We also enjoin our other members and friends to write similar letters to the government of President BS Aquino III. Thank you very much!
Angie M. Gonzales
International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines
CANADA-PHILIPPINES SOLIDARITY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (CPSHR)
1-5687 West Blvd Vancouver , BC Canada
28 September 2013
AN OPEN LETTER
To President Benigno Simeon Aquino III
RE: 31st IBPA military operations in Sorsogon and report of human rights violations from residents.
The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR) joins Filipino human rights defenders, church workers, children’s rights advocates, people’s organizations, and international rights groups in strongly condemning the current military operations in Barangay Calmayon, Juban, Sorsogon.
According to the Karapatan ( Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) report, on July 4th, 2013, an encounter between members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the 31st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) occurred. Since then, the 31st IBPA launched continued military operations in that part of Sorsogon. With these, are reports of human rights violations from residents.
On September 21st, another encounter transpired between the NPA and the 31st IB in Bulan, an adjacent town of Juban . Three barangays of Bulan (Dolos, Patag and Lapinig) were affected by the firefight.
The following day, September 22nd, between 3 to 4 p.m., two military helicopter gunships were seen reconnoitering around Calmayon and Maalo, Juban. About the same time, around 25 soldiers camped at the central part of Barangay Maalo. According to witnesses, one of the helicopters repeatedly fired at Barangay Maalo. Hit by the volley of fire were coconut plantations and farms at Sitio Alolocot, Barangay Maalo. Due to great fear, the residents of the two barangays evacuated. The local government of Juban, assisted 122 people who evacuated on September 23. A total of 111 households are in Camayon and 68 in Maalo. Nine families left to stay with their relatives in Aroroy, Catanosan and Bacolod . There are no reports as to where the others evacuated. Many of them, though, have reportedly returned to their communities after the said incidents.
The headquarters and detachments of the 31st IBPA are very near these villages, their presence and operations have been incessant since July this year. The attack of the Philippine military’s helicopter gunship in these populated areas was the first in the Bicol region under your administration’s watch. The whole of Bicol region’s citizenry was greatly appalled by this attack and the ongoing military operations in the area, which has affected the livelihood and safety of the civilian population in the communities.
Mr. President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines , we ask that you order an immediate pull-out of the 31st Infantry Battalion and stop Operation Plan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians.
We further call on your office to
1. Immediately investigate the military airstrikes and combat operations in the affected communities.
2. Ensure that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Laws to which the Philippine government is a party be observed at all times and by all state institutions including and most especially by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
With the battle cry of your administration, “matuwid na daan” (the straight path), we call on your administration and all its institutions to uphold the basic human rights of the citizens whom you have sworn to serve.
The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR)
Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7/F Agustin I Building, F. Ortigas Jr. Road , Ortigas Center , Pasig City
Tel: 6360701 to 06 / 637-6083
Secretary Leila M. de Lima
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Main Building, Padre Faura Street , Manila
Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building , Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue , Quezon City
Voice: +63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax: +63(2) 982-5600
Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Diliman, Quezon City , Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
KARAPATAN National Office
2/F Erythrina Building #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag Streets., Central District, 1100 Quezon City
Web Site: http://www.karapatan.org
Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR)
Member: Stop the Killings Network (STKN-Canada)/ International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Canada)/ International Women’s Alliance (IWA)/ Coalition for Migrant Workers Justice (C4MWJ)/ Mining Justice Alliance (MJA).
Associate Member: International Migrants’ Alliance (IMA)
Proud Supporter of Bayan-Canada and Migrante-Canada