Flowers for Freedom and Justice
(A Different Kind of Flores de Mayo)

 

Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, Manila

 

Mayh 30, 2015

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Photos courtesy of Buhay Manggagawa
           
     
     
     

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Balita
31 Mayo 2015


Kakaibang Flores de Mayo,

idinaos para sa hustisya

Isang kakaibang Flores de Mayo ang idinaos ng grupong Hustisya kahapon sa Plaza Miranda para manawagan ng hustisya sa mga biktima ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao. 

Tampok ang mga bata bilang mga sagala at konsorte, itinanghal ang sampung makukulay na arko na naglalaman ng iba’t ibang panawagan tulad ng paglaya sa mga bilanggong pulitikal, pagpapalaya kay Mary Jane Veloso at hustisya sa mga manggagawa ng Kentex.

 

“Simbolo ang mga bulaklak ng buhay at pag-asa. Alay namin ang Flores de Mayo na ito sa kanilang mga kinitlan ng buhay at karapatan, mga pinagkaitan ng pag-asa. Dapat nating ipagtanggol ang mga karapatan hindi lang para sa mga bata, kundi para sa kinabukasan,” ayon kay Cristina Guevarra, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Hustisya.

Sa programa, isa-isang ipinarada ang mga arko habang tangan ng mga kaanak at kaibigan  ang maraming pumpon ng bulaklak. Ang mga batang sagala mismo ay mga kaanak at kaibigan ng mga biktima. Kasama sa mga sagala at konsorte ang mga anak ni Mary Jane Veloso, apo ng mga desaparecido at bilanggong pulitikal.

 

“Sa loob ng limang taon ng gobyernong Aquino, puro pagkakait sa buhay at karapatan ang aming nasaksihan. Nariyang pinabayaan ang mga tulad ni Mary Jane, nariyang namamatay ang mga manggagawa sa pagawaan ng Kentex. Wala pa ring hustisya at patuloy na dumadami ang mga pinaslang, dinukot at ikinukulong dahil sa kanilang paninindigan. Kailangan na natin itong wakasan,” ani Guevarra. ###

 

Reference: Ma. Cristina Guevarra, Hustisya secretary general. 0949-1772928

 

     
           
     
     
     

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At the HOR:Karapatan scores Oplan Bayanihan, GPH’s violations of various rights accords

Submitted on Tue, 05/26/2015 - 12:05 

At the HOR-Human Rights Committee hearing on EJK

 

Human rights watch groups called for the scrapping of Oplan Bayanihan, BS Aquino’s counterinsurgency program, at today’s hearing of the House of Representatives-Human Rights Committee. The hearing tackled cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance and threats to human rights defenders. 

 

“Oplan Bayanihan’s implementation has resulted in the continuing extrajudicial killings and a host of other human rights violations that victimized HR defenders, political activists and non-activists alike, only because they are labeled as ‘enemies of the state’ and ‘members of communist front organizations’,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay who was among the resource persons in the hearing. 

 

Karapatan has documented 238 victims of extrajudicial killings and 270 victims of frustrated killings under the BS Aquino government. 

 

“The killings and disappearances continue despite the Philippine government’s assurances at the UN Universal Periodic Review in 2012 that it would take ‘firm measures to address the problem’ and despite the recommendations of UN Special Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston for the GPH to direct the military to cease labelling and targeting human rights defenders,” said Palabay.  

 

The situation on the ground has continued to deteriorate said Palabay. “Oplan Bayanihan violates the right to life, committed most notably by the state security forces—the police, military, paramilitary, and others who are under their watch.” 

 

The GPH’s use of paramilitary force drew flak in the international community with several foreign missions calling for its immediate dismantling. The European Parliament passed a similar resolution in May 2012; while the UN Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders and Extrajudicial Killings came out with a similar statement on July 2012. 

 

“But, the GPH disregarded these recommendations and stood pat on EO 546 with corresponding fund allocation. In 2014 GAA, PhP2billion were allocated for the CAFGUs, aside from the perks given by mining companies and local government units. This practice was confirmed in a hearing by the House Committee on National Cultural Minorities when it investigated the Capion massacre in February 2013,” explained Palabay. 

 

Karapatan noted the failure of the government to implement the various laws it has enacted and fulfil its obligations as signatory to international human rights instruments and peace agreements. “The sincerity of the BS Aquino government remains questionable for as long as rights violations continue,” said Palabay. 

 

In 1998, the GPH signed the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. “It was a landmark agreement that enshrines the most basic civil, political, economic and social rights of peoples, and obliges both parties to abide by its principles. Seventeen years after, violations by the GPH continue unabated,” she added.  

 

Karapatan also called for prompt and impartial investigation of cases of human rights violations, a review and withdrawal of all criminal cases against human rights and political activists, and the immediate pull-out of all military troops from civilian communities. ###

 

     
     
           
     
     
     

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Karapatan calls on UN body to look into numerous torture and illegal arrest cases in PH

Submitted on Mon, 05/25/2015 - 11:29 

Karapatan today called on the United Nations Sub-committee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) to look into the 110 cases of torture and numerous cases of illegal arrests under the Aquino administration.

The UN SPT will be in the Philippines for a country visit from May 25 to June 3 to monitor the implementation of the Optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OpCAT), which was ratified by the Philippines in 2012. 

Aside from torture cases, Karapatan also documented 723 victims of illegal arrests and detention. “We enjoin the UN SPT to hear the voices of victims of torture and illegal arrests, for in hearing and analyzing their testimonies can they have a comprehensive grasp and analysis on what is keeping the Philippine government from preventing torture,” said Cristina Palabay, Secretary General of Karapatan. 

Many of the torture cases documented by Karapatan were perpetrated by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in the course of their military combat operations in rural areas. “The torture and degrading treatment were experienced by three Blaan in Malapatan, Sarangani in the hands of the 73rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) to force them to admit they are NPA supporters, while aerial bombings, economic blockade, encampment in residential areas, indiscriminate firing and other rights abuses were conducted in their communities,” Palabay stated. 

Almost 150 men from the 73rd IB-PA conducted military operations on March 27 until April 10, 2015 affecting some 358 families or 1,800 individuals who became victims of abuses and human rights violations. The military operations have commenced their operations, and some 246 Blaan evacuated from their villages. As of yesterday, Karapatan SoCSKSarGen reported that the same military unit continues to harass the residents in the evacuation center. 

Karapatan also called on the UN SPT to look into the collusion of the Philippine National Police and the AFP during operations, which result to torture and illegal arrests and detention of civilians, including political activists. The group said that the case of security guard Rolly Panesa is an example. 

Panesa was arrested on October 5, 2012. In his testimony, he said he was tortured and detained for 11 months because he was wrongfully tagged as Benjamin Mendoza, an alleged high-ranking regional officer of the New People's Army.  Former AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista released a P5.6-million reward to an informant who "identified" Panesa as "Benjamin Mendoza." On August 29, the Court of Appeals (CA) ruled that Panesa was a victim of mistaken identity, and ordered the jail warden of Camp Bagong Diwa to release him from prison.

Karapatan said that in the conclusion of his country visit on March 2007, former Special Rapporteur Philip Alston identified the causes that constitute the killings and other rights violations in the Philippines: first, the “vilification”, “labelling”, or guilt by association; second, the extent to which aspects of the Government’s counter-insurgency has impacted on the political and civil rights of persons. 

“Torture and other rights abuses commence without relent because the Philippine government continues to strongly adhere to a counter-insurgency program that violates people’s rights. Such doctrine remains entrenched in the police and military establishment,” Palabay concluded.

 

     
     
           
     
     
     

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Victims, relatives of rights violations hit Congress for ‘insensitivity’

Submitted on Wed, 05/27/2015 - 12:35 

Relatives of victims of human rights violations criticized the House of Representatives (HOR) Committee on Human Rights for its “insensitivity” to their “urgent and immediate concerns for justice.” The reaction came after yesterday’s (May 26) omnibus hearing on several cases of rights abuses  

Nelson Salvador, husband of extrajudicial killing victim Engr. Fidela Salvador said, “The committee opted to hear the perpetrators instead of hearing the facts of the case from us—the families, victims, and witnesses.”

Salvador was among the relatives and victims present in the hearing but said they were not given the chance to speak. “It is painful for us to hear the same old scripted lies and barefaced alibis of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to absolve themselves from the crimes against our loved ones and our families,” he said. 

Aside from the case of Fidela Salvador, which violated international humanitarian law, the committee also tackled the case of slain Dutch aid worker Willhem Geertman, fair trade activist Romeo Capalla, and Karapatan worker William Buggati; the killing and disappearance of indigenous people’s leaders and anti-mining activists; arrest and harassment of peasant leaders and political activists like Andrea Rosal, Edward Lanzanas, and Rudy Sambajon; and a host of children’s rights violations. 

The victims and relatives have long waited for the hearing, saying it was “long-overdue” and the resolutions were “gathering dust in Congress.” Some of the resolutions were filed as early as 2013 and relatives like Nelson Salvador religiously followed up Congress on this. 

“Actually the committee opted to hear the state agencies first. But we came to register our point.” Salvador scored the Congress’ foot-dragging in acting on the resolutions, the preference to hear the accused first instead of the victims and relatives, and in conducting an omnibus hearing for all the cases instead of giving ample time to individual cases of human rights violation. 

“We strongly urge Congress to immediately act on them, because it is through these investigations that victims can ferret out the truth to help us in this lonely and painful crusade for justice. Justice delayed is justice denied,” Salvador added. 

Karapatan said the outcome of yesterday’s hearing may be a “preview” of the next congressional inquiries on human rights abuses under the BS Aquino regime. “Congress should prove these hearings are not token exercises to absolve BS Aquino’s state security forces from accountability,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay who was invited by the Makabayan bloc to serve as resource person. 

Karapatan has documented 238 victims of extrajudicial killings and 270 victims of frustrated killings under the BS Aquino government.  “The killings and disappearances continue despite the Philippine government’s assurances at the UN Universal Periodic Review in 2012 that it would take ‘firm measures to address the problem’ and despite the recommendations of UN Special Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston for the GPH to direct the military to cease labelling and targeting human rights defenders,” said Palabay. 

“Oplan Bayanihan’s implementation has resulted in the continuing extrajudicial killings and a host of other human rights violations that victimized HR defenders, political activists and non-activists alike, only because they are labeled as ‘enemies of the state’ and ‘members of communist front organizations’,” added Palabay.

 

     
     
           
     
     
     
           

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Karapatan Monitor 2015 Issue No. 1

submitted on Mon, 05/25/2015 - 16:27 

Less than a week after the euphoria brought about by the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines, on January 16-19, the Filipinos were shaken by another of President BS Aquino’s fiasco, the Mamasapano botched military operation.

Click here to read full report. 




 

     
           
     
     
     

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Baptized behind bars and barbed wires

Submitted on Wed, 05/20/2015 - 16:03 

Thick barbed wires surround the roof top of Taguig City Jail-Female Dorm (TCJ-FD). It was a hot and humid afternoon and a basin atop a broken table is waiting for six-month-old baby Karl and his 3-year old brother, Mar. It was Karl and Mar’s baptism. Miradel Torres’ family, friends, and fellow political prisoners gathered as they wait for Miradel to come up. 

Karl was wearing a blue checkered polo and khaki shorts for his baptism and looked big for his age. Mar was quite shy and would always hide behind his grandmother. Karl or “Py” as he was fondly called inside the jail can now recognize faces and would cry whenever an unknown face carry him. 

“He would only approach people wearing yellow because it is the only color he often sees inside the jail,” said Miradel. Yellow shirt is the required color for all the inmates at the TCJ.

Pastor Pastor Guillermo Sediarin of the United Council of Churches of the Philippines and Anna Skagersten officiated the baptism rites. In her short message, Anna said “We should all commit today to guide Karl and Mar as they grow, as they become children who fight for truth, justice, and human rights.”

After the rites, Miradel’s friends shared pansit, fish, chicken, bread and cake. Miradel and her sons had their own moment in one corner, playing, kissing, and hugging each other. 

“Since I am breastfeeding him, I bring Py in my court hearings” she said.  Miradel’s court hearing is four hours away from Metro Manila. 

Miradel said she has slowly introduced solid food to Karl, and would often separate squash or carrots from their food ration and feed it to Karl. 

Her fellow political prisoners call for her immediate release so she can take care of Karl in an environment where he can grow, play and interact with other children. The six-month-old baby has been in jail for four months now. 

Miradel and son may soon be separated despite the need for continued breastfeeding. On April 13, the Regional Trial Court Branch 65 in Quezon Province denied Miradel’s motion to quash the information falsely filed against her for murder and frustrated murder charges. The court gave weight on Pfc. Ronald M. Bamba’s testimony despite lack of positive identification of Torres as among those responsible for his alleged ambush. Bamba is a member of the Alpha Company of the 16th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. Torres is now awaiting the decision of the motion for reconsideration she filed. 

Torres was arrested on June 20, 2014 while she was profusely bleeding due to threatened abortion. She gave birth to Karl on November 19, 2014 at the Philippine General Hospital.

It was almost past visiting hours and all the visitors were asked to leave. Mar bid goodbye to his mother and gave his little brother a soft kiss on the forehead as if wishing they can finally play outside the steel bars and barbed wires.

     


 
           
     
     
     
           
           
           

 

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