On the 18th year of the Mining Act of 1995, Karapatan-Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights calls for the immediate scrapping of this law because “it is a direct assault on our sovereignty and patrimony as it emasculates our rights as a people," Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said, emphasizing that most of the human rights violations Karapatan had documented, especially in Mindanao, are related to big foreign businesses engaged in large-scale mining.
As the nation commemorates the 27th anniversary of the People Power 1 uprising, human rights group Karapatan today said that “the Noynoy Aquino government’s commemoration is completely an empty exercise meant as a window-dressing for the administration’s dismal human rights record.”
"The Aquino government should refrain from sabotaging the peace process and should immediately release detained peace consultants," Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said as the group staged a picket protest in front of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). OPAPP is tasked to “oversee, coordinate and integrate the implementation of the comprehensive peace process.”
According to Palabay, the harassment, arrest and detention of peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) through trumped up charges and inclusion in the bounty list of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) are clear violations of the Joint Agreement on Immunity and Security Guarantees (JASIG), an agreement signed between the GPH and the NDFP in 1995,” added Palabay. JASIG was signed by both parties in February 24, 1995.
Meanwhile, detained NDFP consultant Ramon Patriarca today started a protest fast until February 26, 2013. Patriarca is currently detained at the AFP Central Command in Camp Lapu-lapu, Cebu City, where he was transferred from the Cebu Provincial Jail in Danao City. Patriarca has been in jail for four years.
Patriarca, through a statement, said the Aquino government "is effectively stalling the peace talk’s regular course, and the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms (CASER). It continues to violate, with impunity, the 1998 GRP-NDF Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).” CARHRIHL is the first of the four substantive agenda lined up for discussion between the GPH and the NDFP.
"Geertman’s death is state-perpetrated, it is a case of extrajudicial killing," said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, in reaction to the resolution issued by the Office of the City Prosecutor in San Fernando City, Pampanga on the killing of Dutch lay worker, Wilhelm Geertman.
The resolution on the preliminary investigation finds probable cause to file a Robbery with Homicide, and NOT MURDER charge against respondents Harold L. Dela Cruz, Marvin Marsan, et al.
“The resolution contains a major pitfall, laced with malice, when it disregarded the context and the whole circumstance of Geertman’s killing – that he was targeted by state agents, that he was killed to send a chilling political message, and that it is ultimately the state which stood to benefit from his death. The resolution thus absolves the Aquino government and its state security forces from accountability,” Palabay added.
Wilhelm Geertman, a lay development worker and anti-mining activist, was slain last July 3, 2012 in San Fernando City, Pampanga, north of Metro Manila. He is a Dutch national who worked more than 40 years in the Philippines, specifically in Baler, Aurora helping farmers and establishing peoples' organizations. He was the Executive Director of Alay-Bayan Luzon, an NGO on disaster response, when he was gunned down.
"Had Geertman been the usual visiting foreigner, the case of robbery with homicide would have been appropriate, but he was not. Geertman was an activist. He fought against destructive mining, against landgrabbing and other projects that displaced the peasants and indigenous peoples in Aurora. He received threats and was a victim of red-tagging by the military prior to his death. His killers could not only be mere petty criminals," Palabay said.
"This is similar to the case of former Supreme Bishop Alberto Ramento of the Iglesia Filipina Indipendiente, who was murdered in 2006 at the Bishop's residence in Tarlac. The authorities also dismissed the case as robbery, citing that his DVD player was stolen," Palabay said. "But everyone knew of Bishop Ramento's involvement in, and support to the struggle of Hacienda Luisita farm workers, and that caused his 'neutralization,'" Palabay cited.
"We call on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to look into this case and come out with an accurate finding on the killing of Geertman. We stand by our belief that it is politically motivated murder," Palabay ended.
Statement of Desaparecidos on the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 and its IRRSubmitted on Wed, 02/13/2013 - 12:07
The Families of Desaparecidos for Justice look forward to the day without enforced disappearances.
Yesterday, February 12, 2013, Desaparecidos co-signed the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the newly-enacted law called, the "Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012." We participated in the crafting of the IRR, after long years of advocacy and lobby work for the enactment of the law, because we view this engagement as part of the over-all enduring struggle for justice and human rights of victims and relatives, human rights advocates, and the Filipino people.
The Philippine government, through the law, officially recognized the criminal nature of the act of enforced disappearance – that enforced disappearance is a crime against persons, and that the perpetrators should be criminally liable and must be put to jail. Most importantly, the law’s acknowledgement that the said crime can only be perpetuated by State agents is an official admission and recognition that indeed, the State is most responsible in the commission of the crime of enforced disappearance. The law likewise recognizes that it is the State's responsibility to provide compensation, restitution and rehabilitation to victims of enforced disappearances and their families.
Since Marcos’ Martial Law and the series of administrations after it, including the present Noynoy Aquino government, such crime was and is being committed with impunity, with much brazenness and with full use of government resources against the very people whom government has supposedly sworn to protect.
After thousands of disappearances, anguish and immeasurable pain we bear as we waged a resolute, determined struggle for justice for our loved ones, finally, the country's recognition of this heinous crime proved us, families of the disappeared who fought and are still fighting, the correctness of our struggle for justice and human rights.
We commend progressive legislators led by Bayan Muna Reps. Teodoro Casiño and Neri Colmenares, and allies in Congress who stood with us against those who tried to deny the State’s responsibility on this heinous crime by twisting the definition of enforced disappearances. Our progressive legislators took a hard stand in asserting that it is the State which has the obligation, authority, and machinery to protect the rights of its people.
But by using these machinery and authority to commit enforced disappearance to maintain the powers-that-be, the gravity of this act is incomparably heavier than those who committed the same but are private civilians or non-state agents. It is well that these sound and grounded arguments prevailed over those of some legislators posturing as human rights crusaders who would have wanted to dilute the State’s role and responsibility and defeat the whole purpose and principle of the measure.
Our organization, Desaparecidos, is determined to stand for this principle: that enforced disappearances is a systematic act and is perpetrated by State actors.
Human rights should be an election issue, said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, “because the 2013 election is happening amid increasing human rights violations under the three-year old Aquino and on the last year of Oplan Bayanihan’s first phase.”
“Let not the election ruckus drown the violations of human rights under the Aquino government. The candidates should speak on the Aquino government’s human rights record so the voting public would know where they stand, as far as the promotion and protection of human rights is concerned.”
Majority of the candidates in the senatorial elections are from rich political clans, and some have been directly or indirectly involved in human rights violations such as the massacre of peasants, the violation of workers’ rights or have promoted programs and projects that cause or will result to the displacement of people from their communities.
“There is no ‘matuwid na daan’ without respecting the people’s rights. Candidates, should first and foremost speak on the Aquino government counterinsurgency program, the Oplan Bayanihan, which had resulted to gross abuses and human rights violations against the Filipino people. Will the candidates work on junking Oplan Bayanihan?” Palabay added.
Karapatan had repeatedly called for the end of the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan and is again putting forward such concern in the 2013 elections. Among those listed in the human rights agenda for the 2013 election, based on its 2012 4th Congress resolution, are:
- The end to the government’s practice of extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention based on trumped up criminal charges, torture and other forms of human rights violations.
- An end to militarization and the immediate pullout of military troops from rural and urban communities, including the use of schools, Churches and other civilian facilities for military purposes.
- Dismantling of paramilitary forces such as the CAFGU and SCAA through the revocation of Executive Order 546 and other similar policies.
- The release of all political prisoners especially the elderly and those who have ailments. In line with this, Karapatan likewise puts forward the immediate release of all NDFP consultations based on earlier commitment by the Aquino government, for the immediate resumption of the peace negotiations between the GPH and the NDFP.
- An end to forced eviction and demolition of urban poor communities in favour of the government’s program of Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
4th Capion killed, B’laan families evacuate as military operations intensify in areas occupied by Xstrata-SMI minesSubmitted on Fri, 02/08/2013 - 11:14
Karapatan calls for the immediate pull out of the Task Force KITACOM (Kiblawan, Tampakan, Columbio, Malungon) of the 39th and 27th IB-PA and the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) from civilian communities, as it expresses its condemnation on the killing of Kitari Capion and the forcible evacuation of some 150 residents in Baranggay Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.
“We view the recent military operation as another violation of the B'laan’s right to their ancestral lands, as if the incursion of the Xstrata Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) is not enough to wipe out the B’laan tribe," said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
Kitari Capion was killed during a military operation on January 29, three months after her sister-in-law Juvy Capion and her two sons were massacred.
Initial reports from the said community indicated forced evacuation of the B’laan tribe which started on February 1, after Kitari’s death and, after military operations resumed in the B’laan ancestral lands occupied by the Xstrata-SMI Mining Corporation.
Members of the B’laan tribe opposed to the incursion of the Xstrata-SMI operation have employed "pangayaw", traditionally a “war” waged by the tribes against intruders into their defined territory but is now waged against the mining company as a way of defending their ancestral land rights.
“The military operation is meant to protect the interests of the mining company by silencing dissent in the community,” added Palabay.
Kitari is the fourth member of the Capion clan who was killed by state forces under the Noynoy Aquino government. Kitari is the younger brother of Daguil, whose wife and two children were killed by elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion in October last year.
With DOJ’s Resolution to withdraw information
With the recent findings and resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to withdraw information against detained poet-artist Ericson Acosta, “it is in incumbent upon the Aquino government to file charges against the members of the 34th IB for violations of RA 7438, rights of persons arrested, detained or under custodial investigation,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
Karapatan said Ericson Acosta's case shows the all-too-familiar violations committed by Aquino’s Armed Forces of the Philippines against activists and ordinary folks they encounter in the course of their “counterinsurgency” campaign: warrantless arrest; the right to be informed why he was arrested; denial of the right to counsel and to inform his family; prolonged interrogation and torture; planted evidence; detention in a military camp, among other violations.
“Acosta’s experience and plight showcase the situation of the 430 political prisoners in the country who were falsely accused of committing various criminal acts. In December 2012 alone, 28 people were arbitrarily arrested by the AFP based on trumped up criminal charges,” Palabay noted.
Karapatan cited the case of Maricon Montajes, a UP student, who was arrested in June 3, 2010 by elements of the 743rd Squadron of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) while photo-documenting the plight of the peasantry at Brgy. Mabayabas, Taysan, Batangas. Montajes was charged with Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions and Illegal Possession of Explosives. She is currently detained at the Batangas Provincial Jail.
“Malicious, irresponsible and anti-people”
Amid the good news of the ratification of the bill to compesante martial law victims, members of the human rights group SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) deplored the “malicious, irresponsible and anti-people” statements made by Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Andres Bautista over the weekend that the martial law victims should consider giving up their claims in the class suit filed in Hawaii, now that a bill to give compensation to human rights victims is set to be enacted into law.
“We are exasperated, disappointed and angry at such malicious and irresponsible statements made by PCGG chair Andres Bautista. Why should we give up the claims when the award is based on the judgement that the Marcos dictatorship is guilty of crimes against humanity, and therefore the Marcoses are accountable for the human rights violations committed under their reign?” said Martial Law victim and SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez.
Enriquez also said that the Hawaii court judgment is final and executory.
“The victims are happy that this has become a landmark decision for victims of human rights violations the world over. The entire Filipino nation must be proud of that and now Mr. Bautista is again squandering the chance to go after the violators! We have never heard of any public apology from the Marcoses after so many years, now Bautista is telling us to give up this meager amount to compensate the victims?” she said.
On September 22, 1992, the Hawaii Federal Court through Judge Manuel Real, issued a judgment on the class suit in favor of the Marcos victims. The said decision found Marcos guilty of gross human rights violations and the Estate of Marcos is liable to pay damages to the victims.
SELDA’s chairperson explained that the bill’s passage here in the legislative halls of the country is entirely different from the class suit that the 9,539 Martial Law victims filed in a Hawaii district court after the fall of Marcos in 1986.
“Bautista does not know what he is talking about. The Human Rights Victims Recognition and Reparation Bill, when enacted into law, will be the government’s mechanism to give recognition and reparation to victims of Martial Law. Since the fall of the dictator in 1986, the victims waited for the administrations after Marcos to go after the conjugal dictatorship and their cohorts, and make them accountable for the HRV’s committed during martial law. But no one did. The victims were the only ones who braved the systems, the Marcos maneuvers, the machinations of American and Filipino lawyers who supposedly helped the victims. It was they who fought steadfastly until they won a landmark case in a foreign court. Now it is being robbed again from them, “ Enriquez declared.
The group also called Bautista “anti-people,” in reacton to his statement that ill-gotten wealth by the Marcoses belong to the Filipino people.
“Bautista talks as if we are not part of the Filipino people who fought the dictator. The Swiss Supreme Court was clear in its order that the victims of Martial Law who filed charges against Marcos in the Hawaiian court must be considered by the Philippine government once the latter moves the recovered funds that were in an escrow account,” she said.
Enriquez also clarified that only one-third of the original total funds transferred from Switzerland and handed over to the Philippine government were asked by the victims as they fully know that the amount was gotten from the national coffers.