June, 2017

Martial law in Mindanao and intensifying rights abuses mark Duterte’s 1st year

Press Statement - June 29, 2017

Victims of human rights violations and their families, human rights and peace advocates, leaders and members of people’s organizations and communities joined the National People’s Summit yesterday, June 28, 2017, at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City and forwarded their one year assessment* of their proposal for the Duterte administration’s peace and human rights agenda. The assessment of the Peace and Human Rights situation under the Duterte administration was led by Karapatan, Promotion for Church People’s Response, Hustisya, SELDA and Pilgrims for Peace.

THE PEACE AND HUMAN RIGHTS AGENDA DURING THE FIRST YEAR OF RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE’S PRESIDENCY

June 28, 2017 | National People’s Summit, Philippine Heart Center, Quezon City

On the day of Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s inauguration as President of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, victims of human rights violations and their families, human rights and peace advocates, leaders and members of people’s organizations and communities forwarded an agenda on peace and human rights, containing the people’s demands for substantial, comprehensive and meaningful reforms to address the oppressive and repressive environment borne out of State policies of past regimes.  

Torture continues under Duterte

"The use of torture remains routine for State security forces. Political prisoners, for example, have been subjected to such cruel, inhuman and degrading acts, done by the police or the military for purposes of humiliating them and breaking their spirit. Instruments of the State who have the primary mandate to uphold, protect, and promote human rights are those who readily commit these violations. Moreover,

Court acquits peasant political prisoner of trumped-up charges

Press Release | 23 June 2017

On June 22, 2017, the Regional Trial Court Branch 30 in Basey, Samar acquitted peasant Elpidio Romanca after the State Prosecutor failed to refute Romanca and his counsel’s argument that the evidence against him were tampered by the military, thus the fabricated charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition are patently false.

Romanca with his family 

Court denies political prisoner’s plea to visit his father’s wake

Press Statement | June 23, 2017

In a court order issued on June 22, 2017, Judge Lily Villareal Biton of Regional Trial Court Branch 77 in San Mateo, Rizal denied the motion of Dumagat political prisoner Eddie Cruz to visit his father’s wake in the family’s makeshift house in Sitio Ee, Brgy. San Rafael, Montalban, Rizal. 

Dumagat political prisoner asks court to attend his father's wake

Press Statement | June 21, 2017

“For humanitarian considerations, political prisoner Eddie Cruz should be allowed to visit the wake of his father. The government has deprived him too long of his liberty to be with his loved ones, since his arrest on fabricated charges," said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.

The Cruz family hails from the Dumagat tribe in Sitio Tuay, Rodriguez, Rizal. Before his arrest, Eddie worked as a farmer and was also occasionally hired as a tour guide in Rizal, as the breadwinner of the family. Since his arrest by virtue of a trumped up charge of illegal possession of firearms on August 28, 2010, his elderly parents had no choice but to work in the “kaingin” to meet the family’s needs.

Tatay Cresencio Cruz 

Unwavering Belief behind Bars

“Steel bars, the prison cell, and confinement are not a hindrance in exercising my belief”

- former political prisoner Ronald Lucero

The case of Ronald Alcantara Lucero, 38, known to his friends as “Ka Ronald,” exemplifies the continuing state-perpetuated abuses among people whose beliefs are against the interest of those in power. He was a political prisoner for seventeen (17) years, accused of trumped-up criminal charges and convicted due to perjured testimonies by false witnesses. Despite imprisonment, he still lived his life in the cell with great conviction. Throughout years in prison, Ka Ronald refused to be demoralized and remained firm in his beliefs against the rotten system. The story of Ka Ronald serves both as a reminder of the injustices of the State and as proof of the indomitable spirit of an individual with principles.

Release of cops in rub-out case in Leyte, non-release of political prisoners, clear signs of impunity under Duterte

“We express our condemnation and extreme disappointment on the release on bail of police officers involved in the Espinosa case, as among the clear indications of prevailing impunity under Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. We remind the President that his job as commander-in-chief does not entail protecting State security forces from accountability on their crimes,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay on the release of the nineteen (19) accused policemen involved in the killing of Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa.

Solidarity statement with the people of the Philippines

We, women human rights defenders from various countries of Asia and the Pacific, gather to show our solidarity with the people most affected by the rise of growing state authoritarianism and militarism, religious fundamentalisms and the underlying exploitative economic systems designed to enrich a tiny minority at the expense of our communities.

Mindanaons, human rights advocates file petition versus Martial Law in Mindanao

News Release | June 9, 2017
 
Saying there were no incidents similar to that happening in Marawi simultaneously occurring in the rest of the twenty seven (27) cities and four hundred twenty two (422) municipalities of Mindanao, Mindanao activists and human rights advocates today filed a petiton before the Supreme Court against Martial Law in the entire Mindanao. 

KARAPATAN statement on the National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights, June 12, 2017

"There are US soldiers unaccountable to Philippine laws loitering in Mindanao, there are groups that sow terror, we have martial rule and US-driven counterinsurgency programs which continue to repress people’s rights, and there are continuing unequal agreements with countries like the US. What we don’t have and what we are moving away from is the possibility of lasting peace, social justice and our capacity as a sovereign nation,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay during today’s national day of prayer and action to call for peace and respect for human rights by people's organizations, personalities and individuals from various faiths, sectors and political affiliations.

Mindanaons, human rights advocates file petition versus Martial Law in Mindanao

Saying there were no incidents similar to that happening in Marawi simultaneously occurring in the rest of the twenty seven (27) cities and four hundred twenty two (422) municipalities of Mindanao, Mindanao activists and human rights advocates today filed a petiton before the Supreme Court against Martial Law in the entire Mindanao.

The petitioners include five (5) local Mindanao leaders namely Lumad leader Eufemia Campos Cullamat, peasant leader Virgilio T. Lincuna of KMP, Ateliana U. Hijos of Gabriela, trade union leaders Roland A. Cobrado, Carl Anthony D. Olalo and union leader Roy Jim Balanghig of the striking Shin Sun Tropical Fruits Inc. whose picket line was broken up by the PNP last June 2, after Martial Law was declared. 

  

More rights abuses with martial law in Mindanao

"Since the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao on May 23, Karapatan has already documented four incidents of killings and thousands of civilians displaced due to aerial strikes. Our tally has yet to include incidents in Marawi. Nonetheless, all these has shown the propensity of martial rule to disregard lives and safety of civilians and communities,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, as the organization is set to join the National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights on June 12 and an interfaith humanitarian and fact finding mission in Marawi City, Davao del Sur and North Cotabato on June 13-16, 2017. 

Palabay added that ‘martial law not only curtails civil and political rights, but also the people's economic rights.” Last June 2, 2017, over 100 composite fully armed elements of the 66th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army, Philippine National Police, and company guards brutally dispersed twelve (12) striking workers of the Shin Sun Tropical Fruits Inc. in Compostela Valley. Workers, led by their union Shin Sun Workers Union (SSWU), an affiliate of National Federation Labor Union - Kilusang Mayo Uno (NAFLU-KMU), launched a strike last April 2017 over the illegal dismissal of 53 workers and to demand the regularization of 287 agency-hired workers of the manpower agency ECQ Human Resources Corp.

 

(Carmelita Atamosa, 67, supported the strike. Her grandson and relatives were among the striking workers. She was mercilessly pulled by Chief Senior Inspector Marvin Hugos. Photo taken from Carl Anthony Olalo)

Release of political prisoners, among Duterte's unfulfilled promises

In a speech delivered by President Rodrigo Duterte on May 31, 2017 at Sasa Wharf, Sasa, Davao City, he said that he has conceded so many things by releasing almost all political prisoners listed by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).  Duterte added that most of those released were sickly or were 70 years old and beyond.

“The President’s statements are either misguided or malicious. Whether this is another plot to twist the story in favor of the GRP and frame the NDFP as irrational and unreasonable, or a situation where the President is merely kept in the dark about the real score on his promised releases, the fact remains that only 23 political prisoners - 17 NDFP consultants and two others freed for humanitarian reasons last August 2016, all on bail, and four others pardoned on December 2016 - were released in line with the peace talks,” said Karapatan deputy secretary general Jigs Clamor, clarifying the status of releases of political prisoners.

Position Paper of Karapatan on the Proposed House Bills 3023 and 3789 in the 17th Congress of the House of Representatives

Submitted by Roneo S. Clamor, Deputy Secretary General, Karapatan
May 31, 2017

The State must give the highest regard to the right to freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press or of the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. To pass a law that will infringe on this fundamental right in a civilized society is a mockery of the so-called democracy in our country.

Rep. Harry L. Roque authored House Bill 3023, entitled “An act ensuring the free exercise by the people of their right peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” Another bill, House Bill 3789, entitled “An act strengthening the right of the people to free expression, to peaceably assemble and to petition the government  for redress of grievances, repealing for the purpose Batas Pambansa Blg. 880 or the Public Assembly Act of 1985” was authored by Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate, Makmod D. Mending Jr. and Maria Vida Espinosa Bravo.

A week after Duterte’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao: Initial Timeline of Human Rights Violations* (2nd Update)

Dear friends,

On May 23, 2017, at around 10pm, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the whole of Mindanao and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. A week later, attacks against persons and communities have continued to worsen. The onslaught of military operations perpetuated by the continued implementation of US- driven counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan was further legitimized by Duterte’s martial rule. This has only aggravated the human rights situation in Mindanao and authorized the continued curtailment of people’s civil and political rights. The period after the martial law pronouncement saw the arrest of members and leaders of progressive organizations and the targeting of civilians in lieu of deceiving buzzwords such as “security’.” We call for vigilance as Duterte accords the infamous rights violators Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police  (PNP) more powers that can further undermine civilian processes and suppress people’s rights.

Memories of Marcos' Martial Law and Beyond: Stories of Unsung Heroes (Part II)

Abductions, torture, salvaging or extrajudicial killings (EKJs in present parlance), widespread landgrabbing and seizure of the properties of the masses - especially of the peasant settlers, Moro and indigenous peoples - check points, zoning and searches in urban and rural communities, massive detention of innocent people, indiscriminate bombings and artillery firings, evictions and force evacuations were abhorrent yet commonplace scenes of martial law.

And yet, up to this day, these nightmares are recurring, years after the downfall of the most hated US-Marcos fascist dictatorial regime. Its vestiges still remain even after the much vaunted “restoration of democracy” associated with the installation of Pres. Corazon Cojuangco Aquino in February 1986.

 

A week after Duterte’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao Initial Timeline of Human Rights Violations*

Dear friends,

On May 23, 2017, at around 10pm, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the whole of Mindanao and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. A  week later, attacks against persons and communities have continued to worsen. The onslaught of military operations perpetuated by the continued implementation of US-driven counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan was further legitimized by Duterte’s martial rule. This has only aggravated the human rights situation in Mindanao and authorized the continued curtailment of people’s civil and political rights. The period after the martial law pronouncement saw the arrest of members and leaders of progressive organizations and the targeting of civilians in lieu of deceiving buzzwords such as “security’.” We call for vigilance as Duterte accords the infamous rights violators Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police  (PNP) more powers that can further undermine civilian processes and suppress people’s rights.

 

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