ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Forwarded Urgent Appeal: AHRC-FUA-004-2013

15 November 2013
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PHILIPPINES : A female land rights activist killed in front of her husband and daughter who remains traumatised
ISSUES: Human Rights Defenders; Extrajudicial killings; Land rights
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Dear friends,
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the murder of a female land rights activist in San Andres, Quezon province. The victim and her family had been demanding the ownership of the land that they cultivate from their landlord. She was shot dead in front of her husband and a four-year-old daughter.
The gunman has been arrested and charged. However, the identities of his accomplices and those who ordered the killing of the victim and her family have yet to be ascertained by the PNP.
Also, after the cold-blooded murder the daughter of the victim continues to suffer severe trauma but, as of now has not received any form of counseling. The girl remains terrified and panics when hearing a firecracker, any loud noise and falling objects. She also suffers sleepless nights and awakens, crying and calling for her mother.
If you wish to make inquiries into this incident, kindly contact Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP).
The Asian Human Rights Commission condemns this brutal act and calls on the Philippine National Police to instigate and immediate investigation into this appalling incident.

Thank you
Urgent Appeals Programme
AHRC
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Dear friends,

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the killing of a female human rights defender in Quezon Province .

If you wish to make any inquiries please contact the Research, Documentation and Information Program of TFDP, kindly send email to tfdp1974@gmail.com or call +632 4378054/9950246.
Case Title: Tulid HRD Killing
Case: Killing of a Human Rights Defender (Non-State Actor)
Name of Victim: Elisa Lascoña Tulid
Date of Incident: October 19, 2013
Place of Incident: Sitio Kumbenyo, Barangay Tala, San Andres, Quezon Province
Alleged Perpetrators: Rannie Bugnot, in connivance with Edwin Ausa (suspected henchman)
ACCOUNT OF THE INCIDENT:

A female human rights defender in the agrarian reform sector and leader of the peasant group Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Barangay Tala at Camflora, was murdered on October 19, 2013, at 2:00pm in Sitio Kumbenyo, Barangay Tala, San Andres, Quezon Province.

Elisa L. Tulid, 37, of Sitio Kabulihan, Barangay Tala, was shot point-blank by a certain Rannie Bugnot, and was pronounced dead on the spot.

According to witnesses, moments before the shooting incident, Elisa together with her husband Danny Boy, 46, and daughter Melanie, 4, were seen walking on their way home from Sitio Tamnay. Apparently the three sought the service of a repairman to restore their traditional plough used in farming.

When they reached Sitio Kumbenyo, the couple was surprised when Bugnot blocked their path. Without any warning, Bugnot pointed his gun at Danny Boy. The lone gunman fired three gunshots, but luckily Danny Boy was able to run a few meters from the scene. Their daughter Melanie was pushed by Elisa and was able to flee in another other direction.

Danny Boy thought that Rannie will spare his wife. He was shocked when he saw the gunman shoot his wife at short range. Danny Boy was helpless and could not do anything to save the life of his wife.

Danny Boy immediately rushed to the military camp in Barangay Tala to seek help and report the incident. The military called the police and requested their assistance. The police eventually arrested Bugnot at their house in San Andres.

At around 4:00pm, Danny Boy with some military personnel went to the crime scene. There they met the police and saw the dead body of Elisa lying on the ground.

Elisa suffered gunshot wounds in the nape, mouth, left eye and left thigh.

ADDITIOAL INFORMATION:
Motive of the Killing

Elisa and her clan had long been receiving death threats and harassment from paid goons of influential claimants. Influential landlord-claimants have long targeted this public land and have continuously deceived the farmers that they are the real landowners.

According to the staff of the Quezon Association for Rural Development and Democratization Services (QUARDDS), Elisa together with farmer groups has a longstanding dispute with an alleged land grabber named Edwin Ausa and his trustee Rannie Bugnot.

It started when Edwin and Elisa had a confrontation in a meeting at the DENR office to recognize their land rights. Elisa together with other farmers submitted documents and proof that they were the ones who developed and improved the land they tilled. On the other hand, Edwin submitted none but insisted that the land is supposedly owned by their clan. Embarrassed of not having evidence of his claim, he started to threaten Elisa and her colleagues.

In 2012, Elisa filed a complaint before the Barangay Council against Edwin Ausa, Rannie Bugnot, et al., when the group took the coconuts cultivated by Elisa’s family without consent.

In the same year, Edwin harassed Elisa’s family when he filed criminal charges against her father Guillermo Castanas Guinoo, 72, for grave threats. Guillermo was detained and eventually released due to his old age.

Since then, Elisa received a number of death threats from Edwin and his group. He told the Tulids that he will kill all of them if they still remain and continue fighting for the land which they (Tulids) developed and improved.

Hours before the killing of Elisa, residents spotted Edwin and Sonny Hanabahab on a motorcycle and carrying a bag apparently with a hard object inside suspiciously go towards Barangay Tala where Rannie resides.

Although there is yet no evidence for the actual participation linking Edwin Ausa to the killing of Elisa, the people claimed and stressed that he has something to do with the case, and since Elisa and other farmers were continuously threatened and coerced by Edwin and his group.

Current Situation of Family Members

Elisa’s husband Danny Boy together with four (4) others is presently staying at the house of his brother in the nearby municipality.

Elisa’s youngest daughter Melanie, 4, is possibly experiencing post traumatic stress disorder. Family members often observe that the child instantly panics and gets frightened whenever she hears a firecracker or loud noise from things that fall or drop. Melanie wakes up in the middle of her sleep crying. She often cries out the name of her mother. Danny Boy on the other hand looks anxious and fearful.

Land Dispute Backgrounder

Bondoc Peninsula lies at the southern tip of Southern Tagalog, 222,254 hectares in size, with 355,158 population and 70,688 households. Eighty percent of the households there were into subsistence farming (mostly coconut and banana monocropping) and fishing.

There exists a persistent feudal exploitation brought about by an extreme insufficiency of information on basic rights of tenants and an absence of viable mechanisms for resolving agrarian reform-related conflict.

Domingo Reyes is one of the biggest landholdings in Bondoc Peninsula with family holdings estimated at 12,000 to 16,000 hectares in three municipalities (Buenavista, San Narciso and San Andres, consisting of 10 barangays and 30 sub-villages). Before 1996, not a single hectare was included in the agrarian reform program because of the landowner’s “fearsome reputation.” Out of fear, not one tenant wanted to apply for agrarian reform coverage. Tightly guarded, the lands are hard to penetrate. A sharing of 60-40 prevails in the Villa Reyes property where 60% of the total harvest goes to the landowner, while the tenant shoulders the production expenses.

In 2004, the settlers filed a petition that they should be covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The farmer-tenants started to boycott and stopped giving the 60% share of harvest to the Reyes clan after Elisa and other settlers learned from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that portions of the land claimed by Reyes were declared as public land. The DENR also certified these lands as timberland (2005-2006).

Elisa was in the forefront of the struggle of the land occupants to take possession of the government land through the process set forth by the DENR.

Theories have surfaced that the gunman Rannie Bugnot and Edwin Ausa are both henchmen of the Reyes clan. Farmers alleged that since they learned that the land claimed by the Reyes are alienable and disposable public lands, also considering the application of the farmer-settlers to acquire the land is underway, Reyes has no other option but to acquire the service of these henchmen by giving them a ‘fair share’ of the land, just to sow terror in the community so that farmers will discontinue their land right claims and eventually leave the land they currently are in possession.

REQUESTED ACTION:

Please write a letter to the following authorities, calling on them to initiate inquiries into the case of the brutal murder of Elisa Lascoña Tulid. Likewise, urge the concerned agencies to immediately resolve the land conflict.

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear ____________,
PHILIPPINES: A female land rights activist killed in front of her husband and daughter who remains traumatised
I am writing to draw your attention regarding a female human rights defender in the agrarian reform sector and leader of the peasant group Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Barangay Tala at Camflora, who was murdered on October 19, 2013, at 2:00pm in Sitio Kumbenyo, Barangay Tala, San Andres, Quezon Province. Elisa L. Tulid, 37, of Sitio Kabulihan Barangay Tala, was shot point-blank by a certain Rannie Bugnot, and was pronounced dead on the spot.

I have learned that Elisa was in the forefront of the struggle of the land occupants to take possession of the government land through the process set forth by the land and environment agencies such as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

I have also learned that Elisa, her family and other farmers had long been receiving death threats and harassment from paid goons of influential land claimants.

It was also brought to my attention that Elisa together with farmer groups has a longstanding dispute with an alleged land grabber named Edwin Ausa and his trustee Rannie Bugnot (the gunman). Theories have also surfaced that the gunman Rannie Bugnot and Edwin Ausa are both henchmen of the Reyes clan who owns one of the biggest landholdings in Bondoc Peninsula with family holdings estimated at 12,000 to 16,000 hectares in three municipalities such as Buenavista, San Narciso and San Andres, consisting of 10 barangays and 30 sub-villages.

At present, Elisa’s youngest daughter Melanie, 4, is possibly experiencing post traumatic stress disorder. According to family members, they observe that the child instantly panics and gets frightened whenever she hears a firecracker or loud noise. They often see Melanie when she wakes up, in the middle of her sleep, crying. Also, she often cries out the name of her mother.

Therefore, I humbly urge you to initiate a probe into the brutal murder of Elisa L. Tulid and that government authorities ensure no repeat of such incident. I urge authorities to probe deeply into the link of the alleged gunman with interest groups including a certain Edwin Ausa and the Reyes clan.

Also, we would like to appeal that the government should recognize the initiatives of farmers in observing the agrarian reform processes and to immediately resolve the land dispute.

I look forward to you urgent action is this case.

Respectfully yours,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Hon. Benigno Simeon 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
Email: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

2. Secretary Virgilio R. Delos Reyes
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)
Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City
Philippines
Fax: +63 2 920 0380
Tel: +63 2 929 3460; 928 7031, Local 401
e-mail: secretary@dar.gov.ph / gildlr2010@gmail.com

3. Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
Visayas Avenue , Diliman,
Quezon City 1100
Philippines
Tel. No. 920-4352, 926-2688,
926-2535, 925-2329
Fax No. 920-4301
Trunkline No. 929-6626 Local 2258, 2272, 2146
Email: osec@denr.gov.ph

4. Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Philippines
Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188
Fax: +63 2929 0102
Email: rosales.chr@gmail.com

5. Police Director General Alan LA Madrid Purisima
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City , Philippines
Fax: +63 2 724 8763/ +63 2 723 0401
Tel: + 63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

Thank you.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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