ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-025-2014

27 February 2014
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PHILIPPINES : A political activist and his family were shot at while asleep in their home

ISSUES: Human rights defenders, threat and harassment
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that a political activist and his family were shot at while they were sleeping at home. The bullets pierced the wall of their hut and passed just inches from their heads. The shooting happened after the activist refused to join an armed militia allegedly supported by the military.

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

On 7 January 2014, at 12:30 am, Elioforo Abrahan, his wife, Rita; and their two children were sleeping inside their hut when unidentified armed men shot at their house in Barangay Kinabalan, Malungon, Sarangani province. Elioforo and his family dropped to the ground for safety. The shooting lasted for about 20 seconds.

Elioforo is a farmer and vice chairperson of Bayan Muna Partylist (People First Party list) in their town.

After the shooting, they inspected the bullet holes in the walls of their house and found that it was about 6 inches away from where their heads would have been lying. They kept quiet and waited for about an hour. They first slowly moved towards the house of Salvador Bandola, a village leader in Sitio Bungaran, and later when they noticed that the armed men had already left the area, they quickly moved from the house to ask for help.

On 8 January 2014, 8am, Elioforo asked for help from Mario Deserto, the village chief. The village chief sent his village militia together with Elioforo to the place where the incident happened to investigate.

According to the village militia they found 26 empty shells similar to the calibers of M-14, Garand and carbine rifle. They also found footprints. In the afternoon they went back to the village hall and turned over the empty shell casings to the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Prior to the incident on 5 June 2011, agents from 73rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army conducted a military operation in Sitio Bungaran, Barangay Kinabalan, Malungon, Sarangani province. At the same time they also conducted aerial bombings against the rebels.

Elioforo was accused by Tadtad, a militia group arming themselves with bladed weapons, of allegedly allowing a rebel group New People’s Army (NPA) to enter his house. Tadtad (a local language for chop chop) became notorious for the morbid acts of chopping the bodies of their victims they claimed to be rebels. They were forcing Elioforo to join their group and be a member for his ‘own protection’.

Elioforo’s neighbor said after the incident happen, he heard some of Tadtad to have said in a local language: “ilang putlon ang kahoy nga gitugpahan sa kabog” (they will cut a tree in which the bat landed).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

In rural villages, farmers who refused to join armed militias who are under the direct control of the military are seen as supporters of the rebels and undermining the military’s counterinsurgency operations. Therefore, given the earlier allegation by this armed militia of Elioforo allegedly providing refuge for rebel groups, like in numerous similar cases in other places in the past, he and his family would predictably be targeted for attack.

Therefore, what Elioforo’s neighbour heard about “cutting a tree” where the “bats landed” should not be taken lightly. This kind of metaphor and rhetoric, which may seemed meaningless to others, implies a threat to a person’s life in rural villages.

The group Tadtad has a long history of being used as an armed militia by the military establishment in its fight against rebels. They usually arm themselves with bolos (knives) and amulets (or anting-anting) they believed could protect them. They were very active during the late 80s, during the presidency of the late President Corazon Aquino, the mother of the current president, as the military’s machinery in its fight against insurgency.

Though the government’s support of Tadtad has declined due to the atrocities this group has committed; however, the attack on Elioforo clearly demonstrates that the support this armed militias is getting was not severed and, in fact, it is continuing to be used by the military establishment that is tolerating their acts.

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

To support this appeal, please click here: http://www.urgentappeals.net/support.php?ua=AHRC-UAC-025-2014

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PHILIPPINES: A political activist and his family were shot at while sleeping in their home

Name of victims:
1. Elioforo Abrahan, (44). He is a farmer and a vice chairperson of Bayan Muna Partylist (People First Partylist).
2. Rita Abrahan, his wife.
3. Jesrel Abrahan, 7 years old
4. Jerald Abrahan, 1 year old
Alleged Perpetrators:
armed unidentified men believed to be members of Tadtad (chop-chop) group. The group Tadtad has long history of being used as armed militias by the military establishment in its fight against rebels.
Date of incident: January 7, 2014
Place of incident: Sitio Bungaran, Barangay Kinabalan, Malungon, Sarangani province.

I am writing to express my concern that a political activist, Elioforo Abrahan, and his family were shot at while they were sleeping in Malungon, Sarangani province. The bullets pierced through their hut few inches from their heads. Elioforo and his family dropped to the ground for safety. The shooting lasted for about 20 seconds.

On 7 January 2014, at 12:30 am, Elioforo Abrahan, his wife, Rita; and their two children were sleeping inside their hut when unidentified armed men shot at their house. Elioforo is a farmer and vice chairperson of Bayan Muna Partylist (People First Party list) in their town.

After the shooting, they inspected the bullet holes in the walls of their house and found that it was about six inches away from where their heads would have been lying. They kept quiet and waited for about hour. They first slowly moved towards the house of Salvador Bandola, a village leader in Sitio Bungaran, and later when they noticed that the armed men had already left the area, they quickly moved from the house to ask for help.

On 8 January 2014, 8am, Elioforo asked for help from Mario Deserto, village chief. The village chief sent his village militia together with Elioforo to the place where the incident has happened to investigate.

According to the village militia they found 26 empty shells of similar to the calibers of M-14, Garand and carbine rifle. They also found footprints. In the afternoon they went back to the village hall and turned over the empty shell casings to the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Prior to the incident on 5 June 2011, agents from 73rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army conducted a military operation in Sitio Bungaran, Barangay Kinabalan, Malungon, Sarangani province. At the same time they also conducted aerial bombings against the rebels.

Elioforo was accused by Tadtad, a militia group arming themselves with bladed weapons, of allegedly allowing a rebel group New People’s Army (NPA) to enter his house. Tadtad (a local language for chop chop) became notorious for the morbid acts of chopping the bodies of their victims they claimed to be rebels. They were forcing Elioforo to join their group and be a member for his ‘own protection’.

Elioforo’s neighbor said after the incident happen, he heard some of Tadtad to have said in a local language: “ilang putlon ang kahoy nga gitugpahan sa kabog” (they will cut a tree in which the bat landed). What Elioforo’s neighbour heard from Tadtad about “cutting a tree” where the “bats landed” should not be taken lightly. This kind of metaphor and rhetoric, which may seemed meaningless to others, implies a threat to a person’s life in rural villages.

I urge you to ensure that an investigation is conducted into this case and that protection is provided to the victim and his family; they must be afforded with adequate security and protection promptly. At present, Elioforo and his family have had to leave their house for their safety. At daytime they visit their rice field but lived in the house of a relative in the village.

I trust that you will take appropriate action in this.

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. Police Director Alan LM Madrid Purisima
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City , Philippines
Fax +632 7248763
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

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. Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense (DND)
Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo
Quezon City 1110
Philippines
Fax: +63 2 982 5640
Tel: +63 2 982 5638
Email: info@dnd.gov.ph

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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