ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-129-2013

8 October 2013
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PHILIPPINES :

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-129-2013

8 October 2013
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PHILIPPINES : Another activist faces threats in Davao del Sur

ISSUES: Threats and intimidation; human rights defenders
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that an activist in Davao del Sur is facing threats. Military elements and the village council want to control and limit the activities of the victim’s organization. The victim and his family have had to leave their home due to fear of the soldiers.

CASE DETAILS: [Based on the documentation by Citizens Alliance Unified for Sectoral Empowerment – Davao del Sur (CAUSE)]

On 1 September 2013, at 5pm, Rodel Bonghanoy, a volunteer of the United Farmers of Davao del Sur (Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Davao del Sur ) was in his residence when two armed men arrived and introduced themselves as soldiers. The two men were in civilian clothes, riding a XRM-Honda, red motorcycle with no plate number. Rodel noticed that the driver appeared to be inebriated. The two men were later identified as Cpl. Najar and Cpl. Saggaan, elements of the 39th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army.

The soldier saw a motorcycle in front of Rodel’s residence and asked for the identity of its owner and driver. Rodel replied that the motorcycle was owned by the United Sugarcane Planters of Davao Cooperative (USPD) and that he was the driver. The soldier then told Rodel to log in his name at the village hall as he was visiting. He was accompanied by the soldier to the house of the village chief where he was told that they should coordinate their activities.

The soldier continued asking Rodel about his organization, members and even his personal information, all of which Rodel provided. However, the soldier became angry because he believed that Rodel was being arrogant.

Village chief Rodeto P. Muda asked Rodel why his group entered the village without his permission to organize. Rodel explained that one of their members is a barangay militia so it is not possible that their presence in the village is not coordinated. He also said that organizing is their right according to the Constitution so they don’t have to seek anyone’s permission.

According to Rodel the soldier became even angrier because he asked them to confirm that if the village chief refused to allow them permission, they would not be allowed to work. The soldiers told him that they would take him to his house in a patrol car. At that time Rodel’s wife arrived and she begged and pleaded with the soldier not to take her husband. The soldier told her that Rodel had been arrogant in answering their questions.

To this, Rodel answered: “I am not arrogant. I answer what is being asked, the village chief does not like our organization”. Gurabel, a village militia who was there, asked Rodel “why you did not ask permission while I was in the house during your meeting? I know Unified farmers and it is not good.”

Another soldier placed his hand on Rodel’s left shoulder and said: “From now on you should be cautious, God will be watchful”. Rodel was afraid because it sounded like a blatant threat. Agents of Civilian Volunteer Organization (CVO) and Civilian Security Unit (CSU) accompanied them going home. Rodel’s wife was suspicious that her husband would not be brought to his house.

Rodel was interrogated for almost three hours. At 9 pm another group of soldiers from the 39th Infantry Battalion arrived in an army truck nearby and asked their neighbor for their house. Rodel Bonghanoy and his family were forced to leave the house due to fear of the soldiers.

According to some witness an unknown person took pictures of the Bonghanoy’s house.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the concerned authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case.

The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PHILIPPINES: Another activist faces threats in Davao del Sur

Name of the victim threatened: Rodel Bonghanoy, 34 years old. He is a volunteer of United Farmers of Davao del Sur (Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Davao del Sur ).
Name of Alleged Perpetrators: 7 unknown elements of 39th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army led by Cpl. Najar, Cpl. Saggaan and Pfc. Allan Mondejar.
Name of village officials involved: Village chief Rodeto P. Muda and a certain Gurabel
Date of incident: 1 September, 2013 at 5pm
Place of incident: Kiblawan, Davao del Sur

I am writing to raise my grave concern about the case of Rodel Bonghanoy, a volunteer of United Farmers of Davao del Sur (Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Davao del Sur (NAMADDS)). On 1st September 2013, at 5pm, he was in his residence when two armed men arrived and introduced themselves as soldiers. The two men were in civilian clothes, riding a XRM-Honda, red motorcycle with no plate number. Rodel noticed that the driver appeared to be drunk. The two men were later identified as Cpl. Najar and Cpl. Saggaan, elements of the 39th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army.

The soldier saw a motorcycle in front of Rodel’ s residence and asked for the identity of its owner and driver. Rodel replied that the motorcycle was owned by the United Sugarcane Planters of Davao Cooperative (USPD) and that he was the driver. The soldier then told Rodel to log in his name at the village hall as he was visiting. He was accompanied by the soldier to the house of the village chief where he was told that they should coordinate their activities.

The soldier continued asking Rodel about his organization, members and even his personal information, all of which Rodel provided. However, the soldier became angry because he believed that Rodel was being arrogant.

Village chief Rodeto P. Muda asked Rodel why his group entered the village without his permission to organize. Rodel explained that one of their members is a barangay militia so it is not possible that their presence in the village is not coordinated. He also said that organizing is their right according to the Constitution so they don’t have to seek anyone’s permission.

I have learned that according to Rodel, the soldier became even angrier because he asked them to confirm that if the village chief refused to allow them permission, they would not be allowed to work. The soldiers told him that they would take him to his house in a patrol car. At that time Rodel’s wife arrived and she begged and pleaded with the soldier not to take her husband. The soldier told her that Rodel had been arrogant in answering their questions.

To this, Rodel answered: “I am not arrogant. I answer what are being asked, the village chief does not like our organization”. Gurabel, a village militia who was there: asked Rodel “why you did not ask permission while I was in the house during your meeting? I know Unified farmers and it is not good.”

Another soldier placed his hand on Rodel’s left shoulder and said: “From now on you should be cautious, God will be watchful”. Rodel was afraid because it sounded like a blatant threat. Agents of Civilian Volunteer Organization (CVO) and Civilian Security Unit (CSU) accompanied them going home. Rodel’s wife was suspicious that her husband would not be brought to his house but instead might be killed by the soldiers.

Rodel was interrogated for almost three hours. At 9 pm another group of soldiers from the 39th Infantry Battalion arrived in an army truck nearby and asked their neighbor for their house. Rodel Bonghanoy and his family were forced to leave the house due to fear of the soldiers.

According to some witness an unknown person took pictures of the Bonghanoy’s house.

I urge you to ensure the safety of the victim and his family; they must be afforded with adequate security and protection promptly.

I trust that you will take appropriate action in this matter.

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. Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary
Department of National Defense
DND Bldg, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
Quezon City
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email: osnd@philonline.com, dnd.opla@gmail.com

 

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)
AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines

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