Human rights groups call for the release of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon

 

Camp Crame

 

April 15,  2015

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One of two kidnapping case against Tiamzons dismissed
From www.karapatan.org
Created 04/16/2015 - 13:28

One of the two kidnapping charges against peace consultants Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria Tiamzon was dismissed yesterday by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 81. Sgt. John Jacob, complainant-witness in one of the cases, failed to appear in court at yesterday’s pre-trial hearing, which resulted to the dismissal of one of the charges.

The said hearing was held at the Training Service of the Camp Crame PNP General Headquarters, instead of the usual Quezon City Hall of Justice. The court transferred the venue of the trial, purportedly due to “security reasons,” within Camp Crame, meters away from the PNP Custodial Center where the two are detained.

The other kidnapping case which has four other complainants will proceed to trial because Lt. Abraham Casis, one of the complainants suddenly appeared in court. "We are wondering why this Lt. Casis, after 28 years of not attending any of the court proceedings on this case which led to the dismissal of the case for other co-accused, attended this hearing for the Tiamzons," Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

The kidnapping case pertains to the arrest of five army soldiers who were held prisoners of war by the New People's Army in Tiaong, Quezon in 1989. These army soldiers were later released. Lt. Casis was allegedly one of those were held as prisoner of war.

While the pre-trial hearing was ongoing, Karapatan, the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) and Kilusang Mayo Uno held a protest action in front of Camp Crame calling for the release of the Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Tiamzon, other detained NDFP consultants and all political prisoners.The Tiamzon couple and their companions have been detained for more than a year. “Numerous criminal cases have been charged against them because the BS Aquino regime detest their beliefs and the work that the Tiamzons do for just lasting peace," Palabay said during the protest action.

At the end of the hearing, Wilma Austria Tiamzon came out of the courtroom of Camp Crame, angry and in pain for the handcuffs on her in both wrists. "I have a back problem. I can't hold both my wrists together because it is too painful. My only request is to handcuff me in one wrist," Austria-Tiamzon shouted.

"How could her guards be so inconsiderate to a woman with a medical condition? What security risk would they face when they just travel within the premises of the PNP Camp Crame?" Palabay said.

The Tiamzons are still facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives in Toledo, Cebu, multiple murder being heard at the Manila Regional Trial Court and the remaining kidnapping charge.###
 

           
     
     
     

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QC court junks one of 2 charges in Tiamzons’ pre-trial

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 81 dismissed one of the two charges filed against Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in a pre-trial hearing at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Training Center in Camp Crame today, Apr. 15.

Rachelle Pastores, one of the lawyers of the Tiamzon spouses, told the media that the dismissal was due to the failure of the prosecution to bring before the court Sgt. John Jacob, the complainant of the nearly 30-year-old case.

One of the four complainants in the other information, a certain Col. Abraham Casis, attended the hearing. But Pastores said they manifested the seeming “selective prosecution” as the said complainant never appeared before the court in previous hearings for other accused, which were consequently dismissed as well.

“They did not explain,” she said.

The Tiamzon spouses were arrested in Cebu in March 2014. They are facing kidnapping and illegal detention charges before the QC trial court.

The prosecution is set to present three witnesses while the defense will present 13.
Handcuffs

As the couple was being escorted toward the police van, Austria was seen raising her fists, despite the handcuffs.

She turned to the human rights defenders who were waiting outside the police building, and said, “This is what they want. That’s why I am raising this,” an apparent reference to her handcuffs.

Lawyer Jill Santos of the Public Interest Law Center told Bulatlat.com that Austria requested the court to allow that her handcuffs be removed for the duration of the hearing.

In the past, jail guards would free one of her hands and handcuff her instead to the jail guard assigned to her. Pastores said this would lessen the strain on Austria, who has back problems.

Pastores said the guards could have allowed this as a humanitarian consideration, and also because the hearing was held within the secured, national police headquarters.
In response, the judge asked Austria to present a medical certificate, Santos added.
Transfer of venue

Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said their motion to transfer the venue is still pending in court.

“This is how Martial Law would look like,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said, describing the holding of the hearing of the Tiamzons inside Camp Crame.
Palabay said that during the Martial Law days, cases were being heard in military courts, which were not open to the public or even to human rights defenders.

In an en banc resolution issued on Nov. 25, the Supreme Court granted the motion of the QC RTC Executive Judge Fernando Sagun Jr., requesting the transfer of hearing venue of the Tiamzons from QC RTC Branch 81 to Camp Crame.

The QC RTC’s request for transfer was due to a protest action in October last year that prompted the QC Hall of Justice to shut down its offices.

The tight security measures in February prevented some of their lawyers to attend the hearing.

Palabay said the transfer was only out of paranoia that the protesters would sneak them out of jail.

“We can only wish,” Palabay said. “They do not deserve to be there. They are the ones who have a vision for the people.”
Free the Tiamzons

Roneo Clamor, spokesman of rights group Selda, said the Tiamzons have long worked for the interest of the poor.

“NDFP peace consultants play a big part in the peace process. They know the conditions at the grassroots level and they are the ones who can propose programs for the negotiations,” said Lorena Santos, secretary general of Desaparecidos.

Clamor told Bulatlat.com the Tiamzon spouses should have never been arrested in the first place because they are covered by the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees signed between the government and NDFP. (http://bulatlat.com)

- See more at: http://bulatlat.com/main/2015/04/15/qc-court-dismisses-one-of-2-information-in-tiamzons-pre-trial/#sthash.IDsa13De.dpuf

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InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - The judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 81 has dismissed a kidnapping case lodged against detained couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

The dismissal was due to the absence of the complainant-witness, Sergeant John Jacob, during Wednesday's pre-trial hearing, Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of Karapatan, said Thursday.

The hearing was held at the Training Service of the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Headquarters in Camp Crame instead of the usual Quezon City Hall of Justice.

"The court transferred the venue of the trial, purportedly due to 'security reasons', within Camp Crame, meters away from the Custodial Center where the two are detained," Palabay said.

But the Tiamzons have to contend with other charges, such as illegal possession of firearms and explosives in Toledo, Cebu, a multiple-murder case being heard at the Manila Regional Trial Court, and still another kidnapping charge.

The second kidnapping case stemmed from four other complaints, including one from a certain Lt. Abraham Casis who was among those taken "prisoners of war" by the NPA in 1989 in Tiaong, Quezon. They were later released by the rebels.

"We are wondering why this Lt. Casis, after 28 years of not attending any of the court proceedings on this case that led to the dismissal of the case for the other co-accused, attended this hearing for the Tiamzons," Palabay said.

The Tiamzon couple and five other companions have been detained for more than a year.

"Numerous criminal cases have been logged against them because the Aquino regime detests their beliefs and the work that the Tiamzons do for just and lasting peace," Palabay said.

At the end of the hearing, Wilma Austria Tiamzon came out of the courtroom of Camp Crame, angry and in pain for the handcuffs on both wrists. "I have a back problem. I can't hold both my wrists together because it is too painful. My only request is to handcuff me in one wrist," Tiamzon shouted.

"How could her guards be so inconsiderate to a woman with a medical condition? What security risk would they face when they just travel within the premises of the Camp Crame?" Palabay asked.
 

     
     
     
     
           
     
     
     

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13 illegally arrested on planted evidence, preposterous testimony
From:From www.karapatan.org


“Karapatan demands the immediate release of 13 civilians including an accredited peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as the arrest and detention is illegal and smacks of foul play and dirty tricks,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

Verified reports eventually reaching Karapatan showed combined elements of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) simultaneously raided three houses in Quezon City and Caloocan City on March 4, 2015 and illegally arrested 12 civilians and one who turned out to be an accreditedconsultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in the peace negotiations with the government.

Those arrested were Ruben Saluta, NDFP peace consultant who reported that he had in his actual physical possession, exhibited and invoked his JASIG Document of Identification No. ND978240 under the assumed name of Lirio Magtibay. Arrested with Ruben Saluta was his wife Presentacion Saluta whom he was visiting. Also arrested were four other civilians with diverse and unrelated activities—Alexander Raymund Birondo and his wife Winona Oñate-Birondo, Ruben Rupido and Joseph Cuevas. As is customary in the big city, Cuevas subleased the rooms in said house to save on costs and help defray the rent.

Those arrested in two other houses in Caloocan City were: Osias Abad, Emmanuel Bacarra, RosaliaReboltar-Bacarra, Roy Baldostamo, Manolito Estrella, Emmanuel Villamor, and Monette Alcantara, who had no common link except of being independent sublessors and sublessees of each other.

The raiding team purportedly had a search warrant issued by the Quezon City RTC Branch 78 for illegal guns . “When they did not find any of those fictitious items listed on the warrant, the members of the raiding team ‘planted’ guns and explosives and labeled them ‘evidence’. All three houses were searched and the raiding teams hauled their belongings,” said Palabay. The police-AFP operatives also ‘invited’, a euphemism for arrest, the 13 residents of the three houses. To justify the baseless and bungled operation, the police later filed false charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against the 13 arrested, including Saluta.

“It was the testimony, a ridiculous tallstory, of a certain Roger Reyes Rodriguez that supposedly linked together the three separate households,” said Palabay.

Rodriguez claimed he met Saluta in Antique province through his uncle. Saluta supposedly recruited him as gun for hire in Manila. “Rodriquez went to Manila, contacted Saluta who gave him a gun he didn’t like. Saluta brought him to the house where the Bacarras were staying and offered him another gun, which Rodriguez again refused. Saluta then brought him to the third house where Osias Abad resided and offered another gun that Rodriguez finally liked,” related Palabay, citing Rodriguez’s increduloussworn affidavit, which became the dubious basis of the search warrants improperly issued for the Quezon City and Caloocan houses.

At 1:25 a.m. of March 5, Ruben Saluta et al were brought to the CIDG office in Camp Crame, Quezon City. At around 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. of the same day, Saluta et al were brought to the Prosecution Office at the Quezon City Hall of Justice for inquest without the presence of a legal counsel of their choice despite continuously invoking their right therefore.

Those arrested in Caloocan City were presented for inquest before the City Prosecution Office of Caloocan City but was able to immediately contact the Karapatan National Office, which in turn alerted the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) that agreed to representthem during inquest.

“All 13 are now at a cramped holding area at the Major Crimes Investigation Unit (MCIU) and the Anti-Organized Crime Unit of the CIDG in Camp Crame. The nine men are currently in a 3 X 4 meter cell, along with four other prisoners. The four women are locked up in a similarly-sized cell, which on some days they share with other prisoners [as well]. Many of those arrested are in their 60’s and suffering from various serious ailments,” Palabay added.

Karapatan said these incidents show the continuing violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), with the arrest of another NDFP peace consultant, and the rampant practice of illegal arrest and detention, incriminatory machination, and illegal search and seizure by state security forces in the country.

As of December 2014, the group documented 700 victims of illegal arrest and detention under the BS Aquino administration, among them 15 NDFP consultants.

The raid was jointly conducted by the following units of the AFP and PNP: Major Crimes Investigation Unit (MCIU) of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), PNP Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), PNP Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG), PNP Anti Trans-National Crime Unit (PNP-ATCU), Intelligence Service Group Philippine Army (ISG-PA) and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. ###
 

     
           
     
     
     

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Killings continue amidst BS Aquino's crisis
From:
http://www.karapatan.org
Created 03/27/2015 - 11:20

"Amidst the Aquino government’s crisis brought about by the Mamasapano fiasco, extrajudicial killings continue. BS Aquino is again taking a “business as usual” stance with regards to the crisis he is confronted with and this “business as usual” air is reflected in the continuing violations of human rights. Just this month, Karapatan received reports of three incidents of killings from North to South," Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said.

Initial report received by Karapatan cited the killing of Tata Baito on March 24, at 9:00a.m. Baito was a member of Lumad Group TINDOGA in Bukidnon. Security personnel of landlord Pablo "Poling" Lorenzo fired at Baito and wounded two others, Japsem Bagna and Ricky Tumbaga, whose upper bodies were hit by bullets.
The victims were members of Indigenous Group Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (TINDOGA) who are recognized as legitimate claimants of MONTALVAN Ranch, which occupies part of their ancestral domain. Currently locked in a web of land dispute, the land is claimed by seven other groups.

Florencio Romano
Lumad groups, including TINDOGA, were holding a "Bungkalan", where they occupy and collectively till parts of their ancestral lands to assert their claims. Baito, with 200 other Lumad were on their way to the Bungkalan when about 20-30 armed men and security guards of Pablo Lorenzo open fired at them. Baito was killed instantly.

On March 16, in Brgy. Matusalem, Roxas, Isabela, Virgilio Leotorco was begging for help when he was found by a farmer looking for his lost cow. "Tulungan ninyo ako. Nabaril ako. Mamamatay na ako,” (Help me. I was shot. I am dying), Leotorco said in Ilocano. Leotorco was shot thrice near the irrigation canal. He was out that night to catch frogs. Before the farmer could ask for help to bring Leotorco out from the irrigation canal, Leotorco died.

Leotorco, 56, was among the 66 settlers who are fighting for their resettlement area claimed by the Isabela State University. Another member of AMARI, Romulo dela Cruz was a victim of enforced disappearance. He has been missing since February 28, 2014.

On March 8, union organizer of PAMANTIK-KMU Florencio "Ka Bong" Romano was found dead along the side of the National Highway in Brgy. Surosuro Karsada, Batangas City. He was shot and his face was crushed. Romano's friends and colleagues point to the Philippine Air Force stationed at the Fernando Airbase in Batangas City. Other leaders of progressive organizations have similarly experienced harassments and surveillance from the intelligence service of the Air Force.

"These men were killed because of the struggles they advanced the right to land and jobs. The bullets were meant to silence them, their colleagues and their communities," Palabay said.

"Just like in the time of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, when her administration was threatened with popular calls for resignation, human rights violations soared," Palabay said. "BS Aquino now also shows the same desperation to keep his power," Palabay said.

"For the Filipino people this only means one thing: the longer BS Aquino stays as president, the more desperate acts such as killings and rights violations are bound to happen," Palabay concluded.
 

     
           
     
   

 

On the 4th Anniversary of Black Valentine’s Day Arrest--Alan Jazmines, detained NDFP peace consultant
From: http://www.karapatan.org
Created 02/13/2015 - 11:04

I was arrested four years ago—on Black Valentine’s Day—on the eve of the resumption of the long-stalled formal peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP/GPH).

The principal agenda in the would-be resumption of the formal peace talks was supposed to center on the second of the four substantive agenda in the NDFP-GRP/GPH peace talks, i.e., on Comprehensive Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).

The first substantive agenda that centered on respect for human rights was already agreed upon in 1998, and had resulted in the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Aside from the CASER, the other remaining agenda—on Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR) and on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (EHDF)—are supposed to immediately follow after the start of and progress in the second substantive agenda.

On my part, as a regular member of the NDFP Socio-Economic Reforms Committee in the NDFP-GRP/GPH Reciprocal Working Committees on Socio-Economic Reforms, I was supposed to participate directly in the slated NDFP-GRP/GPH talks on the socio-economic reforms agenda, with the objective of coming out a unity on CASER.

There are 85 of us—the long-since listed as peace talks participants, consultants, and other officers and personnel of the NDFP—significantly involved in the peace process with the GRP/GPH are supposed to be protected by the NDFP-GRP/GPH Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). We should not be subjected to surveillance, arrest, detention, torture, trumped-up court charges and other antagonistic acts that would deter our effective participation and work in the peace process.

As I was being arrested on Black Valentine’s Day, I invoked, before the head of the arresting forces, my JASIG protection. But the answer was that their higher-ups insist on the arrest—no matter the JASIG.

I also asked to be able to consult immediately and directly with the People’s Interest Law Center (and its head then, Atty. Romeo Capulong)—that serves as legal counsel of the NDFP, its peace panel and consultants in the peace process—and to confer with our attorneys on the matter of my arrest, including on the question of its “legality” (especially as there was no warrant of arrest served at the time of my arrest) and its violation of peace agreements. But the only answer was that all these would have to be coursed through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), which accordingly has been on top of the situation all along. (I was, however, able to confer with my lawyers, only the next day arranged via other channels.)

The formal peace talks between the NDFP and the GRP/GPH were again stalled after a couple of days, because of the latter’s failure to release the victim of the Black Valentine’s Day Arrest and the other earlier arrested and still-detained NDFP peace talks participants and consultants who are protected by the JASIG.

While informal talks on the side continue to seek prospects and favorable conditions for the resumption and advance of formal peace talks, many hurdles and setbacks still need to be resolved and overcome, including:

- The continuing detention of NDFP peace talks participants and consultants, with some 500 other political prisoners;
- The continuing failure to account and answer for the subjection to enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings of some NDFP peace talks participants and consultants, their staffs and loved ones;
- The further victimizing of detained NDFP peace talks participants and consultants, and other political prisoners by swamping us with trumped-up criminalized charges. in violation of the Hernandez Doctrine, and thus keeping us in jail practically indefinitely;
- The overly long hibernation and very slow crawl of justice in our cases, all the more prolonging our detention;

 

 

- The utter lack of concern and effort to solve the many problems of prisoners being long-detained, even if they are minors, elderlies, sickly/incapacitated, mistakenly identified, with cases that have been mixed-up, and other discrepancies in the course of justice;
- The very, very poor quality and unhealthy food rations, not even worth half the nominal P50/inmate/day food budget supposedly allotted to us;
- Niggardly limiting our access to sunning and exercise in open air to only one hour a week, at the most. This, even if Philippine law and the United Nations Standards state that at least an hour daily of sunning and exercise in open air should be allowed to prisoners;

- The abusive “greyhound” operations supposedly to search for “contrabands”. But since political prisoners do not have “contrabands”, jail authorities resort to cruel and heartless confiscations, wanton spoilings, and even outright theft of harmless, essential necessities for the humane existence of detainees: vitamins, nail cutters, long toothbrushes, ballpens, blunt scissors and other materials for writing and artwork, cooking stoves, CDs/DVDs (even on human rights), and the absurd justifications for such. (The confiscation, too, of a typewriter sent by the NDFP peace panel so that detained NDFP peace talks participants and consultants may still be able to continue with some—even if minimum—part of their work for the peace process, while still in jail.)

Human rights violations, heavy and unwarranted repressions and restrictions have escalated recently as a result of the jail authorities’ fascist reactions to the fasting and hunger strike the political prisoners waged here at the Special Intensive Care Area 1 (SICA1) Jail in Camp Bagong Diwa, five days prior to the visit of Pope Francis I and during his five days of actual visit to this country, bringing along with him his call for “mercy and compassion.”

Our 10 days of fasting and hunger strike was an act of self-sacrifice to make loud our calls for our freedom, for justice, for real solutions to social ills, for serious efforts towards lasting peace in our country.

Our calls emphasized our dire situation as political prisoners—imprisoned because of our struggles for political and social changes in the interest of our people; subjected to severe repressions, reprisals, abuses, deprivations, and other fascist acts by state and jail authorities; made to suffer one of the most rotten and slowest crawl of justice in the world; and frustrated with the long lack of progress in the peace process.

But in reaction to our act of self-sacrifice and our calls, the jail authorities resorted to foul and fascist acts. They violated our rights to the extent of disregarding international protocols on respect for human rights, the United Nation’s norms on the treatment of prisoners, as well as the prevailing state’s own laws.

The whole time we went through our act of self-sacrifice –and even afterwards—our doctors were totally barred from visiting us and checking on our medical conditions. There were instances, when even a lawyer of ours and some of our loved ones were also barred. Many, many visitors from human rights organizations, church organizations, other people’s organizations, and many more other supporters and sympathizers were also cruelly barred.

Worse, the jail authorities even machinated and unleashed malicious and vicious schemes to isolate us, political prisoners, and induce, from other inmates under the hands of leaders of a lumpen prison gang and of those accused by the government as terrorists, intensified antagonisms and orchestrated threats of violence against our lives and limbs. This, by also barring the visitors of all other inmates, and casting the blame for such on the “foolish” (“kalokohan”) hunger strike of political prisoners.

While we do still need to effectively fend off attacks by rotten and fascist jail authorities and their trigger-happy pawns, and more so also need to push for the rectification of the rotten, fake and abusive penal system, we maintain our focus on our prime objective—our fight for freedom, for justice, for social and political causes, and for related serious advances towards lasting peace—all in the interest of the mass of the people we were brought here for and continue to sacrifice for.

In the meantime, it has been four years since the Black Valentine’s Day Arrest…

The fight goes on!

Alan Jazmines, NDFP peace consultant detained at the
Special Intensive Care Area 1 (SICA-1), Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City
February 13, 2015

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Killing of fair trade activist to be brought before int’l tribunal
http://www.karapatan.org
Created 03/16/2015 - 12:24

On the first death anniversary of fair trade activist Romeo Capalla, human rights advocates, his friends and family marched to Camp Fernando Delgado of the Philippine National Police in Iloilo City to decry the “death of justice in the case of Capalla and all victims of extrajudicial killing in the country.”

Killing of fair trade activist to be brought before int’l tribunal

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said state forces responsible for the killing of Capalla have yet to be prosecuted, because of defective police investigation and deliberate attempts to shield them from accountability. “Thus, we will be bringing the killing of Capalla and many other cases of human rights violations before the International People’s Tribunal, an international opinion tribunal, where the BS Aquino administration will be charged for its crimes,” she said.

The said tribunal, which will be held on July 2015 in Washington D.C., US, will be convened by the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines, US-based National Lawyers Guild, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and Ibon International. Human rights and people’s organizations in the Philippines, as well as victims and kin of victims of rights violations will serve as plaintiffs/complainants in the said tribunal.

Romeo Capalla, brother of Archbishop Fernando Capalla and board chairperson of the Panay Fair Trade Center, was killed on March 15, 2014 in Oton, Iloilo by gunmen believed to be members of the ABB-RPA paramilitary group.

“We still have to recover from the loss and we are very frustrated with the police investigation,” said his widow, Coy, a nurse. Capalla’s family, friends, and colleagues also organized a mass and a rally at the Oton public market, where he was gunned down, on March 14.

Capalla’s name was in an Order of Battle list by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, together with the name of murdered Aklan councilor Fernando Baldomero who was killed on July 1, 2010, a day after BS Aquino’s inauguration as president.

“BS Aquino should not only be made accountable for the Mamasapano incident, he should also be made to answer for the killings and rights violations under his counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,” Palabay concluded.

     
           
     
     
     

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Arraignment of detained peace consultants, proof of violation of JASIG
http://www.karapatan.org
Created 02/27/2015 - 12:02
 

"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

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 calls for the release of women political prisoners
From: http://www.karapatan.org
Created 03/04/2015 - 13:06

"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.

Free Andrea Rosal and Edwin LanzanasWomen political prisoners PH

"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.

           
           
           

 

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