|AHRC||Asian Human Rights Commission|
|Cafgu||Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit (militia)|
|IB||Infantry Battalion (Philippine Army)|
|ID||Infantry Division (Philippine Army)|
|IFI||Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church)|
|Karapatan||Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights|
|NBI||National Bureau of Investigation (Department of Justice)|
|NolCom||Northern Luzon Command (Philippine Army)|
|NPA||New People’s Army (insurgent group)|
|PPMG||Provincial Police Mobile Group|
|PNP||Philippine National Police|
|RMG||Regional Mobile Group (PNP)|
|SPO||Senior Police Officer|
Killing & attempted killing
Pepito Santillan: Killed for claiming land that had been legally awarded him
VICTIM: Pepito Santillan
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 25 January 2007
At around 2am on 25 January 2007, Pepito Santillan, a 62-year-old farmer, was shot dead in front of his house in Hacienda Velez-Malaga, Barangay Robles, La Castellana after unidentified armed men threw an empty bottle into his house and he went out to check what was going on.
Santillan was the sixth member of agrarian reform group Task Force Mapalad to be killed in Negros Occidental since 2001 in their efforts to obtain and use 144 hectares of land in Hacienda Velez-Malaga that has been awarded to them by the Department of Agrarian Reform through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. The land is part of 446 hectares of sugarcane estate owned by the Cuenca family, which it has refused to surrender, despite the government order and a 2004 Supreme Court ruling in favour of the farmers, followed by an order in September 2006 from agrarian reform secretary, Nasser Pangandaman, for the farmer beneficiaries to occupy the land themselves. However, the schedule of entry of the farmers to the land was postponed despite this order.
On January 24 the task force members came with the agrarian reform beneficiaries to take the land on their own, including Pepito Santillan. Fighting broke out between the farmers and security guards that evening. Pepito’s nephew, Fernando Santillan, and Rey Cortejo were seriously injured, along with the chief security guard, Enrique Maliksi, and Renato Mata, a farm worker of Cuenca. The killing occurred just a few hours later.
Prof. Jose Ma Cui: Shot dead in classroom
VICTIM: Jose Ma Cui
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 19 January 2007
On 19 January 2007, Professor Jose Ma Cui of the department of history and communication arts of the University of Eastern Philippines, Northern Samar, was shot dead in front of his students by two armed men in balaclavas. The students were taking their mid-term exams when he was shot at around 3:35pm in the classroom at the College of Engineering building on campus. Cui died on the spot from.45-calibre pistol gunshot wounds to his head and chest. The gunmen fled on a motorcycle in the direction of Mondragon town, which is towards a military camp some 2km distant.
There was no immediate progress in the police investigation. The police said that witnesses were unwilling to provide information.
Professor Cui was former secretary general of human rights group called Katungod-Eastern Visayas, the regional chapter of national human rights organization Karapatan, and chairman of the Employee Association of the University of Eastern Philippines, as well as being involved in the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees-Northern Samar (Courage-NS), and the Anti-Corruption Network (ActNow!). He was also one of the founding members of the Bayan Muna party in Northern Samar.
Long before the incident the victim had been targetted in a smear campaign by the armed forces, and in 2004 a complaint of libel was lodged against him by the former commanding officer of the 63rd Infantry Battalion, Colonel Manuelito Usi.
Judge Nathaniel Pattugalan: Killed after issuing warrants for police and politician
VICTIM: Nathaniel Pattugalan
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 19 January 2007
On 19 January 2007, Judge Nathaniel Pattugalan, acting presiding judge of the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 35 was shot dead at around 6pm in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform building, on his way home. The victim was sitting in a passenger jeepney near the driver when he was shot in his chest by an armed man riding pillion on a motorcycle while the vehicle was stopped; the bullet pierced his heart. The two had apparently followed Judge Pattugalan from his office at the Hall of Justice beforehand. Judge Pattugalan was taken to the East Avenue Medical Center but was declared dead on arrival.
On 27 October 2005, Judge Pattugalan survived an earlier attempt on his life after several unidentified armed men attacked his personal vehicle in Baggao, Cagayan; he was wounded and his driver was killed during that attack. He then sought a transfer to Quezon City. His relatives claim that he had also been followed by unknown persons after the first attempt on his life. Judge Pattugalan had reportedly issued arrest warrants for several policemen and a local politician in Buguey, Cagayan.
The killing was taken up by the National Bureau of Investigation; however, the two perpetrators were not immediately identified. The victim’s family has appealed to the police to provide them with sufficient protection; however, again there was no immediate action from the authorities.
Rodolfo Alvarado: Won’t be running for parliament
VICTIM: Rodolfo Alvarado, Jr.
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 31 December 2006
On 31 December 2006 Rodolfo “Pong?Alvarado Jr. was shot dead by unidentified armed men at around 5pm in his house in Barangay San Lorenzo, Ligao City. Alvarado died from eight gunshot wounds to different parts of the body.
At the time of his death, Alvarado was a regional project coordinator for the Bayan Muna party. He was also the sixth nominee and potential candidate to represent the party in the House of Representatives.
Juan Sanggalang: Killed by his military guests
1. Juan Sanggalang (killed)
2. Roberto Espaldon (wounded)
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Three 59th IB personnel under “Colonel Felix?amp;nbsp;
DATE: 24 December 2006
On 24 December 2006, 59-year-old Juan Sanggalang was shot dead around 4am by three soldiers allegedly attached to the 59th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army and under command of “Colonel Felix?who had sought accommodation at his house in Sitio Pinag-apugan, San Diego, Lian, Batangas around 8pm the evening before. Sanggalang’s companion, Roberto Espaldon (57), suffered gunshot wounds to his leg and stomach.
After the shooting, the victims?family immediately went to the scene to help their relatives. When they arrived, Sanggalang was already dead. Espaldon had managed to escape to nearby coastline. The victim’s family saw the soldiers leaving the crime scene.
Later, the village chief, Carlito Caisip, arrived together with policemen from Lian town. A mobile phone reportedly owned by Colonel Felix was recovered by police investigators beside the victim’s house. The police likewise recovered several items belonging to the military which had been left in the area. However, some members of the Cafgu militia attached to the same military unit were also with the police and may have attempted to remove important evidence from the crime scene during the search.
After the incident, General Mesa of the 202nd Brigade, Philippine Army quickly declared that the shooting incident was an encounter between New People’s Army rebels and government troops. Days later, posters and pamphlets appeared around town containing messages critical of village chief Caisip, the town’s vice-mayor, Roberto Cunamay, and others, accusing them of being supporters of the rebel group.
Sanggalang was a member of Habagat (Haligi ng Batangenyong Anak Dagat), a local chapter of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), which is a nationwide federation of fisher-folk organizations.
Fransisco Bantog: Shot dead in tourism office
VICTIM: Francisco Bantog
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Three unidentified gunmen
DATE: 22 December 2006
On 22 December 2006, Francisco Bantog, a municipal coordinator and provincial auditor for the Bayan Muna party in the province of Sorsogon, was shot dead. He was at the Donsol Tourism Office at around 10am when three gunmen on a motorcycle and wearing helmets rode up and shot him about 20 times with .45-calibre pistols. Police have recovered used cartridges from the scene, but it is not known what other action has been taken.
Gil Gojol: Gunned down outside court
1. Gil Gojol
2. Danilo France
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 12 December 2006
On 12 December 2006, at around 9:55am, human rights lawyer Gil Gojol and his driver Danilo France were shot dead by four armed men riding on two motorcycles in Barangay Carriedo, Gubat, Sorsogon. Gojol and France had just left the Municipal Trial Court when they were ambushed in their service vehicle.
According to a witness, the attackers first shot France and the van was stopped. Gojol tried to escape but failed. Both of them died on the spot from multiple gunshot wounds. The incident happened about 200 metres away from a detachment of the 22nd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, based in San Ignacio.
Gojol was a former local government official who had served as a provincial board member for the 1st District of Sorsogon. He was also a former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in Sorsogon Chapter and a legal counsel for the Association of Democratic Labor Organizations-Kilusang Mayo Uno.
At the time of his death, Gojol was counsel in cases involving defense of the rights of the poor. He was also legal counsel for Sotero Llamas, a consultant of the National Democratic Front, who was killed in May. The presidentially-appointed Melo Commission recorded the following in its January 2007 report concerning that case (pages 43?4):
Sotero Llamas joined the CPP/NPA during the martial law regime of President Marcos; he was forced to go underground because he was an active member of the Kabataang Makabayan. After he was captured in May 1995, he was granted amnesty under the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantee. He thereafter served as political consultant for the NDF in the peace negotiations between the NDF and the GRP from 1997 to 2004. He also served as political affairs director of the Party List Bayan Muna. In the 2004 elections, he ran for in Albay but lost.
On May 29, 2006, at about 8:30 a.m., while on board a multi-cab which was maneuvering to make a u-turn, three men on board a motorcycle approached the right side of the multi-cab and at close range fired several shots, hitting Llamas once on the head and thrice on the body while the driver sustained one gunshot wound on the right arm. Llamas was pronounced dead upon arrival in the hospital.
Two alleged eyewitnesses, a male pedicab driver and a 19-year old female student, who were not named in the file, supposedly identified one of the gunmen as Edgardo Sevilla, allegedly a member of the Communist Terrorist group operating in the first and second districts of Albay. The two witnesses were supposedly presented before the Office of the Regional State Prosecutor and they affirmed their statements positively identifying Edgardo Sevilla and one Edgar Calag. According to the police, their intelligence report disclosed that Edgardo Sevilla is currently an NPA commander while Edgardo Calag, a discharged Phil. Army special forces member who went AWOL after killing his detachment commander, is “believed to be an NPA member operating in Albay and Sorsogon.?lt;/P>
Renato Estrella: Killed for opposing the military?
VICTIM: Renato Estrella
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unidentified gunman
DATE: 12 December 2006
At around 6pm on 12 December 2006 Renato Estrella (58), a barangay (village) chief of Atlag, Malolos City, was shot in the head at close range by a gunman in Sitio Buhangin. Estrella died on the way to the Santos General Hospital in Malolos City.
The police have claimed that Estrella’s death was possibly perpetrated by a rebel hit squad. However, according to the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) in Central Luzon, Estrella had received threats on his life, allegedly from the military. Estrella had opposed the deployment of government troops in his area.
Crisanto Frivaldo: Murdered while caring for baby
VICTIM: Crisanto Frivaldo
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 11 December 2006
Crisanto Frivaldo, a student at Aquinas University College of Law, was shot dead by hooded gunmen in his house in San Julian, Irosin, Sorsogon on 11 December 2006, while caring for his two-month-old baby. He died from five gunshot wounds: one to his head and four to his chest.
Frivaldo was the younger brother of former councilor and Bayan Muna party municipal coordinator Maximo Frivaldo, who was himself shot dead on 30 January 2006.
Jesus Servida: Killed for the union
1. Jesus Buth Servida (killed)
2. Joel Sale (wounded)
3. Kenny Mari Severo (wounded)
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unidentified gunman
DATE: 11 December 2006
On 11 December 2006, Jesus Buth Servida (32) was shot dead in front of a Japanese-owned factory in Anabu, Imus, Cavite at around 6:15am. Servida and Joel Sale (32), together with two other companions, Michael Omedes and Geminiano Retutar, were sitting in their service vehicle in front of factory gate no. 2, where they had gone to deliver vegetables, when they were attacked. Servida and Sale were sitting on the right side of the vehicle when the gunman approached and shot them.
According to Nora Diloy, secretary for the Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa EMI union, Servida was shot to his face and mouth. Sale was shot in his face, back, and right side of his body, but survived. Another victim, Kenny Mari Severo (21), a factory worker, was also hit to the left temple of his head by a stray bullet. Sale and Severo were immediately taken to the University Medical Center (UMC) in Dasmariñas, Cavite where they were treated.
Servida and Sale were members of the Solidarity of Cavite Workers, an alliance of labour groups and unions in Cavite. Servida and his colleagues, Sale, Omedes and Retutar, were former employees and officers of the Kristong Manggagawa sa Yazaki-EMI union who had been sacked on 20 December 2005 after union disputes. They had helped form a new union and challenged the old union over rights to represent the factory’s 4000 workers as a “sole and exclusive bargaining agent”. The new union won in the election.
While the Imus police claimed to have completed their investigation and produced a sketch of the alleged gunman, Servida’s wife Maricel is not aware of the outcome of the investigation, if any.
Bong Gonzal: Shot outside office
VICTIM: Bong Gonzal
INCIDENT: Attempted killing
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 8 December 2006
On 8 December 2006 Bong Gonzal survived in an attack by two armed men in Estancia, Iloilo at around 10am. Gonzal was on his way to the office of Progreso (Panay Rural Organising for Reform and Social Order)?just 300 metres away from the Estancia Municipal Hall—when he was hit in his arm and legs by bullets fired by two unidentified gunmen. Gonzal was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
According to his fellow workers, Gonzal and all the Progreso staff had been receiving death threats. Progreso is a local group under a national non-government organisation working on agrarian reform, rural democratization and development. Gonzal is regional director.
Alberto Yadan: “You’ll die when we cross paths”
VICTIM: Alberto Yadan
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 6 December 2006
At around 7:30pm on 6 December 2006, Alberto Yadan was in his house in Barangay Tipas, San Juan, Batangas. According to a witness, he was sitting near the kitchen and having coffee after dinner when he was shot by a gunman in a cap who covered his face with a towel. The gunman, armed with a .45-calibre pistol, entered the house and shot at Yadan four times. Yadan ran about five metres before falling on the ground. He died from a single bullet that pierced his back and exited through his chest. After the shooting, the gunman calmly left and met a companion who had served as a lookout outside.
No proper investigation and handling of evidence was conducted by elements of the San Juan Municipal Police Station. When they arrived at the crime scene, they only gathered empty shells and hauled the victim’s dead body into their vehicle.
Prior to the incident, Yadan had been receiving threats on his life. He had assisted his cousin Lorenza Marcos to claim ownership of land in Pagbilao, Quezon under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. He had just returned from a court hearing over the case involving a land dispute when he was killed.
On December 5, the day before Yadan’s murder, Police Officer 2 Melanio Gazzingan allegedly made threatening remarks to Yadan and his relatives after they attended the land-dispute hearing. Gazzingan is the son-in-law of Norma de Leon, the original owner of the land that Marcos has claimed. Gazzingan allegedly warned Yadan that, “You’ll be put somewhere else if you don’t stop.”
Several days earlier, Barangay police officer Melchor Bataller also allegedly made threatening remarks to Yadan and his relatives. Bataller reportedly said that the police would kill the family members “when we cross paths”. Yadan and his relatives reported the threat to the municipal police.
After the shooting, the San Juan Municipal Police Station arrested Bataller. He was later taken to the provincial office of the National Bureau of Investigation. Whether or not Bataller had direct involvement in the murder of Yadan is yet to be thoroughly investigated.
Yadan was a leader of the Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Lokal na Organisasyon sa Kanayunan who had also led a campaign to place a 23-hectare landholding owned by another influential landowner Lidrada Tolosa, under the land reform scheme.
Andrew Iñoza: Labour union leader murdered in street
1. Andrew Iñoza (killed)
2. Ramon Laude (wounded)
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Four unidentified gunmen
DATE: 21 November 2006
Andrew Iñoza (48) was shot dead by four gunmen at around 7:30am on 21 November 2006, while riding his motorcycle along Cataquiz 2 Subdivision, Barangay Poblacion, San Pedro in Laguna. The gunmen fired at him after they blocked his path. He died on the spot. Tricycle driver Ramon Laude was also wounded during the shooting. The attackers took Iñoza’s mobile phone, wallet and other personal belongings before fleeing on foot. Five spent .45-calibre pistol shells and five 9mm pistol shells were recovered by police investigators from the crime scene.
Iñoza had been the president of the Alaska Milk Workers Union at a local factory for about ten years. He was also the provincial chair of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino-Partido ng Manggagawa. His colleagues believe that he could have been killed because of his work as a labour leader.
Roderick Aspili: Shot dead watching TV with family
VICTIM: Roderick Aspili
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Four unidentified gunmen
DATE: 20 November 2006
At around 6:45pm on 20 November 2006, Roderick Aspili (24) was shot dead by four armed men in balaclavas inside his house at Km. 11, Barangay Trinidad, Surigao City. He was watching television with his family when he was attacked. Aspili’s wife and 8-month-old daughter were not harmed. The attackers fled in a van after the shooting.
Aspili suffered .45-calibre pistol gunshot wounds to the back of his head and the right side of his neck and body.
Aspili was an organizer for United Workers of Surigao del Norte. He was also an active member of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines in Butuan City and formerly its secretary-general, from 1998 to 2003. Aspili’s colleagues believe that his work could be the motive for his murder.
Francilita Saquital & others: Dangerous sugarcane
1. Francilita Saquital
2. Maria Luz Inlao
3. Thomas Cordova
4. Basilia Cordova
INCIDENT: Attempted killing
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Four Tuguis Security Agency personnel, including Antonio Garcia, “Cañon?and “Boyet?lt;BR>DATE: 17 November 2006
Four farmers were wounded after they were reportedly ambushed by armed security guards of an influential landowner in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental at 5:30pm on 17 November 2006. The victims, Francilita Saquital (42), Maria Luz Inlao (53), Thomas Cordova (38) and Basilia Cordova (41), had just finished loading their sugarcane harvest together with other farmers into their cargo truck and were on their way out of the farm when the perpetrators, who had hidden in field no. 30, opened fire at the truck with 12-gauge shotguns. Five empty shotgun shells were later recovered at the scene.
Thomas Cordova was hit in his arm, Francilita Saquital was hit in her left arm and left side of her abdomen, Maria Luz Inlao was hit in her right thigh and Basilia Cordova was hit and seriously injured in her upper left breast. Cordova was carrying her three-year-old daughter when the ambush took place.
The four injured men are members of the Hacienda Naval Workers?Association and beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program at Hacienda Naval. They were harvesting the sugarcane they planted at field 11 of the hacienda after the Department of Agrarian Reform awarded the land, which was formerly owned by Jomarie Javellana, to them.
The farmers had already requested assistance and protection from the Himamaylan City Police Office and the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer several times; however, the requests were reportedly ignored. The farmers made the decision to harvest without protection from the landowner’s men. On their way to the plantation there had already been an altercation between the farmers and security men.
Some of the farmers identified the perpetrators as Antonio Garcia, and two others nicknamed “Boyet?and “Cañon? along with a fourth man who was not identified. They said that the perpetrators emerged from the sugarcane field after ambushing the cargo truck and tried to chase other farmers who had been on foot, checking the road for spikes or other means to sabotage their exit.
Domingo Marbella: Taken away and killed
1. Domingo Marbella
2. Unnamed second victim
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 13 November 2006
Domingo Marbella and another farmer were abducted by armed men in Barangay Lungib, Pilar, Sorsogon, on 13 November 2006. His body was found on November 21, with gunshot wounds and indications that he had been tortured before he was killed.
Marbella was the relative of an official of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasants Movement in the Philippines).
On 9 November 2006, Rev. Billy Austin was attending a human rights programme in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, at the United Methodist Church, of which he is a minister. He left there with some others around 9pm and walked to the nearby office of human rights group Bayan—an umbrella organisation of which he is the Ilocos Sur head—and at that time noticed that a motorcycle and a van were tailing them.
As Rev. Austin and the others walked along Del Pilar Street, a blue motorcycle came in their direction. A man riding pillion raised a gun and started shooting at them. Rev. Austin suffered two gunshots, one in each leg. He was sent to a nearby hospital and reported the attack to the local police.
Two unknown men went to the hospital on separate occasions to look for Rev. Austin. They refused to identify themselves to the nurses. Rev. Austin’s visitors were also followed by unknown men riding on motorcycles.
Dr. Rodrigo Catayong: Victim of “liquidation list”
VICTIM: Rodrigo Catayong
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Five armed members of Samar-Leyte Anti-Communist Movement
DATE: 5 November 2006
On 5 November 2006, Dr. Rodrigo Catayong and his wife Marcela were attacked outside church in MacArthur, Eastern Samar, by five armed men riding on motorcycles who shot Dr. Catayong at close range, hitting him eight times in his face, chest, neck and back. He died on the spot.
Two months prior to the killing, a “liquidation list” signed by “Ka Hector” of the Samar-Leyte Anti-Communist Movement with the names of 31 persons, including his, was reportedly circulated all over the province. Those on the list were identified as members or sympathizers of the New People’s Army rebel group, and were accused of having “committed sins against the people”. The order for liquidation, it claimed, was approved by the Committee Central ng Pilipinas Hukbong Tagahatol ng Bayan, Leysam Anti-Communist Movement. Others on the list were a mayor in Borongan, Samar; a public grade school teacher; three professors at the Eastern Samar State University—including Catayong—leaders of progressive political parties, a policeman and a local media man.
The Samar-Leyte Anti-Communist Movement is alleged to be a front of the Civil Relations Service of the armed forces in the area. Its members had reportedly previously conducted joint anti-communists rallies and other activities there.
Dr. Catayong chaired the Eastern Samar branch of human rights group Karapatan since 2001.
Ronald Ocson & others: Reign of terror by local landlord and police
1. Ronald Ocson (attempted killing)
2. Hernan Baria (killed)
3. Romeo Catalan (wounded)
4. Jovita Baria (threatened)
5. Johnny Catalan (threatened)
INCIDENTS: Killing; attempted killing; intimidation
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Roberto “Kasey?Jordan, landlord Andres Bedro and hired gunmen
DATE: 30 October 2006
AHRC UA-350-2006; UP-213-2006
On 30 October 2006, Ronald Ocson (41), president of the Asao Farmers and Residents Association (Afra), was sitting at the entrance of his father’s house around 6pm with his 14-year-old daughter Rowena Joy, who was inside, when a gunman, later identified as Roberto “Kasey?Jordan allegedly approached and shouted, “Why? Is this your land??After that he shot Ocson, hitting him in his leg. He was taken to the Jesus Colmenares Hospital in Malbog, Balasan for treatment.
The Balasan police investigation concluded that Jordan was drunk when he shot Ocson using a .357-calibre handgun, having spent the day drinking with a person named “Kano?and Andres Bedro at his rice fields. The Bedros are influential landlords with whom the victim and his organisation had a conflict over land. Andres and his wife Susan Bedro, former vice-mayor of Balasan, had filed a civil case to restrain 21 Afra members from claiming land that they had been awarded under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Portions of Lot C, Psd-74005 were redistributed to members of Afra, most of them tenants of the Bedros, on 23 June 2003 by the Deparment of Agrarian Reform Regional Director Alexis Arsenal.
The local court ruled in favor of the Bedro’s petition for land ownership. But under the law, any land reform dispute should be tried before a special agrarian court, so the jurisdiction of the court and its verdict was brought into question and the agrarian reform beneficiaries appealed their case.
The Bedros had then allegedly resorted to violence to get the court order enforced, although it was not final and executable. The villagers have all since then experienced harassment and threats to their lives. Most recently, around 5:30am on October 11 Andres Bedro and his armed men on a cargo truck, a pickup and a motorcycle raided the Afra members?village in Sitio Asao, Barangay Lawis, Balasan, destroying crops and property. Even coconut palms were cut down. They likewise harassed and threatened the villagers who were present. One of them, Jovita Baria, was gathering dried coconut leaves when they came. She was beaten by one of the men when she tried to block them, and Bedro allegedly aimed his .45-calibre pistol at her and the other farmers and threatened them to leave the area immediately. Jovita’s husband, Hernan Baria, had already been killed, apparently due to the farmers?struggle for the land.
Three days later, on October 14 at 11pm, the house of Johnny Catalan (28) was also fired upon by unidentified men. No one was hurt. Villagers immediately contacted the local police station for assistance; however, nobody answered the phone for about an hour and the police only conducted their investigation into the shooting the following morning, when they found four .45-calibre empty shells and holes in the walls of the house. The 21 affected Afra farmer beneficiaries and their families then sought refuge at the municipal gymnasium for fear of their lives.
Johnny Catalan is also a witness to the killing of Hernan (Hernando) Baria on 23 July 2005, when at least 20 armed men—later found to have been police—opened fire at his house on the pretext of shooting at a rebel camp. Baria died on his way to the hospital due to loss of blood. Johnny’s father, Romeo, was wounded in the same attack. On 16 January 2007 the AHRC released a statement in response to a claim by the police that the two were targets of “legitimate police operations” (see also open letters in Appendix III):
A press release issued by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) on January 12 quoted Chief Superintendent Geary Barias, director of the Police Regional Office 6 as justifying the death of Hernan Baria and wounding of his companion, Romeo Catalan, on 23 July 2005 in Balasan, Iloilo on the ground of “legitimate police operations”. Barias also denied that his personnel committed human rights violations, in response to an appeal issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in October 2006 requesting a fresh investigation of the case.
The AHRC categorically rejects the police version of events in the PIA press release. The PIA, the official government newsagency of the Philippines which has as its mission to provide for the “free flow of accurate, timely and relevant information” published only the police version of the event, in which the officer concerned claimed that the AHRC had made “false allegations” and had misrepresented information. It is astounded and outraged that the PIA would disseminate such unsubstantiated claims that the documentation of the alleged incident was false. In fact, it is the contents of this press release that consist of misrepresented information, as follows.
First, the police claim that Baria and Catalan were killed and wounded respectively in a “legitimate” police operation; however, to the knowledge of the AHRC there has at no time been any independent investigation of the police version of events by an authorised and impartial body. The denial of wrongdoing by the commander of the accused officers should not have been published by the official mouthpiece of the government under any circumstances. In so doing it has made itself complicit with alleged extrajudicial killers.
Who decides what is legitimate or not when someone is killed in police fire? Can the police themselves decide? Is the information officer who received the story in a position to know? No: this is a matter for the courts and outside investigators. The contents of the appeal on this case by the AHRC, which it stated were alleged and clearly cited the source of the allegations and details as given, were all directed towards obtaining a fresh investigation for this purpose. No such investigation has been conducted. Thus, the allegations stand until such a time as is otherwise. That the police claim that the allegations are unjustified is unsurprising and irrelevant for the purposes of obtaining a credible picture of what happened to the two men; however, the PIA should not in any case have distributed their story.
Secondly, the AHRC did not at any point allege that the police had engaged in “indiscriminate firing?as claimed in the PIA press release. Not only was no such “false allegation” never made in the appeal, but the agency has itself made a false allegation, thereby confusing its stated role as provider of accurate information with that of a police mouthpiece. Again, the PIA has no capacity to weigh evidence or information and to decide which of the allegations contained in the appeal were true or false: this remains a matter for a judicial authority to decide.
Thirdly, the PIA charter, stipulated under Executive Order 576 signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on 7 November 2006 enables it “access to government media agencies for the purpose of disseminating development-oriented information? Nowhere in this is the authority to issue one-sided press releases with the express purpose of exonerating state officers from legitimate allegations of human rights abuse. The PIA is not a public relations unit for the police. In as much as its purpose is ostensibly to provide truthful and impartial information that is beneficial for the community, it has in making this press statement completely violated its mandate and undermined its professional integrity.
That the Philippine government’s information agency is now being used to counter allegations of extrajudicial killings and other gross rights abuses by police, when seen together with the persistent official tolerance of the concerted and unabated killings in that country, sends a strong message that the administration is interested in protecting the perpetrators, not the victims, of such incidents. This is a message directed not only to the AHRC but to all human rights groups and rights defenders locally and internationally, and above all, to the victims and their families.
The Asian Human Rights Commission is today sending an early warning to the human rights community that the Philippine Information Agency may become a de facto propaganda agency for agencies that should be responsible for addressing the killings to instead defer and deny responsibility, attack critics, discredit legitimate information and downplay serious and genuine grievances. This warning stems not only from the January 12 press release but also from President Arroyo’s signing of Administrative Order 163 on January 3, which instructed the Presidential Human Rights Committee and its members, including the Office of the Press Secretary, to formulate a media program that will “portray an accurate assessment of the human rights in the country? The PIA is attached to the office, which is also under the Office of the President.
The government of the Philippines is today playing an increasingly dangerous game, on the one hand attempting to create the impression of a commitment to human rights and the manifest need to address the gross abuses occurring in the country, while on the other doing all it can to reject accusations without the conducting of impartial investigations and other essential actions. The killings continue and the killers remain at large; the credibility of the administration continues to slide. Order 163 in itself gives the signal that the government is more concerned to spend time and money on polishing its image than it is on actually putting a stop to the killings.
The Asian Human Rights Commission stands by the contents of its urgent appeal and reiterates its demands for independent inquiries, not police whitewashing, of the death of Hernan Baria and wounding of Romeo Catalan. It calls for the human rights community to oppose strongly all such attempts at intimidation and disinformation through government agencies. And it calls upon the Philippine Information Agency to retract its January 12 press release and issue a public apology for the publishing of the biased and insensitive contents.
Finally, the AHRC calls upon all concerned persons in the Philippines not to tolerate misuse of the PIA as an agency for the distribution of police or military propaganda. Such misuse will only justifiably increase the already serious doubts that the public has about the government’s will to protect it citizens and punish the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings, and will do nothing for the credibility of either the PIA or the government as a whole.
Eduardo Millares: Gang attack or something more?
1. Eduardo Millares (killed)
2. Victoriano Cariño (wounded)
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 18 October 2006
At 7am on 18 October 2006, Eduardo Millares (50) and Victoriano Cariño (42) were on their way to work at a coconut plantation near their homes in Barangay Soledad, San Pablo City, Laguna when an unidentified gunman attacked them near the barangay hall. Millares died instantly from four gunshots to his body and head. Cariño suffered a gunshot to his right leg. Witnesses said the attacker escaped by a motorcycle with two other men.
Police investigators in San Pablo City Police Office rejected the possibility that the killing of Millares could be motivated by his activities for the urban poor. The police insisted that gang members might have killed Millares and alleged that he was the member of a robbery syndicate, claiming that he has a criminal record at the city’s police station.
Millares was an active member of an urban poor group named Samahan ng Magkakapitbahay sa Tabing-Riles (Association of Neighbours along the Railroad), a local chapter of a national group, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay-Timog Katagalugan).
Millares?colleagues believe that the attack could be related to their opposition to a railway modernisation plan that threatens to demolish local houses and displace residents.
Two months prior to the killing, elements of the 202nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, led by Sergeant Victor Reyes, set up detachments in communities along the railways in San Antonio, Santa Ana, San Gregorio, San Joaquin, Soledad, Calehan and Wawa, which are all in San Pablo City. They conducted operations and implemented a curfew.
On October 17, the day before Millares was killed, his group held a dialogue with the city government and representatives of the 202nd IB. They complained about continuous military surveillance, intimidation and harassment of residents in the area. At that time they found out that the local government had not been informed of the presence of the military in their jurisdiction, but at least two officials, Vice-Mayor Larry Vidal and Councillor Martin Ilagan, expressed their support for its operations.
Fr. Dionisio Ging-ging: Another priest stabbed to death
VICTIM: Dionisio Ging-ging
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Three unidentified men
DATE: 8 October 2006
On 8 October 2006, a few days after the slaying of Bishop Ramento (following story), Fr. Dionisio Ging-ging, also a priest of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, was murdered in a similar manner in Barangay Bajao, Tago, Surigao del Sur.
At around 5am, Fr. Ging-ging was on his way to Sunday mass when three hooded men stopped him outside his house and stabbed and hacked him to death.
As in the case of Bishop Ramento (see below), the investigating police quickly attributed the killing, this time to the settling of a personal score.
Bishop Alberto Ramento: “I know they are going to kill me next”
VICTIM: Alberto Ramento
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unknown
DATE: 3 October 2006
Bishop Alberto Ramento (69) of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) was found dead in his room on the 2nd floor of his parish in San Sebastian, Espinoza Street, Tarlac City at around 4am on 3 October 2006. He had been fatally stabbed seven times.
On the day of the incident itself the police announced that Bishop Ramento was a victim of robbery with homicide, immediately dismissing a possible alternative motive. They based their conclusion on earlier reports of break-ins at the San Sebastian Church and also because the bishop’s cellular phone and ring were missing. Two days after, they pronounced the case “solved? following the arrest of four alleged suspects in Tarlac City, all of whom had criminal records.
However, Bishop Ramento’s family and fellow clergy believe that his murder was methodically planned and motivated in revenge for his work for the poor. They were dissatisfied with the police investigation. They maintain that the bishop had received several death threats before his killing and had told his family, “I know they are going to kill me next. But never will I abandon my duty to God and my ministry to the people.?However, the police have resorted to labelling accusations that his death was politically motivated as being “propaganda?
Bishop Ramento had publicly criticised the administration for its failure to stop the constant extrajudicial killings in the Philippines or launch independent investigations into them. In an open letter to President Arroyo on 7 September 2006, the IFI Executive Commission, of which Bishop Ramento was a member, called on the president to step down because of the failure of her government to stop the killings.
Bishop Ramento also openly opposed Arroyo’s attempts to amend the country’s constitution and change its political structure from a presidential to a parliamentary model of government.
In addition to being the bishop of Tarlac Diocese, Bishop Ramento was the chairman of the IFI’s Supreme Council of Bishops and a co-chairperson of the Ecumenical Bishops?Forum, a fellowship of bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. He also was the chairman of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP), and from 1993 to 1999 he served as the Obsipo Maximo IX, the IFI’s spiritual head, chief pastor and chief executive officer.
Outside of his formal church work, Bishop Ramento served as a convener of Pilgrims for Peace and was also a provincial leader of the human rights group Karapatan. He was the chairperson of the board of the Workers?Assistance Centre, a labour group in Rosario, Cavite Province and he had strongly supported the farm workers of Hacienda Luisita who staged a strike that was violently suppressed by the police and military in November 2004, resulting in the deaths of seven.
The AHRC released a statement on the occasion of the bishop’s killing, which read in part:
The violent silencing of this moral voice in the Philippines indicates that either the perpetrators have no fear of being apprehended by the police or that agents of the state are, indeed, the perpetrators. The unwillingness or inability of the Philippine government to seriously respond to the hundreds of killings that have occurred in the Philippines since Arroyo came to power in 2001 has spawned a climate of impunity in the country. The people now live in fear, not the perpetrators of these violent acts.
Moreover, the failure of the Arroyo government to take adequate steps to eradicate the country’s extrajudicial killings, which Karapatan states is at least 763 deaths since 2001, is a repudiation of the Philippine government’s international obligation to protect the lives of its citizens.
Lastly, the killing of Bishop Ramento, a public critic of the government as previously noted, illustrates the lack of criticism permissible by the government. This abhorrence of criticism indicates the unhealthy state of democracy in the Philippines. Democracy is a political system based on respect for human rights and the protection of everyone’s right to voice their views. A government that does not defend its people’s rights, that, indeed, does not defend the people’s most fundamental right of all—its right to life—is a government that cannot maintain the trust of its people and can no longer claim that it represents its people. In short, it can no longer claim that it is a democratic government.
If the Arroyo government wishes to reclaim any pretence of legitimacy, it must take immediate action to bring to justice those who have violently taken the life of Bishop Alberto Ramento as well as hundreds of other unresolved extrajudicial killings in the country. If alive, Bishop Ramento would have uttered the same statement.
Victor Olayvar: Victim of army hit list?
VICTIM: Victor Olayvar
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 7 September 2006
Victor Olayvar was shot dead at around 7:25am on 7 September 2006 by gunmen riding on a motorcycle at Bridge Caban, Barangay Cantubod, Danao. He was on a passenger motorcycle heading to Tagbilaran City when another motorcycle with two people on board blocked the route. One of them shot him at close range. The driver of the passenger motorcycle immediately reported the attack to a police office, at 7:30am.
Prior to the shooting Olayvar and other members of his organisation, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), and their allies felt that their lives were threatened. They had obtained information that the military was holding a hit list which included the names of four Bayan leaders, Olayvar’s among them, and those of two other unknown persons. Meanwhile, they and members of a farmers?group, Hugpong sa mga Mag-uumang Bol-anon (Bohol Peasant Organization), had heard of hooded strangers riding on unregistered motorcycles and in vans asking for their whereabouts.
On September 2, the Bishop of Bohol, Bishop Leopoldo Tumulak, organised a dialogue between Olayvar’s group and representatives from the 302nd Brigade, Philippine Army based in Bohol. They discussed the death threats, surveillance of leaders and propaganda against their group. It was only five days later that Olayvar was killed.
Ranbert Placencia: “You were the one who prevented the mining!”
VICTIM: Ranbert Placencia
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Seven unidentified gunmen
DATE: 4 September 2006
On 4 September 2006, Ranbert Placencia was on his way to work on his motorcycle when seven unidentified armed men wearing military-style clothing blocked his way along Purok 8, Sta. Monica, Nuevo Iloco, in the Mawab municipality of the Compostela Valley. The gunmen pointed their firearms at him and questioned his identity. One of them, in a balaclava, was armed with an Uzi machine gun and a .45-calibre pistol. He searched for Ranbert’s mobile phone and seized his bag.
A witness heard an argument between Placencia and the armed men prior to the shooting. One of the armed men said, “You were the one who prevented the mining activity in San Isidro!” Placencia responded, “It’s the people’s will!”
Soon after, several gunshots were heard. Witnesses saw the gunmen shooting at Placencia with the Uzi, a .45-calibre pistol, an M-14 Armalite, a garand rifle and an M-203. The gunmen then immediately fled on motorcycles towards Nuevo Iloco. Placencia suffered nine gunshot wounds to his chest and head.
Placencia was the chairman of the community in Purok 9A San Isidro, Nuevo Iloco, municipal coordinator of the Anak Pawis Party, a member of the Nuevo Iloco Farmers Association, and chairman and a council member of Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Mawab. He was also employed by the National Irrigation Administration.
Napoleon Bautista: Abducted, tortured and killed
1. Napoleon Bautista (killed)
2. Ofelia Bautista (tortured)
INCIDENTS: Killing; torture
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unknown
DATE: 30 August 2006
Napoleon Bautista (48) and his wife Ofelia were abducted on 30 August 2006 in Barangay San Roque, Hagonoy, Bulacan. They were allegedly tortured during the abduction, and questioned about alleged involvement in the New People’s Army.
Ofelia was released a day later and taken to the local Hagonoy District Hospital for treatment; however, no protection was offered to her.
Napoleon’s body was found on September 7, in Barangay Pungo, Calumpit, Bulacan. His hands were tied with wire, and there were torture marks on his feet. He had suffered two gunshot wounds, one to his head and one to his back.
The Bautistas were members of Samahang Bantay Palaisdaan, a fisherfolk’s group that is a local chapter of a national organisation, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).
Napoleon Bautista was among those who survived the 1987 “Mendiola massacre? when government forces fired at a crowd of peasants and others demanding for genuine land reform, killing several.
Ali Barabato & friends: Last seen in white van with tinted windows
1. Ali Barabato y Rasuman (killed)
2. Ismael Sarip (disappeared)
3. Datu Abubakar (disappeared)
INCIDENTS: Killing; disappearance
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unknown
DATE: 28 August 2006
Ali Barabato, Ismael Sarip and Datu Abubakar were allegedly members of the insurgent Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is active in the southern Philippines.
On 28 August 2006 around 10am, the three victims arrived at a used clothing stall in Lizada, Boulevard, Davao City by passenger vehicle. Ali greeted a local. Shortly thereafter a man wearing a white t-shirt and jeans called out to Ali and his two companions. The three were last seen inside a white L-300 van with tinted windows, together with the man who called them over.
On August 31, three days after they went missing, the body of Ali Barabato was found on the shoreline in Barangay Aumbay, Island Garden City, Samal, Davao del Norte. Ali’s family heard about the discovery from a news report and rushed to the funeral parlour where his body was kept.
According to Alma, her husband’s body bore traces of brutal torture. His hands were tied behind his back with wire. His body and his legs were also wrapped in wire. He had a gunshot wound on his upper forehead and three gunshot wounds to his neck.
Ceasar Quimco: Deadly disco
VICTIM: Ceasar Quimco
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 78th IB personnel
DATE: 24 August 2006
Ceasar Quimco was with his nephews at a crowded mobile disco located in Sitio Malubog, Barangay Ipil around 1am on 24 August 2006 when suddenly a gunman in a black balaclava emerged from the crowd and yelled, “Put out the lights!?The lights were shut, and eleven shots rang out. All eleven shots hit 62-year-old Quimco, killing him.
Quimco had allegedly been the subject of constant threats from personnel of the 78th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army. He had been charged with frustrated murder after
Corporal Richard C. Semillano and Private First Class Leo Catamin Atriz (both of Alpha Company) filed complaints against him in 2004. Quimco had reportedly tried to restrain the two soldiers from beating up his nephew. Quimco’s house had reportedly often been raided since, and he had received death threats.
Hermelino Marqueza: Killed in house
VICTIM: Hermelino Marqueza
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 20 August 2006
On 20 August 2006, unidentified gunmen armed with M-14 rifles shot Hermelino Marqueza dead inside his house in Barangay Maitum, Tandag, Surigao del Sur at around 11pm.
Marqueza was an active leader of a peasant group Kapunungan sa Mag-uuma sa Surigao. He was also the provincial chapter leader of the Peasant Movement of the Philippines (Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-KMP).
Ambrosio Paler: Public transport dispute ends in death
VICTIM: Ambrosio Paler
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 17 August 2006
Ambrosio Paler (47) was killed in an ambush by unidentified gunmen along Libertad Street in Pasay City, Metro Manila on 17 August 2006. He was declared dead on arrival at the Sanitarium Hospital due to multiple gunshot wounds.
Paler was a transport leader who had campaigned against illegal public transport operations in areas of Cavite, Laguna and Batangas City. Five days before his killing Paler had successfully obtained a prohibition on non-franchised vehicles working in these areas.
Orlando Rivera: Shot dead at front door
VICTIM: Orlando Rivera
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Four unidentified gunmen
DATE: 16 August 2006
At 1am on 16 August 2006, Orlando Rivera (40) was with his wife inside their house in Obando, Bulacan when somebody knocked at their door. Rivera answered the door, and he was shot several times. He died from three gunshot wounds from a .45-calibre pistol. His wife saw four armed men leaving after the shooting.
Rivera was formerly a member of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), a fisherfolk’s group active in the area.
Pastor Isaias Sta. Rosa: Two dead bodies and an army mission order
VICTIM: Isaias Sta. Rosa
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Around ten 9th ID personnel led by Corp. Lordger Pastrana, commanded by Major Earnest Mark Rosal, Camp Matillana, Pili, Camarines Sur
DATE: 3 August 2006
On 3 August 2006 at around 8:30pm, around ten armed men entered the house of the brothers of Pastor Isaias Sta. Rosa, Rey and Jonathan in Barangay Malobago, Daraga, Albay, as they were preparing for dinner. They then went to Pastor Isaias?house, taking his brothers with them. His wife Sonia opened the door, and three armed and hooded men barged inside. They ordered all the people to drop to the floor. They then grabbed Pastor Isaias and threw him against a bamboo bench. He was pushed inside his daughter’s room while his wife and children were taken to the master bedroom.
The perpetrators questioned Pastor Isaias and assaulted him, telling him to admit that he was a person named “Elmer? for whom they were looking. Pastor Isaias denied this and told them to check his identification card.
One of Pastor Isaias’s daughters saw that he was tied up and taken outside, while his family remained indoors. When his family was certain that the armed men had left, Sonia rushed to the neighbours for help. It was then they heard nine gunshots.
Sonia, her children and their neighbors searched the area and found Pastor Isaias lying dead in a creek some 40-50 metres away from their residence. He had suffered six gunshot wounds, three to his chest, two to his thigh and another one to his foot.
Lying beside him was another dead body: that of Corporal Lordger Pastrana of the Philippine Army. Pastrana had a bullet in the right side of his body. A .45-calibre pistol with a silencer was found nearby. Pastor Isaias’s wristwatch, his daughter’s mobile phone and a Mission Order for Pastor Isaias dated 22 July 2006 and signed by Major Earnest Mark Rosal of Camp Matillana, Pili, Camarines Sur were all recovered from Pastrana’s pocket.
Sonia identified Pastrana as the one who gave orders to his companions when they took her husband from their house. She recalled that he was the only short and stout one among the group. After the incident, the administrative office of the 9th Infantry Division, Philippine Army conducted an investigation and has yet to release its findings regarding the incident.
According to Jonathan’s account, Pastrana was among the ten armed men who first entered their house. Jonathan believed that they were from the military because of their bearing, clothing, combat boots, and high-powered arms that they carried. He said that on two occasions, men in military uniforms with their name badges hidden had searched his brother’s house.
Pastrana was reportedly assigned to the Public Affairs Office of the 9th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, based in Pili, Camarines Sur. It is believed that he may have been accidentally shot by his own men while they were trying to subdue their captive.
Pastor Isaias was a member of the farmers?group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bicol (Farmers?Movement in Bicol) affiliated with the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Farmers?Movement of the Philippines).
A fact-finding mission conducted in August 2006 by local persons collected testimonies and evidence regarding the killing. The police and military have also conducted investigations into the case, but their reports are yet to be released.
Paquito Diaz: A “well-planned” killing
VICTIM: Paquito H. Diaz
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 6 July 2006
At 6:30pm on 6 July 2006, Paquito “Pax?Diaz (42), a former radio broadcaster, was talking to relatives on the sidewalk of Esperas Avenue, Barangay 54, Tacloban City, Leyte, near his house—while waiting for old classmates, to attend a high school reunion—when he shot dead by a gunman riding pillion on a motorcycle.
Margarita Pelingon, the aunt of his wife, and her son Ariel witnessed the attack. According to them the gunmen were riding an XRM model motorcycle, which slowed down as they approached Diaz. One of the men pulled a .45-calibre pistol and shot Diaz at close range. The pistol was equipped with a silencer. Diaz was hit in his left cheek below his eye. He was hit again as he fell to the ground. Before the shooting the gunmen had travelled along Esperas Avenue several times, and had hid behind a bush about nine metres away.
After the shooting, bystanders and neighbours tried to block the way of the gunmen, but they were threatened that they would be shot if they did not move out of the way. Diaz’s nephews, Antonio Pelingon and Leandro Pacheco immediately took him to the nearby Bethany Hospital by a tricycle. However, the attending physicians declared Diaz dead on arrival. According to the physicians, a bullet that pierced through his heart caused his death. Dr. Angel Cordero of the PNP Crime Laboratory conducted an autopsy.
Diaz had reportedly been receiving threats on his mobile phone, according to Jun Estoya, anchorperson of a local AM radio station, Radio Diwa.
Superintendent Anacleto Limbo, chief of police of Tacloban City, said initial police investigations had revealed that the attack on Diaz was “well-planned? however, no substantial progress is known to have been made into the crime.
In an interview, Lulu Palencia, regional chairperson of the Citizens Anti-Crime Assistance Group, revealed that a suspect named Ronald Real was detained in Pastrana, Leyte at around 7pm on July 6. Real is a Private First Class reportedly attached to the 34th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army in San Jorge, Western Samar. He was arrested at a police checkpoint by Senior Superintendent Sabanal, head of the Pastrana Police Station and his men.
Pfc. Real denied any involvement in Diaz’s killing. Lulu Palencia said that it had yet to be investigated whether Pfc. Real was involved in the killing. At the time of his arrest, he was riding a motorcycle without a license plate number.
According to the January 2007 report by the presidentially-appointed Melo Commission (page 48):
Absolutely no progress has been reported [into the case]. No witness could even give a description of the perpetrators to provide sufficient basis for a cartographic sketch because the driver of the motorcycle was wearing a helmet while the gunman had a ball cap on which partly covered his face.
Eladio Dasi-an: Gunned down on way home
VICTIM: Eladio Dasi-an
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Three unidentified gunmen
DATE: 20 June 2006
On 20 June 2006, Eladio Dasi-an (37) was riding his motorcycle back to his home in Sitio Tuminhao, Barangay Malusay, Guihulngan, Negros Oriental about 3 kilometres away from the town proper when three hooded men armed with .45-calibre pistols blocked his way. The gunmen shot him several times in head and chest. After making sure that he was dead, they boarded a vehicle and fled the scene.
Several days prior to the incident, Dasi-an had reportedly received information from neighbours and reliable sources that men riding on motorcycles had been asking for his whereabouts.
Dasi-an was a government employee and worked as a messenger for the Local Government Unit of Guihulngan, Negros Oriental.
George & Maricel Vigo: “Facing a blank wall as to the identity of the suspects”
1. George Vigo
2. Maricel Vigo
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 19 June 2006
On 19 June 2006, George Vigo (33) and his wife Maricel (36) were riding on their motorcycle when two armed men shot at them, hitting George four times and Maricel twice, killing both. Both of them had reportedly received threats via SMS from a sender identified as “AralSaMasa?two weeks before their killing. Subsequently, other persons in General Santos City received similar messages (see case below).
George was a project officer of the Mindanao Youth Leadership Program of the Community and Family Services International, based in Cotabato City. The group works for internally displaced persons. Maricel worked as a communications consultant for a local public official and was area coordinator for the Solar Power Technology System of the Department of Agrarian Reform, a project funded by British Petroleum. Both were former journalists and cofounders of the Federation of Reporters for Empowerment and Equality. They had continued doing occasional media work.
The local police created a task force to investigate the killing comprised of the Police Regional Office (PRO 12), Criminal Investigation Detection Group and National Bureau of Investigation. Although the task force attributed the killing to a rebel liquidation squad, the victims?families have said that the manner of its investigation was not thorough and its findings different from those of the police who conducted the initial investigation, who were uncertain about the identity of the killers. In a memorandum of June 19, Superintendent Danny Reyes, Kidapawan City Police Office chief, wrote that:
As of this moment, this station is still facing a blank wall as to the identity of the suspects, since, the witnesses could not identify the perpetrators because the driver was wearing a safety helmet that covered his face while his back rider used face towel to cover his head and face.
Nonetheless, without further evidence the task force has conclusively attributed the incident to insurgents.
On December 11 the presidentially-appointed Melo Commission investigated the killing of the Vigos and recorded the following in its January 2007 report (pages 34?6):
The spouses George and Maricel Vigo were working for People’s Kauyahan Foundation, Inc. – a United Nations Development Programme (“UNDP? project partner for the upliftment of internally displaced persons, including peasant farmers. George Vigo likewise had a local AM radio show concerning agrarian reform issues. The spouses Vigo were gunned down in Singao, Kidapawan City, Cotobato by unidentified men on June 19, 2006.
Mr. Venancio Bafilar, a friend of the spouses Vigo testified that before he was gunned down, George Vigo confided to Mr. Bafilar that he had been receiving death threats, and that he was being suspected of authoring, making or otherwise being behind the production of a video recording contained in a certain compact disc. This video recording was of a certain “bloodless?raid conducted by NPA rebels upon the municipal hall and PNP Station of Magpet, Cotobato.
Bafilar mentioned that the spouses Vigo were political supporters of Congresswoman Emmylou Taliño-Santos and her faction, including Angelita Pelonio, who was running for mayor of Magpet against incumbent Efren Piñol. In fact, Maricel Vigo was working in the office of Congresswoman Taliño-Santos. The Taliños are the political enemies of the Piñol faction, which includes Cotobato Governor Emmanuel F. Piñol. Essentially, Bafilar’s testimony insinuates that the murder of the spouses Vigo was political in motivation, and that the parties responsible come from the camp of the Piñols.
The spouses Vigo were also in contact with a certain Ka Benjie, a suspected NPA member, whom George Vigo interviewed a number of times in his radio show. The Vigos were also supposedly eyewitnesses when Ka Benjie was summarily executed by the military.
Fr. Peter Geremia, an American priest working for the Tribal Filipino Program of the Diocese of Kidapawan, testified on his knowledge about the deaths of the spouses Vigo. He mentioned that prior to and after the death of the Vigos, he was subjected to surveillance by unidentified armed men. George Vigo also confided to Fr. Geremia that a military asset warned him (George Vigo) that he was in the “listahan?of the military.
After the killing of the Vigos, Fr. Geremia also received written death threats that the killing of the Vigos was a message to him and the Tribal Filipino Program that they would be next. The written threat more or less stated that “whoever supports the NPA, death is what they deserve.?In one incident in Columbio, Cotobato, Fr. Geremia was being followed by some men, one of whom suddenly drew his gun. Upon seeing the gun, Fr. Geremia’s companions rushed him inside a store and later asked for help from the house of Columbio Mayor Bermudez. Mayor Bermudez, however, stated that there was nothing he could do because, he said, that the gunmen were military.
Fr. Geremia also testified that in a media presentation by Col. John Bucu of the 40th IB Intelligence Unit, he (Fr. Geremia) was identified as a supporter of the NPA ?a fact which Fr. Geremia strongly denies. In fact, Fr. Geremia mentions that after confronting Col. Bucu and clarifying that he was not an NPA supporter, the latter apologized for the false information they received.
However, Fr. Geremia was informed that his name and those of his staff are still mentioned in interrogations of suspected NPA’s, and that he is still under surveillance, albeit more discreetly. Fr. Geremia stated that the probable reason why he and his colleagues and staff were suspected of being NPA supporters was their constant monitoring of human rights violations and providing legal assistance to suspects detained by the military. In fact, with their aid, some of these suspects filed counter-charges against military officers, such as Major Ruben Agarcio, Lt. Eduardo Manukan, and Col. Cesar Idio of the 25th IB. Fr. Geremia requested the Commission and the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the threats against him and his staff, and the reason for the surveillance on them.
Apart from their oral testimony, the aforementioned witnesses also presented their written statements together with supporting documents. The affidavits of other witnesses, namely Gregorio Alave, Mary Grace Dingal, and Rea Ligtas, were submitted to the Commission. Due to lack of time, however, they were no longer called to deliver oral testimony.
Gregorio Alave, the younger brother of Maricel Vigo, claimed to have seen a certain Toto Amancio in the scene of the crime a few minutes before the shooting of the Vigos. Amancio is said to be a notorious gun-for-hire connected with powerful local politicians whom Alave did not identify but insinuated to be the Piñols. Despite his information, the Task Force Vigo created by the provincial government to investigate the Vigo killings accused a certain Dionisio “Jek-Jek?Mandanguit as the gunman. Alave, however, claims that this is not possible because Madanguit belonged to the 39th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and was in the company of the CIDG long before the Vigo killing.
Vincente Barrios: Gunman walks out on murder plan
VICTIM: Vicente Barrios
INCIDENT: Attempted killing
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 10 June 2006
On 10 June 2006, at around 9:30pm an armed man wearing a balaclava forcibly entered the house of union leader Vicente Barrios in Purok 2, Valencia, Barangay New Alegria, Compostela, in Compostela Valley Province. According to witnesses, the man who entered the house was carrying a rifle while a companion served as a lookout outside. Barrios and his wife were in their bedroom at the time. Two other relatives were also inside the house, and they panicked and ran towards the room where Barrios and his wife were located when they saw the gunman. However, the gunman also turned and fled the house.
Barrios had earlier also been threatened. He was once hit with a sling shot pellet while riding on a motorcycle on his way home and had been threatened with guns shown to him while at work in the the banana packing plant of the Fresh Banana Agricultural Corporation in Compostela. Prior to the June 10 incident, Barrios had also been warned by one of their union members that he had heard of a plot to kill him.
Barrios is president of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farms (United Workers of Suyapa Farms). The threats against him could be related to a case filed against the management of the Fresh Banana Agricultural Corporation with the Department of Labor and Employment for non-payment of living cost allowances, holiday pay, service incentives and non-wage benefits.
The military has been connected with busting labour unions in Compostela. Findings by the International Labor Solidarity Mission (ILSM) held in May 2006 revealed that elements of the 36th and 28th Infantry Battalions, Philippine Army had been active in busting labour unions there in 2004 and 2005. In September 2005, Barrios was himself called for questioning by elements of the 28th IB, who accused him of being part of the New People’s Army rebel group.
Vincente Barrios: Second time shot, with three friends
Before going to print it was learned that on 15 December 2006 Vincente Barrios was shot a second time, this time with three friends, one of whom has died.
Barrios was among a group of eight travelling to work together on motorcycles when they were overtaken by two men, also on a motorcycle, one of whom opened fire just a short distance from the factory in Barangay Alegria.
A single .45-calibre bullet hit Barrios in his left arm and abdomen. Three fellow unionists, reported to be Aldrin Cortez, Dennis Glenzondon and Gerson Lastimoso were also seriously wounded: Lastimoso was hit in the kidney and died in hospital at Tagum City. The other two men were hit in the shoulder, and neck and face respectively.
Markus Bangit & Gloria Casuga: Murdered at bus stop
1. Markus Bangit
2. Gloria Casuga
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 8 June 2006
Markus (Rafael) Bangit and his son Banna were onboard a bus for Baguio City when he was killed at a stopover restaurant around 3:30pm on 8 June 2006 in Echague, Isabela. The gunmen, wearing hoods, shot and killed another passenger, Gloria Casuga when she screamed upon seeing them shoot Bangit. The perpetrators then fled in a van that had apparently been tailing the bus since it had left Tabuk, Kalinga.
Bangit died from four gunshot wounds to his chest and stomach; his son was not hurt. Gloria Casuga, who was school principal of Quezon National High School in Quezon, Isabela, died from five bullet wounds.
According to the January 2007 report of the presidentially-appointed Melo Commission, “There has been no progress whatsoever in the investigation of the case.?lt;/P>
Bangit was the leader of the indigenous Malbong community. His killing is suspected to be related to his work as a regional officer of the Cordillera People’s Alliance and chairperson of the Binodngan Pongors Organization.
Noel Capulong: Shot and killed after visiting people’s pharmacy
VICTIM: Noel Capulong
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 27 May 2006
Around 6pm on 27 May 2006, Noel Capulong was on his way home after visiting a “Botica ng Bayan?(pharmacy of the people), a project of his political party, Bayan Muna, in Calamba City, Laguna. While he was at his service vehicle in Barangay Parian, one of the two gunmen in hoods approached and fired at him before boarding a motorcycle and speeding away.
Capulong suffered gunshots to his jaw, the left side of his body and chest. He was immediately taken to the nearby St. John Hospital but declared dead on arrival.
At the time of his death, Capulong was the deputy secretary general of Bayan Muna (Southern Tagalog), regional staff of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, and a spokesperson for the Southern Tagalog Environmental Advocacy Movement. He was active in his church and chaired the Christian Witness and Service Committee for the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, North East Southern Tagalog Conference. He had helped to form the Southern Tagalog Regional Ecumenical Council, was a member of the Kapatirang Simbahan para sa Bayan (Kasimbayan) and was convenor of the Christian Movement for Good Government.
According to the January 2007 Melo Commission report, “A criminal complaint for murder is supposed to have been filed against a certain Alfredo Alinsunurin with the City Prosecutor’s Office, Calamba City, but the file does not indicate the evidentiary basis for the charge. The respondent is at large.?lt;/P>
Rev. Andy Pawican: Pulled away from congregation
VICTIM: Andy Pawican
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 48th IB personnel, Delta Company led by Lt. Tagliwag
DATE: 21 May 2006
At around 11am on 21 May 2006, Rev. Andy Pawican (30), a pastor with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, was allegedly seized by armed men believed to be elements attached to the 48th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, in Sitio Maluyon, Barangay Fatima, Pantabangan, Neuva Ecija.
Pawican was talking to members of his congregation—most of them women—as they were on their way to the house of other fellow church members for lunch about 100 metres away when armed men suddenly appeared and seized him. They told the others to leave and pulled him off.
At around 5pm that day, villagers heard five gun bursts. Later, Pawican’s body was found near to some villagers?houses.
After they learned of the incident, the victim’s relatives reported it to a local police station, but instead of registering their complaints the police insisted that Pawican’s death was the result of a legitimate encounter in Sitio Lomboy, Barangay Tayabo, San Jose, early that day. This contradicts witnesses?accounts.
Pawican’s killing could have been related to his work in the community. The village where he was working had been occupied by the military since October 2005. Residents were complaining of military abuses, in particular the theft of farm animals. Pawican was active in addressing his congregation’s concerns, angering soldiers who had allegedly resorted to more harassment of the community.
Annaliza Abanador-Gandia: Shot down at shop counter
VICTIM: Annaliza Abanador-Gandia
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 18 May 2006
Annaliza Abanador-Gandia (35) was gunned down around 5:30pm in her workplace: soon after two men riding a motorcycle entered the Dakki Sale Center in Balanga, Bataan where she was working as a an assistant personnel officer, she was found dead with four .45-calibre gunshot wounds to her head and body.
Abanador was a leader of a women’s group affiliated with the Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya, a national political organisation.
The presidentially-appointed Melo Commission recorded the following in its January 2007 report concerning her case (page 42):
The police filed charges against the alleged suspects Allan Prado @ Ian and Jose Carabeo @ Toktok, reportedly both members of the CPP-NPA based on the identification of a tricycle driver who supposedly saw the suspects coming out of the Dakki Sale Center. The driver identified the suspects from photographs shown to him by the police.
Based on said identification and without having apprehended the suspects remaining at large, the PNP filed a criminal complaint for murder with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Balanga City, Bataan on May 30, 2006.
Mario Domingo: Killed by hired guns of landlord
VICTIM: Mario Domingo
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Romulo Ellano; Eduardo Semillano
DATE: 17 May 2006
On 17 May 2006 Mario Domingo was attacked by armed men allegedly with connections to an influential landowner, Farley Gustilo. At that time, Domingo and his companions were visiting land awarded to them by the Department of Agrarian Reform that was formerly owned by the Gustilos.
Before heading to the farmland, Domingo sought a security escort from the Regional Mobile Group in Hacienda Cambuktot, Barangay Mansalanao, La Castellana, as he had received reports that 20 of the Gustilos men, some armed, were present there. When the group arrived, the armed men started shooting at them; Domingo died on the spot. The two attackers identified as shooting Domingo were Romulo Ellano and Eduardo Semillano.
Domingo was president of the Hacienda Cambuktot Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association. The contested land was awarded to Domingo’s group in 1991. However, the Gustilos had filed a motion for an injunction to prevent the beneficiaries from taking it over.
At the time of the AHRC appeal being issued, no perpetrators involved in the shooting had been arrested, despite charges having been filed by Task Force Mapalad against them.
Jose Doton: Tailed and shot on motorcycle
1. Jose Doton (killed)
2. Cancio Doton (wounded)
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 16 May 2006
On 16 May 2006, at around 10:30am Jose Doton and his brother Cancio were riding on their motorcycle when attacked by gunmen on another motorcycle, who were apparently tailing the victims. They fired at them soon after they overtook the victims?motorcycle. When the victims?motorcycle fell to the ground, one of the gunmen alighted and shot Jose in the head at close range. Cancio also suffered two gunshot wounds. The attackers immediately left.
At the time of his death, Doton was the secretary general of the Bayan Muna party in Pangasinan and president of Tignayan dagiti Mannalon A Mangwayawaya.
The presidentially-appointed Melo Commission recorded the following on Doton’s killing in its January 2007 report (page 44):
Jose C. Doton was the Secretary General of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan Muna) and President of TIMMAWA (Tignay Ti Mannalon a Mangwayawaya ti Agno). At about 10:30 a.m. on May 16, 2006, while the victim and his brother, Cancio Doton, were on their way home on board a motorcycle, with the victim as backrider, two persons wearing helmets on board a motorcycle who were apparently tailing them fired several shots at them. The victim and his brother fell down. Thereafter, one of the gunmen approached Jose Doton who was lying on the ground and shot him in the head. He was rushed to a hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. His brother was hit at the back but managed to survive. The incident happened on Anong Road, Sabangan River, Brgy Camanggan, San Nicolas, Pangasinan.
A complaint for murder and frustrated murder has been filed against a certain Joel S. Flores because: (a) the motorcycle supposedly used in the killing is registered in his name; and (b) the .45 calibre pistol found in his possession when subjected to a ballistic examination turned out to be the one used in the shooting.
According to the police report, “the identities of the suspects cannot be established as of this time since there are no witnesses who had surfaced to give an eyewitness account of the incident and that the motives for the killing cannot be established.?There is no report on the status of the case filed against Joel S. Flores.
Elena Mendiola & Ricardo Balauag: “There’s somebody…”
1. Elena Mendiola
2. Ricardo Balauag
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 10 May 2006
AHRC UA-096-2006; UP-106-2006; UP-111-2006
It was past 1pm on 10 May 2006 when Elena “Baby?Mendiola, her partner Ricardo “Ric?Balauag and two of her grandchildren arrived in Barangay Garet, Echague. They were about to buy mangoes and take them to Manila, but before going the couple first went to visit members of the Nagkakaisang Magsasaka sa Echague (United Farmers of Echague) in the village. The couple stayed there until the evening, and decided to have dinner at the house of farmer Ben Caculitan, together with Rudrigo Aido, Carmelo Agcaoili and Rudy Corpuz. According to Elena’s daughter Alena, around 7pm she received call from Elena telling her that they would take dinner at the farm. It was the last conversation they had.
At about 8pm Elena and Ricardo were preparing to leave the village. Elena woke her grandchildren up and took them to their car. She then went back to a hut to say goodbye to her friends. She suddenly noticed a gunman leaning on one side of the hut with his gun aimed at her. She said “There’s somebody…?before being shot twice in the hip. She tried to move away, but the gunman continued to fire and killed her on the spot.
Ricardo feared for their grandchildren’s safety, and tried running towards the vehicle where they were but another gunman shot him dead too.
During the shooting, the five people inside the hut dropped to the ground, fearing that they would be shot also. After the gunmen fled on a motorcycle, they took the grandchildren inside while Rudy’s wife Marga Paat called Alena and informed her about the shooting. Alena immediately sought the assistance of the police. According to Alena, they didn’t seem to believe her story or take any immediate action to investigate the incident. Around midnight, the police finally arrived at the crime scene to investigate.
Elena suffered 14 gunshot wounds to different parts of her body; her partner Ricardo suffered two gunshot wounds to his right side. The five people inside the hut could not see the gunmen clearly because there was a power shutdown at the time.
The police have claimed to have made arrests, yet no proper and impartial investigation was carried out into the incident.
The presidentially-appointed Melo Commission recorded the following on the case in its January 2007 report (page 48):
A witness, Bayani Villanueva, gave a supplemental statement dated June 1, 2006 that on May 10, 2006 at around 8 p.m., while on board his motorcycle going to the house of Ruby Corpuz in Barangay Garet Sur, Echague, Isabela to meet with Ricardo Balauag he heard several bursts of gun fire prompting him to seek cover and at that juncture he saw two armed men in black sweaters riding in tandem on a sports-type motorcycle removing their bonnet masks while fleeing towards his direction. As the light of his motorcycle was still on, he was able to identify Renato Busania and Timoteo Corpuz whom he supposedly met on March 2, 2006 after he was told by Ricardo Balauag about the two persons frequenting his house and threatening him with harm if he failed to produce something.
Rev. Jemias Tinambacan: Ambushed on road
1. Jemias Tinambacan (killed)
2. Marilou Tinambacan (wounded)
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Mamay Guimalan and three other unidentified gunmen
DATE: 9 May 2006
At around 5:30pm on 9 May 2006, Rev. Jemias Tinambacan (49) and his wife Rev. Marilou Tinambacan were driving to Oroquieta City from Lopez Jaena, Misamis Occidental, when four gunmen riding two DT Yamaha motorcycles approached their vehicle and began shooting at them. Rev. Jemias Tinambacan suffered an injury to his head, and his van lost control and crashed into a tree. The perpetrators then proceeded towards the vehicle saying, “The woman is still alive? They then fired three times towards Rev. Marilou Tinambacan but failed to kill her. When one of the gunmen came close to the van’s door, she noticed that he was Mamay Guimalan, a member of military intelligence. The gunmen then ran away immediately.
Jemias and Marilou were sent to Misamis Occidental Provincial Hospital in Oroquieta City. Jemias died soon after, while his wife received treatment at the hospital. The perpetrators are still at large.
The couple had been actively involved in human rights work in the region. In particular, Jemias was an active member of the Gloria Step Down Movement in Misamis Occidental and the provincial chairman of the Bayan Muna party.
Gerardo Cristobal: Attacked by police and gunman
VICTIM: Gerardo Cristobal
INCIDENT: Attempted killing
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: SPO1 Romeo Lara (intelligence), Larry Reyes of Civil Security Unit (SCU) and one unidentified companion
DATE: 28 April 2006
Labour leader Gerardo Cristobal was in a car on a crowded street in Barangay Anabu, Coastal, Imus, Cavite on 28 April 2006. He was going for a protest when three armed men in hoods riding in another car, blocked his way and attacked him. Cristobal had a licenced gun with him, which he had obtained after threats on his life from one of the three men who was later identified as Larry Reyes, a personal bodyguard of Vice-Mayor Manny Maliksi of Imus, Cavite—son of the governor. An exchange of gunfire took place between Cristobal and one of his attackers, wounding both of them.
After the shooting the gunmen fled, while a motorcycle trishaw driver took Cristobal back to his house and then on to the Pilar Hospital for treatment for serious gunshot wounds to his stomach, hip and hand.
The person whom Cristobal shot was admitted to the same hospital. He was identified as Senior Police Officer 1 Romeo Lara, a member of police intelligence in Imus, Cavite. SPO1 Lara suffered gunshot wounds to his head and shoulder. However, in an interview on local radio station dzRH, Colonel Rodel Sermonia, head of the intelligence operatives in Imus accused Cristobal of attacking Lara, not vice versa. Another person identified as being involved was Larry Reyes, a member of the Civilian Security Unit (CSU) in Imus; the third person remained in the vehicle that blocked Cristobal’s way.
Later in the afternoon, Cristobal was transferred to San Juan de Dios Hospital in Paranaque City, Metro Manila. Cristobal’s relatives, who were with him at the hospital, were concerned by the presence of Special Weapons and Tactics personnel from Imus at the hospital.
One count of frustrated murder and two counts of attempted murder were filed against Cristobal before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor in Imus, Cavite on April 28. Superintendent Efren Castro, the Imus police chief, claimed that Lara and his two companions were on their way to an anti-illegal drugs operation when the shooting took place. The charges against Cristobal were dismissed months later, but his alleged attackers are still at large.
Cristobal is critical of Governor Ireneo “Ayong?Maliksi of Cavite for his policy of “No Union, No Strike? which practically prohibits protests against the unfair labour practices of foreign-owned factories in Cavite.
In January 2005, Cristobal was allegedly severely tortured by the Imus police after being falsely accused of involvement in the killing of another labour leader, Cris Abad, a former union secretary of Kristong Manggagawa, a labour union of EMI (EDS Manufacturing Incorporated) Yazaki in Cavite, of which Cristobal had been president. He was that time released without charge after police investigators could not produce sufficient evidence.
Gavinon Abrojeno & Edgar Bautista: Botched attempted killing
1. Gavino Abrojeno
2. Edgar Bautista
INCIDENT: Attempted killing
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Five unidentified men
DATE: 26 April 2006
On 26 April 2006, at around 3:15pm, Gavino Abrogena and Edgar Bautista were on their way to a meeting to discuss plans for a May 1 Labour Day demonstration. While waiting for a ride from their office in Dagupan, San Mateo, Isabela, an unmarked blue van stopped in front of them. The van’s driver started calling for passengers to Santiago, a town in the province. Gavino and Edgar decided not to take the van when they saw that all the passengers on board were male and looked suspicious.
After the van left, two men came by motorcycle and stopped in front of the two. One of the gunmen took out a .45-calibre pistol and tried to shoot at Edgar, but the gun did not fire. Gavino and Edgar quickly ran off and shouted out to bystanders in the area. When Edgar tried to hide behind some plants, three men came out from a nearby restaurant and grabbed his neck and arms, asking why he was running. Edgar explained that somebody tried to shoot him. The men tried to pacify him and told him to stop running. Because of the noise Gavino and Edgar made, more customers came out. The three men accosted Edgar, and then ran towards the town centre of San Mateo.
Gavino is a spokesperson of Danggayan, a regional peasant movement in Cagayan Valley who had been actively speaking at protest rallies against militarisation in the region. Edgar’s wife Grace is a human rights leader and worker in the area who was also harassed in October 2005 after she spoke before peasants in Naguilian, Isabela.
It was later reported that soldiers have been asking about the men’s whereabouts. Colonel Shalimar Imperial, 5th Infantry Division intelligence officer, has also publicly accused them of being members of the New People’s Army.
Enrico Cabanit: A police cover-up?
1. Enrico G. Cabanit (killed)
2. Daffodil Cabanit (wounded)
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unidentified gunman
DATE: 24 April 2006
AHRC UA-140-2006; UP-175-2006; UP-009-2007
On 24 April 2006, Enrico Cabanit and his daughter Daffodil were buying food at the public market in Panabo City when a gunman wearing a hood shot them. Enrico died on the spot due to multiple gunshot wounds to his head, and his daughter suffered a gunshot to her lungs. She was sent to the Intensive Care Unit of the Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City.
Enrico had just finished a meeting with officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform where he and other farmers demanded the inclusion of a 400 hectares citrus plantation owned by the Floirendo family under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. The disputed land is part of over 1000 hectares of land under the Worldwide Agricultural Development Corporation (WADECOR) owned by the Floirendos.
Enrico was secretary general of Pambansang Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Lokal na Organisasyon sa Kanayunan, a land reform group. He was also the chair of the WADECOR Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. His death is believed to be connected to his struggle for land reform. He confronted wealthy and influential landowners in the area, including the Floirendos.
Daffodil went into hiding after getting out of hospital out of fear for her life. She has not been afforded any adequate protection.
Meanwhile, the Panabo City Police were unable to secure the relevant physical evidence from the crime scene. Not all spent shells from the shooting were recovered. They were unable to get photographs and sketches of the crime scene. Police investigators used a defective camera, so the photographs taken were of no use. There was no autopsy or postmortem examination performed on Cabanit’s body.
Furthermore, one of the investigators, PO3 Domingo Rañain, went on leave for a month the day after he began the investigation. When he returned to work following his leave, he reportedly required the victim’s family to produce 25,000 Pesos (USD 500) for the body to be exhumed for autopsy. The victim’s family could not produce the amount and as a result the body was not promptly exhumed.
Although police investigators produced sketches of the gunmen, their descriptions contradicted those of other witnesses also present at the crime scene. It was later found out that those who provided descriptions of the gunmen were police informants. The description and information provided by other civilian witnesses has reportedly not been considered.
Three or four days after the shooting, police investigators released sketches and identified the gunman as Monching Solon—a local hired gun and police informer—on the basis of the opinion of a police officer assigned in nearby Tagum City, PO3 Salvador Dumas.
The investigators then searched for Solon. They received information that he was in the nearby town of Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte, but he could not be found. On 26 May 2006, Solon was reportedly killed in a shootout in General Santos City.
Although the two police informers identified Solon as the gunman in Cabanit’s killing, one of two other witnesses sympathetic to the Cabanit family insists that Solon was not the person. Concerns that the real killer has not been identified are compounded by allegations relating to the possible involvement in the killing of one of the members of the Panabo City Police Office, which is leading investigation of the case. A reliable source connected to the victim has claimed that a hired killer was paid 150,000 Pesos (USD 3000) to carry out the murder, and that this person in turn had hired a Panabo City policeman to do it. This information was confirmed by two separate sources. These allegations, however, have not been adequately investigated.
On December 11 the presidentially-appointed Melo Commission investigated the killing of the Cabanit and recorded the following in its January 2007 report (pages 36?8):
Enrico Cabanit was the chairperson of the WADECOR Employees and Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. (“WEARBAI? and the Secretary General of Pambansang Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Organisasyon sa Kanayunan (“UNORKA-National?. He was assassinated by an unidentified gunman wearing a bonnet at the public market of Panabo City, Davao Del Norte on April 24, 2006. Wounded in the incident was Daffodil Cabanit, Enrico Cabanit’s daughter.
As witnesses, the Commission called P/Senior Investigator Wilfredo Puerto and PO3 Domingo Ranain, who investigated the Cabanit murder. PSI Puerto is the Intelligence Officer of the Panabo City Police Station, while Ranain is the police investigator on duty for the Cabanit murder. They both claimed that they already “solved?the crime and that it was a certain Enrique Solon who was the gunman. Enrique Solon was supposedly identified post mortem by eyewitnesses, as he had been killed in similar fashion in General Santos City some days later. Likewise, a certain Benedick Mallorca supposedly overheard Solon drunkenly boasting about killing Cabanit.
However, there are numerous discrepancies and suspicious details regarding the investigation which tended to disprove the police theory, thereby prompting the General Counsel to intensively cross-examine the witnesses. In particular, the following details were suspicious:
– The body of Cabanit was not autopsied before burial, in violation of standard procedure, and despite requests for autopsy by Cabanit’s family.
– The supposed eyewitness, Mr. Ryan Catalan, never stated in his affidavit that he saw the face of the assailant. Hence, his identification of Solon’s body as the gunman is unreliable.
– Solon’s body and face at the time the supposed witnesses identified it were severely swollen (as shown in the submitted picture), that it was virtually impossible to identify him based on his alleged fleeting appearance at the crime scene.
– The police reported that Cabanit was shot with a 9mm handgun three times, and that they recovered 9mm cartridges at the scene of the crime. However, the NBI expert witness stated that, upon his examination, Cabanit sustained only two (2) gunshot wounds and that, due to their diameter, they could not have been caused by a 9mm slug, but only by no less than .45 caliber pistol slugs.
– The police did not bother to bring Daffodil Cabanit to see and identify Solon as the gunman. Daffodil Cabanit is in the best position to see, describe and identify her father’s assailant.
After several questions, the police officers stated that the investigation was still ongoing in that they have yet to identify the mastermind for the killing. The Commission inquired as to what steps the police were taking to do so. The police officers stated that they were waiting for further information from their witness, Mr. Benedick Mallorca. The Commission noted that the investigation should not be kept idly waiting for a witness to volunteer information, especially since the case of Cabanit is, according to Task Force Usig’s report, “under extensive investigation.”
The NBI’s Medico-Legal examiner, Dr. Edgar Saballa, testified on his autopsy of Cabanit’s body undertaken after its exhumation was ordered by the Commission. He discovered that there were two (2) gunshot wounds and not three (3) as stated in the police report. He also concluded that, based on the entry wounds, the weapon used was a .45 caliber pistol, and definitely not a 9mm pistol as stated in the police report. Unfortunately, no slugs were recovered from Cabanit’s body for possible ballistic examination.
Last to testify was Mr. Rodolfo Imson, the local Regional Director of the Department of Agrarian Reform. He testified as to the good character of Cabanit, but that the DAR has no idea who was behind his killing. He, however, mentioned that violence is a constant problem in the implementation of the agrarian reform program, and that he himself has been receiving death threats from unknown parties.
Porferio Maglasang Sr.: Taken to chapel to die
VICTIM: Porferio Maglasang Sr.
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Three unidentified armed men
DATE: 22 April 2006
On 22 April 2006 three gunmen shot Porferio Maglasang Sr. dead at a chapel near his house in Kabankalan City. According to Maglasang’s wife, the gunmen went to their house and asked her husband to go for a talk. When he asked them who they were, he was told to come with them to a chapel nearby. They did not identify themselves or state their purpose for visiting. Soon after Maglasang went out with the three men to the chapel he was shot several times at close range.
Maglasang was the chairperson of the Kabankalan Chapter of the National Federation of Free Farmers (Pambansang Katipunan ng Malayang Magbubukid). He was among its leaders who were earlier forced to evacuate when the military launched Operation Thunderbolt in Southern Negros, particularly in Sipalay, Cauayan, Candoni, Ilog and Kabankalan. Maglasang and other fellow colleagues had long been fighting for more than 2000 hectares of land outside Kabankalan City, which is being tilled by almost 1000 families.
Marilou Sanchez & Virgilio Rubio: Tied up and shot
1. Marilou Sanchez (killed)
2. Virgilio Rubio (killed)
3. Hilario Sanchez (assaulted)
INCIDENTS: Killing; assault
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Ten 16th IB personnel
DATE: 22 April 2006
In the night of 22 April 2006, Marilou Sanchez (42), husband Hilario (“Larry? and brother, Virgilio Rubio (40), were sleeping inside their hut in Barangay Magsikap, General Nakar, Quezon. At around 2:30am, around ten armed men believed to be elements of the 16th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, entered the hut. The men were wearing black long-sleeved shirts, five were wearing hoods and others were in military-style pants. The men immediately tied up Marilou and her brother Virgilio. They asked them who was Larry Sanchez, and Hilario responded affirmatively. The armed men accused Hilario of being a member of the New People’s Army. He denied this and told them that he was serving the local government as chief of village security. The men started beating Hilario until blood came out from his nose and they thought he was unconscious; they tied him up. Then some of them ordered their companions to take Virgilio and tied him up on the second floor of the hut. Marilou was also tied to a post.
Hilario managed to untie his hands. One of the armed men approached his wife and shot her. He also heard gunshots from upstairs. Hilario immediately got up and ran off, with the attackers shooting at him. He stayed in the forest until daytime.
Marilou died from gunshot wounds to her head while Virgilio had wounds to his chest. The armed men also ransacked and stole items from the house.
Marilou was a member of the Bayan Muna party, while Hilario is as he said, chief of the Barangay Tanod (security force) of Barangay Magsikap and also a Bayan Muna member.
Rico Adeva: Shot face down in river basin
VICTIM: Rico Adeva
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Ronald Europa, Revolutionary Proletarian Army–Alex Boncayao Brigade member, “Boy Negro?& unidentified man
DATE: 15 April 2006
AHRC UA-130-2006; UP-175-2006
On 15 April 2006 Rico Adeva (39) and his wife Nenita were on their way to Talisay town in Negros Occidental when they were stopped by armed men. It was around 4pm as the couple passed through the Imbang River when three men wearing jackets and armed with .45-calibre pistols blocked their way. Rico was shot after they were told to turn their backs and lie down with their faces to the ground. He suffered ten gunshot wounds in the head, ears, hands and torso.
Rico’s wife Nenita said that his murder was prompted by his involvement in the struggle for agrarian reform. He was a staff member of Task Force Mapalad, an agrarian organisation assisting peasant beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme to claim lands awarded to them.
In a sworn statement on April 24 Nenita identified two of the gunmen as Ronald Europa, a distant relative of her husband, and another person known as Boy Negro. Ronald Europa has been confirmed to be a member of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army–Alex Boncayao Brigade rebel group. Nenita recounted having met with Ronald in 1997 and 1998, when he and his companions visited their house. Nenita had not seen him again since. However, some Task Force Mapalad leaders had reportedly been approached by the three gunmen on April 9, who had asked what day Adeva usually came that way. Since then, Ronald and his group had been seen passing through Barangay San Antonio each day.
Although the rebel group’s leadership has reportedly confirmed that Ronald Europa is their member in the Silay area, no arrest has been made. They have also insisted that since 2000 Ronald has been based in an area far from the barangay where the killing took place. Ronald’s unnamed brother, alleged to have been the other person involved in the killing, has just recently joined the group and is based in Central Region, Himamaylan. However the group has reportedly denied knowing the other gunman, Boy Negro.
Elpidio de la Victoria: No empty threats
VICTIM: Elpidio de la Victoria
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: SPO1 Marcial Ocampo
DATE: 12 April 2006
Elpidio de la Victoria, programme director of the environmental organisation Cebu City Bantay Dagat Commission, was shot in front of his house in Barangay Dauis, Talisay City on 12 April 2006. He died from multiple gunshot wounds a day after the incident.
De la Victoria and his colleague Antonio Oposa were at the forefront of the fight against destructive and illegal methods of fishing in the Visayas region of central Philippines. Their Visayan Sea Squadron, a volunteer organisation, is campaigning for the protection the marine environment. Prior to his death, de la Victoria disclosed that a million pesos had been raised to kill him and Oposa. In an email received by the AHRC, Oposa said he was convinced that “the threats against me have not been empty?
On April 17 at around 3pm, one of the alleged perpetrators of de la Victoria’s murder, SPO1 Marcial Bacudo Ocampo (43) was arrested. He was identified by witnesses in a police line up at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 7 headquarters in Cebu City and subsequently disarmed of his .45-calibre service pistol. However, there was no warrant for his arrest when he was detained. The police claim that his arrest was made in a “hot pursuit?operation and therefore they did not require a warrant. However, hot pursuit arrest can be made only within hours of the commission of a crime. In this case, Ocampo was arrested five days after the murder.
Nicanor Briones: Shot while with friends at bus terminal
VICTIM: Nicanor Briones
INCIDENT: Attempted killing
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 6 April 2006
On 6 April 2006 at around 2:20pm Nicanor Briones and companions—Jariz Vida, Eric Torrecampo, Leo Caballero, Nida Barcenas and Norberto Autor—were attacked by two gunmen riding on a motorcycle while at the CBD bus terminal in Naga City, Bicol, armed with a .45-calibre pistol with silencer. Briones was immediately sent to the Bicol Medical Center for treatment. He suffered five gunshot wounds from which he has since recovered.
The group, members of the Camarines Sur chapter of the Bayan alliance, had just concluded the launch of a campaign to oppose changing the national constitution, which at least 127 member organisations had joined, when they were attacked. Prior to the attack the group was among others in the area subjected to propaganda for their activities.
Florencio Cervantes: “Crossfire” killing in bed
VICTIM: Florencio Perez Cervantes
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 36th IB personnel led by Capt. Bungcarawan
DATE: 5 April 2006
At around 2am on 5 April 2006, Florencio Cervantes (27) and his family were sleeping when armed men in hoods broke in and started shooting. Florencio’s wife Elsa grabbed the attackers?rifles to prevent them shooting their children. Florencio told her to take the children and escape. As they fled they saw five accomplices of the attackers, who attempted to block their way, and noticed several armed men cordoning off their place. As they fled they heard several gunshots coming from the house.
After the attackers left in two service vans, Elsa and her children returned. She saw that her husband was seriously wounded and dying. In fact, Florencio had suffered 47 gunshot wounds.
An hour later, two vans carrying armed men in military uniforms arrived. They asked the victim’s family and villagers what had happened. After taking pictures of the victim and his house, they left.
On 7 April 2006, a local newspaper reported the death as having occurred due to crossfire between the New People’s Army and elements of the 36th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army led by Captain Bungcarawan. The report clearly contradicts the victim’s family’s account.
Florencio was an active supporter of political party Bayan Muna in the 2004 elections. He was vocal on various peasant issues in his community.
Inday Cuñado: Shot by neighbour after being labelled communist
1. Liezelda Estorba-Cuñado (killed)
2. Gerry Cuñado (wounded)
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Joel Bayron, suspected member of Barangay Intelligence Network, under 15th IB
DATE: 3 April 2006
Liezelda “Inday?Estorba-Cuñado (30) and her husband Gerry (30) were awakened at dawn on 3 April 2006 in Panadtaran, Candijay, Bohol, by their neighbour Joel Bayron and his wife. They were shouting in front of their house, and yelling that the Cuñados were communists and terrorists. They also accused Gerry and Liezelda of throwing rocks at their house the night before.
Gerry suggested that the Bayrons should solve this problem later in the morning because they were disturbing the neighbours. Joel left with his wife, but ten minutes later they both returned and Joel was carrying a gun. He shot Gerry in the arm, and shot Liezelda at close range in her chest before fleeing.
Other neighbours immediately sent Gerry and Liezelda to the municipal hospital. Liezelda was declared dead on arrival. Gerry was later transferred to the Provincial Hospital for treatment. The local police arrested Joel’s wife, but Joel remains at large. He is reportedly a member of the Barangay Intelligence Network handled by the 15th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, which had publicly labelled the couple as communists and terrorists; Liezelda had been a staff member of the Gabriela Women’s Party.
Agnes & Amante Abelon: Mother and child embrace in death
1. Agnes Abelon (killed)
2. Amante Abelon Jr. (killed)
3. Amante Abelon (wounded)
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 20 March 2006
Peasant leader Amante Abelon (42), his wife Agnes (30) and their 5-year-old son Amante Jr. were attacked by armed men while riding a motorcycle on their way home on 20 March 2006. The Abelon family was passing a road from the town of Castillejos, on their way to Palayan. When they reached the unpopulated area of Sitio Mauao, Barangay San Isidro, armed men riding in a dark-colored vehicle opened fire on them. Amante was hit in different parts of his body, but he managed to run for safety while his wife and son were left behind.
Amante hid behind a tree some 70 metres away from where the shooting happened. He asked two workers at a nearby plantation for help; however, they ran away when they saw that he had been pursued by armed men.
Amante immediately phoned a friend for help. The friend rushed to his location and took him to the hospital in San Marcelino. He was later transferred to the James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital in Olongapo City and underwent surgery. He was declared in a stable condition the following day; he sustained nine gunshot wounds.
Agnes and Amante Jr.’s bodies were later found near the motorcycle, still embracing each other. They were both shot in their heads.
Tirso Cruz: Labour leader shot after church
VICTIM: Tirso Cruz
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 17 March 2006
Labour leader Tirso Cruz (33) was walking home from a church in Concepcion, Tarlac when gunmen riding on a motorcycle shot him dead on 17 March 2006. He suffered six gunshot wounds in different parts of his body.
Before the incident, Cruz had received a number of threats to his life following a 2005 protest by labourers in Hacienda Luisita. Cruz was also actively involved in protesting against the construction of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway project and the deployment of soldiers inside the hacienda. In the days prior to his death, Cruz had led union members and residents in a protest calling for the withdrawal of soldiers deployed inside the hacienda and for the expressway construction to be stopped. Residents inside the hacienda have been protesting against the quarry operations by project contractors in Barangay Asturias.
Some 50 Cafgu members and soldiers attached to the 71st Infantry Division, which was at that time under Major Gen. Jovito Palparan, were reportedly deployed in Barangay Pando, using the project management’s office as their headquarters. The soldiers were allegedly being used to prevent any protest actions against the management.
Nestor Arinque: Gunned down while fixing motorcycle on roadside
VICTIM: Nestor Arinque
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 7 March 2006
On 7 March 2006 at 11:30am, Nestor Arinque (39) and his wife were buying goods at a market in Barangay San Roque, Mabini, Bohol. He waited for his wife at a store owned by Tony Salaum, who was together with two other companions, one of them was a member of Cafgu in Baragay Abaca.
Half an hour later, Arinque met his friend Jorge Tutor, who asked Arinque to take him home. On the way, his motorcycle’s chain malfunctioned and they had to stop at Purok 1. Arinque was fixing the chain when two gunmen riding on a motorcycle stopped and one of them fired at him with a .45-calibre pistol. Arinque died on the spot.
Prior to the incident, on March 2, at around 11am, military men and Cafgu members attached to the 15th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army stationed in Sitio Mahayag, Barangay San Roque, were seen in front of Arinque’s house. When Arinque asked them why they were there, they told they were just roaming around. Some of the men were known to Arinque.
Arinque had been ‘invited?by the military to appear before their detachment in Sitio Mahayag, but he had repeatedly refused. He had also refused to heed their warnings against working for peasants?rights and as a result was allegedly included in their Order of Battle lists.
Arturo Caloza: Killed at a funeral
1. Arturo Caloza (killed)
2. Geronimo Pablo (wounded)
3. Ursula Tabelin (wounded)
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unidentified gunman
DATE: 4 March 2006
At around 9pm on 4 March 2006, Arturo Caloza (28), a member of the Bayan Muna (People First) party, told his wife Julita that he was going to the wake of a neighbor. Before leaving, he told her to close the door and that he would be back soon. He went to the wake together with his father-in-law Clemente Somera and uncle, Dionisio Caloza.
After arriving they sat at a table to play cards. About 10:30pm, a man suddenly approached and shot Caloza, who fell to the ground from his chair. When he tried to look up at the gunman, he was shot again; this time in his chest. Stray bullets hit two persons, Ursula Tabelin (65) and Geronimo Pablo (45).
Everyone fled the crime scene and no one dared to go back or take Caloza to hospital until almost two hours later, when Luis Cariaga, a villager, took him to the Heart of Jesus Hospital at Malasin, San Jose City. Caloza was dead on arrival.
Although a unit of soldiers was stationed just 60 metres from the crime scene, they reportedly did not respond to the gunfire or attempt to pursue the attacker. They also did nothing for the victims of the shooting.
Prior to the incident, on January 21 and 30, soldiers attached to the 48th and 70th Infantry Battalions, Philippine Army, reportedly conducted surveys of Barangay Villa Marina. On January 23, they converted the Barangay Hall into a military detachment. The villagers were not properly notified regarding the purpose of their stay and how long they would be stationed in the area. The soldiers also had been conducting interviews among the villagers. When they interviewed the victim’s wife Julita prior to her husband’s killing they reportedly accused her husband of being a communist rebel.
Melanio Evangelista: Murdered in bed
VICTIM: Melanio Evangelista
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unidentified gunman
DATE: 17 February 2006
On 17 February 2006 at around 11:45pm, Melanio Evangelista (43) was asleep at home at Purok Brotherhood, Barangay Unidad, Cagwait, Surigao del Sur. His wife Nora heard voices from outside their house calling the name of her husband, requesting him to go outside. Nora told them that Melanio was already in bed. She then heard noises from the back of the house, and immediately went to where her husband was sleeping. She saw a man covering his face with a handkerchief shooting at Melanio. He then immediately went outside and rode away on a waiting motorcycle. Melanio died from a shot to the left side of his head, the bullet also entering the right side of his neck and exiting from his right shoulder.
Melanio was a peasant leader of the Kapunungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Surigao Sur (Organization of Peasants in Surigao Sur). He and his wife Nora were constant participants in its activities in their municipality.
A few weeks before the killing they saw a motorcycle-riding man destroying and burning their organisation’s posters. There were also rumors that the 58th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army had said that it would “break up?the group. Nora also noticed motorcycle-riding men constantly passing and seemingly observing them near their house. She believed the men to be military intelligence. Although slightly alarmed, she and her family had not paid much attention as they had had no enemies.
Allan Ibasan & Dante Salgado: Taken away from bamboo plantation and shot
1. Allan Ibasan
2. Dante Salgado
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Four 71st IB personnel led by an officer named Canlas
DATE: 31 January 2006
Allan Ibasan (18) and Dante Salgado (17) were allegedly killed by military agents after their arrest on 31 January 2006. Allan and Dante were workers of a bamboo plantation. They were preparing for their breakfast while seven of their companions started the work of cutting bamboo. A few minutes after Allan and Dante left to buy more ingredients for breakfast, a loud burst of gunfire was heard some distance away. The other labourers then ran to their employer’s house for safety.
Earlier that morning the labourers had been woken by a loud burst of gunfire. A fight was said to have taken place between government troops and the New People’s Army in Pansagwan Valley, Barangay Sta. Ines West, Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac between 3 and 4am that day. So the group decided to stay at the house until noon. While they were all inside, a group of heavily-armed military men, believed to be attached to the 71st Infantry Battalion, arrived. They yelled at those inside the house to come out.
The labourers stepped outside the house. They saw four soldiers pointing guns at them wearing, one with the name “Canlas?on his shirt. The soldiers asked if they had lost any companions. Glen then told them that his brother Allan and uncle Dante were not with them. The soldiers then produced Allan, who appeared to be haggard, tired and unkempt. Glen urged the soldiers to release his brother. The troops, however, ignored his request.
Glen then went to ask his employer, Arsenio Asuncion, to affirm his brother’s identity, but the soldiers had already left when they arrived back.
Glen and his companions went to the house of a Barangay Council member, Granil, to seek refuge. While Granil’s wife was preparing lunch, Glen saw a tank with about 20-30 soldiers arriving nearby. Glen and his companions immediately left and ran to a friend’s house to stay overnight.
At around 7am on February 1, Glen was informed that his brother was already dead and the body was at the Funeraria Corpuz funeral home. When the family went, they found that Allan was half-naked and his body had suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Dante’s body was also later identified in the same funeral home by his relatives, also with gunshot wounds to his chest and marks on some parts of his body.
Mateo Morales: Death follows series of attacks and threats
VICTIM: Mateo Morales
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Cafgu personnel attached to the 29th IB, commanded by Lt. Col. Taboga
DATE: 24 January 2006
Mateo Morales, a staff member of the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) ?Tribal Filipino Ministry, was killed in his house in San Luis, Agusan del Sur, Mindanao on 24 January 2006. Morales suffered a fatal gunshot wound to his chest and died on his way to hospital. Although the perpetrator has not been identified, there are indications that he may have connections with the civilian militia unit Cafgu, attached to the 29th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, which is operating in the area.
Days after Morales?shooting, four to six unidentified armed Cafgu were seen close to the victim’s house, during his wake. On January 26, two unidentified armed men also tried to enter a house where Morales?colleagues were staying, but they failed. Morales?wife Aileen believes that the Cafgu could be involved in his death.
A reliable source said the result of the investigation made by San Luis Municipal Station head Police Senior Inspector Nilo Teodoro Texon into Morales?case was not impartial and has failed to reach any conclusive findings. Texon did not include the testimonies of the victim’s family, and ignored incidents prior to Morales?death which indicated the possible involvement of Cafgu.
The RGS ministry has been vocal in denouncing alleged human rights violations perpetrated by Cafgu members and the military in tribal communities. There had been several earlier incidents of violence allegedly perpetrated by Cafgu against villagers associated with the ministry.
On 17 November 2005, unidentified armed men attempted to break into one of the houses of the ministry’s community leader while he was sleeping. Next day, there were combat boots prints found surrounding the house. That evening, the armed men returned and were able to gain entry into the house but the leader had already fled.
On 24 November 2005, a motorcycle driver associated with the ministry was shot by a Cafgu member. On 9 December 2005, another Cafgu member publicly threatened a community leader that he would be killed if he continued his work with the ministry. Again on 22 January 2006, a Cafgu member pointed his gun at a civilian because he was somehow connected to the religious sisters managing the ministry. Had it not been for the intervention of a bystander he would not have been freed.
Ofelia Rodriguez: “I was only there to look after my sick mother”
VICTIM: Ofelia Rodriguez
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 69th IB personnel, commanded by 2nd Lt. John Paul Nicholas
DATE: 16 January 2006
At around 5.30-6pm on 6 January 2006, Ofelia Rodriguez and her family had just finished dinner in their house in Barangay Divisoria, Mexico, Pampanga, Luzon. Rodriguez was carrying her granddaughter Eliza. She was about to serve her ailing mother a glass of water when a gunman came to their house and shot her in the head. Rodriguez died on the spot.
Rodriguez’s granddaughter Michelle heard the gunshot. She was at the back of their house together with her younger brother. She saw a tall, stocky man wearing civilian clothes and a baseball cap, leave the house and calmly walk towards another companion outside. The two left together on a motorcycle.
Earlier that day, Michelle said her grandmother had told her that she had seen a man standing near a tree outside their house. A neighbour had likewise come that day and told Rodriguez that there was a man looking for her. The man was reportedly carrying a gun. However, he was unable to warn her that the man was armed, because he was in a hurry and was frightened.
Rodriguez was a member of the Divisoria Farmers Association. Prior to the incident, her family had been constantly harassed and threatened by 2nd Lt. John Paul Nicolas, head of the 69th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army and his men.
During a convenors?meeting in Quezon City on 25 October 2005, Rodriguez testified that she had been invited to a military camp for questioning. She claimed that 2nd Lt. John Paul Nicolas forced her to admit that she was a top-ranking leader of the New People’s Army. On another occasion, her daughter confronted Nicolas regarding this threat to murder her mother. According to her:
They invited me to go to the camp, I thought it was for some other reason, but when I arrived there, they told me, “Admit it, we already know all important events happening in the town of Mexico, you alone know. All those we have asked from your town have high regard for you.?I wasn’t doing anything. I was only there to look after my sick mother.
After the meeting in Quezon City, harassment and threats against Rodriguez and her family allegedly intensified. On one occasion, a neighbour reportedly approached Rodriguez and said to her that Nicolas had approached him, gave him a gun and ordered him to murder her, but he refused.
Barangay Divisoria is one of the villages where the military has their Reengineered Special Operations Team, a counter-insurgency programme which includes deployment of military men to “integrate?themselves into communities.
Audie Lucero: Abducted from hospital
VICTIM: Audie Lucero
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Balanga & Lubao police, Bataan; 24th or 64th IB personnel
DATES: 12/13 January 2006
Audie Lucero (19) was found dead in Barangay Capitangan, Abucay, Bataan on 13 February 2006 after meeting with policemen and military men the day before.
On February 12, Lucero visited his friend confined at the Immaculate Catalina Medical Center in Balanga, Bataan. While there, seven uniformed policemen introduced themselves to him as members of the Balanga Police Station. They questioned Lucero about his relationship with the friend whom he was visiting, who had been accused by the police and military of being a rebel.
When policemen left, another group from Lubao Police Station arrived, accompanied by military men believed to be connected with either the 24th or 64th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. They also began talking to Lucero. After that he went missing and was found dead the next day nearby the hospital with fatal gunshot wounds to his back, knee and left hand, and his body had traces of torture marks.
Lucero was a member of the Youth for Nationalism and Democracy–Bataan, the youth arm of the political organisation Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya.
In a letter to the AHRC dated 15 November 2006, the National Police Commission accused Lucero of being a member of the Marxist Leninist Party of the Philippines who was involved in an armed encounter with elements of 24th IB. However, the letter did not give any information about the investigation of Lucero’s death.
Cathy Alcantara: Shot dead at farmers’ conference
VICTIM: Cathy Alcantara
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 5 December 2005
The secretary general of the Bataan chapter of the national political organisation Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD), Cathy Alcantara (44) was killed by unidentified armed men while participating in a conference of farmers from across Luzon at a resort in Barangay Gabon, Abucay, Bataan, Luzon on 5 December 2005. She was declared dead on arrival at the Bataan Provincial Hospital.
KPD members had reported threats against them and their colleagues prior to the killing of Alcantara, who was among those threatened. KPD organisers had on several occasions been monitored upon by unknown armed men, who had one time also asked about the whereabouts of their colleagues.
Jose Manegdeg: Same job, new victim
VICTIM: Jose “Pepe” Manegdeg III
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unidentified gunman
DATE: 28 November 2005
Jose Manegdeg III of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte was slain on 28 November 2005 after participating in a Paralegal Training Seminar at the Ursa Major Resort, sponsored by the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance-Karapatan. Manegdeg left the venue that evening by hired tricycle to take a bus to Manila, where was to meet his wife who was arriving from Hong Kong the following day.
As Manegdeg alighted from a tricycle at a bus stop on the highway, a gunman emerged from a van, approached him and shot him repeatedly. The tricycle driver sped off for fear of his own life, but returned to where he had picked up Manegdeg to inform his companions of what had happened.
Manegdeg’s colleagues immediately contacted the police, and went to the scene of the killing. They found Manegdeg’s body approximately 15 metres from the waiting shed. His bag, cell phone and other belongings were missing. The body was found to have 22 bullet wounds from a .45-calibre pistol.
Manegdeg was a Bayan Muna party coordinator in Ilocos province. His predecessor, Romeo Sanchez was also killed, on 9 March 2005 in Baguio City, Luzon (case documented below). Manegdeg was the former coordinator of the Regional Ecumenical Council in the Cordillera Region (Reccord) and editorial staff of “Writing on the Wall? the official publication of the Northern Luzon Forum for Church and Society.
Prior to his death Manegdeg was reported to have been monitored and was receiving calls and text messages on his mobile phone. He also received written threats on his life.
In a letter dated 23 January 2006, Secretary Raul Gonzalez of the Department of Justice wrote to the AHRC that he had instructed the National Bureau of Investigation under his department to commence an investigation into Manegdeg’s murder. He said that the NBI had also been advised to submit its findings and recommendations as soon a practicable.
Emmylou Buñi-Cruz & Daniel Brylle: Attacked near beach resort
1. Emmylou Buñi-Cruz
2. Daniel Brylle
INCIDENT: Attempted killing
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Three 78th IB intelligence personnel, commanded by Lt. Col. Jessie Alvarez
DATE: 25 November 2005
On 25 November 2005 at around 4pm, Emmylou Buñi-Cruz (25) and her husband Daniel Brylle (34) finished a human rights seminar at Sitio Punta, Barangay 8, Tuburan, Cebu, about seven kilometers from the town centre. Emmylou is a staff member of the human rights group Karapatan in Central Visayas, while Daniel is an organiser of the Bayan Muna party in Cebu. The seminar was part of preparations International Human Rights Day on December 10. They were also monitoring the situation of evacuees returning after fighting between the military and rebels on 15 October 2005.
On their way back they walked along the same road as when they had come, passing by a resort house owned by Tuburan Councillor Roy Tabotabo, where five soldiers attached to the 78th Infantry Battalion had been staying since October 24. As they came close to the national highway, two motorcycles passed. There were two persons on the first motorcycle, while the second motorcycle had only its driver. The first motorcycle then turned around in the direction of the victims, while the other continued on and parked 20 metres further ahead.
As the first motorcycle came close to the couple, Daniel noticed that the rider had positioned his right arm in an angle that seemed to be pulling out something. Daniel also noticed that the driver was covering his face with a handkerchief. Then he saw the pillion pointing a pistol towards him and Emmylou. He tried to get out of the way, pulling Emmylou with him, but she was hit by a bullet on the right side of her chest, with it exiting just below her right armpit.
Daniel immediately pulled Emmylou back into a house in the direction from where they had come and asked for help from residents there who were watching a basketball match. The residents accompanied the two victims along the coast and out onto the highway where they boarded a passenger motorcycle and headed for a hospital.
At about 10pm Emmylou was taken by an ambulance to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, accompanied by her colleagues from Karapatan-Cebu North Area. The Municipal Mayor of Tuburan also sent four police escorts from the Regional Mobile Group, led by P03 Raul Janetro. Emmylou survived the attack.
Ivestigations revealed that the three attackers may have been members of the 78th IB staying on the street. Within hours of the incident, the soldiers are reported to have fled from the area, together with Ritchel Buhawi, a caretaker at the house. However, the chief of the Tuburan police, Inspector Crisanto Duque, reportedly showed little effort to pursue them, and did not summon Buhawi for questioning over the identities of the soldiers. Nor did he summon Councillor Tabotabo, who may have been able to assist the investigations. Inspector Duque also rejected the victims?request to attempt to do sketches of the attackers.
Bernabe Borra & others: Victims of murderous and senseless military attack
1. Bernabe Borra Jr y Barbosa (killed)
2. Eric Nogal y Selada (killed)
3. Roel Obijas y Lacaba (killed)
4. Perlito Borra (killed)
5. Gerry Almerino (killed)
6. Eufemia Borra y Barbosa (killed)
7. Alma Bartoline (pregnant) (killed)
8. Mark Pansa/Monsa (killed)
9. Ramy Cumpio (wounded)
10. Ferdinand Montanejos (wounded)
11. Bernabe Borra Sr. (wounded)
12. Ranilo Orseda (wounded)
13. Berlito Barbosa y Borra (wounded)
14. Ismael Regato (wounded)
15. Cora Bernabe (wounded)
16. Richard Cornesta y Margallo (wounded)
17. Christopher Bayase (wounded)
18. Ariel Timbo Capatoy (wounded)
19. Antonio Margallo (wounded)
20. Eduardo Margallo (wounded)
21. Several others wounded
22. Marivic Macawile (illegally arrested)
23. Joselito Tobe (illegally arrested; custodial death)
24. Arnel Dizon y Margallo (illegally arrested)
25. Mariel Obijas y Dizon (illegally arrested)
26. Eulogio Pilapil (illegally arrested)
27. Artemio Amante (illegally arrested)
28. Baltazar Mardo (illegally arrested)
29. Bernardo Lantajo (illegally arrested)
INCIDENTS: Killing; illegal arrest
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 19th IB personnel (802nd Infantry Brigade) led by Lt. Benedicto, commanded by Col. Louie Dagoy
DATE: 21 November 2005
AHRC UA-216-2005; UP-141-2005; UP-019-2006; UP-222-2006
At about 5am on 21 November 2005, farmers belonging to the San Agustin Farmer Beneficiaries Association together with members of the Bayan Muna party and farmers from a number of villages and other associations had gathered with the intention to occupy 12 hectares of rice fields in Palo, Leyte, about 16km from Tacloban City, which had been awarded them by the Department of Agrarian Reform under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. Altogether there were at least 46 persons there, some 500 metres from the barangay proper.
Some of the farmers were already awake and cooking food when several armed men in balaclavas suddenly appeared and opened fire, also shooting several grenades. Five people died on the spot. Those who were seriously wounded by gunshot and shrapnel were taken to the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center. Two of them died while being treated. One victim, Alma Bartoline, was seven-months-pregnant when she was killed. Two others—Antonio Margallo (16) and Eduardo Margallo (24)—were lightly wounded and taken in by a village leader in Barangay Can-gumbang.
Subsequently eight of the group were arrested and detained at the Palo Police Station. Fabricated charges for illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions were filed against them, and the military accused the people of being members of a rebel group.
Among them, Joselito Tobe, the secretary-general of the Concerned Citizen’s for Justice and Peace in Metro Tacloban and a Bayan Muna member residing in Barangay Cabuynan, Tanauan, Leyte, died in custody on 12 July 2006, reportedly due to food poisoning. Two weeks earlier, he and his fellow detainee, Arniel Dizon, had received death threats while in the prison.
In an interview with local reporters, Colonel Louie Dagoy, commanding officer of the 19th Infantry Battalion, claimed that the incident was an encounter. The survivors strongly deny the military’s claim and have said that the military opened fire without any warning. Their claims were substantiated by an independent investigation by the Citizens Anti-Crime Assistance Group, which concluded that the victims were deliberately attacked and were unarmed.
On 17 February 2006, the regional office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR VIII) filed complaints against the military men involved in the killing before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Office. The commission filed charges of multiple murder and frustrated murder and requested “for the institution of appropriate cases against the respondents?
Although the commission recommended prosecuting the military men involved, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Office delayed acting on its recommendations. Under existing procedures, the ombudsman has to reexamine the findings made by the commission before a case proceeds to court. Repeated follow-up inquiries by the commission did not result in any progress. Late in 2006 charges of multiple murder and frustrated murder were filed with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, Leyte, against 12 military men, a police officer and 13 others.
In a letter dated 16 May 2006 Paquito Nacino, CHR VIII regional director, assured the AHRC that his office is “closely monitoring?the case and has “recommended financial assistance to the next heirs of the deceased as well as to the surviving victims? Nacino added that the Integrated Bar of the Philippines had pledged to provide legal assistance to the victims, who are poor and unprivileged and were still facing fabricated charges for illegal assembly and possession of firearms.
On 17 November 2006, Judge Mario Nicolasaro of the Palo Municipal Trial Court acquitted the eight respondents over illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions; however, the charge of illegal assembly has not been resolved. The seven surviving respondents posted bail and were released from Leyte Provincial Jail.
Victoria Samonte: Stabbed by fellow passenger
VICTIM: Victoria Samonte
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unidentified man
DATE: 30 September 2005
Victoria “Vicky?Samonte (51), the regional vice-chair of a leading labour alliance (Kilusang Mayo Uno-Caraga), was stabbed to death by an unidentified man in Bislig City, Mindanao in the evening of 30 September 2005.
At about 9:40pm, Samonte hired a motorcycle to go home to Barangay Mancarogo from Andres Soriano College in Barangay Mangagoy. She was with her neighbor and co-teacher, Mansueta “Sweet?Sanchez.
About 100 metres away from the school, a man wearing a hat and a sweatshirt flagged down the motorcycle. The driver refused because he had been already rented by the two ladies, but Samonte, who was sitting alone in the front seat, asked the man where he was going, to which he responded Barangay Cumawas. Since it was not out of the way from where the two women were heading, she let the man ride with them.
The man sat beside Sanchez on the back of the motorcycle, although she requested him to transfer and sit on the other side.
When they reached Barangay Cumawas, Samonte asked the man they should drop him off. The man replied “further ahead? When they reached Barangay Mancarogo, she asked again and he repeated his previous reply. This time she requested the driver to take the man to wherever his destination was first.
Upon reaching a dimly-lit part of the highway, about 100 metres away from the crossing to Samonte’s residence the man finally stopped the driver, paid his fare and walked towards Bislig City. Witnesses at a waiting shed nearby later said they saw the man running towards a single motorcycle waiting for him about 70 metres ahead.
Meanwhile, back on the motorcycle Samonte had been stabbed in her back: she asked Sanchez to take a look, and in the darkness, when Sanchez ran her hand over her friend’s back she felt something stuck in it. She pulled out a knife and told the driver to go back to the nearest hospital, at Mangagoy. However, Samonte was declared dead on arrival.
On 22 September 2005, at around 8am labour leader Diosdado Fortuna arrived at the compound of the Nestle Philippines-Cabuyao Plant in Barangay Niugan, Cabuyao, Laguna, where workers were on strike. Afterwards he went to the office of the Organised Labour in Line Industries and Agriculture located at the Shine Land Subdivision in Cabuyao for a meeting. He arrived at around 9am.
Around midday, two men in their 30s in an old maroon Toyota Corolla stopped in front of the office, sounded their horn and lowered a window. One of the men, who both had short-cropped hair, white t-shirts and muscular builds, asked the union president, “Is there anybody dead here??Fortuna, who was then presiding over the meeting, stood up and looked out to the gate. Hermie, the president, told them, “Nobody died here.?The car then sped off towards the exit of the subdivision.
Fortuna left in the afternoon and went back to the Nestle picket line, where he met several students from the University of Sto. Tomas and stayed until around 4:30pm. He then received a text message from his wife, Luzviminda, informing him that their grandson was ill and needed to be taken to hospital. Fortuna told a colleague that he would leave and come back later.
During that time, an unidentified man was seen sitting on a chair in front of a store inside the compound near the picket line. He was seated directly in front of the entrance of the picket line. When he was asked by a store attendant “Are you buying something??the man, who was writing text messages on his mobile, stopped and placed his phone in his pocket. He stayed there for about 15 minutes and hurriedly left just ahead of Fortuna, who boarded his motorbike to go home.
Around 5:20pm, two men wearing helmets were seen shooting Fortuna twice in his back outside the Sagara Factory. They sped off on board a motorcycle heading towards Rodriguez Subdivision. Another motorcycle came and stopped alongside Fortuna, who was lying on the ground wounded.
A tricycle driver took Fortuna to the Calamba Doctors Hospital but he died an hour later of gunshot wounds to his heart and liver.
Norman Bocar: Another human rights lawyer…
VICTIM: Norman Bocar
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 1 September 2005
On the morning of 1 September 2005, human rights lawyer Norman Bocar was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle in Borongan, Eastern Samar, Visayas. Bocar was coming out from a meeting when he was shot in the head.
Bocar was the regional chairman of umbrella group Bayan. Prior to his death Bocar sought help from the police for his security, after serious threats against his life; however, he received no protection.
The police investigation into his death reached no conclusive findings and the perpetrators were not identified. The police formed a special task force to investigate the killing but this too has failed to resolve the case.
Rev. Raul Domingo: Church worker and human rights defender slain
VICTIM: Raul Domingo
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unknown
DATE: 20 August 2005
Rev. Raul Domingo was shot in Barangay San Jose, Puerto Prinsesa City, Palawan on 20 August 2006 and he died in a Manila hospital on September 4.
Rev. Domingo was a dedicated pastor of the United Church of the Philippines. As key minister of the Palawan Associate Conference- District II, he was active in the life of the church especially in the Church Workers Organization and Christian Witness and Service program of the UCCP. He had also denounced military abuses and large-scale mining in his region. He had been harassed and under threats for several years. He served as a dedicated leader of the provincial chapter of human rights alliance Karapatan, Kasimbayan and the multi-sectoral alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.
Rev. Edison Lapuz & Alfredo Malinao: Two deaths at a funeral
1. Edison Lapuz
2. Alfredo Malinao
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified military personnel
DATE: 12 May 2005
AHRC UP-059-2005; UP-061-2005
On 12 May 2005 around 5:30pm, Rev. Edison Lapuz and Alfredo Malinao were shot dead by unidentified gunmen while conducting funeral rites for Malinao’s father-in-law in San Isidro, Leyte.
Rev. Lapuz had been very vocal against the killings and harassment of activists in his region, and was the convenor of the “Justice for Atty. Felidito Dacut Alliance?(see case details below). He had consistently supported human rights victims and their families.
Some military personnel had reportedly been closely monitoring Rev. Lapuz prior to his death, and his name had also reportedly been included in its Order of Battle. His photo had also been seen posted at the camp of the local Regional Mobile Group special police unit.
In a letter dated 30 May 2005 to the AHRC, Paquito Nacino, regional director for the Commission on Human Rights, stated that the relatives of both Malinao and Lapuz had either not cooperated with inquiries or had asked for more time to provide statements, apparently out of fear for their own lives.
Felidito Dacut: Shot in the back for fighting for the rights of others
VICTIM: Felidito Dacut
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 14 March 2005
On 14 March 2005, lawyer Felidito Dacut was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen after a consultation meeting at the Bayan Muna party’s regional headquarters at Yao-Ka-Sin Compound, Old Road, Sagkahan District, Tacloban City.
Dacut and a companion were on their way downtown aboard a passenger vehicle at about 6:45pm when he was shot in the back by one of two men riding on a motorcycle that was apparently tailing them. Dacut’s companion shouted for help. Dacut was immediately rushed to the nearby UCCP Bethany Hospital but he died later while undergoing treatment for a single fatal wound. Members of Tacloban Philippine National Police later arrived at the Bethany Hospital where they conducted an investigation.
Prior to his death, Dacut had provided legal services and handled the cases of poor people free of charge, which often involved alleged human rights abuses. He was the regional coordinator of the Bayan Muna party and a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
His colleagues believe that Dacut’s death was a move to silence or discourage human rights activists from campaigning against the recent assignment of now retired Maj. Gen. Jovito S. Palparan Jr. as commander of the 8th Infantry Division in Eastern Visayas.
Romeo Sanchez: Killed in marketplace
VICTIM: Romeo Sanchez
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unidentified gunmen
DATE: 9 March 2005
On 9 March 2005, Romeo “Romy?Sanchez (39), the regional coordinator of the Bayan Muna party for Ilocos Region was shot dead by unidentified gunmen at around 4:30pm along 3rd Kayang Street in Baguio City, while he was buying used clothing in a market with two officemates, Abraham Austin and Beth Alfiler. The three had just finished shopping and were on their way to a consultation when Austin and Alfier, who were walking ahead of Sanchez, heard gunfire. When they turned around they saw him on the ground. An autopsy report later showed Sanchez died from a single bullet to his head.
Two policemen arrived and investigated the crime scene. More policemen from Baguio City Police arrived and likewise conducted investigations.
On 8 May 2000, Sanchez and one colleague had been arrested by elements of the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Binangonan, Rizal on suspicion of being involved in the killing of a rebel priest. They were allegedly tortured while in custody. After his release on July 19 of the same year, Sanchez had been harassed and threatened by persons believed to be from the military.
His successor in the Bayan Muna party post, Jose Manegdeg, was also killed later in the year (see above).
Abelardo Ladera: Yet another victim of the Hacienda Luisita
VICTIM: Abelardo R. Ladera
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified military personnel
DATE: 4 March 2005
Abelardo R. Ladera (43) was the City Councilor of Tarlac, Luzon and a provincial chapter leader of the Bayan Muna party who was shot dead by unidentified attackers at around 1pm on 4 March 2005 while on his way home along the McArthur Highway in Barangay Paraiso, Tarlac City. He was hit by a bullet in his upper left chest which pierced his heart. His driver Edwin Arocena took him to hospital, but Ladera was declared dead on arrival.
The identity of his attackers remains unknown. However, it is alleged that the Northern Luzon Command (NolCom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines had a hand in his killing after he was falsely branded as a contact person of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army in Hacienda Luisita by NolCom agents during a security briefing at NolCom headquarters, Camp Aquino, Tarlac on 22 January 2005. He was again labelled as a communist at a NolCom briefing to the Association of Barangay Captains in Tarlac City.
Ladera had been mediating between farm workers and the Cojuanco family, owner of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac, to settle a land dispute before and after the violent dispersal of the Hacienda Luisita workers on 16 November 2004 that left seven persons dead. However there was no positive response from the Cojuanco family. Ladera, the provincial leader of Bayan Muna, was very vocal in condemning the military and police actions against the farm workers, and may have been killed for this reason, among others.
In July 2006 the Hong Kong Mission for Human Rights & Peace in the Philippines visited Hacienda Luisita and recorded the following in its report:
The fact-finding mission travelled to Hacienda Luisita on July 26th, 2006 and met with victims?relatives and local officials. The situation in Hacienda Luisita continues to be problematic to date, but was, in 2004, the scene of one of the most infamous cases of killings in the Philippines.
On 6 November 2004, at around 12pm, some 5000 mill and farm workers from the Cantral Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) and United Luisita Worker’s Union (ULWU) held a protest in front of the gate of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac sugarcane plantation.
The workers are ‘co-owners?of the 4915.75 hectares of land inside the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) that are classified as agricultural land. As farm-worker-beneficiaries and part of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) scheme, they are entitled to 33.296 per cent of the SDO’s outstanding capital stock, under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
The workers protested against the measures imposed on them, which hampered their livelihood. They protested about the massive land-use conversion in the hacienda, the implementation of the “voluntary early retirement program?in 2000 by HLI and the continued reductions of working days. These measures had resulted in the laying-off of more than 1000 farm workers since 1989.
On October 1, 2004, 327 farm-workers, including nine officers of ULWU, were sacked by the HLI management. The efforts by the CATLU to collectively bargain with the management regarding their demands for wage increases and benefits drew to a stand still.
These issues prompted the protesters to stage a picket in front of the gate of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac, which started on 6 November 2005. As the tension grew, several attempts were made by the police and the military to disperse the protesters, but these failed. The protesters stood their ground until a violent confrontation between protesters and the military and police forces broke out on 16 November 2004. Seven people were killed and ten people were severely injured, while some 200 other protesters required hospitalisation.
To date, the investigations into these killings have not led to any conclusive results or any perpetrators being identified or prosecuted, despite there being a large number of persons who witnessed the attacks.[Hong Kong Mission for Human Rights & Peace in the Philippines, “Extrajudicial killings & human rights abuses in the Philippines? article 2, vol. 5, no. 5, October 2006, p. 17]
Ricardo Uy: War of words with army ends with bullets in the back
VICTIM: Ricardo Uy
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unidentified gunman
DATE: 18 November 2005
On 18 November 2005 at 11am Ricardo Uy (57), chairperson of the Bayan Muna party in Sorsogon City, was shot dead inside his Soledad Corral Uy Ricemill in Barangay Basud. Uy’s assistant heard gunshots ring out and when he ran inside he saw a gunman in sunglasses and wearing a hat had shot Uy in the back. The gunman aimed at the assistant, but his gun was empty. He calmly walked to a motorcycle parked close to the rice mill and left.
At the time of his death, Uy was the radio anchor of a morning program at dzRS Sorsogon radio. He was a hard-hitting critic of the militarisation of the towns of Sorsogon and other policies of the government that he considered anti-poor.
Since 2004, the military had been vilifying Uy as a communist supporter and recruiter of the New People’s Army in their own radio programmes on dzMS.
Ricardo Ramos: Another victim of Hacienda Luisita
VICTIM: Ricardo Ramos
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unidentified gunman
DATE: 25 October 2005
On 25 October 2005 at around 3pm Ricardo Ramos arrived at a bamboo hut about 50 metres from his house, with his wife and six companions. Two soldiers attached to the 7th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, later arrived nearby. The two, Sgt. Castillo and Joshua de la Cruz were known to the villagers because they often conducted foot patrols in the area. They asked Jorge Gatus, a village security volunteer, whether they could speak with Ramos, who was president of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union and one of the leaders of the Hacienda Luisita workers, who in November 2004 had been attacked by the police and military (see below). Gatus said that Ramos was resting. The soldiers then left.
After 7pm the two soldiers came back and again asked Gatus if they could speak to Ramos, but Ramos refused to meet them. They decided to leave and told Gatus that they would return the next day.
After 9pm Ramos was together with several of his fellow workers in the hut when an unidentified man approached the hut and shot him twice from about 12 metres away. Ramos’s elder brother Romy, and their brother-in-law, Benny Pineda, found Ramos lying on the ground and bleeding.
At around 10:15pm, residents who live near the local military detachment heard and saw a helicopter circling over the barrio. They also reported seeing a van leaving the detachment after Ramos’s killing. When the news broke out, the outraged villagers went to protest outside the military detachment around 11pm, believing army personnel to be responsible for the death.
Ernesto Bang & Joel Reyes: “No witnesses had come out in the open for fear of reprisal”
1. Ernesto Bang
2. Joel Reyes
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified gunmen
DATES: 10 & 16 March 2005
On 10 and 16 March 2005, Ernesto Bang (50) and Joel Reyes (33) were slain in separate shooting incidents in Camarines Norte, Luzon.
Bang, an information officer of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, a peasant organization, was shot dead on 10 March 2005 in his house in Purok 3, Barangay Malangcao in Basud. One of four armed men who arrived at his house shot him after he opened his front door to find out who was knocking.
Six days later in a nearby municipality, Reyes, a trishaw driver and organizer for the Anakpawis party, was also shot dead by one of his passengers. The suspects who posed as passengers boarded his vehicle at a public market and shot him before reaching the boundary of Barangays Callero and Nakalaya, Jose Panganiban. Reyes died on the spot from several gunshot wounds.
Policemen from the Jose Panganiban municipal police and the Scene of the Crime Operation Team officers were not able to produce witnesses or sufficient material evidence.
In a letter dated May 31 to the Asian Human Rights Commission Marcelo Ele Jr., Police Director of the Philippine National Police Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) said that “no witnesses had come out in the open for fear of reprisal? He added that in Bang’s case even “relatives of the victim, when interviewed revealed that they are no longer interested in filing the case due to the absence of a witness who could identify the suspect? Another dated 29 July 2005 from Chief Superintendent Charlegne Alejandrino, deputy director for DIDM, added that the police could do nothing unless the witnesses “come out in the open and willingly support the prosecution of these cases”.
The AHRC highlighted the case in a statement of 18 January 2006 dismissing the claims of the Philippine government to improved law enforcement:
In its 2005 Accomplishment Report released on its official website, the government of the Philippines claims to have worked “to improve the operational effectiveness of law enforcement agencies? Exactly what this means remains unclear, as the government backs its remarks only with a handful of vague statistics that say nothing of reality and the challenges the country faces in addressing the very deep institutional problems associated with building the rule of law there.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is aware that most serious criminal cases in the Philippines are inadequately investigated. In most cases perpetrators are not identified, usually due to the absence of witnesses and the lack of forensic and scientific investigation techniques. Despite the Act for Witness Protection, Security and Benefit (Republic Act 6981), witnesses to acts of murder and other grave crimes in the Philippines know full well that they risk the same fate if they dare to come forward with information. While this is especially the case in the unabated killings of human rights defenders and social activists, flagrant targetted killings of ordinary criminal suspects–such as petty criminals in Davao and Cebu–are also on the rise, sometimes with the public endorsement of local officials.
Letters to the AHRC repeatedly speak to the failure of police to obtain witnesses even in crimes where the victims are killed in busy marketplaces or houses occupied by the families of victims, and to the fact that this problem is recognised but not addressed by the authorities. For instance, in one letter from 2005 Marcelo Ele Jr., Police Director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, said that no witnesses had come forward in the killings of Ernesto Bang and Joel Reyes for fear of reprisal. This is despite the fact that Bang was shot at the front door to his house with his family inside, and Reyes was shot dead in a public a market. After Dario Oresca, a witness to the murder of Reyes was found, he too was killed. He had received no protection.
Even where a case is filed in court, prolonged delays cause greater and greater risks both to the witnessess and the case itself, an issue strongly adverted to in the chapter on the Philippines in the AHRC’s recently-released State of Human Rights in Ten Asian Nations?005 report. There is little evidence that the Action Program for Judicial Reform (APJR) adopted by the Supreme Court in December 2000, which includes in its mandate the speedy processing of cases, is making much headway, and it continues to lack adequate funding from the government.
As a consequence, more and more Filipinos are taking the law into their own hands. The loss of trust and confidence in the police and judiciary among victims seeking justice, and implied approval of murders by government officials demonstrate the country’s deteriorating law and order and give little cause for surprise when people go outside the law to resolve disputes and seek vengeance.
All of this indicates the extent to which the government of the Philippines has disregarded its international obligations. In its concluding observations on the state’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of December 1, 2003, the U.N. Human Rights Committee urged that, “The State party should ensure that all allegations of torture are effectively and promptly investigated by an independent authority, that those found responsible are prosecuted.?It further said that, “The State party should ensure that its legislation gives full effect to the rights recognized in the Covenant and that domestic law is harmonized?
Despite these clear recommendations, torture is not yet a crime in the Philippines, and there has been little effort to enact an enabling law that would make it so. Similarly, the various monitoring committees and quasi-judicial bodies established ostensibly to investigate human rights violations have few powers and are generally ineffective. As a result, the recognition given to international human rights standards in Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution has little significance. Although an integral part of the constitutional basis of the country, in the absence of measures for implementation it has been trivialised.
In January 2005 Executive Order 404 established a Monitoring Committee on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. Section 2 stipulates that the Committee will work closely with the national Commission on Human Rights to investigate and monitor human rights violations in compliance with international treaty obligations. While apparently a step towards human rights protection, there is little evidence of work by the committee so far. The general public of the Philippines remains in the dark about what the committee has done, despite it being required to “provide regular updates to concerned units and agencies of the Government, as well as civil society groups and other entities?
The making of grand claims about the improved effectiveness of law enforcement agencies will not impress anyone familiar with the real situation in the Philippines. In fact, the effect will only be to raise more doubts among the victims of crime and rights violations about the sincerity of the authorities in tackling the deep flaws in the country’s policing and judicial system. Instead of pretending that things are getting better, the government of the Philippines would obtain far greater credibility by recognising the gravity of this situation and taking determined steps to end the impunity that murderers and other serious criminals, particularly those in the police and other security forces, continue to enjoy.
Fr. William Tadena: Another IFI priest killed
1. William Tadena (killed)
2. Carlos Barsolaso (wounded)
3. Charlie Gabriel (wounded)
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Two unidentified gunmen
DATE: 13 March 2005
Fr. William Tadena, a priest of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, was shot repeatedly by two unidentified armed men riding on a red Yamaha motorcycle without registration plates while travelling by jeep towards Victoria, Tarlac, after mass at a plaza in Barangay Guevarra, La Paz, Tarlac on 13 March 2005.
Fr. Tadena died of multiple gun shot wounds to his head and torso. He was with three companions at the time: two of them, Carlos Barsolaso (38) and Charlie Gabriel (24), were wounded. Barsolaso was hit in the head and seriously injured while Gabriel was hit in his right leg. The third, Ervina Domingo (20), was unharmed.
Fr. Allan & Aileen Caparro: Shot down on highway
1. Allan Caparro
2. Aileen C. Caparro
INCIDENT: Attempted killing
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Three unidentified gunmen
DATE: 18 February 2005
Fr. Allan Caparro (40) and his wife Aileen (34) were shot by unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen at around 6:30pm on 18 February 2005 as they were returning from a three-day meeting called for by the Biliran-Leyte-Samar Diocese of the Iglesia Filipina Indepiendente (IFI) church.
The couple had left Padre Burgos at around 4pm and it was past 5pm when they arrived in Mahaplag, Leyte where they stopped to refuel their motorcycle at a gasoline station. While refueling, Aileen noticed three men near a red motorcycle were staring at them. One of them caught the attention of Fr. Allan, who ignored them.
After they left the gas station, the men tailed them on their bike. Fr. Caparro was maneuvering a sharp curve in the road at Barangay Tagabaca, Abuyog when he was shot in the back by one of the three. Fr. Caparro stopped the motorcycle and the gunmen continued firing at them as they passed, hitting Aileen in her stomach and thigh. The perpetrators then sped towards Dulag, Leyte.
Fr. Allan and his wife Aileen asked for help at a nearby house. They were later brought to Abuyog District Hospital and were given first-aid treatment before being transferred to St. Paul’s Hospital in Tacloban City.
Aileen went under surgery to remove a bullet lodged in one of her kidneys, she had to be kept in intensive care and undergo further surgery. The bullet that hit Fr. Caparro narrowly missed his spine. The bullets were all from a .45-calibre pistol.
Fr. Caparro’s involvement in human rights advocacy and his opposition to militarization and the numerous atrocities committed by the military in Northern and Western Samar, where he is based, in Barangay Sabang, Calbayog, could have been the cause for the attack. Just before the attack he had also spearheaded an alliance for protection of the environment against destructive mining operations in Samar that go hand in hand with the military presence there.
Francisco Bulane & others: Shoot first and enjoy your victims?fish later
1. Francisco Bulane (killed)
2. Padilla Bulane (killed)
3. Prumencio Bulane (killed)
4. Richard Bulane (wounded)
5. Rogelio Bulane (wounded)
6. Ricky Bulane (wounded)
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Around 50 25th IB personnel
DATE: 8 February 2005
AHRC FA-006-2005; UP-046-2005; UP-153-2006
Three persons were killed while three others were wounded after around 50 members of the 25th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army strafed them on 8 February 2005 at about 6:30am in Sitio Latil, Barangay Colonsabak, Matan-ao, Davao del Sur, in Mindanao.
The three who were killed on the spot were all married brothers: Francisco (32), Padilla (29), and Prumencio Bulane (28). Another brother, Rogelio Bulane (42) was wounded along with his 16-year-old son, Ricky, and the fifth brother, Richard (31). All were farmers and members of a local indigenous group, B’laan.
According to Rogelio, on the morning of February 8 he and his son Ricky went to the river some three kilometres away from their house to catch fish and frogs. They had caught about four kilos of fish and were preparing to eat when they heard gunfire coming in their direction for no reason. The first shot hit the back of his head but did not penetrate. Then he was thrown about four meters away when an M-79 shell exploded to his rear. He also saw his son Ricky hit with bullets. He called to him to run and get help from his brothers. After several minutes the gunfire stopped and he pretended to be dead when the soldiers came to check him.
According to Rogelio, the soldiers then cooked the fish and frogs that they had caught themselves, and he overheard somebody say, “We will charge this guy with being New People’s Army.?Another said, “We will finish him off,?but a further soldier said that he was already dead.
Sensing that the soldiers were busy eating, Rogelio slowly crawled to the riverbank to get into some grass for cover. After several minutes, the military noticed that he had disappeared and they searched the area but did not find him. They left after several minutes. Rogelio then crawled back to the place of incident so that his family could locate him.
Meanwhile, Ricky had run to get help from his uncle, Richard, who immediately left the house to rescue his brother. But Richard did not reach Rogelio, as he was met with bullets. Three of Richard’s brothers also tried to retreat when they met gunfire, but were shot dead.
At hospital it was found that Rogelio had 12 gunshot wounds, but only four bullets had penetrated: two in his back, one in his left side and one in his lower left. Ricky sustained 11 gunshot wounds, but only two bullets penetrated: one in the lower left leg and one in the left side of his body. He was brought to hospital by his grandmother. Richard was hit 13 times, but only two bullets penetrated, including one in his left shoulder, which exited from his armpit.
On 18 February 2005 the survivors of the attack, Richard, Rogelio and Ricky, were themselves charged with attempted murder at the Municipal Circuit Trial Court III in Padada-Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, after the army claimed that the men were fired upon after they ambushed its troops. The case was dismissed for lack of evidence; however, the judge recommended a charge of rebellion be filed against the accused instead, which was subsequently done at Regional Trial Court 20 in Digos City. On 21 March 2006 the judge presiding over the pre-trial hearings on the charge of rebellion ordered the prosecutor to have the case reinvestigated, and on March 31 the prosecutor recommended that this charge also be dropped for lack of evidence. On April 24 the judge finally ordered the case dismissed.
Meanwhile, on 7 March 2005 charges were filed with the public prosecutor in Digos City against two lieutenants and several others attached to the 25th Infantry Battalion. The prosecutor finished work on the case on May 21 and forwarded the case file to the office of the Ombudsman for Military and Other Law Enforcement Office in Mindanao on June 15. On July 19, that office forwarded the file to the ombudsman’s headquarters in Quezon City. Since that time the case has been inactive.
It has also been learned that although the regional office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR XI) in Davao City has investigated and decided against the version of events told by the army, it has refused to furnish copies of its findings to the victims; nor has it assisted in matters of compensation or rehabilitation for the victims and their families, despite repeated requests. It had earlier assured parties concerned with the case that it would recommend that financial assistance be given and the alleged perpetrators be prosecuted.
Bacar & Carmen Japalali: A lesson in military impunity
1. Bacar Japalali
2. Carmen Japalali (pregnant)
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Sgt. Serafin Jerry Napoles and 31 other 404th IB personnel
DATE: 8 September 2004
AHRC UA-72-2005; UP-130-2006; UP-211-2006
On the morning of 8 September 2004, Bacar Japalali and his wife Carmen were sleeping inside their house in Barangay Bincungan, Tagum City while their neighbours Ladia and Padama were in an adjacent house. When Ladia went outside to the toilet he saw soldiers carrying firearms surrounding their house as well as that of Bacar.
Ladia rushed back inside and immediately dropped to the floor for safety. The military opened fire on the two houses. According to Ladia and Padama the gunfire lasted for ten minutes.
Bacar was killed on the spot. His wife Carmen, who was 3-months pregnant at the time, managed to get out of the house and seek help. Ladia rushed her to the mission hospital in Tagum City, but she died while being treated.
On September 10, Bacar’s brother Talib filed charges against Sergeant Serafin Jerry Napoles and his 31 subordinates from the 404th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, with the prosecutor in Tagum City. On September 29, the Provincial Crime Laboratory office released the result of a paraffin test that stated that there were no gunpowder burns on Bacar.
Talib and Rodolfo Baluyo, Carmen’s father, then lodged an affidavit and complaint with the Commission on Human Rights in Davao City. However, after six months the commission had still not taken any action.
On 17 December 2004, Prosecutor Francisco Rivero sent his resolution and records of the case to the Ombudsman for Military and Other Law Enforcement Office for review, recommendation and approval. But the issue of an arrest warrant was delayed in the Regional Trial Court. On 10 February 2005 it was learned from the Office of the Clerk of Court that the case folder had only just been given to Judge Justino G. Aventurado for his review and study a day before. On March 3, Talib went to the office of Judge Aventurado to follow up on whether warrants for arrest had been issued. He was told by the officer-in-charge that the case folder was still with Judge Aventurado. On March 8 and 15, similar explanations were given to the victims?family and staff of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines. Finally, on March 20 Judge Aventurado issued an order to the prosecution office to submit additional evidence in accordance with Section 6 of Rule 112 of the Rules of Court.
On May 11 the charge of murder was reduced to homicide on a directive from Judge Aventurado. The prosecution sent the directive to the ombudsman for comment, and it was approved by the ombudsman. This decision and other circumstances have led persons siding with the victims to suggest that Judge Aventurado was colluding with the accused perpetrators. The judge had also tried to convince the victims?families to make a settlement with the military, hinting that the defendants “are willing to pay?
Orders for the arrest of the accused were not issued until 22 November 2006. However, on December 8 when they enquired about the arrests, they were told that the officer-in-charge was on leave. On December 11 they were told that the warrants had been posted to the Municipal Police office in Mawab, Compostela Valley, which would be responsible to carry out the arrests. It is unknown as to whether or not the warrants have actually been served to the accused persons.
Jaime Fernando: An empty fishing boat
VICTIM: Jaime Fernando
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified military personnel
DATE: 20 November 2006
After midnight on 20 November 2006, unidentified members of the military came to Wawang Atlag, Malolos, Bulacan and gathered all men in the said village, took their pictures and left at around 1am.
At around 2 to 2:30am, Jaime Fernando was last seen at the Panasahan fish market, located near a military barracks. At around 7am, his empty boat was recovered floating near the fish market in Malolos; he has not been seen since. His disappearance is suspected to be connected with the activities in his village of that night.
Edgar Sabdula: Abducted from house one night
VICTIM: Edgar Sabdula
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified armed men
DATE: 22 October 2006
On 22 October 2006, a former member of the insurgent Moro National Liberation Front, Edgar Sabdula (36), was forcibly abducted in his residence in Purok 1, Uyanguren, Tigatto, Buhangin District, Davao City. At about 12:15am, a number of hooded perpetrators in combat shoes and armed with rifles or machine guns barged into the house and took him from in front of his wife and into one of three vehicles: a blue L-300 van, a white van and a third unidentified vehicle, without plate numbers. His whereabouts remain unknown to date.
Cadir Malaydan: Pulled into van on way home
VICTIM: Cadir Malaydan
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Four unidentified armed men
DATE: 19 October 2006
On 19 October 2006 Cadir Malaydan was abducted and forcibly disappeared while travelling home by motorcycle around 10:45am with his wife, Sitti. They had noticed a green L-300 van tailing them along Purok 1, Barangay Poblacion highway, Monkayo, Compostela Valley, close to two adjacent police outposts. The van overtook them and stopped further ahead. When they came close, the van’s doors opened and four hooded men, some in military uniforms and others in civilian clothes emerged and aimed weapons at the couple, telling them to halt. Two were armed with rifles and the others had .45-calibre pistols. The armed men then forced Cadir towards the van. During the scuffle, Sitti fell to the ground. She saw her husband was forced to sit on the floor of the van. When she tried to get up and follow, another man stopped her by aiming an Armalite rifle. She was told to run away, but she ignored him. Minutes later, the van sped off in an unknown direction.
Nicolas Sanchez & Heherson Medina: Often seen but never found
1. Nicolas Sanchez
2. Heherson Medina
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 71st IB personnel, including 2nd Lt. Ali Sumangil (Bravo Co.) & Tech. Sgt. Gil Q. Villalobos
DATE: 18 September 2006
On 18 September 2006, Nicolas Sanchez (27) and Heherson Medina (29) were allegedly abducted around 1am by around 30 soldiers in camouflage uniforms, while they were catching frogs in Sitio Cabatuan, Barangay Bueno, Capas, Tarlac Province.
The two victims are cousins from the indigenous Aeta group of northern Philippines who earned their livelihoods as farmers. According to family members they had no involvement in local politics whatsoever.
The two victims were reportedly seen in a military truck at the gate of the Northern Luzon Command at Camp Servillano Aquino, San Miguel, Tarlac City on September 21. The truck was later identified as the same model of vehicle as that spotted at the compound of the 71st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac City.
The victims were also seen on September 24 and again on November 1 at the Bravo Company compound of the 71st IB in Aqua Farm, located inside of the Hacienda Luisita in Barangay Cut-Cut II, Tarlac City.
Two officers, Second Lieutenant Ali Sumangil of Bravo Company, 71st IB and Technical Sergeant Gil Q. Villalobos both allegedly have known the whereabouts of the two victims.
A local rights group, Find, and the Region III office of the national Commission on Human Rights have made inquiries to the military about eyewitness testimonies that the two victims had been seen at various military camps in Tarlac City, but these reports have been denied. It was since reported that the military had been searching for two persons who gave information about having seen the men, who had to go into hiding.
Sherlyn Cadapan & others: “Are you looking for the women?”
1. Sherlyn Cadapan (pregnant)
2. Karen Empeño
3. Manuel Merino
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 56th IB personnel
DATE: 26 June 2006
Two student activists, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, disappeared on 26 June 2006 while staying at a house in Purok 6, Barangay San Miguel, Hagonoy. Sherlyn Cadapan was pregnant at the time of the incident. One witness related that during the abduction Cadapan was kicked in the stomach by one of her abductors. Empeño was reportedly blindfolded with her own shirt after it had been taken off her by one of the abductors.
When peasant Manuel Merino confronted a group of armed men who came to the house, he was bound and was taken together with the victims. They were seen being taken on board a service vehicle with license plate number RTF 597, heading towards a nearby town in Iba, Hagonoy.
After the incident, an alliance of a local human rights groups, Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan para sa Pantaong Karapatan-Bulacan (People’s Alliance for Human Rights-Bulacan), immediately formed a response team to locate the victims. They proceeded to the headquarters of the 56th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army in Iba, Hagonoy, Bulacan where they spotted the vehicle used by the perpetrators. The quick response team was refused entry and the military denied having the three in custody. However, while they were outside a vendor asked them, “Are you looking for the women??The vendor kept silent when the group said they were indeed looking for three missing persons, of whom two were women.
A person whom the military allegedly illegally arrested but later released on June 28, Alberto Ramirez, confirmed that Merino was being used by the military as guide. The service vehicle used in arresting Ramirez had the same license plate number to the vehicle used in abducting the three victims. Ramirez was taken to an army detachment in Barangay Mercado, Hagonoy, Bulacan. Upon his arrival at the army detachment, Ramirez was asked about his relationship with Cadapan and Empeño, but he denied that he knew them. Although released, he had not returned home for fear of further harassment by the military.
On July 12, the University of the Philippines-Diliman council passed a resolution expressing concern for the two students. Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary, Ronaldo Puno, and Department of National Defense Secretary, Avelino J. Cruz, were requested to help the two students. However, they have not been seen since.
The military has since reportedly stated that the two students were members of the NPA, however the administration of the University of the Philippines has denied any such accusations and confirmed that they were both students on its register. The Supreme Court of the Philippines has also released an order for the military to release Empeño and Cadapan, but the military has thus far taken no action concerning this order.
Domingo Guinto & others: Taken with chickens and a few pesos
1. Domingo Guinto
2. Abelardo Interior
3. Virgilio Tranquilino
INCIDENT: Disappearance; torture
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: At least 30 unidentified armed men
DATE: 17 May 2006
Domingo “Jojo?Guinto, Abelardo Interior and Virgilio Tranquilino were forcibly taken by armed men believed to be military agents in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija on 17 May 2006.
Around 2am, the Guinto family was woken from their sleep by the arrival of several armed men who forcibly took Guinto and ordered the other occupants to lie with their faces to the floor. They warned that they would be shot if they dared to look up. They took a mobile phone belonging to Guinto’s wife and 100 Pesos (USD 2), then forced Guinto towards a black van and left.
The perpetrators then stopped in front of Abelardo Interior’s house, less than two kilometres from Guinto’s place. Their barking dog awakened Abelardo’s wife. When she went out to have a look she was surprised to see a rifle pointed at her. She did not notice that her husband had followed and was just behind her. The armed men ordered them to get inside the house and wake up their children. They ransacked the second floor, apparently in search of a gun, but failed to find any. They took a farm implement, a wallet containing 20 Pesos and five live chickens, and ordered the family to get out of the house and lie on the ground face down or be shot. But Interior’s youngest child did look up and saw his father blindfolded and being assaulted a few metres away.
The third victim, Virgilio Tranquilino, was a family friend of the Interiors who was spending the night at their house.
After the incident, workers from the Citizens?Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights, a provincial chapter of Karapatan, started looking for the victims in various police and military camps. They went to the military’s Fort Magsaysay and the police headquarters in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija, but the authorities denied having them in custody.
Philip Limjoco: Disappeared after delivering son to bus station
VICTIM: Philip Limjoco
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified police or military personnel
DATE: 8 May 2006
Philip Limjoco was last seen by his son Glen at a bus terminal in Dau, Pampanga around 8:20am on 8 May 2006. Glen had gone to visit some of father’s friends in the area together with him and was going back to Manila. On their way Glen noticed that a white Toyota Revo with tinted windows and number plates covered with dark fiberglass was following their car. When they arrived at the terminal, the car had disappeared.
Once Glen reached Manila around 9:30am he sent a text message to his father, but he did not receive a reply. Around 10:30am, he sent another, and tried to call his mobile phone at around 11am, but no one answered. Glen first thought that his father might be driving or busy, but when he failed to get any response by evening he began to worry. Then he asked some of his relatives if his father had contacted them or if they knew of his whereabouts; but they did not.
On May 9, Glen sought the help from human rights group Karapatan. In July 2005 he had done so once after unidentified men following him wherever he went. Glen had no idea as to why he was stalked, except that his father was accused of being a member of the New People’s Army.
Philip Limjoco was included on a list of 51 individuals charged with rebellion by the Department of Justice that was reportedly drawn up by the police Directorate and Investigation and Detective Management on 27 February 2006 after the country was placed under a state of national emergency. During martial law under the Marcos regime his name was also reportedly included on a list of “subversives? He was twice arrested, brutally tortured and illegally detained.
Riel Custodio & others: Never arrived in Batangas
1. Riel Custodio
2. Axel Pinpin
3. Enrico Ybanez
4. Michael Mesias
5. Aristides Sarmiento
INCIDENT: Abduction & illegal detention
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified police personnel
DATE: 28 April 2006
Riel Custodio, Axel Pinpin, Enrico Ybanez, Michael Mesias and Aristides Sarmiento have been missing since 28 April 2006 when they left Barangay Tolentino in Tagaytay City for Bauan, Batangas around 6:25pm, Tagaytay City, south of Manila by car. They could not be contacted by phone after 7pm.
The families of the victims learned that the five might be detained by the elements of the 740th Philippine Air Force, located in Fernando Air Base, in Lipa City, because Aristides Sarmiento sent an SMS message on April 30 from the same area where the army camp in Batangas City is located. Family and friends immediately went to the army camp with a lawyer. When they arrived around 3pm, the army officers at the camp denied any knowledge of the men. The families asked to enter the camp. Sergeant Dimaculangan at first accepted their request; however, when they approached the entrance of the detention facilities, they were refused permission to go further.
Meanwhile, a group of people from the Batangas chapter of human rights group Karapatan arrived at the camp and urged camp officials to help to locate the victims. After seeing this group, the army officers asked the families and friends of the victims whether they were associated with that group. Even though they said no, the army officers threatened to arrest them if they were connected; they were allowed out of the camp shortly after that.
The Commission on Human Rights later found out that the victims were arrested without warrants and jailed, facing charges of rebellion. Riel and Axel were in fact peasant activists working for the Kalipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite (Farmers?Federation in Cavite).
It has since been alleged that it was the police who abducted and detained the victims, not the military.
Ronald Intal: “His appointment is not yet over”
VICTIM: Ronald Intal
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 70th IB personnel
DATE: 3 April 2006
Ronald Intal (24) was forcibly taken by armed men at around 11am near a motorcycle terminal in Barangay Balete, Hacienda Luisita on 3 April 2006 and taken towards 70th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Aqua Farm of the barangay.
The victim’s father Gonzalo went to the military headquarters on April 8 to inquire about his son’s whereabouts, but the military denied having him in their custody. Gonzalo and his wife Lourdes then sought the assistance of Tarlac City Vice-Mayor Teresita Cabal.
Vice-Mayor Cabal told them that their son was being held by the army’s Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) and that he would only be released after Major General Jovito Palparan, then head of the 7th Infantry Division, gave an order. “General Palparan will not release him yet because his appointment is not yet over,?she reportedly said. However, Colonel Cesar Yano, Nolcom chief of staff publicly announced that they had not received any report from the barangay or local police officials about the incident.
Rodel Galang, village chief of Balete, reportedly tried to interview witnesses in connection with Ronald’s disappearance, but they gave conflicting accounts while others refused to speak.
Ronald was an active youth leader deeply involved in the Hacienda Luisita farm workers?struggle (see above). He was also leader of the Samahan ng mga Kabataang Demokratiko sa Asyenda Luisita (Association of Democratic Youth in Hacienda Luisita) and the Anak ng Bayan (Children of the People) political party.
Dario Almonte: Pulled out of house in front of neighbours and family
VICTIM: Dario Almonte
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 20 unidentified armed men
DATE: 6 April 2006
On 6 April 2006 Dario Almonte was forcibly abducted in front of his sister’s house in Puyo Compound, Sta. Clara, Batangas City by at least 20 armed men riding in two service vehicles, some wearing hoods, who entered the compound with a couple who had peddled ice cream in the area the day before apparently acting as informants.
The armed men surrounded Almonte’s house and those adjacent, and grabbed him when he came out. Dario’s wife Cherry and other relatives tried to fight with the perpetrators, but the latter pointed guns at them. Dario clung to a post, but lost his grip when hit with an Armalite rifle. Soon after, the perpetrators took him with them in one of their vehicles, which had been parked nearby.
Dario’s family immediately sought help from the former barangay chairperson, Thelma Maranan, who in turn asked help from the town mayor, Eddie Dimacuha, who in turn contacted the city police chief, Superintendent Anzo, who said that the victim was not in police custody and instead suggested that he could be in the custody of the Intelligence Division of the Fernando Air Base, as he had arrest warrants pending against him at police headquarters and the Regional Police Office in Camp Caringal in Canlubang. However, when the victim’s family and fellow villagers went to check at the Fernando Air Base, the camp’s acting commander, Colonel Facalso, denied having him in their custody.
The victim’s whereabouts remain unknown. His abduction is believed to be related to his opposition to the planned demolition of urban areas in Sta. Clara, Batangas by the Philippine Ports Authority for an expansion project, in his capacity as leader of the People’s Coalition for Alternative Development.
In a letter to the AHRC the Philippine army denied that such a case of forced disappearance had occured but failed to explain what investigation or otherwise had been undertaken to reach that conclusion.
Rogelio Concepcion: Labour leader dragged from front of workplace
VICTIM: Rogelio Concepcion
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 24th IB personnel
DATE: 6 March 2006
AHRC UA-087-2006; UP-052-2006
Labour leader Rogelio Concepcion disappeared on 6 March 2006 after being abducted by men riding on a motorcycle as he left the Solid Development Corporation factory in Barangay Mataas na Parang, San Ildefonso, Bulacan where he worked, to go home. Concepcion’s fellow workers were frightened and fled to safety upon seeing the armed men seizing him. None have shown interest in cooperating with the authorities in investigations as they also fear for their lives.
Concepcion’s family fears that he could have been abducted and killed by elements of the 24th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. Marissa reportedly spotted a van parked near their house on the afternoon of March 6. The van stayed until late evening.
In November 2005, elements of the 24th IB entered the Solid Development Corporation factory and conducted a “military census?among the workers, then remained stationed in the compound. Concepcion and his colleague, Ador Vasalio, were reportedly monitored by the military since. Concepcion was officer-in-charge of the Solid Development Corporation Workers Association (SDCWA) and Vasalio its former president. In May 2005 the SDCWA had staged a strike because the management refused to recognise the union, despite a Department of Labor and Employment decision declaring the union “sole and exclusive bargaining agent?
The AHRC released a statement on the abduction of Concepcion and another victim of forced disappearance, Joey Estriber (see below) on March 20:
On 3 March 2006, Joey Estriber was waiting for a lift home in Baler, Aurora, when four armed men suddenly dragged him into a nearby van and drove off. Days later, Rogelio Concepcion was also forcibly disappeared in San Ildefonso, Bulacan on March 6. According to witnesses, two men riding on a motorcycle grabbed him as he left his work at the Solid Development Corporation factory. Concepcion is a labour leader, while Estriber is a staff member of the Bataris Formation Center. The men, their families and colleagues had been followed by military personnel, and threatened and harassed prior to their abductions. There is little to suggest that serious criminal inquiries into their disappearances will follow: to date none of the possible perpetrators among the military are known to have been investigated. The two cases are already following the familiar pattern known to people throughout the Philippines, with little or no investigation and an absence of witnesses and accompanying evidence leading to “case closed?without result.
One reason for this failure is that there is no law prohibiting forced disappearance in the Philippines, despite the frequency of blatant abductions there. Without a law, relatives of men like Estriber and Concepcion have little hope for adequate and effective investigations followed by prosecutions and punishment of the perpetrators, as well as compensation. They have nowhere to turn. Although the proposed Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance (HB 1556) is pending before the parliament, it has been unnecessarily delayed. Like other laws that seek to address human rights and people’s grievances, the legislature seems to give it negligible attention.
The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance is due to come into effect. The convention holds that there are absolutely no circumstances that justify forced disappearance, which it defines as
“The arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty committed by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.”
As the Philippines was a signatory to the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, presumably its government will seek to become a party to the new convention as soon as possible, at which time it will be bound by international law to enact a domestic law.
But there is no need to wait until then. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) urges the government of the Philippines to take the lead and criminalise forced disappearance without delay. Having recognised the principles contained in the 1992 declaration there should under any circumstances have been greater effort in seeing a law on disappearances introduced. In view of the fact that state agents and others acting on their behalf in the Philippines are known to routinely abduct and disappear persons there, there should also have been a far greater sense of urgency.
To see this happen, a far more vigorous public debate is desperately needed in the Philippines on the continued use of forced disappearance, and its significance for the society as a whole. Through such discussion, the brutal realities of enforced disappearance will become known and understood, not only in terms of their destructive effects on families and communities, but also their poisonous effects on the institutions and agencies for policing and security.
For Estriber and Concepcion the introduction of a law criminalising disappearances in the Philippines will come too late to have deterred the perpetrators of their abductions from carrying out the crimes. But for their families and colleagues, as well as those of other victims and the thousands of potential victims, it cannot come too soon.
On 3 March 2006 around 6:20pm Joey Estriber, a programme officer of the Bataris Formation Center, was waiting for a ride home on San Luis Street at the corner of Burgos Extension when forcibly dragged by four armed men towards a maroon van with tinted windows and no registration plates parked nearby. Estriber yelled to get attention but bystanders thought he was joking. One of the abductors grabbed Estriber while the others subdued him before speeding in a southbound direction.
At 6:45pm, Estriber supposedly sent an SMS message saying: “Don’t worry, I’m alright?to his relatives, but when he was asked of his whereabouts, he replied: “I’m in hiding.?The recipient of the messages doubted that it was Estriber who had sent the message. After that, his number could no longer be contacted.
When they came to know of the abduction, his relatives and co-workers immediately went to a police station to report the incident. It was found that the van involved in the abduction was seen parked in front of the Aurora Electric Company, a few meters away from an Internet caf?where Estriber went, an hour beforehand. Baler Police Station personnel immediately put up checkpoints but failed to recover the victim or trace his location. Estriber’s family called up radio stations asking for anyone who may have seen him to come forward. However, they failed to get any response.
The Bataris Formation Center is an alternative learning centre for lay people. On 25 December 2005 its women’s accommodation was deliberately set on fire. Staffers suspected that the arson was the handiwork of the 48th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army in Aurora. Personnel from this unit had earlier harassed Alfonso van Zijl, secretary general of the Justice and Peace Advocacy Group—which is situated in the same compound—and Manding Colcol, staff member of Bataris, on December 14.
Pepito Campus & Leonardo Parungao: Taken by police or someone else?
1. Pepito Campus
2. Leonardo Parungao
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Four armed men in police sweatshirts
DATE: 18 February 2006
On 18 February 2006 at 2pm, Pepito Campus and Leonardo Parungao were riding in their barangay service vehicle with Elizabeth Parungao, a community youth leader, and around 10 other student youth residents of Barangay Bagong Sikat, Cabiao. They were coming from Jaen, Nueva Ecija and passing between Barangay Luyos and Buliran (near a garbage dumpsite) in San Antoni, Nueva Ecija when four armed men wearing long-sleeved sweatshirts with POLICE on them stopped the vehicle at a checkpoint. They ordered Campus and Parungao to step outside of the vehicle. According to the students, one of the soldiers forced Parungao to the ground, stepped on his head, tied his hands behind his back and forced him and Campus into a maroon van that had no license plate. The van then headed towards Barangay Marawa, Jaen and La Paz, Tarlac. The victims?whereabouts remain unknown.
The others in the vehicle immediately informed the victims?families, who in turn reported the incident to the police in San Antonio. The police, however, denied having set up a checkpoint and deploying policemen in the area where the victims were abducted. The policemen instead said that soldiers led by Captain Renato Rebuelto frequently patrol in that place, but could not give further information.
Reynaldo & Raymond Manalo: Abducted for not coming to meeting
1. Reynaldo Manalo
2. Raymond Manalo
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 24th IB personnel, led by Master Sgt. Rollie Castillo
DATE: 14 February 2006
Reynaldo Manalo and his brother Raymond were illegally arrested and subsequently disappeared on 14 February 2006 by five men believed to be military agents who first broke into their parents?residence in Barangay Bohol na Mangga, San Ildefonso, Bulacan after 2pm. The perpetrators were armed with rifles and wore civilian clothes. The men’s father, Jesus, was talking to another person near their front door while their mother Ester was at the kitchen at the time.
One of the perpetrators went to the bedroom and allegedly took items in the drawers. Raymond, who was sleeping there, was awakened by the noise. They intruders asked if he was Bestre: a neighbour. They slapped him and hit him in the abdomen with a rifle butt, then ordered him to lie down and tied his hands behind his back. He was dragged out of the house, during which time he was repeatedly kicked.
The perpetrators took Raymond to the house of his elder brother, Reynaldo, whose wife Maria Leonora had just arrived from gathering charcoal. They ordered Reynaldo to kneel down. When he refused, the alleged perpetrators poked their guns at him and started kicking him. One of the perpetrators entered his house and illegally searched for hidden firearms. When they failed to find any, they took Reynaldo and Raymond with them. They later went to Bestre’s house, not far from the victims?houses. They forcibly opened the door and ransacked items inside.
The victim’s cousin, Celeste, was passing by at the time, on her way to the house of Jesus and Ester with their grandchildren. She noticed that the door of the house had been broken and saw the perpetrators searching inside. When they saw her, the perpetrators asked her name. She was hesitant to answer them, but her cousin, Raymond, told her to cooperate with them to avoid getting into trouble. She and the children were poked with guns as they talked to the perpetrators. Celeste last saw Raymond and Reynaldo taken away in a white van with their hands tied behind their backs.
On February 15, Reynaldo’s wife Maria Leonora together with other family members abandoned their homes for fear that the men would return and harm them. They reported the incidents to the Municipal Hall of Ildefonso and police station Chief Emma Libunao at the headquarters of the Philippine National Police in San Ildefonso. Libunao later took them to the detachment of the 24th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, to meet with its head, Master Sergeant Rollie Castillo. Castillo told them not to worry, that they would coordinate with those who took custody of the Manalo brothers.
Prior to the incident, on February 5, Castillo’s colleague called for a meeting with residents of Bohol na Mangga. Members of the Manalo family reportedly failed to participate as they had not received any notice for the meeting. It is believed that their failure to attend the meeting may have prompted the alleged perpetrators to arrest and harass members of the family. Ester’s uncle, Primitivo Principe, recalled that the faces of some of the alleged perpetrators were similar to those who called for the February 5 meeting.
Francis Noel Desacula: “Don’t get mad, I will be home”
VICTIM: Francis Desacula
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 730th Combat Group air force personnel
DATE: 9 January 2006
On 9 January 2006, after 3pm, elements of the 730th Combat Group, Philippine Air Force set up a checkpoint in Barangay Malinis, Lemery, Batangas. Thirty personnel conducted inspections along the highway. Francis Noel Desacula (35) went missing at that time, as he was on his way home on the same highway. His wife Ana expected him to return home that day but he did not. Instead, he briefly spoke to her on his mobile phone and told her that he would come home after finishing his work, but he did not mention his whereabouts.
On January 10, at 7:30am Desacula again called Ana, from a different mobile phone number. When Ana asked him why he was not using his own phone, he said that the SIM card was blocked. Ana asked if he was okay and when he would come home. He promised Ana to come home and told her, “Don’t get mad, I will be home. Just stay there and wait for me.?
On January 11, at 2:30pm, Ana called her husband’s new number to inquire why he had failed to return home. It took awhile before the mobile phone was answered. While speaking to her husband, Ana noticed her husband’s voice sounded as if he was suffering from pain, and she heard voices around him. Not long into the conversation, Desacula hung up, which he usually did not do. He only told his wife that he was fine and promised to come home. When Ana tried calling him back, the phone was turned off.
On January 12, Ana sought help from the Batangas chapter of human rights group Karapatan. They sought help from local officials and went to different military camps for days, hoping that they could find Desacula, but failed. On January 18 Ana and two members of Karapatan were harassed by the military when they went to the Air Force Camp in Palico Nasugbu, Batangas. Two personnel attached to the 730th Combat Group of Philippine Air Force (CGPAF) labelled them supporters of communist rebels and they were forced to leave without receiving any information.
On January 19, one officer attached to the 730th CGPAF informed Karapatan by text message that their commanding officer, Colonel Ruben Carandang, had signed a statement denying that they were holding Desacula inside the camp.
A fact-finding inquiry conducted later found that residents of Navotas, Balayan had seen Desacula on January 15, tied up and being used by military as a shield in their operations. Additionally, on January 16 he was seen by residents in Laurel, Batangas on board a military truck with elements of the Philippine Air Force.
Ustadz Habib Darupo: Driven around and tortured in van
VICTIM: Ustadz Habib Darupo
INCIDENTS: Abduction; torture
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Four unidentified armed men
DATE: 24 October 2006
On October 24, an Arabic teacher, Ustadz Habib Darupo (“Sonny?, went missing after he was forcibly abducted near a public market in the Municipality of Banaybanay, Davao Oriental when around 4pm he was riding on his motorcycle with a companion, Rahim, after Ed’l Fit’r celebrations. Ustadz Darupo and Rahim were going in to the market when a gray L-300 van suddenly blocked their way and four hooded persons alighted. One of the perpetrators was armed with an M-16 rifle. Rahim fled and Ustadz Darupo also briefly broke free and fell into a canal. One of the armed men caught up with him, pulled his head and hit on his arms. He was then dragged towards the van. His feet were tied with rope and he blindfolded with packing tape.
Ustadz Darupo was brutally assaulted in the van for about three hours and interrogated about the whereabouts of a certain Ustadz Hamid. His driver’s license, identification card and Seiko diving watch were taken. After about 30 minutes, Ustadz Darupo sensed that the tire of the vehicle had burst, and he was transferred to another vehicle.
Around 11am the following day, October 25, Ustadz Darupo was released in Tagum City. Still with his eyes masked, he was put down from the van and told not to stand up. After that his abductors left.
Fr. Antonio Ablon: “Even the bishop was killed; we will make you an example here”
VICTIM: Antonio Ablon
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Unknown
DATE: 6 October 2006
At around 4:45pm on 6 October 2006, Fr. Antonio Ablon, a priest of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) church based in Cagayan de Oro, received a death threat via SMS (short message service) from a mobile phone with the number 09203546270. It read: “Fr. Ablon, even the supreme bishop was killed. We will make you an example here in Cagayan de Oro.?The message was referring to the killing on October 3 of Bishop Alberto Ramento in Tarlac City (see case above).
Fr. Ablon has been actively engaged in human rights work as a National Council Member of the Promotion of Church People’s Response and secretary general of the human rights group Karapatan in his region. It is not the first death threat that he has received.
Gemma Lape & others: “She’s smart. Why don’t we just kill her?”
1. Gemma Lape
2. Lorna Reli
3. Ivy Villasan
4. Ana Lou Estrimos
5. Glaysa Layesi
6. Josephine Bahar
7. Pablito Sapata
8. Rodelito Amo
INCIDENT: Illegal arrest and detention
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Rosario Municipal Police Station personnel
DATES: 28 September-4 October 2006
AHRC UA-325-2006; UP-185-2006
Eight workers were were staying at a warehouse in Rosario, Cavite on 28 September 2006 when Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) police and Jantro security guards arrived in their service vehicles and arrested them. The police and guards accused the workers of providing food and supporting other workers on strike at the Korean-owned Chong Won Fashion factory nearby, where they had imposed a food blockade. They also accused them of having “subversive?materials, such as books on the history of labour movement and workers?rights.
In fact, seven of the eight arrested workers were former employees of another Korean-owned garment factory, SP Ventures, who lost their jobs when their factory shut down in May 2006. They were forced to stay at the warehouse to ensure that the remaining equipment of the insolvent factory would not be smuggled out without the employer paying them with severance, unpaid salaries and benefits.
According to one of the arrested workers, Gemma Lape, on their way to the Rosario Municipal Police Station following arrest, the police and an official questioned her regarding her relationship with the strikers. When she told them that she had nothing to do with them, one policewoman told her companion, “She’s smart. Why don’t we just kill her”
After they arrived at the police station, Lape said investigators attached to the Rosario and Peza police started illegally searching her and her companions?personal belongings. Her mobile phone was seized. She was later taken to the interrogation room while her seven companions were locked up at the detention center. The police refused to allow access to legal counsel. When a group of paralegals arrived to represent the victims one of the policemen refused to acknowledge them. They also insisted that they were not detaining the victims, despite putting them behind bars. The police refused to allow private conversation between the paralegal officers and Lape. One of the policemen yelled at one of the paralegal officers and threatened them with removal.
Some of the arrested workers had caught fevers and colds at the time of arrest due to a heavy downpour. When the paralegals requested the police to provide food and medicines for the detainees, they simply replied that they didn’t have any. The paralegals had to get food and medicines themselves.
The Rosario Municipal Police Station later attempted to file charges of inciting sedition against the detainees, but the public prosecutor rejected the charges for lack of evidence. Only the charge of trespassing was recommended to be filed at the Municipal Trial Court, and the workers were arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the charge. The judge ordered their release without imposing bail.
According to Gemma Lape, the workers had stayed at the warehouse with the knowledge and consent of Peza officials but that the officials carried out the arrests in an effort to crack down on support to the other workers on strike.
Kristine Tulay & others: Detained and beaten over possession of corpse
1. Kristine Tulay
2. Christopher De Leon
3. Khristina Mae Guray
4. Mary Jane Almoete
5. Virgilio Batardo
6. Ramon Blastique Fajardo
7. Nona Quejero
8. Leonardo Quejero
INCIDENT: Illegal arrest and detention; torture
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 74th IB personnel, led by Col. Amado Bustillos, including Lt. Marcus Bibat (Bravo Co. commander), Lt. Dinurog, Corp. Ferdinand T. Ponce, Corp. Wilmer Lapinig, Corp. Renelio M. Miranda, Corp. Ruel F. Miranda and Corp. Jemuel P. Ontic
DATE: 22 August 2006
AHRC UA-275-2006; UP-169-2006: UP-171-2006
Hermogenes Aumentado sought the assistance of the Southern Tagalog chapter of human rights group Karapatan to retrieve the body of his daughter, Raquel Aumentado, following her killing on 18 August 2006, apparently in an encounter between the armed forces and New People’s Army rebels.
On August 22, the group organised a mission composed of eight Karapatan volunteers, two barangay officials and three staff members of a local funeral parlour. The mission notified Vice-Mayor Reynaldo Comiso before proceeding to the location where Raquel was reported killed along with family members.
After 10am, elements of the 74th Infantry Battalion led by Colonel Amado Bustillos blocked their vehicle in Barangay Tambakan, Catanauan, ordered the family and barangay officials to leave and detained the eight Karapatan volunteers. He also refused to release the body of the deceased to her family.
The eight volunteers were forced to march for four hours at gunpoint, and the soldiers threatened to shoot them if they did not run fast enough to the battalion’s Bravo and Charlie Companies?detachment. The soldiers, under command of Lieutenant Marcus Bibat, also repeatedly punched and beat the group’s four male captives on their heads.
Once at the barracks, one of the detainees, Christopher de Leon, was accused by the soldiers of being an insurgent sniper simply because he was wearing a black shirt, after which he was allegedly assaulted.
Another, Leonardo Quejero, was separated from the group and interrogated. He was forced to kneel face-down and told to admit that he was an insurgent. The perpetrators were then joined by Lieutenant Dinurog, the commanding officer during the August 18 encounter. Leonardo was repeatedly punched on both sides of his body and on his head. The soldiers also terrorized him by repeatedly cocking their guns to imply that he would be killed.
The military subsequently filed rebellion cases against the eight in the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office, with the support of Corporals Ferdinand T. Ponce, Wilmer Lapinig, Renelio M. Miranda, Ruel F. Miranda and Jemuel P. Ontic, who all acted as petitioners. However, Provincial Prosecutors Dione V. Bustonera and Wendell R. Ilagan dismissed the case due to lack of evidence.
The eight were released at around 11pm on August 23, and obstruction of justice charges filed against them in lieu of the rebellion charges. The victims also filed complaints against the military.
Diego Ramos: Assaulted for asking questions
VICTIMS: Don Bon Diego Ramos & around 11 others
ALLEGED PERPETRATOR: Cesar Zamora, Barangay Security Force member
DATE: 13 August 2006
Don Bon Diego Ramos, a 16-year-old boy, was severely beaten by a village militia officer after arrest in Barangay Maybunga in Pasig City, Metro Manila at midnight on 13 August 2006. Ramos was walking on his way home after a concert when the alleged perpetrator, Cesar Zamora, repeatedly hit him with a club and dragged him towards a truck. Zamora, a member of the Barangay Security Force, was at that time assisting police in arresting persons at a concert. When Ramos asked Zamora, “Why are you arresting me??instead of giving an explanation, Zamora beat him hard with a wooden club to his chest, right thigh and stomach. Zamora also threatened Ramos with a firearm. Despite heavy rain, he hurled Ramos into a truck without a top cover.
Ramos was not the only one who forcibly arrested and taken towards the Barangay Hall. At least eleven others, some of them also minors, were taken into custody and questioned. It was reported later that they were arrested due to complaints by residents about the noise from the concert. The village militia said that the concert had not been approved. They threatened to charge Ramos and others for public alarm and scandal, and for violating the village curfew. Although some of those arrested were minors, the militia did not inform their parents. Nor did they give treatment for injuries caused.
Ramos and his companions were released at 5am. Ramos then proceeded to a public hospital where his injuries were examined. The next day, August 14, he was accompanied by his mother, Maria Ellenor Magdaraog, to file a complaint at the Barangay Hall. But the officials reportedly attempted to exonerate Zamora. Christopher Tillo, head of the Peace and Order Committee who was supervising the operation said that policemen had beaten Ramos, not his man.
Security force personnel are not supposed to be armed unless they have permits to carry weapons. When Zamora was asked about the firearm he had used the night before, he claimed that it was lent to him by the police: this is admission of illegal carrying of a firearm. Tillo reportedly attempted to argue that his men were allowed to have guns; however, he was unable to produce permits to support his claims.
After going to Barangay Hall, Magdaraog and her son went to the children and women’s desk at the Pasig City Police to report the incident and file formal charges against the perpetrator. They advised that Ramos had to get medical documentation. The police then called Zamora for questioning, and Tillo accompanied him. Tillo reportedly threatened to file counter-charges against Ramos and his companions if he decided to file charges against Zamora.
Tillo’s men have been accused of repeatedly abusing their authority of arrest. The group has reportedly threatened a number of victims not to file formal charges against them once released.
Uztadz Kusain Abedin: Arrested on unverified information
VICTIM: Uztadz Kusain Abedin
INCIDENT: Illegal arrest
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Task Force Tugis personnel, commanded by Col. Calanoy
DATE: 3 August 2006
Uztadz Kusain Abedin was arrested at a bus terminal on Don Rufino Alonzo Street, Cotabato City, at 6:45pm on 3 August 2006 and without any reason taken into custody of Task Force Tugis, a special military unit headed by Colonel Calanoy. A witness saw him forcibly put in a maroon-coloured military service utility vehicle with license plate number SFU-275, which was last seen heading towards the headquarters of Task Force Tugis at PC Hill, Cotabato City. Guinaid Adam, a manager of the bus company from where Abedin was taken, reportedly accompanied him to the military’s headquarters.
When Abedin’s colleagues at United Youth for Peace and Development, a Mindanao youth development organisation, went to the Task Group Tugis?headquarters, the military could not present any warrants to justify Abedin’s arrest. He was not given access to legal counsel for some hours and the reasons for his detention were not made clear. It was later learned that it was prompted by an SMS purportedly sent by an intelligence source warning of a plan to bomb the bus terminal in Cotabato City. Abedin’s colleagues decided to stay on vigil outside the headquarters until he was released.
Uztadz Kusain Abedin was freed around 9:40pm on August 4 after negotiations between a lawyer brought by Abedin’s relatives and the military men who arrested him. The officers insisted that his name was included on an arrest warrant, but could not produce any such document. They appeared to have acted on unverified information.
Shamroud Adulaziz & others: “Your days are numbered”
1. Shamroud Adulaziz
2. Blanche Yamba
3. Bill Andres
4. Juvy Hornales
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unknown
DATE: 5 July 2006
On 5 July 2006, four spokespersons of groups based in General Santos City, Mindanao—Shamroud Adulaziz of human rights group Karapatan, Blanche Yamba of the Gabriela Women’s Party, Bill Andres of the Bayan alliance and Juvy Hornales of youth group Anak Bayan—received SMS messages from 09066677136, saying that, “Supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) your days are numbered – AralSaMasa?
Prior to the incident, on July 4, a local tabloid newspaper published a story quoting an intelligence report that a “death squad?is plotting to kill seven leaders of progressive organisations in the area. Neither the source of the story nor a by-line was provided.
It was learned that AralSaMasa sent similar SMS messages to George and Maricel Vigo two weeks before they were killed on June 19 (see case above).
The four persons approached General Santos City Mayor Pedro Acharon Jr. and City Councillor Eduardo Leyson III, chairman of the Committee on Peace and Order, requesting intervention; no action was known to have been taken by them. When three of the four met Acharaon on July 11, they found that no credible investigations had been conducted.
Marissa Dumanjug-Palo: “Did you notice the motorcycle following us?”
VICTIM: Marissa Dumanjug-Palo
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Four unidentified men
DATE: 31 May 2006
On 31 May 2006, Marissa Dumanjug-Palo, an official with the National Democratic Front and former staff of human rights group Karapatan’s national office was on her way to her office in a taxicab when four unidentified men riding on two motorcycles followed her. Below is her account of what occured.
Around 11:15am today, 31 May 2006, I hailed a taxi along V. Luna Road, Quezon City, in the vicinity of V. Luna hospital (several establishments away) on my way to the office. The taxi went towards the direction of East Avenue.
The taxi driver called my attention when we reached the traffic light (red) in the corner of V. Luna Road and East Avenue by saying, “Ma’m, napansin nyo ba yung motorsiklo na nakasunod? (Ma’m, did you notice the motorcycle following us?)?I looked back but did not see a motorcycle. I asked him, “Bakit po? Saan ninyo nakita na nakasunod? (Why po [expression of respect for elder]? Where did you notice that it was following us??He replied, “Bandang kanto ng hospital nakita kong sumunod, parang nag-cut mula sa kanto. (In the vicinity of the hospital, near the corner, I saw that it started following us, it seems to have swerved from the corner.) I replied, “Sige sa EDSA ninyo idiretso, mag-U-turn tayo sa ilalim ng fly-over, pero huwag kayong hihinto, diretso lang. (Okay, go directly to EDSA, make a U-turn under the fly-over, but do not stop, just go straight.)”
We turned left on East Avenue and proceeded towards EDSA. I then looked back again and vaguely saw a black motorcycle with two men riding but it was quite a distance and they were partly hidden by the other vehicles. When we made a U-turn under the fly-over near GMA-7 station, I saw that the black motorcycle (model like a dirt bike) was one vehicle away and also making a U-turn. Riding it were two men wearing black helmets and dark-colored jackets. I was able to see that the motorcycle did not have a license plate.
I instructed the taxi driver to go towards Timog Avenue (turning right) and take one side street (the jeepney route) towards E. Rodriguez. The black motorcycle was still following us. Before we were to turn left towards the side street (which was three or four corners from GMA-7), the taxi driver said, “Ma’m, dalawa na sila. (Ma’m, there are now two motorcycles.)?I again looked back.
I saw another black motorcycle (bigger model than the dirt bike and similar to what SWAT teams use) with two men riding it. They were also wearing helmets and dark-colored jackets. The second motorcycle was around ten meters behind the first motorcycle. When we turned the corner, I asked the taxi driver, “Manong, paano ninyo nasabi na dalawa sila? Magkasama sila? (Manong [term for elder male], how can you say that there are two? Are they together?)?The driver replied, “Parang synchro ang kilos eh. (It’s as if their movements are synchronized.)?lt;/P>
At the end of the street, we turned left towards E. Rodriquez. When I looked back again, I saw that the second motorcycle was now one vehicle behind us and the first motorcycle was further back.
The two motorcycles followed us the entire stretch of E. Rodriguez, maintaining a distance of one or two vehicles (even if there was no vehicle between us and them), did not attempt to overtake us and always rode diagonal from each other.
I instructed the taxi driver to turn right on New York Street and towards Lantana Street.
When we turned right on New York Street, the two motorcycles did not follow anymore and sped straight towards the direction of Cubao. I saw that the second motorcycle also did not have a license plate.
All four men did not have any bags with them. I was not able to see if the back-riders were wearing gloves (like the driver’s) because they always had their hands in their pockets or were hidden whenever I had the chance to look towards their direction.
Rundren Berloize Lao & others: Suffocated, electrocuted and beaten
1. Rundren Berloize Lao
2. Anderson Alonzo
3. Aldoz Christian Manoza
4. Ron Pandino
5. Ray Lester Mendoza
6. Jethro Villagracia
7. Neil Russel Balajadia
8. Darwin Alagar
9. Arvie Nunez
10. Jefferson de la Rosa
11. Frencess Ann Bernal
INCIDENTS: Illegal arrest & detention; torture
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 1604th PMG personnel led by Pol. Suptdt. Brent Madjaco; 3rd Company RMG, led by Pol. Snr. Insp. Joseph Paolo Bayungasan, and unidentified military agents
DATES: 14-16 February 2006
AHRC UA-082-2006; UP-063-2006; UP-067-2006; UP-092-2006; UP-099-2006; UP-100-2006; UP-115-2006; UP-137-2006; UP-152-2006; UP-002-2007
Eleven young persons—two of them minors—were brutally tortured and subsequently falsely charged following their arrest on 14 February 2006 at a checkpoint in Abatan, Buguias, Benguet while hitching a ride on a dump truck on their way to Sagada, Mountain Province. When they reached Abatan, Buguias, Benguet, they were stopped by heavily-armed policemen allegedly attached to the Provincial Police Mobile Group and the Regional Mobile Group of Benguet. They ordered the victims to get down from the dump truck and ordered them to kneel down, kicking their backs with such force that they all fell face-first to the ground. The policemen started severely beating them one after the other and threatening to kill them. Every time the police noticed any movement from the victims, they were punched, kicked and hit. One of the victims was forced to kiss the mouth of a policemen’s dog.
After their belongings were confiscated, the eleven were taken to the 1604th PPMG camp, where they were allegedly further tortured. They were beaten on different parts of their bodies, and exposed under the heat of the sun with hands tied behind their backs. They were also blindfolded, beaten in the genitals and threatened with death. Some of the victims were thrown into a pit and had soil, garbage and other matter dumped over their heads. They were electrocuted, stepped on and their fingers were squeezed with bullets inserted between them. Others were suffocated with plastic bags or had their heads forced into pails of water. Buckets were also hung on their heads and water was poured into them. They were also forced to strip naked and had freezing water sprayed onto them.
The victims were tortured in order to force them to admit responsibility for a raid of a military camp in Cabiten, Mankayan, Benguet on February 10. A rebel group had already admitted responsibility for the raid. While in police custody, four of the victims were ordered to sketch the supposed battle area and then guide the police to locate the supposed hidden firearms in the mountains. When the police failed to find anything there they tortured the victims further.
While in police custody, one of the victims, Rundren Berloize Lao, was able to escape by jumping into a ravine beside the camp and running for safety while being fired upon by policemen. He went back to Baguio City and sought help there from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The DSWD, however, turned Rundren over to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Soon after, elements of the PPMG and RMG served an arrest warrant on Rundren, together with the others, for robbery with homicide. The victims were held in Benguet Provincial Jail where they had no adequate medical treatment or counselling.
The victims, represented by six lawyers from the Free Legal Assistance Group, filed motions to withdraw the charges against them, and on March 31 they also filed charges against six policemen in Buguias, Benguet, for violation of Republic Act 7438, which defines certain rights of persons arrested, detained or under custodial investigation.
On May 19, the Regional Trial Court in La Trinidad, Benguet ruled that the arrest of the 11 victims had been illegal as it had been without a warrant and not during a “hot pursuit?operation.
The two minors, Frencess Ann Bernal (15) and Ray Lester Mendoza (16) were only released from jail on May 30, after the court granted an earlier petition by their legal counsel to turn them over to their parents.
While the others were in jail there was a plot to kill them. Rundren Berloize Lao was told by one inmate that sometime in April he was offered 100,000 Pesos (USD 2000) in an envelope along with a knife, to kill Lao. The inmate refused the offer and instead warned Lao to take precautions.
Similarly, a fellow inmate of Jefferson de la Rosa, William Pangan, informed him that he had accepted money to kill either de la Rosa or Lao, after being sent a gun on May 9. On May 7, Pangan was transferred into de la Rosa’s cell from a cell which was formerly adjacent to Lao’s. Pangan told de la Rosa that he feared that he would be killed immediately after he killed either of the two torture victims, so he would not do it.
On June 28, the victims added charges of arbitrary arrest and detention against the policemen and other perpetrators at the Benguet Prosecutor’s Office.
On December 20, the remaining nine torture victims were released from the provincial jail in La Trinidad, Benguet, by the order of Regional Trial Court Judge Benigno Galacgac after dismissing the case due to lack of evidence.
While all the victims have been cleared of the false charges against them, the complaints they filed against the police, military and militia forces involved in their arrest and detention. The Office of the National Police Commission and Office of the Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Office, which have received the complaints, are yet to decide on the matters.
The AHRC released a statement on this case on March 31:
The brutal police torture and filing of supposedly fabricated charges against 11 persons–including two minors–in Buguias, Benguet on 14 February 2006 is yet another instance of the arbitrary use of authority by the police and military in the Philippines. As the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) reported earlier, the group were arrested in the north of the country while hitchhiking on a truck, and allegedly beaten and kicked by members of the 1604th Police Provincial Mobile Group. Back at the police camp, they were accused of being part of a February 10 raid on a military base, and again allegedly subjected to extremely cruel torture, including genital beating, suffocation and electrocution. They have been in custody since, and the trial against them is now getting underway.
Despite the gravity of the victims?allegations against the police, there is no way for them to lodge complaints or obtain redress as envisaged by common article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment–both of which the government of the Philippines claims to uphold. There is no law prohibiting torture in the Philippines, even though it is outlawed by the 1987 Constitution. A 2005 bill to introduce the Anti-Torture Act (HB 4307) has been stalled in parliament. The failure to enact a law to criminalise torture violates the government’s international obligations, especially under the Convention against Torture.
Not only are torture victims in the Philippines denied the possibility of making complaints, they are also denied medical treatment. One of the Benguet victims, Rundren Lao, managed to escape–while the police were drunk, he says. Naively, he sought help from the Department of Welfare and Development (DSWD). Instead of attempting to verify his story and making arrangements for the physical and mental care that he needed, the department turned him over to law enforcement officers, who in turn returned him to his original captors, after they issued an arrest warrant. So an obviously damaged and traumatised man was placed back in the hands of his alleged torturers.
The law requires that minors and adults be confined and treated separately. However, even in this respect the DSWD has proven itself unwilling to fulfil its mandate and protect human rights. In the Benguet case, a department spokesperson said in a television interview that it is difficult for the department to transfer the victims to juvenile detention due to the nature of the charges. This outrageous position assumes, without any basis, that there are crimes for which children should be treated as children and others for which they should be treated as adults. It is a blatant denial of the responsibilities of the DSWD, and the Philippines?obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which it is also a party. The department’s failure to secure the detention of the two juveniles at a separate facility and properly assess the conditions under which the other nine were taken into custody amounts to blatant negligence on its part, and another violation of international law.
The absence of a law on torture means that neither the police nor the DSWD feels beholden to torture victims. The police cannot be charged for having committed torture. The social welfare staff cannot be held liable for their negligence or inaction.
The AHRC supports Senator Aquilino Pimentel’s call that the chief of police Gen. Arturo Lumibao conduct an investigation into the victims?allegations. The Police Regional Office of the Cordillera Administrative Region and Provincial Police Office of Benguet must answer the accusations against them. The accused officers should be immediately suspended until an investigation is concluded, and a decision made regarding the filing of charges before quasi-judicial bodies and the courts if probable cause is established.
The police and military in the Philippines will continue to use torture as their primary means of investigation until a law makes their practices illegal, and perpetrators are prosecuted. The constitution and the Convention against Torture will only have meaning in the Philippines when the government recognises its obligations under these laws to treat torturers as criminals. The government’s delay in introducing such a law is completely unacceptable and without justification.
The Asian Human Rights Commission again calls on the president of the Philippines to place the passing of a law to criminalise torture among the government’s top priorities. Members of parliament too must ensure that this law is passed without delay, so that no more Filipinos are denied the possibility of remedy and redress. The enactment of this law is a precondition to the protection and improvement of all human rights in the Philippines.
Windel Bolinget & others: Constant threats
1. Windel Bolinget
2. Joan Carling
3. Wife of Ampi Mangile
4. Manny Loste
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Unidentified men
DATE: January 2006
In January 2006, three human rights defenders in Baguio City, Luzon were facing serious threats.
Joan Carling, a member of the Cordillera People’s Alliance, was followed by two suspicious-looking persons riding on a motorcycle while on her way home from the office. On February 10, her car was broken into while parked outside her house, and the lock to her house door also destroyed.
Meanwhile, Windel Bolinget, the alliance’s secretary general, and Manny Loste, the Cordillera coordinator of the Bayan Muna party, have also noticed that they have been followed when going home. An attempt was also reportedly made to abduct the wife of the alliance’s vice chairperson, Ampi Mangile, but she resisted and escaped.
Earlier, in October 2005 there was an attempted break-in at the alliance’s office. The perpetrators cut off the electric supply and phone lines. They were about to enter the office block after destroying the gate’s padlock when a member of staff who was sleeping inside the office was awakened by the noise. The perpetrators ran away after they were yelled at. In December, vans with tinted windows were often seen parked near the office, and the security guards received several phone calls warning them to leave.
Francis Paraon & others: “If you lie, I can kill you in your house”
1. Francis Paraon
2. Herminio Zuniga
3. Enrico Estarez
INCIDENTS: Intimidation; torture
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 24th IB personnel, including Lt. Col. Reyes, Col. Oliras & Sgt. Gatos
DATE: 3 November 2005 onwards
On 3 November 2005, a detachment of the 24th Infantry Battalion (IB) set up on the basketball court beside the Barangay Hall in Sta. Ines, San Miguel, close to the Console Farm where members of the Samahan ng mga Manggagawa ng Console Farm (Samacofa) union work. The purpose of the detachment was reportedly to conduct an anti-insurgency campaign. After the detachment was established, Lieutenant Colonel Reyes, Colonel Oliras and Sergeant Gatos started summoning workers and villagers for questioning.
On November 6, a number of heavily-armed military men went to visit labour leader Enrico Estarez’s house. Estarez was not there so the military started questioning his wife Elizabeth and demanded she produce her husband. Later in the evening, Estarez and several members of their union went to the military detachment to clarify matters and asked them about their operation at the farm. About fifty heavily armed soldiers led by Colonel Oliras were present at the time.
While having the meeting, the military took several pictures of Estarez. When he complained, he was told that if he had no wrongdoing then he would not feel uncomfortable. The military asked the group about the “Oust GMA [President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo]?painting on the Console Farm’s wall. The union members and Estarez were pressed hard to explain about why the president was the object of the union’s campaign. Colonel Oliras then requested them to coordinate all their activities with the army.
After the incident, Estarez stopped work, left his family and sought refuge elsewhere, causing disruption to his family life. His wife was constantly visited by the military, threatening her to reveal the location of her husband. On one occasion, soldiers illegally searched her house.
After December 25, all union members became the subject of harassment and frequent “invitations?by the military. All 12 union officers were reportedly placed under daily surveillance.
On December 28 around 8am Francis Paraon and his farm manager, Mario Gelogo, were summoned for questioning. Gelogo left Paraon behind after he spoke with the military. Lieutenant Colonel Reyes allegedly approached Paraon told him, “You know Francis, if you will lie, I can kill you in your house.?Paraon was taken to a small dark room where he saw another five armed military men in plain clothes. One allegedly pointed a gun at him and then slammed it on top of the table where he was sitting. They tried to gather information about the activity of the union and communist rebels, about which he said he knew nothing. When the answers he provided did not satisfy them, one of the interrogators cocked his gun. The military also verbally abused him and threatened to kill him. He was further asked about persons unknown to him, and was questioned about the union contributors and their funds. He told them that the records were in his house, and was taken to his house to get them, then back to the detachment, where he was further interrogated. He wrote a statement under duress concerning his membership with the union and how he was treated by the military, but they did not accept it. They instead allegedly prepared a fabricated statement and forced Paraon to sign it.
Another victim, Herminio Zuniga, reportedly suffered trauma and stopped speaking to his fellow workers and union members after interrogation.
All the alleged incidents were reported to the national and regional offices of the Commission on Human Rights, but there had been no response by time of documentation.
Haron Abubakar Buisan: A “justifiable degree of force”
VICTIM: Haron Abubakar Buisan
INCIDENTS: Illegal arrest; torture
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Plainclothes personnel of General Santos City Police Office and SWAT personnel
DATE: 12 December 2005
UA-251-2005; UP-007-2006; UP-047-2006; UP-150-2006; UP-186-2006
On 12 December 2005, at around 6pm Haron Abubakar Buisan was riding on a motorcycle together with three other persons from Maasim, Sarangani, Mindanao when policemen attached to the General Santos City Police Office—some in plain clothes and others wearing black jackets with “SWAT?(Special Weapons and Army Tactics) printed on them?intercepted and arrested them. They did not present any warrant of arrest or inform them of any charges against them. They took the four men to their headquarters in their service vehicle, during which time Buisan was allegedly repeatedly kicked and severely beaten all over his body and face with a stone.
Upon reaching the police headquarters at the Camp Fermin G. Lira, the police released Buisan’s three companions while he was held in custody for three days without charge. He was allegedly tortured into admitting that he is really “Ariel Bansalao? a man wanted for robbery. He was later transferred to the Pendatun Police Station.
On December 23, Buisan’s family lodged a habeas corpus petition in court. Judge Isaac Alvero Moran of Regional Trial Court Branch 36 reportedly denied the petition and pushed through with the filing of robbery charges and illegal possession of firearms against Buisan, in connection with a bus robbery in Barangay Katangawan, General Santos City on 11 April 2005 (Criminal Case No. 18639). The victim’s family completely denied his involvement, claiming it is a case of wrong identity.
During the hearing, police director Senior Superintendent Alfredo Toroctocon and Judge Moran were seen together with a prosecution witness who reportedly had earlier suffered from a coma and could not speak. The court may have filed the charges against Buisan based on the witness?facial gestures.
Buisan was remanded to the General Santos City Reformatory Center and his family filed another petition to the court to have him examined by an independent and private physician, which was also denied. The police claimed that Buisan had already been examined by a physician but refused to give evidence to the family. They also refused to turn over his motorcycle, even though it is unconnected with the charges he is facing and therefore not needed as evidence.
Investigators from the Commission on Human Rights regional office (CHR XII) in General Santos City interviewed Buisan on 4 January 2006 at the reformatory centre, but did not inform the family of progress in their enquiries or give other assistance. Buisan’s father, Lamba, was reportedly denied copies of documents related to the case. Nor was any attention paid to the medical or rehabilitation needs of the victim.
On 13 January 2006, the Regional Trial Court Branch 35 postponed the arraignment of Buisan, after finding that his name is indeed different from that on the charge sheet. On January 17 Regional Trial Court Judge Oscar Noel ordered a reinvestigation into the case.
In a letter received by the AHRC dated 10 January 2006, Orlando Casimiro, deputy ombudsman for the Office of the Ombudsman for the Military and other Law Enforcement Office said that their Fact Finding Investigation Bureau would conduct an enquiry into the matter.
In reply to an open letter from the AHRC (AHRC-OL-004-2006; see Appendix III), Senior Superintendent Toroctocon also told the media that any alleged assault of Buisan would be justified, because he had lied. Toroctocon repeatedly insisted that Buisan and Ariel Bansalao are one and the same. He made similar claims in a letter direct to the AHRC, about which the following statement was issued on March 16:
In a letter dated 21 January 2006, the City Director of the General Santos City Police Office (GSCPO), Senior Superintendent Alfredo Toroctocon wrote to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to deny allegations by torture victim Haron Abubakar Buisan against his men. Buisan accused Toroctocon’s men of brutally beating him following his arrest on 12 December 2005. While in police custody and being investigated, Buisan was allegedly repeatedly kicked, beaten with a stone and denied access to legal counsel.
Although not referring directly to Buisan’s case, Toroctocon wrote in his letter that a “justifiable degree of force?can be used as part of the police’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to immobilise a person upon his arrest. A reliable source further quoted him in media interviews stating that the harm inflicted upon Buisan was normal because he was a liar. He further claimed the Miranda Doctrine, within which is respect for the suspect’s right to remain silent and to have access to a lawyer, was observed during the victim’s arrest.
Additionally, Toroctocon repeatedly insisted that Buisan and Ariel Bansalao, a person wanted for robbing a bus in April 2005, were the same person. Although the court has yet to rule whether or not the victim’s claims that his arrest was a result of mistaken identity, Toroctocon has already stated publicly that Buisan and Bansalao are one.
Whether Buisan and Bansalao are the same person or not, the AHRC maintains that this does not give authority nor a level of immunity to the arresting officers of the GSCPO to torture the victim. If indeed they have proof of the alleged crime that the victim is supposed to have committed, then the use of torture should still in now way be used. Only the court has the authority to impose punishments on people accused of committing crimes. Any punishment done outside of the court’s order, is an arbitrary use of authority and therefore a serious violation of a person’s constitutional and human rights.
While it is acknowledged that there are certain guidelines regarding the police’s Special Operating Procedure (SOP), under no circumstances can the use of force or harm, or indeed the torturing of a person be justified, as is stipulated in domestic law and in international human rights standards. The Bill of Rights of the 1987 Philippine Constitution strictly prohibits the use of torture and the Republic Act 7438 states the many rights of detainees and persons under custodial investigation. Furthermore, the Convention against Torture (CAT), to which the Philippine government has acceded, gives no justification for the use of torture under any circumstances. These rights entitlement can never be compromised.
The manner in which Toroctocon is handling the victim’s complaint of torture against his men is completely biased and inappropriate. By taking sides and exonerating his men prior to the release of the result of the investigation by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices, Toroctocon is no longer acting in an objective manner, nor in the professional one, which he should. His failure to impose necessary sanctions and restrictions upon his men, in particular the elements of Special Weapon and Tactics (Swat), despite the standing complaints against them is totally unacceptable.
Allegations of torture against elements of the GSCPO are no longer new. It can be recalled that on 24 April 2002, three persons, namely Jejhon Macalinsal, Aron Salah and Abubakar Amilhasan were also tortured by the GSCPO allegedly to force them into admitting an incident of bombing in a mall. Likewise, on 12 December 2004, another five persons were arrested and three of them were subsequently tortured by the GSCPO while being investigated.
To date, none of the policemen from the GSCPO involved in allegedly torturing persons following their arrest have been prosecuted and punished. The investigation into the allegations against them did not reach any conclusive findings nor did it lead to their prosecution in court. The torture victims, meanwhile, have been forced to face trial to charges laid against them by way of torture. The police’s repeated abuses point to the failure by higher authorities to hold them accountable for past indiscretions.
Buisan’s case is yet another example of the brutal torture and arbitrary use of power by the local police. Not only was he deprived of his constitutional right to have his complaint investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted, but he was also denied appropriate medical and trauma treatment. Although the concerned authorities, in particular the regional Commission on Human Rights (CHR XII) is aware of this case, they have failed to remedy this situation and to afford the victim with the rights he deserves. It is frightening that although the government is aware of the torture victim’s present situation they have not been held accountable for their failings and inaction. Evidently, impunity is rife within all areas of the law enforcement system in the Philippines.
With this in mind, we call upon all concerned people to pressure the Philippine government, in particular the House of Representatives and the Senate to consider as a priority the passage of the proposed law against torture. The enactment of a domestic legislation on torture in full conformity with the CAT is a precondition to the protection of human rights in the Philippines. In a country where torture is not treated as a crime, victims are deprived of their constitutional and human rights and are further denied justice when seeking to legally pursue their perpetrators. This practice must be stopped immediately and those responsible for committing torture must be held accountable for their crimes.
Nonetheless, in a resolution dated July 28, the newly-appointed state prosecutor Antonio Tagami only affirmed the resolution to charge Buisan on 23 December 2005 by Regional Trial Court Branch 36, which was in connection with the habeas corpus petition that had been earlier dismissed. However, considering that that decision had already been overtaken by the court’s recent order for reinvestigation of the charges against the victim, a full reinvestigation should have been conducted. Instead, Tagami merely quoted the court’s resolution and effectively recommended the filing of robbery with homicide charges against the victim without any reconsideration of the extenuating facts. In particular, the victim’s allegations that he was brutally tortured while in police custody following his arrest were not given consideration.
Rev. Fr. Terry Revollido & others: Men coming in boots and white vans
1. Eleuterio J. Revollido
2. Mariano Sepnio (killed)
INCIDENTS: Intimidation; killing
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: Military or police intelligence personnel
DATES: Since end 2005
As chairperson of the human rights group Bayan in Pangasinan province of Luzon, Rev. Fr. Eleuterio “Terry?J. Revollido has been subjected to monitoring and harassment by military and police intelligence units.
Towards the end of 2005, Fr. Terry’s seminary janitor informed him that he was visited three times by suspicious looking and well-built persons who asked about the activities and personalities of those coming and going at the seminary. Fr. Terry was not in his house on their third visit, but his son recalled that the men entered inside the house by force. According to his son, they were wearing “boots and riding in a white van? Later the seminary assisted the family to construct a steel fence at their house for security.
At the beginning of 2006, one of Fr. Terry’s colleagues was allegedly approached by a man who claimed that he was working with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and that he would give money for information about the activities of Fr. Terry.
Meanwhile, two members of the seminary have themselves been killed in recent times. Seminary vice chairman Mariano Sepnio was killed on 9 March 2006 by two armed men riding a motorcycle among some who were seen buying cigarettes in a nearby store but who did not remove their helmets. Some others had spent some hours just standing close to the seminary for successive nights. The general secretary, Jose Doton, was also ambushed and killed on 16 May 2006 (see case above).
On another occasion a suspicious-looking man appeared at the seminary and asked for help. Because it was vacation, only a few people were in residence. The man went up to the second floor of the main building and knocked on every door of the staff houses, which was unusual for a man asking for money for the “burial of his brother? On the afternoon of the same day, while waiting for a vehicle in front of the seminary one of the male lecturers saw another man in a L300 Mitsubishi van keenly viewing him from a distance. The vehicle reportedly carried a police logo on the back.
Fr. Rolando de Leon: Church service ends with bullets instead of coins
VICTIM: Rolando de Leon
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS: 56th IB personnel under command of Lt. Col. Noel Clement
DATES: Since October 2005
AHRC UA-219-2005; UP-216-2006
Another priest whose work has suffered constant harassment is Fr. Rolando de Leon (50), Roman Catholic Priest of the Diocese of Malolos, Bulacan and Parish Priest of San Andres Apostol Parish, Norzagaray. He is also the spokesperson for the provincial chapter of human rights group Karapatan, Alyansa ng Mamamayan para sa Pantaong Karapatan (Alma, People’s Alliance for Human Rights) and socially-oriented church-based groups. He has been monitoring human rights violations and also given support to survivors and their families. He joins fact-finding missions, dialogues with local government officials and leads the filing of complaints to the Provincial Government and the local Commission on Human Rights.
On 30 October 2005, Fr. De Leon received a written death threats and bullets among donations after morning mass in San Andres Apostol Parish Church. Four envelopes among collection bags from the service contained papers each with the message “A warning for you: You’re next!?Three of the envelopes also contained one bullet each.
Fr. de Leon recalled that on March 16, a sergeant named Arnaldo Pagala took a picture of him during a protest rally, while pretending to be a photojournalist. He was uncovered and it was later discovered that he had been carrying a .45-calibre pistol. He was taken to the police headquarters in Malolos where he had admitted to being a member of Military Intelligence Group 3, under Northern Luzon Command, based in Camp Servillano Aquino, Tarlac City.
In December 2005 a soldier was seen putting up posters in the main public square of Norzagaray and the adjoining streets and bridges containing a picture of a priest celebrating mass with the hammer-and-sickle logo on the back of his robe. Although the priest was not identified in the poster, it was believed to represent Fr. De Leon as there are only two priests in Norzagaray and the other, his second, had not received any death threats. During the same month, the army stationed a detachment of soldiers in front of the neighbourhood clinic from where they could observe his church.
In March 2006, Fr. De Leon spoke at a press conference about human rights violations in Bulacan that had been documented by the Catholic Church’s provincial human rights office in the capital, Malolos. A few days later General Jovito Palparan Jr., military commander of the region at the time, was quoted in the local newspaper Balita as saying that Father de Leon “cannot be trusted because he is a liar?
Moreover, between January and October 2006, the military organised a series of meetings in five towns of the province at which it accused Fr. De Leon of being a communist insurgent. Throughout the year uniformed soldiers periodically came to his convent asking for him but never indicating the reason. Uniformed and armed soldiers also sit in the church’s courtyard from time to time.