Tag Archives: Political prisoner

[Video] Kilala nyo ba si Nitoy? -TFDP

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Friends help us appeal for the release of Nitoy Itaas.

Paano ka makakatulong?
Help us by:
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[Appeal] A Humanitarian Appeal to U.S. President Barack Obama. By Juanito Itaas


Photo by TFDP

Photo by TFDP

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama:

I write this letter to appeal for your urgent and personal intervention in the spirit of respect for human dignity as it is understood all over the world. This is in connection with my petition for release from prison addressed to the Philippine government regarding the killing of U.S. Army Col. James Rowe happened in April 1989, Quezon City, Philippines.

I am Juanito T. Itaas, arrested, charged, prosecuted and convicted in relation to the death of Col. James Rowe. I am now serving sentence at the national penitentiary here in the Philippines for more than two decades already. Indeed, I sympathize to the family and loved ones of Col. James Rowe, to the American people and others who were offended, violated and deeply hurt by the transgressions and inappropriate actions. Like them I suffer the same agony of being separated from my loved ones. I have suffered more than enough.

As an advocate of peace and reconciliation among nations, Mr. President, I implore your Christian sense of mercy and compassion as you certainly believe in second chances. Your considerate action to my plea is a key factor for the realization of my renewed life as a law-abiding citizen and as a God-fearing person.

Right now, the most cherished and persistent wish I have is to be a full-time father to my son and two daughters who were conceived during conjugal visits at the New Bilibid Prison. My children never experienced what a normal and happy family life is all about.

Additionally, I firmly believe in one of your guiding principles as a leader and as a family man. – A strong nation is made up of strong families. Every family deserves the chance to make a better future for themselves and their children. I know that strong families will always be front and center of your agenda, Mr. President.

Being a good and responsible father to your two lovely daughters, here I am, a father also who desires to provide, inspire and support my children with the help of my wife; and by doing so I can be an instrument to have a strong family despite a life-threatening illness that affects my health. This is now my only goal and motivation in life. By God’s grace, your valuable help and crucial intervention will help me succeed in this humble aspiration.

Given the present situation, I appeal once more and with great sense of benevolence, Mr. President, to consider a favorable humanitarian action regarding my condition.

God bless you mightily!


Juanito T. Itaas

For more information please contact:
Egay Cabalitan
Advocacy Staff
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
Email: tfdp.1974@gmail.com
Tel: 4378054
Mobile: 09288443717

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

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[Featured image] #FREEOURDEFENDERS! Free all political prisoners! -TFDP

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#FREEOURDEFENDERS! Free all political prisoners!

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Government keeps denying the existence of political prisoners. We need to assert the truth! Join us in a call to #FREEOURDEFENDERS! Free all political prisoners!

In previous statement, PNoy’s spokesperson Lacierda declared that ‘We have no political prisoners.’ Then the Department of Justice (DOJ) failed to deliver Government’s commitment to look into the plight of all victims of political incarceration as a result of the hunger strike more than one year ago. There’s unconfirmed information that the existing mechanism for the release of alleged political offenders (PCBREP) is to be dissolved by the government. If this information is true then the Aquino Government has no intention to release political prisoners through executive action.

While the general public and even most advocates are not aware of the situation and continuing violation of political incarceration and criminalization of political offense, these violations are used to attack freedom of belief and even human rights defenders.

The #FREEOURDEFENDERS campaign refers to detained human rights defenders and defenders of peoples’ issues and struggles or Political Prisoners as we call them.

The public should be informed about cases like Juanito “Nitoy” Itaas, a long-held political prisoner and Cocoy Tulawie, detained human rights defender among many others. Both are working for the defense of peoples’ issues and human rights. Accused with trumped up criminal charges, they are among the more than 300 victims of political incarceration languishing in jails nationwide.

The #FREEOURDEFENDERS campaign demands that the PNoy Government must:
1. Free all political prisoners
2. Look into the plight of victims of political incarceration
3. Protect human rights defenders
4. Respect freedom of political belief, freedom of expression, opinion and association
5. Stop criminalization of political offense

They are jailed for our struggles… we must claim their freedom now!

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[From the web] Pol Prisoner Holds Hunger Strike for Fr.Romano and All Victims of Rights Abuse – hrdefenders.wordpress.com

Pol Prisoner Holds Hunger Strike for Fr.Romano and All Victims of Rights Abuse
by yoyong, hrdefenders.wordpress.com
July 15, 2013


A political prisoner in Cebu marked the 28th year commemoration of the abduction and disappearance of Redemptorist priest Rudy Romano on July 11, 2013 with a hunger strike until the Presidential State-of-the-Nation Address on July 22, 2013.

Subsisting exclusively on fluids, Ramon Patriarca timed his protest on the day of the activist priest’s abduction to support call of KARAPATAN for truth and justice on Romano’s fate.

Read full article @hrdefenders.wordpress.com

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Petition] Free All Political Prisoners and Detainees! Proclaim December 7 as Political Prisoners Day!

Petition for the release of Political Prisoners and Detainees and for Proclaiming December 7 as Political Prisoners Day

Sign petiton #FreeOurDefenders

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Dear President Benigno Simeon Aquino

We are writing to Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of the Philippines to appeal in behalf of the 328 political prisoners and detainees nationwide. Our appeal is based on Section 19 of Article VII of the Philippine Constitution that gives you the power to grant Executive Clemency.

We would also like to ask you to proclaim December 7, 2013 of the Human Rights week commemoration as a Political Prisoners and Detainees day in honor of all victims of political incarceration in the country like your father, the late Senator Benigno Aquino.

As of January 2013, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) has documented 328 political prisoners and detainees languishing in jails nationwide. They are the likes of Cocoy Tulawie, a detained Human Rights Defender and Nitoy Itaas, a long held Political Prisoner.

Cocoy Tulawie was detained and being tried with trumped-up charges to silence him and discourage others in defending human rights against perpetrators in Sulu. Nitoy Itaas has suffered more than 20 years of incarceration for crimes he did not commit. They are two of the more than 300 victims of political repression, majority of which are victims of the past repressive administration.

Honorable President, we know that you are aware that defending human rights, freedom of belief and opinion, expression and association, and many other freedoms are all human rights, and that it is your administration’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfill. We expect no less from the son of both parents who were known heroes of democracy and enemies of repression. You know and feel the pain of imprisonment of a loved one and his eventual assassination, a victim of extra-judicial killing.

Dear President, It is imperative for a democracy to respect differing opinions and beliefs. The more than 300 political prisoners and detainees are not criminals. They are defenders of change, and fighters for freedom but were charged and treated as common criminals.

They are farmers, workers, youth, women and men of the marginalized sectors. They have suffered torture, illegal arrests and detention; others were disappeared and surfaced in detention. They are the more than 300 defenders of peoples’ rights and social justice.

We urge you dear President to use your executive influence to grant them the freedom that they, their families and friends had been longing for.

Free our Defenders. Free all Political Prisoners and Detainees.

Download and sign petition here and submit to tfdp.1974@gmail.com


Support #FreeOurDefenders Signature drive! Petition PNoy for the release of Political Prisoners and Detainees and for Proclaiming December 7 as Political Prisoners Day.

Support the #FreeOurDefenders campaign!
• Like our FB page and share our posts.
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[Featured Story] Political Prisoner Longs for Freedom, The Story of Juanito Itaas (Part 1)- TFDP

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

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

Juanito Itaas source: jezzdave.wordpress.com

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Army Colonel James Rowe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[to be continued]

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[From the web] Updates on the Bail Hearing of Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie case -hrdefender.org

Updates on the Bail Hearing of Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie case


Free Cocoy tulawie2February 4: Hearing on Continuance of Detention of Mr. Tulawie in Davao

Human rights group (Philippine Alliance of Human Rights, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, Alliance of Progressive Labor, Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya, and Balay Rehabilitation Center) assembled outside the City Hall of Manila where the Regional Trial Court is housed to express support to Human Rights Defender Cocoy Tulawie for his petition for bail and motion to allow continuance of his detention in Davao City Jail.

Due to information regarding the threats against the security and life of the Mr. Tulawie, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) guarded the City Hall building, placing its personnel at every floor. Mr. Tulawie arrived in a BJMP vehicle, with security escorts and safety gears of bullet proof vest and helmet. Mr. Juhan Alihudin who is detained in Manila City Jail and Mr. Abner Salahi Tahil detained Special Intensive Custodial Area (SICA) in Camp Bagong Diwa, both co-accuses were also in attendance.

Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar first discussed the Urgent Motion to Allow Continuance of Accused’s Detention at the Davao City Jail. She raised two salient concerns regarding the urgent motion: First, if Mr. Tulawie is waiving his rights to be present during court hearing if the ruling will favour his continuous detention in Davao City and second, will there be an alternative detention facility other than SICA in case the motion will be denied?

Prosecutor’s private counsel Atty. Wendell Sotto argued that there are no more security risks on Mr. Tulawie considering that the Court of Appeals already issued a Writ of Amparo and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is assuring Mr. Tulawie’s safety. These arguments were also stated in the Opposition that the party of Governor Tan filed against the Urgent Motion.

With regards to the alternative detention facility, Atty. Marlon Manuel informed the Court that the CHR will call an Inter-Agency Meeting with PNP, BJMP, AFP and DND to discuss the concern.

In answer, Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar ruled that the parties shall put their arguments and defenses in writing and submit them to court. The Defense is given 15 days from February 4, 2013 to answer the Opposition filed by the Prosecution. On the other hand, the Prosecution was given 15 days from receipt of the answer to file its reply. Then, the motion will be submitted for resolution.

On Bail petition, the defense manifested that they have not received Judicial Affidavits as required under the Order of Branch 19 dated December 07, 2012. Atty. Sotto argued that Judicial Affidavits are not applicable to the case because the Rules state that the same is applicable only to crimes with penalties of less than 6 years. Defense counsel Atty. Marlon Manuel, stated that the rules are applicable if the accused agrees to use the same irrespective of penalty. The accused in this case did not contest the Judicial Affidavit rule. Because of the absence of Judicial Affidavits, the Court reset the bail hearing on March 4 and 6, 2013 and expressed that submission of Judicial Affidavits prior to the hearing is mandatory.

March 4 – 6 Bail Hearing

On the hearing of the Motion for Bail filed by Mr. Tulawie last March 4 and 6, 2013, the Prosecutor presented a total of seven witnesses, five from the Military and Police and two self-confessed conspirators of the bombing, Mr. Sali Said and Mr. Mujibar “Bong” Alih Amon. Both witnesses were neither included as accused nor had been mentioned as witnesses on the charge sheet against Tulawie. Initially, the prosecutor informed the Court that they will present 30 witnesses but they only presented seven. The Police and Military testimonies made no mention of Mr. Tulawie’s involvement on the incident but just described the incident and the destructions as a result of the bombing.

Before Sali Said started his testimony, the Judged expressed concern of the content of his judicial affidavit admitting to his involvement on the bombing incident and other several crimes. She cautioned the Prosecutors that they may be jeopardizing their client with self-incriminating statements. Judge Malagar questioned the witness herself if he understood his predicament but the witness was unfazed.

Sali Said, as witness, executed two Judicial Affidavits dated February 25, 2013 and March 5, 2013. The first affidavit he said was not entirely true because he tried to protect himself from being included in the case or at least lessen his involvement. A week later he executed another affidavit because he said he felt guilty and finally wants to say the truth.

In both of his Judicial Affidavits, he admitted that he is one of those who conspired in the planning and execution of the March 13, 2009 bombing. He also admitted that he is an active member of the Abu Sayaff Group (ASG).

The witness Sali Said, orally admitted in open court and in the presence of the Judge that he is an active member of the ASG. He also admitted that he was one of the persons who kidnapped Ms. Ces Drilon (television network journalist) and Octavio Dinampo in 2008 but proudly stated that he has not been charged at all. From the records of the prosecution, Octavio Dinampo has executed an affidavit positively identifying Sali Said as one of their kidnappers.

He also admitted that he was arrested last March 2011 in a Port in Jolo, Sulu and detained at SICA, MMDJ Compound, Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City in relation to the kidnapping and the beheading of the members of the Jehovah’s Witness/Almeda Group by the ASG. This case is lodged before RTC, Branch 266, Pasig City docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 128923-H-A-E.

As per testimony of Sali Said, he admitted that the lawyer of Governor Sakur Tan intervened and helped in the facilitation of his release and he was accordingly released from prison last February 15, 2013. It could be noted that it is not merely coincidental that Sali Said was released barely two weeks before the bail hearing of the Tulawie case.

Said admitted that he is mad at Mr. Tulawie because he alleged that the latter caused the death of his cousin, another accused Sulayman Muhammad Muin. It can be recalled that Mr. Muin was killed while detained in Sulu Provincial jail by BJMP personnel allegedly for trying to escape. Juhan Alihudin, another co-accused, after the hearing mentioned that Said should have asked him and learned the truth because he was detained with Mr. Muin when the latter was killed in detention.

At one point during his testimony, Mr. Said excused himself to go to the comfort room and passed by hearing distance of Mr. Tulawie, he said “ Nakahanda na ang mga butas na paglilibingan nating dalawa sa Sulu” (The holes for both our graves are already prepared in Sulu).

Mujibar “Bong” Alih Amon, another witness for the prosecutor testified that he is a photographer, former driver and errand boy of the Tulawie family who lived for years in the Tulawie home. As a photographer he cannot recall the model of the camera he used, when cross-examined by Atty. Mary Ann Arnado of the defense legal team. As a driver of Mr. Tulawie’s family, he miscounted the cars of the Tulawie. As one who lived in the Tulawie home for years, he cannot recall the features of the house and are not familiar with the members of the family and even miscounted the number of Mr. Tulawie’s children.

He testified that he was hired by Mr. Tulawie to conduct “Plan B” to assassinate Gov. Tan for P3.5 million pesos as the first bombing was unsuccessful. He mentioned that he recruited tricycle drivers to help him implement the plan. However Plan B did not pushed through when the accused on the first incident were already arrested. He was also subsequently arrested as suspected member of the ASG involved in the beheading of the Almeda/Jehovah Witnesses members. Mr. Amon is currently detained in MMDJ Compound, Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig.

Mr. Amon also admitted that he was offered assistance by the Prosecutor’s counsel but that he refused and that he just wanted to tell the truth on the incident. He denied being a member of the Abu Sayyaf group.

After the testimonies of the witnesses, the Defense counsel motioned that the Public Prosecutor should include Said as accused in the Tulawie case because of his admission of involvement in the bombing. The Prosecutor said that there should be a complaint in which the Judge said that it should be motu proprio on their part. But the former is still adamant, thus Judge asked the Counsel to formalize the motion.

The March 6 concluded the bail hearing for Mr. Tulawie. The Judge will issue her decision on or before June 19, 2013 also the scheduled next hearing on the case. For the meantime, Mr. Tulawie will remain in Davao City Jail.

On both hearings, some members of the Free Mr. Tulawie movement observed the proceedings.

Accuser’s activities
A news report in one of the Regional newspaper stated that the Palace (Office of the President) intervention is feared on the Tulawie case. It mentioned that CHR has already declared Tulawie is innocent and that several NGOs are resulting to agitation tactics and lobbying with personalities to campaign for members with cases (see picture of the news clipping at the left).

There is also a regular picket during court hearings of Tulawie of young Muslim people of undetermined persuasions. When they were asked who they are rallying about, they said to stop the bloodshed and have peace in Sulu. Their placards are stating confusing messages that they condemn human rights violators and at one time stated that bombers and HR violators should be jailed. During their March 4 picket, they were referring to a news clipping. (Source: PAHRA)

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[In the news] Cultural worker Ericson Acosta a free man once more -InterAksyon.com

Cultural worker Ericson Acosta a free man once more
By: InterAksyon.com
February 5, 2013

InterAksyon logo2MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 11:53 a.m.) Close to two years after he was arrested and detained by authorities who accused him of being a communist rebel leader, cultural worker and former UP Collegian editor Ericson Acosta is officially a free man once more.

Updates posted on social networks by supporters on Tuesday morning said Acosta was waiting, with his family, counsel and supporters, to be released from the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City, where he has been confined since January 18.

Acosta, 40, in a statement, vowed to “continue to call for a general, omnibus and unconditional amnesty for all political prisoners.”

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[In the news] THE ERICSON ACOSTA STORY | Running home, almost free -InterAksyon.com

THE ERICSON ACOSTA STORY | Running home, almost free
Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files
January 17, 2013

InterAksyon logo2CALBAYOG CITY, Samar—Political prisoner Ericson “Eric” Acosta, who had long stopped counting the days he had spent in jail at this city’s sub-provincial jail in Western Samar, was sprung an unanticipated pre-Valentine gift on Thursday: The court allowed the poet-composer and former Philippine Collegian editor to leave jail on early Friday to fly to Manila on humanitarian grounds. (Acosta is expected to arrive in Manila at 8:15 a.m. on Friday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.)

Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta (not a relative of the accused) quickly moved for Acosta’s temporary release before the Gandara regional trial court after a medico-legal consultant of the Public Attorney’s Office examined him and found he has nephritis, a condition characterized by blood in the urine (hematuria), lower back pains, high fever and painful urination (dysuria), all of which require urgent confinement.

The doctor, Erwin Erfe, was accompanying Rueda-Acosta on a medical mission to the jail and had gone over Acosta’s medical history.

Read full article @www.interaksyon.com

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[Statement] 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

January 14, 2013
Davao City Jail
Maa, Davao City, Philippines

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[In the news] GMA’s release indicates ’double standard’ justice – rights group -POC

GMA’s release indicates ’double standard’ justice – rights group
Migrante-Middle East, www.thepoc.net
July 26,2012

An activist overseas Filipino migrants’ right group reacted thus to the release from hospital arrest of former president and incumbent Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after the court granted her bail on the grounds that the electoral sabotage case filed against her by the Commission on Election (COMELEC) is weak.

“Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, given her status, political clout and wealth, simply escapes imprisonment. She was never imprisoned anyway as she was in hospital arrest for eight months enjoying privileges not given to an accused of high crimes such as electoral sabotage and plunder, among others,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

“It seems so easy for the court to grant Mrs. Arroyo bail and right after her camp sought her release from hospital arrest while there are 300+ political prisoners who were charged of common crimes but were denied bail and still languishing in jails for years even without proper cases filed,” he added.

Read full article @ www.thepoc.net

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[From the web] Hunger for justice -hrdefenders.wordpress.com

Hunger for justice

by hrdefenders
June 6, 2012

Would justice be judiciously served now that Renato Corona is out of the judiciary?

Not so for Ramon Patriarca who must still face trumped up charges of rebellion whil locked up in the stockade of the AFP-Central Command. He, like the 167 political prisoners across the country, must continue to endure cruel punishment and degrading treatment as the proverbial wheels of justice turn grindingly slow. He and the rest of political prisoners in the country must endure continued deprivation of their basic rights for having been tagged as “enemies of the state.”

Would the new supreme court magistrate look kindly at their plight and institute restitution on the wrong done them?

Read full article @ hrdefenders.wordpress.com

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[Statement] from the Burma/Myanmar Delegation to the ACSC/APF 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Statement from the Burma/Myanmar Delegation to the ACSC/APF 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Burma/Myanmar’s workshop, along with three other workshops, was not allowed to take place at the ACSC/APF 2012. Rather, the organizers were forced to move the workshops to another location.

The workshop was to be on Burma/Myanmar’s current political and human rights situation and the challenges this poses to the country’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014. On the first day of the conference organizers also received pressure to remove pictures of political prisoners from Burma/Myanmar in the exhibition hall of the conference.

The challenges and restrictions experienced in Cambodia are an alarming reminder that Burma/Myanmar’s chairmanship in 2014 will likely face significant hurdles in providing the space for the people of Burma/Myanmar and the independent regional civil society to gather and take the people’s concerns to ASEAN leaders.

Indeed, despite encouraging developments, Burma is still a place of systematic and widespread human rights violations that may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes, and no political space and freedom. The recent negotiations between Thein Sein’s government and ethnic armed groups have not led to an end to conflict and the Burma Army continues to perpetrate gross human rights abuses against ethnic civilians.

The recent easing of media censorship has not been accompanied by legislative reforms. Repressive laws, which include restrictions on freedom of speech, assembly and the press, remain on the books.

Released political prisoners face ongoing harassment, constant surveillance and re-arrest. There remain a documented 959 political prisoners behind bars, but this number is believed to be higher. The people continue to fear arrest for their political activities.

We therefore urge ASEAN leaders to:

Respect the right to freedom of speech and assembly of the independent civil society and the people of ASEAN.

Commit to promote a genuinely people-centered ASEAN and the free and meaningful participation of the people of Burma/Myanmar and the regional independent civil society in ASEAN’s process of community building during Burma/Myanmar’s chairmanship in 2014.

Urge President Thein Sein to:
Unconditionally release and rehabilitate all political prisoners and immediately stop intimidation and surveillance of those who have been released;
Withdraw Burma Army troops from ethnic areas and reach a nationwide ceasefire that addresses the root political causes of conflict with ethnic armed groups;
Provide aid to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in all conflict affected areas and permit international and local NGOs to deliver humanitarian assistance;
Address the issue of truth and accountability for human rights abuses and put an end to the ability of the Burma Army to perpetrate crimes with impunity;
Amend or repeal those laws that restrict the human rights of the people of Burma/Myanmar in order to guarantee free and meaningful participation of the people and independent civil society in the transition process;
Ensure that development projects take into account local communities’ needs and rights, do not exacerbate conflict, respect international environmental and human rights standards, are conducted in a transparent manner and support civil society;
Constructively combat the country’s drug problem by supporting alternative crop development rather than destroying opium fields and livelihoods, by investigating the Burma Army’s involvement in the drug trade and carrying out public awareness-raising about the dangers of drug use throughout the country; and;
Ratify and implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and promote economic and social integration of disabled persons.

Source:  Task Force on ASEAN and Burma on the ACSC/APF 2012

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[From the web] Free Ericson Acosta! Free all political prisoners!


ERICSON ACOSTA is a former editor of the U.P. Philippine Collegian. He is also known to his peers at the university as a poet, thespian, and songwriter.

He was arrested without warrant by the military on February 13, 2011, in an upland barrio in Samar just because the laptop he carried roused the suspicion of soldiers. He was accompanied by a local barrio official at the time of his arrest, as he was doing human rights work as volunteer researcher of the local peasant group KAPAWA in Western Samar.

We, his family, friends, colleagues and supporters demand nothing less than his immediate and unconditional release. Political persecution and the malevolent criminalization of activists have no place in a democracy.

Ericson’s sense of responsibility as Iskolar ng Bayan has led him to work in the grassroots and create art with the people. Even in detention, Ericson continues to craft poetry and songs, highlighting the plight of political prisoners in the country.

Respect for human rights is an indication of the government’s resolve to genuinely serve the people. Political prisoners are rights advocates whose bid for a more humane society is twisted and distorted in the hands of state discourse. Ericson Acosta’s right to participate productively as a free citizen of this country is violated each day he remains in detention. A year after his illegal arrest, we enjoin all freedom-loving Filipinos to defend human rights and to usher in peace based on justice.



2011 Online HR advocacy campaigns in the Philippines rundown

Social networking is one of the most active web-based activities in the Philippines, with Filipinos being declared as the most active users on a number of web-based social network sites such as Facebook, Multiply , Twitter and blog,” http://en.wikipedia.org

Advocates in the Philippines never fail to utilize the digital tools in the Year 2011.

Surely we have been witness or were invited not only once by fellow Filipino human rights defenders to participate in an online campaign that aimed to mobilize collective action online and offline.

Let’s take a look one more time to a short list of the HR campaigns that made our 2011 digital world worth remembering.

4 o’clock habit campaign: prayer/appeal for Umbrero’s release

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) initiated in June 2011 the 4 o’clock habit campaign: Prayer/Appeal for Tatay Umbrero. Tatay Umbrero, was a political prisoner in New Bilibid Prison, who suffered stage 4 cancer of the lungs.

The FB and twitter posting of prayer every 4 pm was part of TFDP’s “S.O.S. Campaign” aimed to generate support and call for President Aquino’s urgent action for Tatay Umbrero’s case.

Eventually, the campaign resulted to PNoy’s issuance of Tatay Umbrero’s release, it was PNoy’s 1st executive pardon in July 19, 4 days later after Tatay Umbrero died. This has caught media attention.

The campaign continued with the political prisoners’ Hunger Strike for freedom and Human Rights that started during PNoy’s State of the Nation Address in July 25, 2011. Combined with mass actions, letter sending and dialogues the campaign pushed government to reactivate the Presidential Committee on Bail Recognizance and Pardon or PCBREP.

This was the message circulated online during that time.

S.O.S. Free Umbrero Now! Free All Political Prisoners!
Prayer for Umbrero’s release from incarceration

Almighty and Eternal God of justice and freedom,
Hear us for Your sick servant Mariano Umbrero
for whom we implore the aid of Your tender mercy
for the restoration of his bodily health.
We also pray that you touch the heart of our President
for him to use his power and influence to immediately free Umbrero from incarceration.

S.O.S. Free Umbrero Now! Free All Political Prisoners!
S.O.S. Friends Pls help Send Appeal to P-Noy for the Immediate Release of MARIANO UMBRERO! Political prisoner suffering STAGE 4 CANCER. (Details @ http://www.tfdp.net) Please post this link to http://www.facebook.com/#!/presidentnoy


“#IwantPNoyto” twitter campaign

DAKILA Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism launched a twitter campaign before PNoy’s SONA. Through the social networking site twitter hashtag #WeWantPnoyTo , they initiated the discussion for advocates about their expectations and aspirations for PNoy’s SONA2011.

It aimed to make President NoyNoy Aquino aware of the different concerns of advocates. This spread among Digital activists, as well as among members of their organizations. It became one of the 10 most trending hashtags in the Philippines during that week.


“Take down your FB profile pic in remembrance of all victims of enforced disappearance” campaign

August 30, 2011, FB profile pics disappeared and status were replaced by the message “In remembrance of the disappeared in the Philippines and around the world, whose lives, rights and freedoms were taken, please take down your profile picture on August 30,”

This has been one of the successful awareness building campaign online.

“So far, most of the Facebook participants are Filipino activists, students and media persons who have joined the meme not only to heighten awareness about those who disappeared, but also to trumpet calls for justice.

Like most memes, it is unclear who initiated the Facebook campaign. A meme is a concept or idea that spreads through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Internet memes are seen as cost-effective advertising or PR tools to push for buzz around a certain product or concept.”

Facebook profile pics go ‘desap’ for Int’l Day of the Disappeared
Posted on August 30 by Joseph Holandes Ubalde, InterAksyon.com

Writers Unite! 09.26.11 Blog Action Day for Climate Justice

In solidarity with the victims of typhoons Ondoy (“Ketsana”), Pepeng, Frank and all other extreme weather events and disasters of the past here in Manila and all over the Philippines, the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) and the Freelance Writers of the Philippines (FWP) called on writers/bloggers/media workers to write their literary pieces, essays, tweets and slogans on “climate justice”.

Bloggers, writers and advocates were asked to submit their contribution on September 26, 2011. Climate justice activists in the Philippines chose September 26 as it is the anniversary of Typhoon Ondoy (International Name: Ketsana), one of the most destructive storms that the Southeast Asian archipelago has ever experienced.
Based from http://climatejusticeday.wordpress.com


“I black-out my FB against power hike” campaign

In September 23, individual members of HRonlinePH.com team initiated an FB campaign called I BLACKOUT AGAINST POWER HIKE! The online FB campaign’s objective is to contribute in the National day of action, Oct.11, 7:30-8pm National Power-OFF/Lights-OFF! Campaign of the Freedom from Debt Coalition.

This was the message circulated during that month.


Noticed your electric bills?
It has started.
Power rate has gone up due to wrong policies under privatization and EPIRA.
Register your protest! BLACK OUT your profile pics and say…

FB campaign mechanics:

All Filipinos and friends around the World-Wide Web with Facebook account and wishing to register one simple act of protest against continuing hike of power rates in the Philippines are enjoined to temporarily change their profile picture with the BLACKOUT logo on October 11, 2011 from 3:00 in the afternoon to 9:00 in the evening. Let us register our voices that even as Facebookers we too are concerned NETizens and affected by the increasing power rate. Invite all your facebook friends to do an act of SOLIDARITY.


Join the National day of action, Oct.11, 7:30-8pm National Power-OFF/Lights-OFF!


Online campaign to support the first International Day to End Impunity

In September, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) launched the Online campaign to support the first International Day to End Impunity on November 23, 2011.

They promoted the slogan “Pangulong Aquino: Ilan pang mamamahayag ang kailangang mapatay? Kilos na! (President Benigno Aquino III: How many more members of media have to die? Act now to End the Killings!”. This aimed to remind PNoy of his campaign promise to address the killing of journalists (and other extrajudicial killings) in the Philippines.

The campaign invited people online to “tag” the Aquino’s communications team in social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to the slogan.

CMFR encouraged bloggers and social media users to join its IDEI Blog Action Day on Nov. 21, 2011, or two days before the actual IDEI. On Blog Action Day, bloggers and social media users wrote and discussed IDEI and issues related to the campaign.

CMFR also used the hastags #endimpunityinPH #kilosna #IDEI #Nov23 in twitter for the campaign.

Kilusang 99% Facebook page

In October of 2011, a movement in the Philippines inspired by the “We are the 99%” slogan of the “Occupy Wallstreet” campaign formed their own FB page that reached 1,272 members in a span of only 2 months.

Here is the FB note posted on the page explaining what the movement is all about, read on…

Kilusang 99%
By Renz Salazar in Kilusang 99% Facebook page

The Kilusang 99% is a local multisectoral movement composed of small people’s organizations, sectoral groups, the church, and the academe that pushes for social and political system changes. It aims to present a social reform agenda to replace the existing economic paradigms that are bereft of social justice and have spawned social inequities and social dislocation.

The movement takes inspiration from the “We are the 99%” slogan of the “Occupy Wallstreet” campaign. The call is a reference to the great inequality of wealth between the masses and the 1% elite who yields influence over the political and economic policies of countries.

Kilusang 99% pushes for a development model that is more responsive to the needs of the poor and is able to bring about sustainable, inclusive, and “people-centered” development. Concretely, it calls for the completion of agrarian reform and moratorium on land conversions, protection of the environment against extractive operations, recognition and defense of the rights of indigenous people to their ancestral domain, protection of workers against nefarious labor practices like contractualization, and provision of sustainable livelihood for the rural poor and decent housing to informal settlers, among others.

Initially conceived as a social reform movement, Kilusang 99% is being convened by CBCP-NASSA National Director Most Rev. Broderick S. Pabillo.

The movement is currently composed of organizations from labor, agrarian, coconut sector, fisherfolks, human rights advocates, urban poor, religious, and the academe.
Aside from pushing for change in the development paradigm, K99 likewise works at broadening its alliance while at the same time raising awareness and generating public support to sectoral issues.

Address poverty, inequality and injustices with a new development paradigm by:
1. Making the poor the center of development;
2. Restoring dignity and power to the people;
3. Making social reform a national agenda;
4. Exacting accountability from public officials;
5. Safeguarding the public commons
Posted October 30 2011


“People’s Manhunt” for Jovito Palparan online campaign

HR group Karapatan intensified their campaign which they tagged as “People’s Manhunt” for Jovito Palparan. They asked users of social networking site Facebook, to post a “wanted” poster of the retired general as their profile picture in December 23, 2011.

Palparan was charged with three others for the abduction and disappearance of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.

The campaign  started after Palparan was prevented by immigration officials from leaving the country and went into hiding early this week because of the warrant of arrest issued against him by the court.

“The internet is a venue for supporting many causes including this very important quest for justice of the mothers of the two disappeared UP students. All netizens are enjoined to post this poster on their profiles to make known to internet users the face and name of this notorious human rights violator and seek information on his whereabouts to cause his immediate arrest,” said Cristina Palabay, convenor of End Impunity Alliance, a network of victims of human rights violations, rights defenders and civil libertarians.


One for Iligan

After flashfloods caused by the typhoon Sendong struck Iligan City and Cagayan De Oro in December 17, many of our fellow Filipinos utilized the online media to campaign for help. One of these was initiated by a group of bloggers called iliganbloggers.com.

Read on…

ONE FOR ILIGAN campaign for the victims of typhoon Sendong in Iligan City was first conceptualized by the Iligan Bloggers Society, Inc. and went viral online. This movement is realized by generating enough funds online and use it to provide immediate needs for the victims. The One for Iligan movement is for all Iliganons, Filipinos, and people with big hearts to give as little as a dollar for the victims for Typhoon Sendong .
Excerpts from http://iliganbloggers.com/


Boycot PAL

Early in November after Philippine Air Lines refused to board a PALEA member and her family despite holding tickets for the Los Angeles-Manila flight because she was supposedly on “blacklist of PALEA members,” and the harassment of PAL hired goons to protesting workers in their picket line, Partido ng Manggawa, PALEA and their National and International partners, networks and allies launched a campaign called “Boycot PAL.”

The group utilized FB and other online tools to propagate their campaigns aiming to put pressure on PAL to open negotiations with PALEA to end the labor dispute and ask people not to fly PAL and AirPhil until the PALEA’s demand for employees to return to their regular jobs are met.

The following are the reasons of their campaign stated in their FB page, read on…

5 Reasons to Boycott PAL and AirPhil
1 Corporate greed: PAL retrenched 2,600 employees despite earning more than PhP 3 billion last year. For every PAL employee turned into a contractual in the service providers, Lucio Tan and PAL earn PhP 4 million for the next ten years or more than PhP 10 billion for all 2,600 employees affected. Lucio Tan is the second richest Pinoy but wants to get even wealthier via contractualization.

2 Union busting: PALEA has sacrificed for the last 13 years with the suspension in collective bargaining negotiations, from which PAL has benefited by an early exit from rehabilitation. But when negotiations were due to start in 2009, PAL announced the outsourcing plan which resulted in the terminated of 70% of PALEA’s membership and 60% of its leadership.

3 Human rights violations: PALEA members protesting the outsourcing plan last September 27 were forcibly evicted from Terminal 2 and other PAL offices leading to injuries to employees including women who were bodily taken out by PAL security guards. Further, two attempts have been made to violently disperse the PALEA protest camp. The latest daybreak attack led to injuries to seven PALEA members and the arrest of one of the hired goons who confessed to been paid by management.

4 Labor code violations: The latest among the many violations of the Labor Code by PAL and Lucio Tan exposed during the labor dispute is that the supposed independent service providers Sky Logistics and Sky Kitchen are actually illegal labor-only contractors. These dummy companies do not have its own equipment and depend upon facilities of PAL such as the In-Flight Center.

5 Safety and service compromised: Untrained and overworked scabs are now operating PAL flights resulting in numerous complaints by passengers over delays, disruptions and deterioration in service. Long lines at check-in counters and food in lunch boxes are some obvious examples. Further, unlicensed and inexperienced trainees working the ground handling are a flight risk.

If Lucio Tan succeeds in contractualization at PAL, our jobs are next. Ang laban ng PALEA ay laban ng lahat! Defend Job Security at PAL. Promote Regular Jobs for All.


This is just a short list among the so many online human rights activities that took place in 2011. We are definitely sure that there are still more out there in the world wide web that relatively succeed in touching our lives in one way or another. It’s 2012, another year to look forward to a healthy, creative, inspiring, moving and relevant online activism. We’ve been tagged as the world’s social networking capital so why not stand and be more aggressive in occupying the cyberspace for human rights in the years to come.

[Blogger] Hustisya’y Pangmayaman? – Matang Apoy


ni Gregorio V. Bituin Jr.
18 pantig bawat taludtod


napakaraming katanungan ang umuukilkil sa isipan
kapag may naaagrabyado sa sistema ng katarungan

bakit si Erap na guilty sa plunder ay nakalaya agad
ngunit yaong political prisoners sa piitan pa’y babad

bakit si Gloria’y pwede agad magpagamot sa ibang bansa
ngunit namamatay na di magamot ang mga maralita

bakit sinabi ni Noynoy na ang taumbayan ang kanyang Boss
ngunit kampi kay Lucio Tan, di sa manggagawang inuubos

bakit sa kaso ng taga-FASAP na nanalo na sa Korte
ay nabaligtad pa kahit ito’y “final and executory”

sa simpleng liham lang ng abogadong Estelito Mendoza
ay biglang umikot ang tumbong ng Korte’t dagliang nagpasya

bakit kaybilis ng hustisya sa mga tulad ni Lucio Tan
ngunit kaybagal pag mahirap ang naghanap ng katarungan

bakit si Jalosjos na guilty sa rape ay agad nakalaya
ngunit si Echegaray ay agad nabitay sa Muntinlupa

bakit nauso ang salot na iskemang kontraktwalisasyon
na pumatay sa karapatan ng mga obrerong mag-unyon

bakit pati ang mga vendors na nagtitinda ng marangal
ay hinuhuli’t sinusunog ang kanilang mga kalakal

ngunit ang pribadong sektor na sa masa’y kaytaas maningil
pinayagan kahit buhay nati’y unti-unting kinikitil

bakit ang nahuhuling mag-jumper ay agad ipinipiit
ngunit malaya ang sumisingil ng kuryenteng di ginamit

bakit bahay ng maralita’y winawasak at tinitiris
kaya nambabato ang mga maralitang dinedemolis

a, sadyang napakarami pang bakit ang ating masasabi
lalo’t sa sistema ng hustisya sa bansa’y di mapakali

di ang mayayaman lang ang dapat makadama ng hustisya
kundi dapat lahat, may hustisya dapat lalo na ang masa

“at ang hustisya ay para lang sa mayaman”, ayon sa awit
na Tatsulok na ang mensahe’y sadya ngang nakapagngangalit

masasagot ang mga tanong kung ating pakasusuriin
bakit ganito ang sistema’t kalagayan ng bayan natin

mula doon ay magkaisa tayo tungo sa pagbabago
ng sistema’t itayo na ang isang lipunang makatao

huwag nating payagang magisnan pa ng ating mga anak
ang sistemang tila balaraw sa ating likod nakatarak

tayo nang magsama-sama’t palitan na ang sistemang bulok
at ang uring manggagawa’t aping masa’y iluklok sa tuktok

[Event] Human Rights Day with PALEA workers – PAHRA

HRDs and Advocates !

Human Rights Day with PALEA workers
October 6, 2:00 – 6:00 pm

Venue: In Flight Catering Center , MIA Road, Terminal II near Nayong Pilipino


Ø Forum on Right to Work

Ø Film Showing

Ø HR materials booth

Ø Solidarity statements

Please bring your statement of support and HR materials for distribution.

Contact Persons:
TFDP – Egay  0921-964-5017
PAHRA –  Fred  0927-866-5354

[Statement] Martial Law’s Remnants after 39 years

We, Roman Catholic bishops and clergy of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group are saddened that remnants of the Martial Law are still witnessed today, 39 years after its declaration, and 30 years after it was “lifted.”

Photo extracted from INQUIRER.net

Thirty-nine years ago, the Marcos dictatorship jam-packed jails with political prisoners who fought against corruption and repression.  Priests, religious, lay leaders and opposition groups were illegally arrested and detained on trumped up grounds.  Many of them were summarily executed and tortured.

Until today, the perpetrators of Martial Law have not been punished and the victims have not attained justice. The great bulk of them have never received the “compensation” for the victims.

Most comdemnable of all is that today, some practices of Martial Law continue behind the cloak of “restored democracy, justice and protection of human rights”.

Fr. Cecilio Lucero, a Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Catarman and a human rights advocate, was murdered by suspected military men last September 6, 2009 but until today, perpetrators remain scot-free.

Presently, according to human rights organizations, there are 360 political prisoners nationwide languishing in jails due to the exercise of their political beliefs.  Moreover, it is reported that there are already 77 political prisoners illegally arrested and are currently detained under the Aquino administration.

In Mindanao, the military campaigns of the Aquino government have reportedly resulted to about 90 cases of human rights abuses and victimized close to a thousand families or more than 8,000 individuals in his first 80 days of power.

In Cebu recently, criminal charges were filed in court against 36 Aloguinsan farmers including three students from the University of the Philippines who were arrested for trying to prevent the fencing of a land farmers have tilled since 1910. The farmers said they were kicked, punched, whipped with truncheons by the police at the height of their protest in Aloguinsan, Cebu on August 29, 2011.

Libel cases have been filed against Visayan Electric Company (VECO) Employees Union President Casmero Mahilum, who was pursuing the union’s interest. His termination from work was declared legal by the National Labor Relations Commission.

The Catholic Church is committed to the promotion of human rights as its pastoral commitment is developed in a twofold direction: in the proclamation of the Christian foundations of human rights and in the denunciation of the violations of these rights (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, # 388).

In line with such teaching of the Church, we remind President Benigno Aquino III, all government institutions under him, and all advocates of democracy, that the path to peace is through the fulfillment of justice, and not through the militarist method. As P-Noy’s father was a victim of the tyrannical rule of Marcos and as his mother is hailed internationally as an icon of democracy, it is a great challenge for him and the government to stop all human rights violations, punish the human rights violators and address the roots of the armed conflict through the attainment of social justice.

For reference:

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, D.D.
Head Convenor
Visayas Clergy Discernment Group
Tel. No. (033) 3291625

Visayas Convenors
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza
Msgr. Walter Cerbito
Msgr. Cayetano Gelbolingo
Msgr. Rommel Kintanar
Fr. Julius Heruela
Fr.  Aniceto Buenafe, Jr.
Fr. Paul Medina, O.Carm
Fr. Edgardo Deligero
Fr. Desiderio Magdoza
Fr. Scipio Deligero
Fr.  Antonio Bayod, MSC

[Press Release] Civil Society to PNoy: Eradicate the shadows of Martial Law by releasing political prisoners and ending impunity

A day before the commemoration of Martial Law, leaders of civil society organizations urged President Benigno Aquino III to permanently eradicate the dark shadows of atrocities that Filipinos experienced under the authoritarian rule by starting with the release of all political prisoners, giving justice to victims of human rights violations and ending impunity.

“‘Tuldukan na ang labi ng pampulitikang panunupil’.  President Aquino should eradicate the remnants of political repression and broaden the base of Philippine democracy by releasing all political prisoners.  No better legacy can the President bequeath than implementing the principles to combat and end impunity,” Max de Mesa, Chairperson of PAHRA said.

Leaders of the two broadest formations of human rights defenders, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), gathered in a restaurant in Quezon City to reaffirm their unified campaign against political detention and challenged President Aquino to stand on his parent’s legacy.

“The best way to commemorate Martial Law is to celebrate its downfall.  By reminding the public especially the youth that in those dark years of our history, there were men and women of courage who stood and fought against the dictator, there were human rights defenders who remained steadfast despite the harassments and killings, and freedom fighters who either were killed, disappeared, tortured or detained. The best way to remember martial law is to banish its vestiges in our midst –  stop human rights violations and end impunity,” Ricardo Reyes, Chairperson of FDC, said.

According to the group they pledged to pursue the demands of the political prisoners’ hunger strike for freedom and human rights that took place during the July 25 State of the Nation Address of President Aquino.

The protest ended indefinitely after 23 days when the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Malacanang  committed in a dialogue to convene the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Pardon (PCBREP), draft a National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) and proceed with prison reforms.

PCBREP was the Government’s inter-agency body created during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos. DoJ is to spearhead its process and evaluation for the release of alleged political offenders.

According to Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), a member of PAHRA, “We are holding on to the promise of Secretary Leila De Lima to convene PCBREP by this month.  We hope that it would start the process as soon as possible and give the political prisoners the freedom they deserve. Nitoy Itaas who has been in jail for 22 years and the more than 300 political prisoners and detainees languishing in jails nationwide are clamoring for this.”

According to TFDP’s record, there were thousands who were detained during Martial Law and while presently we only have more than 300 languishing in jails nationwide, this shows that political incarceration still persists.

“We kept on reminding the president that his parents, specifically Ninoy was one of the defenders of democracy who fell victim under Marcos, he was a political detainee who was jailed because of his being a staunch critic of a military-backed political dictatorship and he was one of the inspirations that sparked the movement of the people to oust the dictator,” continued Amistad.

The group challenged President Aquino to, “Make public the information of victims of enforced disappearances and of other gross violation of human rights. Affirm that human rights become the preferred values that guide your governance and development efforts.
For more information please contact:

Egay Cabalitan: 09219645017
Judy Miranda: 09228677522
Rose Trajano: 09393874658

[From the web] Palace draft of freedom of info bill: Focus on restrictions? – CMFR

Palace draft of freedom of info bill: Focus on restrictions?
Source: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

By Kathryn Roja G. Raymundo
Published in PJR Reports, July-August 2011

A scan of the initial draft of the Aquino administration’s Freedom of Information (FOI) bill reveals a focus on restricting rather than enhancing the right to information. The administration bill expands the list of information exempt from public disclosure, and through that alone already restricts the right to information.

The expansion of the Tañada bill (Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, one of the main authors of the measure and known advocate) provision on exempting matters on national defense into national security provides government agencies the same catch-all excuse for withholding information that has in the past been used to justify government secrecy and even the commission of human rights violations [Section 6, Exceptions, (a) and (b)]. This provision in fact bears the fingerprints of the intelligence and military communities, whose traditions of secrecy and antipathy to human rights qualify them least to providing inputs to any FOI act.

A provision forbidding the release of information on policy discussions until the adoption of the policy is on the other hand antithetical to the principle of citizen participation in the making of state policy [Section 6, Exceptions, (c) and (g)]. The bill also removes the public interest override on executive (Presidential) privilege in the Tañada version, thus institutionalizing absolute executive privilege through law.

The administration bill also creates a supposedly independent Information Commission (IC) whose members would be appointed by the President. The IC would have vast powers, among them that of ruling on the legitimacy of requests for information, imposing a temporary or permanent ban on the disclosure of information [Section 20, Powers and Functions of the Commission, (d)], holding any person in direct or indirect contempt [Section 20, Powers and Functions of the Commission, (e)], proposing legislation, and suggesting amendments to Philippine laws on access to information. For all these powers, the commissioners are not required to have any background in human rights, information, or media advocacy and, except for the chairman who must be a lawyer, need only be at least 35 years old and natural born Filipino citizens (Section 16, Composition of the Commission).

Advocates: Be vigilant

During the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility’s (CMFR) Policy Forum on the FOI, many participants were concerned with the number of exceptions in the draft bill. The event took two tracks to discuss the FOI issue, one by following the legislation process and then, reviewing the experience of different sectors.

CMFR, in partnership with the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center, held the first of a series of three media and policy forums last July 27. A grant from the National Endowment for Democracy made the event possible.

CMFR and the participants emphasized the need for an FOI bill. But they also asked the public to remain vigilant.

Although there is a public clamor for an FOI bill, President Benigno S. Aquino III has expressed his administration’s “objections and reservations” and whether it will be included in the second Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council as a priority measure was still unlikely at this writing.

FOI advocates fear that if the administration bill is passed even in its present form—and it is likely to be amended, altered and watered down by the members of Congress—it will make access to information more problematic than it is today, putting it in the same category of laws supposedly meant to broaden citizen rights but which actually restrict them.

Once in the books such a law will be difficult to repeal or amend. Perhaps the President fears the possibility of abuse, say these advocates, but the abuse of rights is an acceptable and necessary risk in a democratic regime; only the denial of rights can guarantee the absence of abuse. Granted for the sake of argument that the Aquino administration will be liberal in its implementation of the bill it has drafted. But what happens after 2016, when a new administration whose shape and temper we cannot predict, comes to power? Whatever FOI bill becomes law will, after all, outlive the Aquino administration.

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