Media Launch of the International People's Tribunal

UP College of Engineering Theater
UP Diliman, QC

March 12,  2015









International People’s Tribunal | Philippine Coordinating Secretariat

Trunkline: +63 2 927 7061 to 62 loc. 208 | Fax: +63 2 927 698 |




International Tribunal to Hear Rights Violations in the Philippines Launched 


QUEZON CITY, March 12, 2014 – An international tribunal to try cases of human rights violations under the presidency of Benigno S. Aquino III has been launched today at the University of the Philippines, Diliman Quezon City.

Dubbed as the International People’s Tribunal (IPT), the initiative will bring into focus the ongoing human rights violations in the Philippines and hold Pres. Aquino and the government of the United States as represented by Pres. Barrack Obama to account before the international community. 


“Beneath the liberal-democratic façade of the Aquino regime, brutal repression of people’s civil and political rights abound, with hundreds of cases of extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances and massive displacement of families,” according to Cristina Palabay of Karapatan, one of the complainants to the IPT. 


The IPT will also probe into the role of the increasing US military presence and intervention in the Philippines in worsening the state of human rights in the country. 


“The Mamasapano operation raises questions over the extent of the US military’s involvement in Philippine domestic security. Meanwhile, the Philippine government’s failure to assert jurisdiction over US marine officer Joseph Scott Pemberton for the murder of Jennifer Laude highlights how unequal ties between the US and the Philippines invite impunity,” according to Vanessa Lucas of the US-based National Lawyers Guild, one of the convenors of the IPT.


The Chairperson of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines and another IPT Convenor, Reverend Canon Barry Naylor, explained that the IPT, although judicially non-binding, is symbolic and significant.


“People’s tribunals have had success in directing international attention to grave abuses of human rights in various countries including the Philippines during the Marcos and Arroyo regimes. The IPT draws inspiration and builds on the momentum of previous peoples’ tribunals to advance human rights and hold governments to account,” he said.


In 2008, a US Senate investigation on human rights violations in the Philippines under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led to restrictions on a portion of the annual US military aid package to the Philippine government tied to the implementation of strong human rights recommendations by US advocates.


The IPT is set to convene on July 16-18, 2015 in Washington DC. Former US Congresswoman and peace advocate Cynthia McKinney will be among the distinguished panel of jurors who will hear live testimonies of witnesses from the Philippines.


Conveners of the tribunal include the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), and IBON International.

For more information on the International Peoples Tribunal, ###




Reference: Paul Quintos, International People’s Tribunal Philippine Coordinating Secretariat,


Paul Quintos, International People’s Tribunal Philippine Coordinating Secretariat
 Rev. Barry Naylor,International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines
(via Skype)
Cristina Palabay, KARAPATAN Secretary General
Atty Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers



Karapatan calls for the release of women political prisoners

·         Press release
     March 4, 2015


"The Aquino government has no respect for women," Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said as their group and other organizations staged a picket protest in front of the Justice Department in preparation for the international women’s day. "Among the 491 political prisoners, 43 of these are women who face criminal trumped up charges. We call on the Department of Justice to dismiss their cases and immediately release them," Palabay said.


"This includes Andrea Rosal and Miradel Torres who are jailed in Taguig City Jail," Palabay said.   Rosal and Torres are mothers who were pregnant during their arrests. Rosal gave birth to a girl only to lose her two days after. Torres had to fight to keep her son after birth and nurse him in jail. 



"Women peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of The Philippines Wilma Austria-Tiamzon and Loida Magpatoc are also incarcerated. These women who exercise their right to take part in political affairs are contained in jails because they are unjustly seen as threat to the BS Aquino government," Palabay said. 


"Of the 224 victims of extrajudicial killings under the BS Aquino government, 18 are women victims, 3 girls were raped. None of these cases were solved in court, nor its perpetrators were put to jail," Palabay said. "What good is this government if it cannot prosecute those who killed these women and keeps on arresting and jailing innocent but principled women?" Palabay said.



"Taking the lives of our sisters such as Cristina Jose, a leader of typhoon survivors, and many young girls in communities struggling for land is an unforgiveable offense. We will stand with the rest of the women and the Filipino nation on March 8 to call for BS Aquino's resignation," Palabay concluded. 


 Vanessa Lucas, UN National Lawyers Guild (via Skype)


Arraignment of detained peace consultants, proof of violation of JASIG

·         Press release
Feb, 27,  2015


"Exactly 20 years since the signing of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), at least 13 NDFP peace consultants have been missing and 16 are currently detained for trumped up criminal charges. The Philippine government has only engaged in doubletalk as it continues to disregard and violate the JASIG," Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said during the scheduled arraignment of several peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) at the Manila Regional Trial Court. 

Detained consultants Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria-Tiamzon faced the court today for multiple murder charge for the so-called discovery by the AFP of a mass grave in Hilongos, Leyte in 1984. The co-accused in the case are Makabayan chairperson and former Rep. Satur Ocampo and peace consultants Vicente Ladlad, Randall Echanis and Rafael Baylosis. All four are on conditional bail.
Judge Thelma Medina of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 deferred the scheduled arraignment of Tiamzon et al to wait for the Court of Appeals resolution on the Certiorari with prayer for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) filed on January 23. The Public Interest Law Center (PILC) and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), lawyers of the respondents, filed the Certiorari after the Manila RTC twice denied the motion to dismiss the Hilongos “murder” case.  
The JASIG is among the significant documents/agreements signed between the GRP/GPH and the NDFP in the course of its peace negotiations. The agreement is meant to protect members and consultants and others involved in the peace negotiations from arrests and detention to be able to perform their duties.
"Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon and a number of their co-accused in the Hilongos case are all JASIG-protected with Documents of Identification. However, the BS Aquino government could only talk peace for as long as it does not threaten the oppressive, exploitative, and repressive system it represents. It is far from addressing the root causes of the armed conflict,” Palabay said.
“Under the BS Aquino regime, at least 12 NDFP peace consultants were illegally arrested and detained using criminal charges; while completely ignoring the cases of the 16 abducted and missing peace consultants. Last February 19 marked the eighth year of NDFP consultant Leo Velasco’s disappearance but BS Aquino has barely said a word on the status of the many of those who were disappeared during the Arroyo regime,” Palabay noted.  “This is not only a blatant violation of the JASIG but also an impediment to the pursuit of just peace.” 
"If there is something the BS Aquino government is good at, it is sabotaging peace processes. They have continuously done it with the NDFP, they have recently done it with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with the Mamasapano incident," Palabay said. "Noynoy Aquino might as well quit his post and do what he does best - play games. The way to peace is a counter flow to his ‘tuwid na daan’ " Palabay ended. ###



Karapatan writes UN WGAD on Amal Alamuddin's defense of Glora Arroyo

We would like to express our grave concern and distress over news reports in the Philippines on the complaint of former Phil. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo before the United Nations Working Group for Arbitrary Detention on alleged violation of her civil and political rights. The said complaint was supposedly prepared and written by rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney. 
10 March 2015
Chair Rapporteur
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
United Nations Human Rights
Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights
Dear Mr. Tochilovsky:
Greetings of peace from the Philippines!
We wrote this letter to express our grave concern and distress over news reports in the Philippines on the complaint of former Phil. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo before the United Nations Working Group for Arbitrary Detention on alleged violation of her civil and political rights. The said complaint was supposedly prepared and written by rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney. 
Lest the UN WGAD and Ms. Alamuddin-Clooney be misinformed further, may we express our opinion as a human rights organization in the Philippines that has monitored and documented numerous human rights violations of the Philippine government during the administration of former Pres. Arroyo. We also offer our views as an organization that has consistently filed complaints before the WGAD and the UN Human Rights Council, and has been one of the references by former UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston in his report on the Philippines in 2008. 
In our view, it is the height of irony that Ms. Arroyo is now complaining over “violations” of her civil and political rights, when she enjoys the most special treatment of detained persons in the Philippines under the current Aquino administration. For the WGAD’s information, she is currently detained in a hospital suite at the Veteran’s Memorial Medical Center, a far cry from the detention facilities of political prisoners and common offenders in the Philippines who are in box-like prison cells. While she enjoys the first-class amenities of the hospital, many of the political prisoners and common offenders are not given timely and sufficient medical care, as in the case of land rights activist Andrea Rosal, who lost her two-day old baby because of dire conditions in jail and lack of medical attention. 
Four years after charges for violation of human rights against Ms. Arroyo were brought before Philippine court, she has yet to be made accountable for the killings of members and pastors of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, and for the torture, illegal arrest and detention of 43 health workers, who were among those her administration’s victims. 
Thus, it is truly ironic that Ms. Arroyo would speak of civil and political rights, when her administration is considered as among the most repressive regimes in the Philippines. Karapatan has documented 1, 206 victims of extrajudicial killing, 206 victims of enforced disappearances, more than 2,000 cases of illegal arrests, and thousands forcibly evacuated during her nine-year presidency. The Arroyo administration has violated every single article of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 
In 2007, Prof. Philip Alston, who was then the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, went to the Philippines for an official visit to investigate the cases of extrajudicial killings under the Gloria Arroyo administration. In what would be referred to as the Alston report, he pointed out the responsibility of the government, military and police in the targeted killings and disappearances of hundreds of political activists and those tagged as rebel supporters as part of the counter-insurgency campaign of the State. 
In 2008 and in 2010, the UN Human Rights Committee held the Arroyo government, including its posterboy Gen. Jovito “The Butcher” Palparan, responsible and accountable for the extrajudicial killing of Karapatan human rights workers Eden Marcellana and Benjaline Hernandez, and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy. 
Sadly, years after such reports of UN special procedures and treaty bodies, most of the recommendations remain unheeded or just given lip service as perpetrators and Ms. Arroyo remain free from accountability. Rights violations such as extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and enforced disappearances of human rights defenders, political activists, and community leaders resisting large scale development projects, particularly indigenous leaders, are still being committed with impunity under the current administration, which we deem is no different from Ms. Arroyo’s kind of governance. 
You may refer to the complaints we filed before your office on the said violations, particularly on the cases of arbitrary arrests and detention.  
We hope that the UN WGAD would consider our views, and those of the victims of rights violations and their kin under, on the Arroyo regime. We also hope that the Working Group would address the numerous complaints filed by persons persecuted by the Arroyo and Aquino regimes, most of them from the poorest sections of Philippine society, instead of heeding the selfish tricks of oppressive and megalomaniac presidents. 
Cristina Palabay
Secretary General




No room for justice for Ampatuan massacre victims while Aquino is President

Press release
March 11, 2015fffdd

While BS Aquino “Impunity King” is still in power, there will be no room for justice especially with the release on bail of Sajid Ampatuan, one of the perpetrators in the Ampatuan massacre. The rest of the perpetrators in the Ampatuan massacremay be released in no time,”said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said on the release of the son of Andal Ampatuan Sr., one of the principal suspects in the case.

If one asks about impunity in the Philippines, the images of the incident called the Ampatuan massacre would come to mind: dead bodies cut in half, the infamous back hoe that hauled the dead bodies in dirt trying to bury them. It was on November 23, 2009 when more than a hundred policemen, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and other family members killed and tried to bury 58 individuals, including media practitioners, lawyers and familyof Ampatuan's political rival, Ishmael Mangudadatu.Through the years of trial, key witnesses to this heinous crime were murdered.

"It is not just the manner of killing, but also the shameless coddling of these warlord allies of the Gloria Arroyo government that again put the Philippines on top of the impunity map. Then, under the BS Aquino government, the Ampatuans are starting to be freed," Palabay said.

Palabay said that “despite the people’s outrage and after more than five years after the massacre, Executive Order 546, one of the key government policies that spurred the use of paramilitary groups and private armies by political warlords such as the Ampatuans, has yet to be revoked by Pres. Noynoy Aquino.”

Former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Executive Order 546 allowed local officials to employ members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Units (CAFGU) and Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVO) to purportedly address insurgency in the country. Karapatan said that the Aquino administration did not heed the callsto revoke the said policy by international institutions, such as the United Nations Human Rights Council in its recommendations in the 2012 Universal Periodic Review on the Philippines and the European Parliament. “BS Aquino even legitimized and expanded the EO, giving free rein to paramilitary groups and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to commit heinous crimes such as the Ampatuan massacre," Palabay said.

"BS Aquino’s reign of terror and impunity is yet another reason why justice and accountability for human rights victims will never be achieved under his administration. More families of the victims, media practitioners, even press freedom fighters will be more convinced to join in the call for Aquino's resignation," Palabay concluded.###



Karapatan human rights workers
Mothers of abducted UP students Karen and Sheryl
Documents to be presented to the International People's Tribunal



IBON Survey | 12 March 2015




Most Filipinos think that the country's economy under the Aquino administration has not changed or even worsened, according to the latest nationwide survey by research group IBON. Many respondents also believe that poverty have not lessened in the past three months.


Asked what they can say about the country's economy under the Aquino administration, 17.6% of the 1,501 respondents said that it is better. Majority of the respondents think that the economy did not improve, with 50.7% who said that the economy is the same, and 21.5% who said that it is worse.


Meanwhile, 7 out of 10 of the respondents (71.7%) said that they don't think that there is less poverty in the country in the past three months, while 17.1% answered that poverty is less.


Last week, government released the latest official poverty incidence data, which also showed that the number of poor Filipinos rose in the first semester of 2014. According to the National Development Authority, poverty incidence among Filipino families increased to 20 percent.


The IBON nationwide survey was conducted on January 19-30, 2015 across various sectors in 16 regions with a marginal error of plus or minus three percent. (end)



Below are the tabulated results of the people's perception on the economy and poverty in the country.



What can you say about the country’s economy under the Aquino administration?










Don’t know


No answer






In your opinion, was there less poverty in the country in these past three (3) months?








Don’t know


No Answer






 *For details on the January 2015 survey, please email or call IBON at tel. 9276986 or 9277060 loc. 421.



IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues. 

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