Women human rights defenders from Tanggol Bayi, Ecumenical Women’s Forum, BAI National Alliance of Indigenous Women, KAMP, International Women’s Alliance and Gabriela today trooped to the Department of Justice in Manila, in time for the global commemoration of the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day.
With their calls expressed in indigenous woven cloth and rituals by indigenous women, they called on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Pres. Noynoy Aquino to stop the killings of rights defenders and expressed skepticism over the creation of a “superbody” to investigate the killings and other rights violations.
“Women human rights defenders ask: with 15 women and girl-children killed under Aquino, what can the Aquino’s superbody do, if, by all indications, this merely looks and sounds like just another investigative body akin to former Pres. Gloria Arroyo’s parody of task forces and commissions on rights violations?” said Cristina Palabay, spokesperson of Tanggol Bayi and secretary general of Karapatan.
“Would the Aquino government finally pull off the $13M US and other foreign aid, which means money from the international community, with the creation of Aquino’s ‘superbody’ to investigate the killings, disappearances, torture and other rights violations?” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay asked wryly.
Karapatan said that the Aquino government is “hell bent on securing the more than $13 million in US military assistance to the GPH that it does anything to deodorize its human rights record.” Since 2008, the said military aid remains unreleased due to international pressure from various Philippine solidarity groups that campaigned on the issue of extrajudicial killings and other rights violations.
“If and when the government gets the aid, the money will only be used to oil the AFP to continue the cycle of terror and violence against the people,” Palabay added.
Prevailing impunity under Noynoy
Another hearing is set today at the Malolos Regional Trial Court for the kidnapping and illegal detention case against Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., with Raymond Manalo taking the witness stand again for a cross-examination by the defense counsels for Palparan’s co-accused Cols. Anotado and Osorio.
Karapatan deplored the fact that the hearings are proceeding with the principal accused in the kidnapping of the two UP students “nowhere in sight.”
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said that “in less than a month from now, it will be a year since the warrant of arrest was issued against The Butcher, Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., but the Aquino government has not shown any decisive action to bring Palparan in court.”
“The Aquino government has left the search for Palparan in the hands of bounty hunters by increasing the reward for Palparan’s capture. The reward is not an expression of the Aquino government’s concern on the continued disappearance of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño but an act of washing its hands from any accountability to this case. Palparan and Ampatuan symbolize impunity in this country, and look at how the cases against them are going,” continued Palabay.
Karapatan added that the other high-profile cases such as the killing of Fr. Pops Tentorio, tribal leaders Jimmy Liguyon and Genesis Ambason, and the Capion massacre under the Aquino government are proof that the government perpetuates impunity through its own doing.
“The problem lies with the President who is no different from his predecessor. Impunity continues under the Aquino government, however it cooks up pretensions,” she said.
Today’s commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity not only highlights the Aquino government’s failure to end impunity but more so, how the government perpetuates impunity.
Since 2009, the backhoe symbolized the Ampatuan massacre where 58 people, including 32 journalists, were felled. Three years after, the backhoe remains a sordid reminder of one of the most palpable illustration of the impunity in the Philippines. Three years after, the backhoe now stands, too, for present-day impunity of the destructive and foreign-owned mining corporations, with Pres. Noynoy Aquino as their gracious host and whose entry into the lands of the indigenous peoples and peasants caused a string of serious human rights violations, and deaths.
As the court hearings for the Ampatuan massacre dawdles, cases of extrajudicial killings and massacres continue, and needless to say, with impunity.
There is the Kananga 3 massacre where botanist Leonard Co and two others were killed; the Mancera massacre in Labo, Camarines Norte that killed Benjamin Mancera, 54, and his two sons, Michael, 10, and Richard, aged seven; and recently, the Capion massacre. Those who were killed in these massacres are among the 114 documented cases of extrajudicial killing under the Aquino presidency.
The killings have even become more gruesome: Genesis Ambason, a Banwaon tribal leader in Agusan del Sur, was shot and tortured to death by CAFGU and elements of the 26th IB. His teeth were all gone and his head shrunk due to heavy beatings; Ely Oguis in Albay was shot and beheaded.
Fact-finding confirms massacre of Capion family, points to accountability of AFP, LGU and Mining Co.Submitted on Mon, 11/19/2012 - 19:36
Police use “John Doe” warrant to pick up innocents
Makabayan coordinator Romulo Bito-on filed an administrative complaint today with the Supreme Court, against a Bacolod prosecutor and judge for “gross ignorance and misapplication of the law in trumped-up charges” against him.
In his complaint-affidavit, Bito-on claims that Second Assistant Provisional Prosecutor Estefanio S. Libutan Jr. initiated the complaint on the basis of fake affidavits, and that Regional Trial Court Judge Katherine Go irregularly issued a warrant of arrest, as well as several other incorrect orders.
Bito-on, represented by his lawyers and human rights group Karapatan, was released in July 2010 and cleared of the charges against him, as he decried malicious prosecution. The complaint has been filed with the Supreme Court Office of the Court Administrator. The lawyers face possible suspension or disbarment as lawyers, if found that they applied the law with prejudice and gross negligence, in contravention with lawyer’s ethics.
“Karapatan supports Mr. Bito-on in his quest for justice and accountability. All lawyers as social agents of change are duty-bound to ensure the efficient and effective administration of justice. Hence, they should be held accountable if they become party to the military’s scheme of slapping trumped up charges against activists to silence opposition and dissent,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
Bito-on is the local coordinator of the progressive Makabayan political party. He was arrested in April 2010 by virtue of the affidavits of two persons, and a “John Doe” warrant upon the motion of Libutan and issued by Go. “John Doe” warrants, per Department of Justice (DOJ) Department Circular No. 50 circa 1990, are issued when the identity of the accused is unknown, and must be amended only when there is certainty as to the names.
On the DOJ's 'superbody' for EJK cases
Amidst the unresolved extrajudicial killings under President Noynoy Aquino, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima recently proposed the creation of a ‘’superbody” to investigate cases of extrajudicial killings. As she announced her proposal yesterday, Karapatan received report that on November 11, Ely Oguis, a Barangay Kagawad in Guinobatan Albay, was beheaded by elements believed to be members of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.
“The killings have not only increased under the Aquino government; it has also become more gruesome. Of the 114 cases of extrajudicial killings under this government, not one perpetrator was prosecuted. Impunity continues despite so-called efforts by the government to conduct investigations. What now is our assurance that the killings will be solved by this so called “superbody”? asked Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
After almost a week of searching, relatives of Grayson Naogsan, the son of the spokesperson of the Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF), finally found him in Ifugao Provincial Jail, after he was abducted by five men in Baguio City on Nov. 5. According to a witness, the men who took away Naogsan said they were taking him to Camp Crame.
Karapatan said that Naogsan’s family, human rights workers and lawyers went several times at Camp Crame to look for him but the Philippine National Police (PNP) kept denying that Naogsan is in their custody “despite the information from certain officials that he was indeed with the PNP at Camp Crame, specifically with the Intelligence Group (IG).”
“We detest not only the arrest of another innocent person on the basis of trumped up charges but also the disrespect of the PNP to Naogsan’s relatives, specially his wife, Rose. The PNP showed callousness to the feelings of the relatives who were anxious to know the whereabouts and the condition of Naogsan,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance earlier reported that Naogsan was arrested on the basis of a defective warrant of arrest issued by the Bontoc Regional Trial Court Branch 35 which bore the name of a certain “Jason Naogsan” and not Grayson Naogsan. The said warrant was amended yesterday to change “Jason” to “Grayson”. He was then taken to Ifugao where another warrant of arrest was issued by the Lagawe RTC Branch 14. The CHRA however has not seen the said warrant yet. Naogsan was charged with murder and frustrated murder.