Tag Archives: Philippine National Police

[Statement] Statement of Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie on the first anniversary of his arrest and incarceration as a human rights defender

STATEMENT OF TEMOGEN “COCOY” TULAWIE ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF HIS ARREST AND INCARCERATION AS A HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

Dear Friends, Comrades, Supporters and Fellow Human Rights Defenders,

Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh!

Cocoy Tulawie HRDExactly one year ago, January 14, 2012 just at the stroke of midnight, I was with my two sons, Eeman, (17 years old) and Ameer (13 years old) in a rented house at Catalunan Grande, Davao City when combined elements of the Regional Special Action Force and Regional Intelligence Unit of the Philippine National Police led by PSupt. Fernando Ortega forcibly broke in the door in order to arrest me. As the assaulting team was still alighting their vehicles, I already noticed them from inside the house and I immediately turn on the lights. The men were in full combat attire, with long high-powered firearms, bullet-proof vests and laser night vision googles as they were under strict orientation that I am a highly dangerous target who possessed bombs and weapons.

There was still every chance for me to escape but I did not consider that option as it will just cause unnecessary commotion in the already quiet and sleeping neighbourhood. I peacefully submitted myself to the arresting team who then brought me to the Davao Medical Center for physical check-up which is a standard operating procedure.

Due to direct threats against my life, I had been running the life of a fugitive since I left my hometown in Sulu in 2009. Since then, I had been sensibly imagining the day of my arrest and have also psychologically prepared my two sons, Eeman and Ameer, on what they should do when that event will actually happen. Both of them have clear instructions whom to call on, what to do, how to conduct themselves when I will be arrested. We had been talking about this fateful event for several times. But even with the amount of preparation, nothing in my imagination actually prepared me for that day. The first thing that crossed my mind was what if they will summarily execute me. The Philippine state is notorious in its record for summary execution and political killings and Davao in particular is also infamous for the Davao Death Squad and so the idea that I may never even reach the nearest police station scared me like hell. I tried so hard to maintain presence of mind and engaged the arresting team members in a conversation. I asked them to bring me to the nearest police station so they can duly record the conduct of my arrest into the police blotter. I recalled this standard operating procedure being taught in our past human rights seminars and I have never realized until such time that such procedure could spell life and death for a person in custody.

I was fortunate enough that the arresting team led by Col. Ortega faithfully observed the procedures in conducting arrest and dutifully brought me to the Talomo Police Station. After that, I was brought to the Davao Medical Center for physical examination. There, I pleaded with Col. Ortega to return back to my house in order to check on the situation of my two minor children and to give them access to my whereabouts. Without hesitation, the good officer went back and was able meet my two lawyers who were already in the house frantically calling all police stations and military camps for my whereabouts.

Prayers throughout the night
As I left my children alone in the house that night, I prayed very hard and entrusted everything to Allah’s mantle of protection. I kept praying “Hasbunallahu Wa Ni’mal Wakeel” I trust no one besides you Ya Allah. I recited this over and over again in the course of such perilous journey where anything could just happen. There were two critical roads which I greatly feared. Going out of the subdivision, we turned left towards downtown. At that juncture, I thought, if we will turn left towards Tacunan, then something will be very very wrong as I could easily be executed there. I prayed so hard and invoked Allah’s mercy. It was such a relief that the vehicle turned right and we went towards the national highway. At that point, again, if this will turn left towards the diversion, it will another dangerous turn. I insisted that we go straight ahead because I knew that the Talomo Police Station is towards that direction. In fairness to the arresting team, they were indeed heading towards the nearest police station.

Private plane waiting
While at Camp Catitipan, I noticed that the arresting team was in a hurry and I asked why. One of them informed me that after conducting all the SOPs e.g. medical check-up, picture-taking, documents’ turnover, etc., I will already be turned over to the Military Intelligence Group who came all the way from Zamboanga City. The MIG reportedly has arranged for a private plane to take me to Jolo, Sulu. The assigned officer of the PNP asked the MIG why they are so interested on Cocoy Tulawie that they are even willing to charter a private plane to transport him to Sulu. At that point, I realized that the Governor of Sulu is obstinate in delivering a very resounding statement. That it is simply foolish of me to fight against a highly powerful and influential politician who will never hesitate to spend millions in order to silence any dissent and take full control over his own fiefdom. The chartered private plane symbolizes power, machismo, and ostentatious display of wealth which is simply a criminal act given the wallowing poverty and the suffering of the people in Sulu.

Despite a Supreme Court Order transferrin g the venue of the case from Jolo to Davao City, the MIG operatives from Zamboanga City simply wanted to deliver me to their patron so they could then collect the handsome reward. Since no amount of reasoning could convince the arresting team to wait until Monday when the courts are already open, my legal team had to call key cabinet members over the weekend just to delay my transfer to Jolo. It is noteworthy to mention here that the late Secretary Jessie Robredo readily helped us by instructing the PNP Superintendent in Region XI to suspend the transfer to Sulu to give my legal team a reasonable time to confer with the Supreme Court. The Chair of the Commission of Human Rights also burned the mobile phone lines to reach out to the Supreme Court even on a weekend.

One year after.
It has been a year since that fateful arrest on January 14, 2012. A lot of things happened since then which can perhaps be the subject in forthcoming letters from prison. What is clear though is the fact that despite the sustained campaigns and legal strategies, money and political influence remain to be my foremost obstacles to freedom. It is sad to note that despite the rightness of my cause, the public sympathy, the earnest efforts of HR groups and the CHR, the international support and a solid legal defense, my accuser can still afford to prolong my incarceration by the simple excuse of delay and by paying off each and every legal remedy via known tricks of well-oiled law firms.

From the confines of my prison though, I have learned to respect time. Never have I fully understood the virtue of “sabar” (patience) until I have lived the life of a prisoner. I have no choice but to follow routines like head count, search of contrabands, etc. It is also part of routine that I get to wear a yellow t-shirt all the time which for me could subconsciously rob me of my own identity. I realized I need to struggle to maintain my health, psychological well-being and the political will to sustain my fight not only for myself and my family but also for my people and other human rights defenders who are into far worst conditions than the one that I am currently experiencing.

I have also learned to resign everything to God’s plan and mercy. Listening to the plight of hundreds of inmates that I have encountered here, I realized that despite all the odds I am facing, I am even more fortunate than many of them. So that keeps me humble, patient and grateful with each day’s worth of blessing. In my long years as a human rights activist, it is only now that I have fully appreciated the importance of our shared advocacy and the global solidarity that connects our struggle. I feel overwhelmed by the love and support of leaders and organizations from Hong Kong, Germany, Ireland, US the European Union and all over the world most of them I have never even met before.

Just last week, during one of the weekend visits of my family, my son Ameer cried when he learned that I will have to be transferred again from Davao City to Manila after the Supreme Court approved Gov. Sakur Tan’s petition for transfer of venue. He asked me why I seem to be helpless over my own situation now when all their growing years, they looked upon their own father as a fearless defender of the rights of others. In his desperation, Ameer asked me why I could not defend my own self? Ameer’s question gave me a pang in the heart and almost crushed my spirit as a father. If I had not been tempered by the day to day survival measures of prison life, I could have just broke down and cried. Yet, I accepted his question for what it is worth. I know I have not given him a satisfactory response. I may not have the answer now but I know deep in my heart that Allah will answer my prayers in His own time.

I wish to end this letter with a thanksgiving and a deep sense of gratitude for all your support, hard work, generous assistance, prayers and well wishes in the last 12 months when I had been robbed of my freedom. Thank you for working so hard for me and my family. Let us continue working together to defend all human rights defenders in the Philippines and all over the world. I have full faith that Insha Allah, I will be able to return back to Sulu as a free man in order to continue my important mission as a human rights defender of my people.

Sincerely yours,

TEMOGEN “Cocoy” Tulawie

LETTER FROM PRISON
January 14, 2013
Davao City Jail
Maa, Davao City, Philippines

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[Press Release] UK, DOJ and PNP forge partnership on training of investigators and prosecutors to fight torture -MAG

UK, DOJ and PNP forge partnership on training of investigators and prosecutors to fight torture

Impunity and insufficient evidence in torture cases against alleged perpetrators are still among the serious impediments to the prevention of torture. Consequently, few complaints are brought forward and few actual prosecutions are made.

To help fight torture, the Medical Action Group (MAG), with support from the British Embassy Manila signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) that will provide training for investigators and prosecutors for a more effective and efficient investigation and prosecution of torture cases in the country.

In a media briefing at DOJ, Mr. Steph Lysaght, Political Section Head of the British Embassy Manila said the British Embassy’ project with the MAG and in partnership with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) aims to enhance the capacity of the investigators on investigations and evidence collection and to provide necessary knowledge and skills for the prosecutors on how physical and medical evidences are evaluated in court proceedings on alleged torture cases according to the Anti-Torture Law (Republic Act No. 9745) and international standards contained in the UN Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the Istanbul Protocol”).

The training will be undertaken with funding from the British Embassy’s Human Rights and Democracy Programme.

“This is to emphasize the role that documentation and proper legal process play in the investigation and prosecution of torture cases. Close collaboration between the health and legal professions is crucial in the effective investigation of alleged cases of torture and in establishing standards on how to recognize and document torture in order that the documentation may serve as valid evidence in court,” Erlinda Senturias, M.D., MAG Board of Trustees member explained.

“The need to increase the capacity of investigators in handing evidences and prosecutors in evaluating physical and medical evidences represents recognition that effective and quality documentation of alleged torture cases can contribute mightily to reducing impunity in the Philippines and obtaining redress for torture victims,” MAG added.

Since 2004 the MAG has been increasingly engaged in capacity development among health and legal professionals on the investigation and documentation of torture according to the standards contained in the Istanbul Protocol. MAG explained that the use of the Istanbul Protocol was proved to be an important piece of evidence in the first decision of the Supreme Court (SC) [G.R. No. 180906, The Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo, October 7, 2008] on the application of the Writ of Amparo in the case of Manalo brothers.

Last year, the city and municipal health doctors through the Association of Municipal Health Officers of the Philippines (AMHOP) have declared their support for the effective implementation of the Anti-Torture Act.

This is not the first time that the British Embassy partnered with the MAG to promote the value and use of medical documentation of torture. In 2004, the two facilitated the production of the groundbreaking “Guidelines to Prevent Torture and the Manual on the Recognition, Documentation and Reporting of Torture,” one of the first successful modifications of the Istanbul Protocol. The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) acknowledged the valuable contribution the project made towards fulfillment of Philippines’ international human rights obligations, and still uses the manual in its work.

This partnership among the civil society, the government, the police and the British Embassy affirms the shared commitment to uphold justice and protection of human rights.

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[Urgent Appeals] Indigenous activist accused of being a rebel is exonerated -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: Indigenous activist accused of being a rebel is exonerated
ISSUES: Extrajudicial killing; human rights defenders; indigenous people; victim’s assistance & protection

NEW REPORT:
Special Report: The Philippines‘ hollow human rights system

Click to access v11n0203.pdf

Dear friends,

Asian Human Rights CommissionThe Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is pleased to inform you that an indigenous villager, one of the claimants of a disputed ancestral land whom the police had earlier suspected of being a rebel who was wounded in a fight, has already been cleared. The police investigation which they conducted after an appeal was issued on his case concluded that the local police have not accused him of being a rebel.

UPDATED INFORMATION:

In our appeal issued on July 25, 2012, we mentioned that Daniedo Cambo, one of the indigenous villagers claiming their ancestral land in Malalag, Davao del Sur, had been wounded in a shooting on April 26, 2012. He was shot few days after the couple Mylen and Loreto and two other villagers, Arnel Cambo and Reynaldo Libay, were also threatened by armed civilian intelligence agents working for the policemen. For details please see: AHRC-UAC-134-2012

The perpetrator in Daniedo’s shooting has not been identified; however, when the police investigators from the Malalag Municipal Police Station (MMPS) went to see him at the hospital to investigate they suspected him of being a rebel who was wounded in a gunfight. In our appeal, we expressed concern as this conjecture places the victim open to attack and police will not take responsibility for his protection.

In a letter dated September 30, 2012, P/Dir. General Nicanor Bartolome, the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), wrote to the AHRC denying the allegation that the local police made such assumptions on Daniedo Cambo, and explained what actions they have taken after they received the information about the threats and shooting.

“Contrary to reports, a case of Grave Threat against the suspects, Messrs. Angelito Libay and Nemesio Legaspi has already been referred before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, Digos City, Davao del Sur docketed under NPS No. XI-04-INV-12H-00368″

“The allegation that the Malalag Municipal Police Station (MPS) assumed that Mr. Daniedo Cambo is a rebel is unfounded. The Malalag MPS, upon reciept of information about the shooting incident, immediately exerted efforts to check the veracity of the report, as well as the condition of the victim, who was confined at the Paulino Hospital.”

The AHRC stands by its story in the appeal that the local police had indeed made such assumptions and conjecture; however, whether the police would now admit or not, the result of their investigation report confirms our earlier claim that the victim is not a rebel. It also affirmed that the threats and attack on the victim and his fellow villagers resulted from their ongoing demand to reclaim their ancestral land.

In another development, on August 10, acting on our urgent appeal the Commission on Human Rights, regional office XI (CHR XI) also conducted its own investigation by sending investigators to where the incident happened in Bolton, Malalag, Davao del Sur. They went to visit and speak with the victims to ascertain their condition. The CHR spoke to the couple, Mylen and Loreto Cambo, Arnel Cambo and Reynaldo Libay.

The CHR also summoned Angelito Libay and Nemisio Legaspi, the two civilian intelligence officers who were accused in threatening and harassing the victims. Libay and Nemision are members of Barangay (village) Intelligence Network (BIN), an intelligence unit, attached to the Malalag Municipal Police Station.

The AHRC appreciates the action that the CHR has taken on this; however, we are disappointed that they have not provided arrangement to ensure security for the victims. Also, as at the time of writing, the CHR has not released the result of its investigation on this case.

Thank you.
Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)
AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines
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[Advisory/Event] British Embassy Manila, Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine National Police (PNP) and MAG will ink agreement

British Embassy Manila, Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine National Police (PNP) and MAG will ink agreement
by Medical Action Group (MAG)

ADVISORY

British Embassy Manila, Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine National Police (PNP) and Medical Action Group (MAG) ink agreement for training of investigators and prosecutors to strengthen investigation and prosecution of torture cases

November 15, 2012 (Thursday), 10:30 to 11:30 AM
Department of Justice (DOJ), Executive Lounge
Padre Faura St., Manila

Non-government organization, the Medical Action Group (MAG), with support from the British Embassy Manila, will sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the DOJ and the PNP that will provide capacity development and training among investigators and prosecutors for a more effective and efficient investigation and prosecution of torture cases in the country. The training aims to enhance the capacity of the investigators in gathering and handling of evidences and to provide necessary knowledge and skills for the prosecutors on how physical and medical evidences is evaluated in court proceedings on alleged torture cases according to the Anti-Torture Law (Republic Act No. 9745) and international standards contained in the UN Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the Istanbul Protocol”) . This is in view of the lack of documentation standards for torture cases has often resulted in the rejection of physical and medical evidences by the courts. This training will have a direct impact on the ability to investigate and secure prosecution by improving the quality of evidences in torture cases. The training will be undertaken with funding from the British Embassy’s Human Rights and Democracy Programme.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will witness the signing of MOA.

Guests:

Secretary Leila M. de Lima, DOJ
Mr. Steph Lysaght, Head, Political Section, British Embassy Manila
Representative from the Office of the PNP Director General Nicanor A. Bartolome
Atty. Milabel Cristobal, Office of the CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales
Erlinda Senturias, M.D., Member, MAG Board of Trustees

For Media Friends
Guests are available for interview.

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[in the news] 31 witnesses to attend HR congressional hearing in Davao -MindaNews.com

31 witnesses to attend HR congressional hearing in Davao
By Lorie Ann Cascaro
November 7 2012

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 7 Nov) – The House committee on human rights will have 31 witnesses during its two-day hearing to be held in this city on November 8-9, Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares said at a press briefing here Wednesday.

Attending the hearing, he said, will be witnesses of extrajudicial killings and victims of other human rights violations (HRV) in Mindanao since the 15th Congress in 2010 until June this year based on House resolutions filed by several representatives.

Colmenares cited a total of 114 extrajudicial killings nationwide, 26 of which are in Mindanao, since President Benigno Simeon Aquino III sat in office.

Representatives from various military commands all over Mindanao, the Commission on Human Rights and Philippine National Police will also be present, he added.

However, the military and police will not be allowed to attend the hearing on the first day for the protection of, and to prevent intimidation, of victims and witnesses, Colmenares stressed.

He noted that House committee chair Rene Relampagos will be attending, including Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela Women’s Party and Karlo Nograles (both from this city), Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers Partylist, Raymond Palatino of Kabataan Partylist and Erin Tanada, among others.

Read full article @ www.mindanews.com

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[Press Release] Justice for Jordan Manda is justice to all Lumads, Amnesty International said in commemoration of the National Indigenous Peoples’ Month

Justice for Jordan Manda is justice to all Lumads, Amnesty International said in commemoration of the National Indigenous Peoples’ Month

Today, in commemoration of National Indigenous Peoples Month, Amnesty International Philippines stands by indigenous peoples (IP) leaders and community members in their call for justice to the continuing attacks and killings against indigenous peoples specially in pursuit of their struggle for self determination and in defense of their territories against extractive corporations. Amnesty International members in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Pagadian and Zambonga along with IP leaders from Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur and Agusan del Sur held simultaneous press conferences in their respective areas.

“Pursuit for profits in today’s corporate led globalization has led to greater demand for mineral and other natural resources resulting in global land and resource grabs specially in indigenous peoples territories. This situation has led to indigenous peoples communities, specially their leaders, to heightened advocacy and activism in defense of their land, resources, culture, identity and self-determination. It is in this situation of indigenous peoples resistance and activism where IP leaders and human rights defenders get targeted for harassments, unlawful arrests, enforced disappearances and even killings ” said Ritz Lee Santos III, Chairperson of Amnesty International Philippines at the press conference held in Davao City.

Amnesty International is concerned about the enormous impact of extractive corporations on the rights of indigenous peoples and their communities. Amnesty International also emphasized the Philippine Government’s responsibility to protect IP’s ancestral lands from corporate exploitation and fully enforce domestic regulations and mechanisms for redress against the devastating effect mining activities have on the indigenous peoples, their lands and lives.

“Amnesty International recognizes that indigenous peoples rights have been recognized in international and national laws during the recent years however, widespread violations of IP rights still occur due to continued discrimination, conflicting state policies and programs, and the entry of corporations to ancestral domains” explained Rodolfo Francis Marcial, Amnesty International Philippines Board Member in the press conference in Zamboanga City.

In the Philippines, Amnesty International is witness to continuing harassments, extra-judicial killings and forced disappearance perpetrated against IP human rights defenders in their struggle to protect IP territories from plantations, mining, logging and energy projects of companies whether foreign or local.

“As seen in the cases of the disappearance of James Balao in the Cordillera, the ambush of Timuay Lucenio Manda in the Zamboanga Peninsula which resulted in the death of his son Jordan, and the recent news in Misamis Oriental of the killing of IP organization leader Gilbert Paborado – IP leaders and human rights defenders continue to be targeted for attacks. We call on the Aquino government to protect indigenous peoples leaders and rights defenders at grave risk to attacks and violations, and work to provide justice for all victims of violations of indigenous peoples rights.“ reiterated Romel Cardenas De Vera, Amnesty International Philippine Human Rights Officer at the press conference in Cagayan de Oro City.

“Despite this so called“progress” over the last decade on indigenous peoples rights, we continue to live in hardship and danger due to the failure of the government to protect, promote and uphold ourhuman rights,” added Victoria Cajandig, Amnesty International Philippine Board Member and member of the Subanen Tribe, in the press conference held in Pagadian City.

“P-Noy must direct the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to investigate any cases of EJK, forced disappearance and harassment in order to bring the perpetrators to justice. The DILG must work with the Commission on Human Rights Regional Offices to conduct investigations on the reported threats, as well as attempted and actual attacks against IP HR Defenders,” stressed Cajandig.

Amnesty International explains further that indigenous peoples will continue to be uprooted from their lands and territories as a consequence of discriminatory government policies and practices. Social marginalization and legal discrimination place IPs at risk of a wide range of human rights violations.

“It is about time that the Lumad’s struggle for their rights and lands become visible in the eyes of the government and local authorities. The scale and inter-sectional nature of human rights abuses and violations that the IPs experience in the hands of corporations of extractive industries particularly logging and mining companies in Mindanao only further substantiates that in the Philippines, the vulnerable and the marginalized sectors are not prioritized. As the government and the MILF formalize the framework agreement for the Bangsamoro, we, at Amnesty International Philippines, urge that the Lumads’ concerns are included, gearing towards the end to abuses and violations against indigenous peoples land within the Bangsamoro territory,” concluded Santos.

Amnesty International Philippines
Press Release
15 October 2012

http://amnesty.org.ph/news.php?item=news&id=276

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[In the news] Former President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo arrested for plunder | Sun.Star

Former President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo arrested for plunder | Sun.Star.

Arroyo arrested for plunder
October 4, 2012

MANILA (Updated) — The Philippine National Police (PNP) served an arrest warrant Thursday on former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for a charge of plunder

Senior Superintendent Joel Coronel, PNP Criminal Investigation Group National Capital Region chief, said they served the warrant on Arroyo at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon around 4 p.m.

The Pampanga representative was admitted Thursday morning at the VMMC after complaining of numbness of her hands. She returned to the VMMC, prior to the service of the arrest order, for a regular therapy for a neck injury.

Her attending doctors said she is suffering from dehydration and had to be confined.

The warrant was issued Wednesday by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan over the alleged misuse of P365 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds during her presidency.

Arroyo was previously put under arrest at the VMMC on a charge of electoral sabotage, but she jumped bail.

Coronel said Arroyo was with her lawyer, Anacleto Diaz, and her spokesperson, Elena Bautista Horn, during the service of the warrant.

He said Arroyo underwent medical check-up and other standard procedures like finger-printing upon the service of the warrant.

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

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[From the web] An appeal to the SC to stop Cybercrime law by Ellen Tordesillas

An appeal to the SC to stop Cybercrime law
by Ellen Tordesillas

October 1, 2012

Last Friday, I joined five other persons in asking the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the implementation of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

We asked the High Court to declare Sections 4 (c) [4], 5, 6, 7 and 19 of the Act unconstitutional.

My fellow petitioners are Davao-based radio broadcaster radio broadcaster Alexander Adonis, my VERA Files colleague Ma. Gisela Ordenes-Cascolan, lawyers/bloggers Harry Roque, Romel Bagares, and Gilbert Andres, legal officer of Media Defense Southeast Asia.

Named respondents because they are the ones who will be implementing the law which President Aquino signed last Sept. 12 and took effect Sept. 27 are: Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas III, National Bureau of Investigation director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas, Philippine National Police chief Nicanor Bartolome, and acting Director-General Denis Villorente of the Information and Communications Technology Office-Department of Science and Technology.

Our primary argument against the law is that it is in violation of the Constitution which states that “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

Read full article @ www.ellentordesillas.com

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[In the news] Lawyers, bloggers urge takedown of Cybercrime Law -GMANews.com

Lawyers, bloggers urge takedown of Cybercrime Law
SHAIRA PANELA, GMA NEWS
September 26, 2012

With one of the biggest and most active online communities in the world, the Philippines stands much to gain —or lose— from the enactment and implementation of the controversial Cybercrime Prevention Act (RA 10175), which was signed into law last September 12.

International social media research group Socialbakers ranked the Philippines as the eigth largest country in the world in terms of number of Facebook users, with more than 29 million Pinoys on the social network. The country is also the tenth largest nation on Twitter, with over 9.5 million users.

It is in this context a petition for certiorari and prohibition was filed before the Supreme Court on September 25 by lawyers Jose Jesus “JJ” Disini, Jr., Rowena S. Disini, and Liane Ivy P. Medina; and bloggers Ernesto Sonido Jr. and Janette Toral.

According to the petitioners, the Cybercrime Act violates Constitutional provisions on the “freedom of expression, due process, equal protection, privacy of communications, double jeopardy, and right against unreasonable searches and seizure.”

The respondents included the secretaries of Justice and of the Interior and Local Government; the executive director of the Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO); the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP); and the director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

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[Press Release] Amnesty International called on PNOy and new DILG Secretary Mar Roxas to investigate the killings of Indigenous Peoples in Zamboanga

Amnesty International called on PNOy and new DILG Secretary Mar Roxas to investigate the killings of Indigenous Peoples in Zamboanga

Amnesty International Philippines called on President Aquino and newly appointed DILG Secretary Mar Roxas to investigate the killing of 11 year old, Jordan Manda, eldest son of Timuay Lucenio Manda, a Subanen tribe chieftain in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, also wounded during an ambush attack by unidentified assailants early today, 4 September 2012.

“The killing of Jordan Manda and wounding of Timuay Lucenio Manda must be rigorously investigated so that the perpetrators of the crime will be brought to justice. The killing of Jordan Manda, groomed to be a next Timuay, is a painful reminder that Indigenous Peoples are not protected. Timuay Manda’s care for the Subanen’s ancestral domain and his position for a moratorium on mining concessions in Bayog might have led to the attack on him and his son. His family has continuously experienced violence even before the assassination of his cousin, Timuay Giovanni Umbang Manda ten years earlier. This is grave proof that the indigenous peoples rights have been left behind not only by the Aquino government but in the previous Arroyo administration. The lumads have been invisible in the eyes of the government and local authorities despite human rights abuses they experience in defense of their lands,” said Dr. Aurora Parong, Director of Amnesty International Philippines.

According to reports, the Subanen leader, also a member Amnesty International Philippines, was ambushed on his way to take his son to school. Unidentified assailants fired at the leader and led to the death of his son.

“Amnesty International supports Timuay Manda in calling for justice for his son and his people. He is highly involved in efforts against the destruction of their ancestral lands by logging and mining and has been working for the cooperation among Subanens in the Central Zamboanga Peninsula to protect their remaining contiguous ancestral domain. Together with other concerned groups, he joined the filing of a petition for the Writ of Kalikasan to protect the Pinukis Range Forest, among the last untouched forest region in the Zamboanga Peninsula which is unfortunately included in the mining claims of several companies. Mt. Pinukis is considered by the Subanen people of Zamboanga Peninsula as among their Sacred Mountains,” added Dr. Parong.

Reports of harassments allegedly by personnel of Toronto Ventures Inc. Resource Development (TVIRD) have been recorded in July. It was reported by the police that Wilbert Catampungan was fatally wounded by gun fires coming from TVIRD blue guards. TVIRD arrived on site in 2006 and has been exploring the area for a project of gold and silver extraction and allegedly resorts to various forms of violence against other small-scale IP miners established in the domain.

“Less than a month after the International day for Indigenous Peoples, a lumad boy is killed. Amnesty International Philippines is deeply concerned on reports that the local police do not act even when the Subanens seek for protection from multiple threats coming from the armed guards of the mining company. The killings in Bayog, and other parts affected by mining conflicts, must stop now! An immediate impartial investigation is urgently needed,” said Dr. Parong.

Amnesty International urges the government, especially the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and more importantly the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Amnesty International calls on DILG Secretary Mar Roxas to lead the DILG including the police forces to stop the culture of impunity – the LGU and local police must address threats on the safety of IPs in mining-affected areas. The DILG must work with the Commission on Human Rights to conduct investigations on the reported extra-judicial killings and harassments. We call on President Benigno Aquino to pay attention to the resolution of the 36 killings of IP human rights defenders in his term as reported by CHR Pagadian. The Indigenous Peoples’ future depend on genuine efforts and concrete actions by the government to fulfill their duties in holding mining corporations accountable for any human rights abuses against the indigenous peoples or anyone. Respect and protect IP right must come first! People before profit!” Dr. Parong concluded.

Maria Edilyd P. Orias
Program Coordinator
Media Communication and Publications
+63 917 885 8634

http://www.amnesty.org.ph/news.php?item=news&id=268

Amnesty International Philippines
Press Release

4 September 2012

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[In the news] Militants chide Philippine National Police for arrests | Sun.Star

Militants chide Philippine National Police for arrests | Sun.Star.

By Arianne Caryl N. Casas
August 26, 2012

A PROGRESSIVE youth group condemned what they call an illegal arrest and detention by Talomo police of some of its members who tried to stop the demolition of houses at the disputed Bariquit compound in Bugac, Maa on Friday.

The contested property is part of Le Jardin Subdivision owned by the Villa Abrilles.

Those arrested were identified as Joselito Lagon Jr., regional spokesperson of Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (Karatula); Wyrlo Enero, a member of the League of Filipino Students (LFS); Johnny Boy Urbina and John Michale Lim, both members of Anakbayan.

Anakbayan appealed for the immediate release of the four.

“We are outraged by the demonstration of fascism by the Talomo police who arrested, beat up and electrocuted our youth leaders,” says Cherry Orendain, regional spokesperson for Anakbayan.

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

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[Statement] Face challenges to International Humanitarian Law with greater hope and courage -PCICC

Face challenges to International Humanitarian Law with greater hope and courage

The Philippines marks International Humanitarian Law Day, August 12, this year with greater hope and courage.

We mark this day with our achievements in creating a favorable policy environment for the promotion of the international humanitarian law (IHL). The most significant of which is the ratification of the Philippine Senate of the Rome Statute of the ICC in August 2011 and the enactment of the IHL law by the Philippine Congress in December 2010.

We mark this day with the positive response of the Philippine government, the security sector and other government agencies, notably the paradigm shift being undertaken by the Armed Forces of the Philippines with its Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan which aims for zero tolerance for human rights and international humanitarian law violations, the establishment of Human Rights Offices within the AFP and the Philippine National Police, as well as the humanitarian interventions provided by government agencies to communities, especially women and children, in conflict-torn areas.

We mark this day with the increasing participation and vigilance of civil society groups in monitoring compliance to IHL and for initiating various programs that would prevent or mitigate conflicts such as education and information campaigns, policy advocacy and community dialogues.

The PCICC recognizes the valuable efforts of many civil society groups like WeAct 1325 or Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325), a national network supporting the National Action Plan on of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325; Bantay Bayanihan, organized as an oversight monitoring and engagement group on the AFP’s 2010-2016 IPSP Bayanihan; and the Civil Society Initiatives for International Humanitarian Law (CSI-IHL).

PCICC individual and organizational members — Amnesty International Philippines, Ateneo Human Rights Center, BALAY Rehabilitation Center, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), Medical Action Group, PhilRights, Task Force Detainees-Philippines (TFDP), Women’s Legal Bureau and WEDPRO, among others – continue to monitor and document human rights and IHL violations, provide relief and rehabilitation services to internally displaced persons, and advocate for IHL and legal remedies to violations.

Indeed, the Philippines has achieved significant strides in recent years in promoting humanitarian law, albeit with greater challenges in the face of the continuing war between the Philippine Government and the New People’s Army, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and other armed groups – – aggravated by infightings among rebel groups.

Impunity continues. Extra judicial killings, enforced disappearance, massive displacements of communities and other war crimes continue. Our efforts still fall short in relation to the magnitude of the problem.

As the Philippines mark IHL day on August 12 this year, the imperative of intensifying our efforts to establish and institutionalize mechanisms that would effectively stir the wheels of justice and rule of law within our national jurisdiction is the order of the day.

Important questions and areas of concerns have to be acted upon urgently, e.g., how to operationalize observance of the IHL at the field level of the AFP and PNP; the protection of victims and witnesses; designation of special courts to try cases involving crimes punishable under RA 9851 or the Philippine IHL law; designation of prosecutors and investigators by the Commission on Human Rights, the Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police or other concerned law enforcement agencies; training of judges, prosecutors and investigators in human rights, international humanitarian law and international criminal law; ratification or enactment of important pieces of legislation like the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the ICC (APIC), enforced disappearance, internally displaced persons, children involved in armed conflict, among others.

This calls for a review of our work in education, information and communication, our work on humanitarian interventions, and our work in monitoring, investigation and prosecution.

Monitoring, investigation and prosecution demands that we act not only with hope but with courage. This we do for the victims of IHL violations, for defenders and humanitarian workers who are threatened in their work and for our future as a nation. Past and present cases of IHL violations must be addressed or they will be repeated.

The imperative of realizing our commitment to IHL is underlined by the clashes in Central Mindanao that broke out a week ago. The fighting now affects three provinces and, as of August 9, has caused the internal displacement of over 5,500 families or 27,862 persons of which 30 percent are children. (Data from the Protection Cluster Mindanao, Philippines)

The PCICC shall continue to strengthen its work with other stakeholders against war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity with the end in view that structural and social inequities are eradicated – – where justice, peace and the rule of law prevails.

REBECCA E. LOZADA
National Coordinator
NOTE:
This statement and PCICC activities in August is posted on its blog.

The Philippine CICC, established in 2000, believes that individual perpetrators of the most atrocious crimes — genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity — must be brought to justice. The PCICC aims to: a) promote the implementation by the Philippines of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; b) strengthen domestic institutions to end impunity and promote human rights through the observance, adherence and integration of principles and standards under the Rome Statute and those under international law; and, c) support similar initiatives in other countries particularly in the Asian region.

The Coalition works to attain these objectives through: lobby and advocacy work; research, particularly to deepen understanding on the principles and standards of the ICC; public education and capacity enhancement activities; strategic networking; and, adopting and testing innovative and creative approaches and strategies to advance its mission and objectives, on its own or in collaboration with other groups.

PCICC is a founding convenor of the Civil Society Initiatives for the International Humanitarian Law (CSI-IHL) as well as Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (WE Act 1325).

The PCICC is a member of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, which gathers over 2,600 organizations from 150 countries around the world working together for international justice.

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[From the web] Karapatan seeks disqualification of Abang Lingkod partylist

Karapatan seeks disqualification of Abang Lingkod partylist
July 27, 2012

Karapatan joined Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in filing a complaint at the Commission on Elections for the removal and/or cancellation of registration of Abang Lingkod partylist. The complaint was filed by Wilfredo Marbella, Deputy Secretary General of KMP and Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan chairperson. The complaint included a petition to deny due course and/or cancel certificate of nomination.

The complaint stated that, “Abang Lingkod is not a party-list group of the marginalized and underrepresented peasant/farmer sector“ because Abang Lingkod’s objectives “do not contain anything that relates to peasant/farmer sector and, none of its incorporator and trustees are peasants/farmers.” On the contrary, “its nominees and leaders possess interest in conflict and adverse to the interests of peasants/farmers.”

Marie Hilao Enriquez said that Karapatan is specially concerned with Abang Lingkod’s standard bearer, Joseph Stephen Paduano aka Carapali Lualhati, the national commander of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB). RPA-ABB has been involved with numerous cases of human rights violations, specifically in Negros Occidental and Oriental. It is widely known that RPA-ABB now functions as a paramilitary group.

The complaint cited that “by nominating Paduano as its standard bearer, ABANG LINGKOD for all intents and purposes, ties up its supposed advocacy with him. Hence, whatever advocacy that Paduano carries is attributed to that of ABANG LINGKOD. It could be very well concluded that Paduano’s track record of violating the rights of peasants/farmers is also reflective of the nature, character and objectives of ABANG LINGKOD.”

The complaint also mentioned that Paduano, through his group RPA-ABB, was a recipient of “funding from the government and big landlords in Negros, hence a ground for removal and/or cancellation of ABANG LINGKOD’s registration with this Honorable Commission.”

The government, through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, has admitted to giving funding support to Paduano and the RPA-ABB totaling P31 million already disbursed under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program. Thus on November 2011, Representative Antonio Tinio questioned the allocation by OPPAP of P329-million for livelihood assistance to some 970 barangays in communities identified with RPA-ABB.”

Paduano, along with Patrick Leonard S. Lacson, Provincial Board Member of Negros Occidental were named defendants of the complaint.

In 2001, the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Droga (MAD) was disqualified when the Comelec and the Supreme Court discovered that it was funded by the Philippine National Police “using public funds.” ###

Source: www.karapatan.org

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[From the web] Aquino’s warped sense of justice: GMA freed, torturer promoted, impunity ignored -Karapatan

Aquino’s warped sense of justice: GMA freed, torturer promoted, impunity ignored

“And so this is justice under Aquino — torturers are given plum positions in the military, and the rich, powerful and notorious human rights violators like Palparan and Arroyo are mockingly free as preying vultures. No wonder, Noynoy deliberately omitted anything on human rights and peace in his SONA, a tacit and dangerous signal for state security forces to continue to prowl, with terror and violence against the people.”

Thus said Karapatan spokesperson Cristina Palabay, after news came out on the court resolution granting bail for former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the designation of Morong 43 torturer Col. Aurelio Baladad as acting commanding officer of the 9th Infantry Division of the Phil. Army, shortly after Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). In his SONA, Aquino heralded the state of “justice” under his administration.

Karapatan supported the Morong 43 health workers who filed criminal and civil charges against Arroyo and Baladad, and the mothers of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno who also filed criminal cases against Palparan resulting to the issuance of an arrest warrant. The group also filed an opposition to the appointments of Gen. Jorge Segovia and Baladad at the Commission on Appointments based on the pending complaints against them.

“It is reprehensible that a former President and military generals, whose notoriety on human rights violations has been condemned by the Filipino and the international community, are now both walking free from accountability. The crooked path of impunity lies under Aquino,” Palabay added.

The group also scored the series of moves to cover up the liabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in the extrajudicial killing of Italian missionary Fr. Fausto Tentorio and Dutch development worker Willem Geertman. Prior to Aquino’s SONA, the PNP investigators have stated robbery as the main motive behind the killing of Geertman, while paramilitary elements were excluded by the Dept. of Justice from the list of suspects in the killing of Tentorio.

“These are among the cases of extrajudicial killings that all remain unsolved under Aquino. Again, it begs the question: what kind of justice is Aquino harping on in his SONA? Clearly, it is the kind of justice that bears upon the poor and those working for meaningful changes in society, while promoting ‘justice’ for the moneyed and powerful,” Palabay concluded.

Source: www.karapatan.org

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[In the news] Multi-sectoral human rights monitoring body pushed in Bukidnon -MindaNews

MindaNews » Multi-sectoral human rights monitoring body pushed in Bukidnon.
By Walter I. Balane
July 28, 2012

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/ 27 July)- Representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs) in Bukidnon have pushed for the creation of a provincial multi-sectoral body to monitor human rights issues in the area.

The recommendation, among others, emerged on Thursday during the workshop of the Community-based Dialogue Sessions on Human Rights Promotion and Protection by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and CSOs in Bukidnon.

The recommendation is a repeat of the recommendation in a 2009 dialogue on the same issue of militarization.

Participants cited the lack of a wider multi-sectoral body to monitor human rights issues in the province as one of the challenges in the area.

The dialogue, initiated by the Alternative Law Group (ALG), is a follow up to a similar dialogue in 2009 meant to review the accomplishments from the first workshop.

Read full article @ www.mindanews.com

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[Press Release] SANLAKAS condemns PNP’S violence against peaceful SONA 2012 marchers and to file charges against NCRPO AND QCPD officials

SANLAKAS condemns PNP’S violence against peaceful SONA 2012 marchers and to file charges against NCRPO AND QCPD officials

SANLAKAS totally condemns yesterday’s multiple violent attacks by the PNP (Philippine National Police) against peaceful SONA (State of the Nation Address) activists who marched towards the House of Representatives in Quezon City yesterday afternoon.

The PNP’s NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office) and QCPD (Quezon City Police District), specifically their CDM (Civil Distrurbance Management) units and their ground commanders are to be blamed for the direct violations of human and political rights, including Batas Pambansa No. 880 (Law on Public Assemblies and Rallies).

In particular, SANLAKAS will file charges against NCRPO Regional Director, P/Director Alan Purisima and QCPD District Director, Chief Superintendent Mario Dela Vega as the overall commanders in charge of yesterday’s police forces tasked to block peaceful rallies. These charges stem from the fact that many rally leaders and organizers, including SANLAKAS Spokesperson Rasti Delizo, were slightly injured by the violent assaults of the joint-QCPD-NCRPO CDM personnel. Likewise, SANLAKAS views the illegal police actions as a direct violation of our human rights (physical injuries), political rights (the blocking of peaceful rallies) and also BP#880’s own provision stipulating that all PNP-CDM personnel shall be in proper uniform with nameplates prominently visible on their uniforms. In the case of the latter, several CDM personnel were spotted without any nameplates.

According to Rasti Delizo, “I already personally warned Generals Purisima and Dela Vega last July 16 during a dialogue between the NCRPO and SONA rally leaders, that SANLAKAS will file administrative charges against them should any violations occur during the SONA rallies. In fact, I specifically warned them about the no-nameplate concern which was already a problem from past rallies. But I also assured them that our rally shall be peaceful and that if any violence will occur, it will not come from our ranks but from the police themselves. And now, we were correct because that is exactly what happened yesterday.”

SANLAKAS is a lead Convenor of the ‘Martsa para sa Alternatibong Ekonomiya’ that mobilized over 5000 activists from various broad formations, sectoral organizations and political blocs. These include the FDC (Freedom from Debt Coalition), Nagkaisa, KAMP (Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay), PAHRA (Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates), PMCJ (Philippine Movement for Climate Justice), YAD (Youth Against Debt), and the Stop the War! Coalition. At around 3p.m. yesterday, SANLAKAS and its allies marched along Commonwealth Avenue in order to proceed to the HoR to face PNoy during his SONA as his Bosses. Expectedly and unsurprisingly, PNoy ordered the PNP to block our contingent as we crossed into the Southbound lane at a U-turn slot along Commonwealth Ave. within the vicinity of the Diliman Preparatory School.

The PNP’s CDM blocking forces from the QCPD-NCRPO immediately assaulted our frontline of mass leaders. The SANLAKAS spokesperson, who was one of the frontline leaders and a lead negotiator with the PNP, attempted to reach out to Gen. Dela Vega repeatedly but was screened out by a certain S/Supt. Pagdilao and a certain Supt. Obon. Instead of holding any peaceful negotiations, Pagdilao and Obon told Delizo that he was interfering in police operations as they kept on barking out orders to the CDM forces to disperse our peaceful rally.

Lastly, SANLAKAS Spokesperson Delizo stated that, “It now seems that Gloria Arroyo’s old CPR (Calibrated Preemptive Response) policy has just been revived by the PNoy Regime after yesterday’s violent ‘No-Maximum Tolerance’ attacks by the PNP against peaceful rallyists. This is a contravention of the Supreme Court’s April 2006 ruling declaring the reactionary CPR policy as anti-democratic and unconstitutional. And so now, if this is the case today, then PNoy should already declare it to be so to his own Bosses, and just as his immediate predecessor did so herself on September 21, 2005. If he is really a democratic leader and we the masses are his Bosses, then PNoy should not be afraid to face us publicly and to talk to us openly without unleashing the brutality of his blue-uniformed goons upon his own Bosses. Otherwise, we shall bring this matter to a proper court and PNoy would be politically.” ###

*For more information/details, please contact:
Mr. RASTI DELIZO (SANLAKAS Spokesperson)
@ Cellphone No.: 09998092461

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[Press Release] Hooded witness testifies on false murder charges -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: Hooded witness testifies on false murder charges

Asian Human Rights Commission(Hong Kong, July 17, 2012) Five months after a prosecutor dismissed the fabricated murder charges on 72 activists for lack of “probable cause,” one of them spoke to the AHRC in an interview. He recounted how a prosecutor allowed a hooded witness to testify in the criminal investigation to prosecute them.

When Edwin Egar, a pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and one of the 72 accused human rights and a political activist, asked the prosecutor why a witness against them had his face covered, he was told only that he would “take note that the witness has covered his face.”

The concern that Egar raised with the prosecutor was matter of Constitutional rights, not merely due to curiosity of knowing who the witness was. In the Philippines criminal investigation process, “to meet the witnesses face to face” is a Constitutional right (1987 Constitution, Bill of Rights, section 14).

For the accused to know his accuser and the witness against him was to uphold his Constitutional right to be presumed innocent. It is to enable him to make his own defense in a criminal trial. But in practice the police and soldiers routinely justify non-disclosure of the identity of their witnesses on the pretext of ‘security reasons’. However, in reality it is done so that they can conceal the identities of witnesses that provide fabricated evidence.

Egar and his co-accused were charged with the murder of two policemen and their civilian driver in an ambush on March 3, 2006 in Puerto Galera, Mindoro. The murder complaint was filed in July 24, 2006, but the court held to dismiss the case on procedural grounds not on merit on February 5, 2009.

In his defence, Egar said that he could not possibly be at the place where the ambush happened as he was in school in Baguio City studying theology. He also produced documentation and witness to support his alibi. Nevertheless, the prosecutor proceeded with reinvestigating the murder complaint which took them three years to resolve after it was re-filed at the prosecutor’s office.

For details please read: AHRC-UAU-012-2012

It was during the re-investigation that Vincent Silva, who declared himself as a deep penetrating agent (DPA) tasked to penetrate the New People’s Army (NPA), appeared for the prosecutor to testify that the accused were the persons “involved in the planning (of the ambush), thirty (30) served as the main body in the attack, and twelve (12) were in charge of blocking the enemy.”

However, Silva was neither present at the place of the ambush nor had he personal knowledge that those who had planned the attack and those charged were the same persons. The prosecutor, nevertheless, accepted his testimony as evidence offered by the police despite its obvious lack of credibility.

Even when the murder case was dismissed in February 2009, the police and the military continued arresting the accused, including Egar. In the interview, Egar talks about how he was forcibly abducted, tortured, interrogated and threatened with death if he refused to disclose the identity of his supposed accomplices.

“I was arrested. I was abducted… inside the vehicle, they interrogated me, asked me if I had anything to do with the case but I told them: nothing,” Egar said. He was released only after convincing his abductors that the murder charges they were arresting him for had already been dismissed.

The AHRC is deeply concerned by the activities of the police and the military in not disclosing the identity of their witnesses which is done with the consent of the prosecutors in investigating cases for criminal prosecution. This is in complete disregard of the fundamental rights set out in the Constitution.

The text of the unofficial translation of the interview in Filipino

Victim: I am Edwin Egar. I’m a pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) under the Southern Tagalog Conference. I’m presently working with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines as a human rights worker for Faith Witness Service.

I am a victim of trumped up charges or fabricated charges during the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. They filed the charges on me on March 3, 2006 in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. The case happened while I was studying at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Baguio City. I was studying theology to be a pastor. There were 72 of us who were charged–including another pastor of the United Methodist Church (UMC), a lawyer, persons attached to youth organizations, women and farmers. Some of them were arrested, including Attorney Saladero. Luckily they were released.

However, when they were released after the information (complaint) was quashed, I was arrested. I was abducted by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) at Alupay, Rosario, Batangas. The place where I was abducted, few kilometers away from my home, was the house of my nephew. Suddenly, a black van stopped and those inside, who were armed, alighted from their vehicle. They pointed their guns at my head. My nephew’s son saw it and suffered trauma because of that. He did not speak and we could not talk to him at that time.

While inside the vehicle, they interrogated me, asked me if I had anything to do with the case and I told them that I did not. I explained that I had nothing to do with what they have charged about the alleged ambush of NPA (New People’s Army) in Mindoro. But as I have mentioned, I was studying in school when (the ambush) happened. They asked me where I brought those Itak (a bladed farm tool for cultivation) that I was carrying. They accused me of carrying giving them to NPAs (which I denied). But I told them that if they like, I can accompany them to the place where I brought those tools to satisfy them that I was telling the truth.

Also, the military told me that if I can mention one of those 72 accused, they will release me (right away) at the roadside going to their camp. They took me to Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba, Laguna where I underwent several interrogations; however, after few hours they took me back to where they had abducted, blindfolded me and my hands cuffed. They left me at Barangay Padre Garcia. They asked to count until 20 and threatened to shoot me if I refused to count.

Q: You mentioned that a witness in your case had his face covered when he appeared at the prosecutor’s office?

Victim: I also want to mention that the case was quashed in 2009; however, it was re-filed in 2010 at the same prosecutor’s office where it was first filed where it was quashed. In 2011, they re-filed the case at the province of Laguna in San Pablo City. It was filed at the Regional Trial Court in San Pablo City. After receiving a subpoena, I immediately made a counter-affidavit and submitted it to the prosecutor’s office at the RTC Laguna, San Pablo. At the time, the prosecutor also was conducting an investigation and during this investigation I met the witness, Mr. Silva. But his face is covered with handkerchief and you could not recognize him. I asked the prosecutor why this was so, but all they did only was to a note that the witness has covered his face.

Q: What is the status of the case at present?

Victim: On May 2012 the Court of Appeal and the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in San Pablo, Laguna issued a joint resolution. The decision was they dismissed the (murder) charges against the Southern Tagalog 72.

Q: Do you wish to say anything further?

Victim: I call on the government of Aquino. I hope that they will stop the fabricated charges (on activists), ensure justice to victims for victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other cases of the past administration under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
# # #
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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[Appeal] An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to Sr. Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., spokesperson of the Philippine National Police (PNP) -AHRC

Asian Human Rights Commission

An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to Sr. Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., spokesperson of the Philippine National Police (PNP)

July 5, 2012

Sr. Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr.
Spokesperson
Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES

Tel: +63 2 726 4361/ 4366/ 8763
Fax: + +63 2724 8763

Dear Sr. Supt. Cerbo:

PHILIPPINES: Not only witnesses, but complainants needs protection, too

Asian Human Rights CommissionThe Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has read with interest your interview in an article, entitled “Geography, clan protection blamed for police failure to arrest them”, published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on June 30, 2012. In that report, you were quoted to have told the witnesses in the Maguindanao massacre case:”They just have to go to us, and we will guide them on what to do in order to get police protection.”

You also went on to say: “even without protective security, the witnesses, especially those who live in Maguindanao, should report to us any threats on their lives”. This renewed assurance, however, obviously came about after “reports of the killings. Six people — three witnesses and three relatives of other witnesses — have been killed in connection with the Maguindanao massacre case.”

To hear that the Philippine National Police (PNP) is now publicly encouraging witnesses in coming forward and to give instructions as to how they could secure protection and those who faces threats “should report to us” is good. However, we have strong reservations wether they do apply in reality. From our experience, the complainants and families of the dead who reported overt surveillance on them and threats on their lives had not obtain any sort of protection they urgently require. They never failed in reporting to the police, asking the police to investigate and to provide them protection.

This is what has happened to the case of Noel Christopher Reblando and his sibling, James Ryan and Maria Priscilla, all are children of Alejandro “Bong” Reblando. Alejandro is one of the murdered journalists. We did write to Director General Nicanor Bartolome, chief of the PNP, on March 16, 2012 informing him that Reblando’s children had been the object of an “overt surveillance”. We also requested that the police “takes immediate action and ensure their safety”.

The complaints of the Reblando were recorded in Book of Blotter, Volume 46, Series of 2011 of Station No. 05 in General Santos City. The extract is below:

On November 23, 2011 at 1:04pm; Entry No. 3687:
Noel Christopher Reblando “appeared to this office and requested to put on record as alleged that OOA (on or about) 12:37 November 23, 2011 he saw a person in military uniform push his single motorcycle and passed to the front of their residence by the time that he was saw by the said person who is in military uniform. He start his single motorcycle and speed up towards north direction” .

On the same day, his other son also reported; Entry No. 3687:
James Ryan Reblando “appeared to this office and requested to put on record that sometimes of first week of October there was a group of Muslim’s person from North Cotabato was for him it was gaining information for his father was a victim of Maguidanao massacre (Bong Reblando) and 2nd time sometimes of 3rd week of October 2011 a group of three (3) malefactor boarded on top down passed three (3) times to the front of their residence and sightseeing to their house, by the time that they got assumed said top down speed-up towards south direction”

On December 9, 2011, his other daughter also reported; Entry No. 3865:
Maria Priscilla Zainal “appeared to this office and requested to put on record as alleged that OOA (on or about) 5:05pm of this date one multicab color white stop fronting a little to their house boarded with one person and sightseeing to their house from the northside of their home the driver drove his multicab slowly mobiling to the south direction of their home”

As quoted from the extract, Reblando’s children had done what obviously you would want witnesses and others facing threats should have been doing: they report to the police, they record their complaint. Yes, you are correct that they could report but whether what they had reported complaining about threats on their lives would result to police providing them protection, we have yet to see.

In fact, despite the urgency of our appeal to protect Reblando’s children, as of today we have not received any reply from the PNP. It is obvious that no action were taken by the police neither to our urgent appeal letter nor the complaints of the Reblandos.

We appreciate that the police had reaffirmed the importance of protecting witnesses and those needing protection; however, we have yet to see evidence that they would be applied in practice; and that what has been said would be done.

Yours sincerely,

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

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AHRC-OLT-014-2012

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[Press Release] Rights Groups run to challenge Security Sector: Declare in words and deeds torture free detention centers

Rights Groups run to challenge Security Sector: Declare in words and deeds torture free detention centers

More than 600 people participate in the annual Basta Run Against Torture in time for the U.N. International Day in Support of Victims of Torture today, June 26, 2012. Now in its 6th year, anti-torture advocates challenged the security sector to declare torture free detention centers in words and in deeds.

“This year’s BRAT aims to bridge the gap between the commitments and policies on one hand and practices on the other of the security sector and other government agencies with respect to the issue of torture. It hopes to exact the commitment of AFP, PNP and BJMP to declare their places of detention as torture free and stand firm on their commitment.” Joy Lascano of Balay Rehabilitation Center, representative of UATC said in a statement.

The United Against Torture Coalition (UATC), a network of anti-torture advocates engages the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to publicly announce their commitment to proclaim a policy of complete prohibition of torture in all places of detention.

Lascano of UATC further said that, “Three years after the enactment of the Anti-Torture Law of 2009, only a handful of cases have been filed. The attempt to prosecute perpetrators is fraught with difficulties due to a lack of transparency from the security sector and the unfamiliarity of prosecutors and judges about the law on torture. None of these cases have seen a just resolution.”

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), also a member of UATC on the other hand documented 23 cases with 40 victims of torture under the P-Noy administration (as of May 2012). According to the group, the data shows that practice of torture on the ground still persists
while no one get punished.

BRAT 6 was participated by Amnesty International-Philippines, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Medical Action Group (MAG), Balay Rehabilitation Center, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and the #rememberML@40 campaign committee.

Also present are CHR, PHRC, DILG, DOJ, PNP, AFP and BJMP.

[Event] Basta Run Against Torture! -UATC

WHAT: Basta Run Against Torture (BRAT 6)

WHEN: June 26, 2012 (Tuesday)

Assembly: 5:00 a.m.

Run Starts at 5:30 a.m.

WHERE: Assembly @ DILG

Stops 1. Quezon City Jail

2. Camp Crame

3. Camp Aguinaldo

WHO:  Members of the United Against Torture Coalition (UATC), CHRP, PHRC, PNP-HRO, AFP-HRAO, BJMP and many more

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