ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-198-2012

6 December 2012

PHILIPPINES : Reprisal on urban poor leader and villagers for cooperating with the UN expert on housing

ISSUES: Human rights defenders; land rights; fabrication of charges

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NEW REPORT: Special Report: The Philippines ‘ hollow human rights system http://www.article2.org/pdf/v11n0203.pdf

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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply concerned by the reprisal on an urban poor leader and other residents for filing complaints and cooperating with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing. The urban poor leader and the residents, who opposed the demolition of their communities in Manila , had no knowledge of the charges filed against them nor were they informed that were being charged so that they might answer those charges.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation by Defend Job , Philippines )

On November 29, 2012 at 3pm, Marites Bacolod was inside the Barangay Hall of Corazon de Jesus, San Juan City , to collect her Barangay (village) Clearance Certificate when the policemen “invited her for an interview” to their police station. Here, Marites learned that she and nine other residents of Corazon de Jesus were subject to arrest for charges of “simple disobedience to an agent of a person in authority.” The clearance she was to collect had evidentiary value on Marites and villagers to claim the land where their property had been demolished.

The arrest orders were issued after Marites and her companions failed to appear in a court hearing in May 24, 2012. Marites, however, was not aware about any court hearing and did not receive any notice or documents about her case and the arrest warrant.

When Marites, a person with disability who uses crutches due to an accident, questioned the legality of her arrest, the police placed her in handcuffs, harassed her and repeatedly pushed her to force her to ride inside the tricycle going to the police station. Many residents witnessed the incident. Marites argued that she would only go with the policemen if they could explain why were arresting her. She told her fellow villagers not to be afraid and to fight for their rights. Four other members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) were also involved in her arrest.

Despite the actions of the policemen being illegal those who had witnessed the arrest were too frightened to help because the policemen in civilian uniform had warned them that that “anyone who will help Marites Bacolod, shall also be arrested and detained.” Also, when Marites was at the police station where she was detained, an intelligence officer approached her and told her that they were in pursuit of her other colleagues from Sandigan ng Maralitang Nagkakaisa – Corazon de Jesus (SAMANA).

Prior to her arrest, Marites and other villagers had conducted a series of meetings in the community and filed complaints with the United Nations (UN) complaint mechanism, notably with Ms. Raquel Rolnik, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context. You may read the full text of their complaint here and here. The largest meeting was on November 17 beside the newly built city hall of San Juan and within the Corazon De Jesus community. It was attended by the majority of the families victimized by the forced eviction.

They complained about the violent eviction of their community in January 11, 2012. Marites and nine other leaders and residents of Corazon de Jesus had also been charged earlier with illegal assembly for opposing the demolition; but, the case had already been dismissed. Marites and other residents have refused to accept the relocation site for them in Montalban Rizal because it removes them from their source of livelihood.

You may also watch on YouTube the videos during the demolitions: Video 1, Video 2.

On May 2012, Ruel Sumaguingsing, the chairperson of their village, had already refused to issue Marites her Barangay (village) Clearance Certificate and to ten other young residents of Corazon de Jesus for reasons that their houses had already been demolished. Ruel’s refusal to issue certification that Marites and her fellow villagers would legally deny them the right to continue their claim on the land in the community.

Also, more recently on November 27, a Truth Cinema was held by Tudla Productions and SAMANA showing videos of condition and struggle of Filipino people, which reportedly angered the Mayor Guia Gomez and scolded Ruel. It is clear that the arrest of Marites, the charges filed on her and other residents, were a result of their demand to reclaim the land they had lived in for many years.

SUGGESTED ACTION:Please write letters to the concerned government agencies below asking for their adequate intervention, particularly the withdrawal of the charges filed on Marites and other residents as a result of their demand to claim their land. Also, the government must also ensure that its prosecution and the police are not used as tool to persecute villagers.

The AHRC has also written separate letters to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Adequate Housing and on the situation of human rights defenders for their immediate intervention on this case.

To support this appeal, please click here

Dear _____________,

PHILIPPINES: Reprisal on urban poor leader and poor villagers for cooperating with the UN expert on housing

Name of the arrested leader: Marites Bacolod, secretary general of Sandigan ng Maralitang Nagkakaisa (SAMANA)-Corazon de Jesus and Secretary of Corazon de Jesus Neighborhood and Homeowners Association. Arresting policemen: Police Officer ( PO ) Hector Macatantan, PO Edwin Tabirao, PO2 Helen Baldoza and others, all are attached to San Juan City Police Office of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Date and place of her arrest: November 29, 2012 at 3pm in Barangay Corazon de Jesus San Juan City Others who are subject of arrest:Nine leaders of SAMANA and other residents of Corazon de Jesus

I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the reprisal on Marites Bacolod and other villagers after they filed complaint with the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Ms. Raquel Rolnik. Maritess and her fellow villagers filed complaint asking intervention from Ms. Rolnik’s mandate regarding the forcible and illegal demolition of their houses in Barangay Corazon de Jesus San Juan City in January 11, 2012.

After they filed a complaint, Marites was arrested and detained on November 29; and her colleagues are being hunted for obviously a fabricated case of “simple disobedience to an agent of a person in authority.” Only during her arrest that Marites and her colleagues have become aware that they had been laid with charges, and that they were supposed to appear in court on May 24, 2012.

Marites was arrested while she was inside the Barangay Clearance Certificate at the Barangay Hall of Corazon de Jesus, San Juan City . The certificate, which the village chairperson is refusing to issue, has had evidentiary value on Marites and her colleagues as part of their ongoing claim to reclaim the land from where they had been demolished from. Marites and other residents have refused to accept the relocation site for them in Montalban Rizal because it removes them from their source of livelihood.

When Marites, a person with disability and on crutch due to accident, questioned the legality of her arrest, the police forced handcuff her, harassed her and repeatedly pushed her to force her to ride inside the tricycle going to the police station. There were many residents who had witnessed the incident. Marites argued that she will only go with the policemen if they could explain why are they were arresting her. She told her fellow villagers not to be afraid and to fight for the rights. Four other members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) were also involved in arresting her.

I am deeply concern by the retaliatory attacks on Marites and her colleagues for seeking intervention from the UN complaint mechanism. It is clear that her arrest, detention and the hunt to arrest her other colleagues is a result of their demand to reclaim their land. To prosecute, arrest and detain Marites and her fellow villagers in their poor community for reason that they seek intervention from the UN bodies is not acceptable. Not only these victims’ rights had been breached, the reprisal on them for complaining with the UN also denies them any sort of remedy or protection to the violations committed on them.

I therefore urge the UN bodies to take full responsibility to protect Marites and her fellow villagers in their poor community. It must use its authority to intervene promptly that Marites and her fellow villagers cannot be persecuted, and that the government’s prosecution system cannot be used against the victims seeking remedies for the violation of their rights, in particular from the UN bodies.

I trust that you will take immediate action on this case.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Benigno Aquino III President Republic of the Philippines Malacanang Palace JP Laurel Street, San Miguel Manila 1005 PHILIPPINES Fax: +63 2 736 1010 Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales Commission on Human Rights SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue U.P. Complex, Diliman Quezon City PHILIPPINES Fax: +63 2 929 0102 Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188 E-mail: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com

3. Director General Nicanor Bartolome Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP) Camp General Rafael Crame Quezon City PHILIPPINES Fax: +63 2724 8763
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763 E-mail: ruth_cossid@yahoo.com

4. Ms. Leila de Lima Secretary Department of Justice (DOJ) DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura 1004 Manila PHILIPPINES Fax: +63 2 521 1614 E-mail: soj@doj.gov.ph

5. Mr. Jejomar Binay Vice President and Chairman of HUDCC Republic of the Philippines/Housing and Urban Development Council President Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard Pasay City PHILIPPINES Fax No. +63 2 831 6676
E-mail: vp@ovp.gov.ph, vpbinay@gmail.com

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)

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