group called Bagani (“tribal warriors”). Bagani is a paramilitary force controlled and supervised by the 57th Infantry Battalion and has been based in the same military camp, according to government documents seen by Human Rights Watch. A former Bagani member told Human Rights Watch that Bagani operates in cooperation with local businessmen and tribal leaders who support new mining and other business projects. Witnesses have made sworn statements to the authorities stating that members of Bagani were responsible for Tentorio’s killing. However, other members of Bagani have not been included in the government’s investigation, despite witness accounts of their involvement in the killing.

According to government documents seen by Human Rights Watch, the military considered Tentorio an enemy for allegedly aiding the NPA, such as by helping wounded insurgents get medical assistance. One NBI “intelligence report” said Tentorio was an “oppositionist” to energy and mining projects that affected the tribes: “He was a respected leader by the Lumads [tribes], a very influential person who enjoyed the sympathy of the [communists] in the area. In short, he was a man of God that is hated most by those with evil motives.”

Father Peter Geremia, an Italian priest also with the PIME, said that various members of Bagani and businessmen who supported the group were not included in the NBI’s original charge sheet despite eyewitness evidence linking them to the killing. For instance, one witness told prosecutors that businessmen and the military provided a local tribal leader with a 50,000-peso “budget” for carrying out the killing. In his sworn statement filed with prosecutors, the witness said the leader of the Bagani, Jan Corbala, met with his men days before to plot the killing. Another witness said in his sworn statement that he saw Corbala and the Ato brothers fleeing the crime scene moments after Tentorio was shot. He said Jimmy Ato told him that “killing that priest was rather easy.”

Fr. Tentorio had previously faced intimidation from the military, including a June 2009 raid in which army soldiers barged into the church compound without a warrant and with no clear purpose.

For years, the military and Bagani vilified Tentorio and Geremia as NPA supporters. For instance, during a briefing for journalists in May 2006, military intelligence officers from the 40th Infantry Battalion in North Cotabato accused both priests of being communists who taught “revolutionary courses” to the tribal population. The Diocese of Kidapawan complained several times to the authorities, including then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, about the military’s harassment and alleged attempts on Tentorio’s life by Bagani. “We cannot overemphasize the need to stop this baseless accusation of our priests and lay workers,” Kidapawan Bishop Romulo Valles wrote to Col. Isagani Cachuela, then commander of the army’s 602nd Brigade, on March 24, 2004. “And this must be done soonest, before name-tagging could claim another life.”

Officials from the Philippine military and the NBI, in separate interviews with Human Rights Watch, denied allegations of military involvement in the killing and a cover-up. Col. Cesar Sedillo, commander of the army’s 602nd Brigade that covers North Cotabato, said no military personnel was involved in Tentorio’s murder and denied the existence of Bagani.”

Angelito Magno, the NBI’s regional director in North Cotabato who is leading the investigation, said, “We are continuously investigating who are the masterminds” of the killing. He also denied that the bureau is protecting the military, saying it is guided by the evidence.

The witnesses in the case feel threatened by Fr. Tentorio’s killers. Those who entered the government’s Witness Protection Program have been compelled to leave Arakan with their families and go into hiding. Fr. Geremia said that he has repeatedly written to the Justice Department urging action, to expedite the case by forming a special investigation, to protect the witnesses. “The witnesses are about to give up hope and feel that your WPP [Witness Protection Program] is causing them to be like prisoners while the accused roam around freely threatening their families,” Geremia said in a May 29 letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.


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Remember Doris Baffrey – #rememberML@40

HRonlinePH.com celebrates Mother’s Day by remembering stories of Mothers who fought against Martial Law – women who have given us a vision of potential for human strength and renewal. Those who died leave us their stories of heroism. A repost from #rememberML@40 

Doris Baffrey

Source TFDP

“In a nutshell, the worst experience a political prisoner goes through is the loss of his/her dignity as a human being –getting treated like an animal by that species which refuses to be human – the military… The loss of human dignity is a continuing process in prison – the mocking smiles of fatigue- clad men are usually more telling than their guns. It’s more I think as a woman because the taunting doesn’t cease – and neither does the sexual harassment from arrest through detention.” – Doris Baffrey

Doris is a Maryknoll Communication Arts graduate, batch 1973 and was a foreign service officer based in New York before she was accused of being one of the bombers of the Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on October 19, 1980. The bombing incident resulted injuring seven American delegates to the American Society of Travel Agents Convention and eight Filipinos.

She was arrested nine days later after a manhunt by the Special Operations Group. On February 10, 1982, she pleaded guilty to charge of subversion before a judge in the Quezon City Court. She was meted a four-month prison term but having been detained for 15 months by then, she was considered free.

Two week later, the judge advocate general and a colonel of the Philippine Constabulary Metrocom’s judge advocate filed a complaint against her at the Pasay City Fiscal for “multiple frustrated murder with damage to public building through use of illegally possessed explosives” for the same act for which she had already been convicted.

She experienced mental torture, harassment, and intimidation. Torture instruments were shown to her to scare her. Even an older sister was held hostage in Manila for several months and barred from leaving for the United States until she cooperated. Sexual advances and threats of rape were fended off by her physically and verbally.

She has tasted isolation in Fort Bonifacio. She was put in a cell in the company of common crime violators and nearly been raped in the stockade.

On December 1980, a team of Americans who identified themselves to her as the Anti-Terrorism Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Customs Service and which included a legal attaché of the United States Embassy investigated her anew.

Doris called them “FBI-CIA agents” and said she was offered “ a change of identity, a new place/ job to live/work if I agreed to go with them to the US to pinpoint my ‘US counterparts’ and get them indicted”. The offer left her unmoved.

The greatest pain inflicted on her, more than anything else, was when she was asked by the American team if there was anything that would make her yield. Two seconds passed and she replied that there is nothing they can do.

“Little feet, little hands?” cooed one of the agents and Doris felt the heat rising in her eyes.

“Little feet, little hands… Mama… Mama…,” echoed another voice that smacked with sadist delight.

Not wanting to give the agents the satisfaction they wanted, She stood up and ran outside the room – hurling expletives to the Americans.

At that time her son Robert Michael, was a prep student in Makati City.

Source: “Filipino Women in Struggle” TFDP


On the 40th Anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, let us push for the ‘Compensation Act’ for all victims
of human rights violations of the Marcoses,

JOIN us in our pledge to remember, inform and inspire the youth with the truth and lessons that our nation learned from this dark period of our history.

I pledge to…

Never Again to Martial Law!
We remember, we inform, we inspire
Our youth with the truth and lessons of Martial Law.

and Invite people to…
1. Like and share the “Remember ML@40” FB page
2. Invite/recruit 40 or more others to like “Remember ML@40” FB page and ask them to recruit 40 more
3. Submit and/or post own “Pinky Pledge Photo” and ask others to do the same
4. Like and share all posts from “Remember ML@40” FB page
5. Participate in the “Online action day”
6. Change profile pic on September 21, 2012

[In the news] Afraid: ‘Killings of LGBTs in Philippines on the rise’ – Interaksyon.com

Afraid: ‘Killings of LGBTs in Philippines on the rise’ – Interaksyon.com.

by Joseph Holandes Ubalde, InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philipines – There has been a steady and alarming rise in violence against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community in the Philippines over the past 15 years, new research conducted by an LGBT advocacy group suggests, in line with a call for the police and the Commission and Human Rights to acknowledge and formally look into the troubling trend.

For the first half of 2011 alone, as of June 17, the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch says it has documented 28 killings within the gay community. This figure already nearly equals homicide and murder figures for 2010, which is pegged at 29.

“Expanding the timeframe to as early as 1996, a total of 103 (killings of LGBTs have been monitored),” the group said.

Of the 103 cases that the group considers hate crimes, 61 attacks were against gay men, 26 against transgenders, 12 against lesbians, and four targetted bisexuals.

Read full article @ INTERAKSYON.com


HRonlinePH says…

“As men and women of conscience, we reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity…  Where there is tension between cultural attitudes and universal human rights, universal human rights must carry the day”— UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, New York, 10 December 2010.

It was established in the UDHR that it is an obligation on the part of States to protect people from discrimination, including on the basis of “sex … or other status.”


[Event] Commemorating the Two-Year Anniversary of Melissa’s Survival

Dear friends,

Around the world, supporters of the Justice for Melissa Roxas campaign stand in solidarity with Melissa on the two-year anniversary of her survival of enforced disappearance and torture by the Philippine military.  Two years ago, due to Melissa’s will to survive and the international campaign crying out for her release, Melissa and her two colleagues were released.

On May 19, 2009, Melissa and her two colleagues were abducted at gunpoint by the Philippine military and tortured. For six days, she had to struggle to survive on her own. Two years later, friends and community leaders in Los Angeles will gather with Melissa to offer moral and political support.

“Melissa had to endure six days of torture on her own but she will never be alone in her struggle for justice. And everyone in Los Angeles that has opened their hearts to embrace her story of survival has realized that we have no option but to speak up for our rights and the rights of others,” said Daya Mortel of the Justice for Melissa Los Angeles task force.

Habi Arts and Anakbayan Los Angeles, of the Justice for Melissa Los Angeles task force, created a special two-year commemorative video for the Justice for Melissa Roxas campaign. Please help mark the two-year anniversary of survival by sharing the Justice for Melissa video posted online at justiceformelissa.org.

BAYAN USA, a convening member of the Justice for Melissa campaign, will be holding a week of protest actions in the streets of New York and San Francisco and online via Facebook to commemorate the six days that Roxas was disappeared.

For more information on how you can support the Justice for Melissa Campaign, visit justiceformelissa.org or email info@justiceformelissa.org.

Please sign the open letter to demand justice for Melissa Roxas by clicking here.
Please feel free to forward this email or update your email preferences by clicking on the links below.

In solidarity,

Friends of Melissa Roxas