ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-017-201

14 February 2014
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PHILIPPINES : Soldiers search and overtly spy on the house and office of an activist critical of land grabbing
ISSUES: Human rights defenders; Threats and intimidation; Victims assistance & protection; Women’s rights
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Dear Friends,
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes with deep concern about the harassment and overt surveillance on a female activist by soldiers. The victim, who has been critical of the displacement of villagers and grabbing of land resulting from the development of an economic zone, has had her house searched by armed soldiers.
CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation by Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights (KARAPATAN))
On 16 January 2014, at 11pm, Rosemarie Rojas, (44), was sleeping in her home when the soldiers attached to the 56th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army surrounded her house. Some of the soldiers were positioned on a grassy lot across the street from her house, while others were aiming their weapons at the house. Apart from her house, the soldiers also entered in the courtyards of some 42 residents nearby.
Some of the soldiers entered Rojas’s yard, and others peered through the windows and through the small gaps in the walls. The soldiers left at 2am on the 17th. Rojas was sleeping by herself on the second floor of the house, and only came to know about the presence of the soldiers in the morning. She immediately reported to the village officials.

On the same day, at 11 am, two unidentified men believed to be intelligence agents, were also seen to be carrying out surveillance at the office of Panlalawigang Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Aurora (PAMANA or Alliance of Peasants in the Aurora Province ) in Maria Aurora, Aurora province. The presence of the two men was noticed by staff members of PAMANA as the former were riding on a tricycle parked near its office. They were seen taking photographs of the PAMANA office before they left after being seen.
Rojas is one of the community organizers of PAMANA, and a coordinator of Samahang Magbubukid na Kababaihan (Samaka or Association of Women Farmers). She also works for the Samahang Magbubukid na Kababaihan (Samaka or Association of Women Farmers) in the municipality of Baler , province of Aurora .
Her group, SAMAKA, established a community-based pharmacy for women and children’s basic health needs in select villages with the Gabriela Women’s Party list. When the incident happened, SAMAKA was also preparing for a medical mission.
PAMANA is one of the many groups actively involved in a campaign opposing the Aurora Development Master Plan and Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Act of 2010 (APECO). This project was aimed at transforming the Casiguran town and Aurora province into commercial, industrial and tourism zones. The APECO project is spearheaded by the Angara political family through Edgardo Angara, a former Philippine Senator, and Juan Edgardo Angara, a member of the House of Representatives in Congress.

The APECO project, which resulted in massive land-grabbing and the displacement of Dumagat and Alta tribes, is widely opposed by the people of Aurora , primarily by the farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples.

PAMANA is also involved in the campaign seeking justice for the killing of Romualdo Palispis, a member of Bayan Muna and Justice and Peace Action Group of Aurora, and Wilhelm Geertman, a Dutch national, who were killed on June 30 and July 3, 2012 respectively. Geertman spent almost 40 years in the Philippines as a development worker. He was the executive director of Alay Bayan-Luson, Inc.

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 human rights defenders.
To support this appeal, please click here: http://www.urgentappeals.net/support.php?ua=AHRC-UAC-017-2014

SAMPLE LETTER:
Dear __________,
PHILIPPINES: Soldiers search and overtly spy on the house and office of an activist critical of land grabbing
Name of the victims:
1. Rosemarie Rojas, 44, community organizer and coordinator of Samahang Magbubukid na Kababaihan (SAMAKA or Association of Women Farmers); Panlalawigang Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Aurora (PAMANA or Alliance of Peasants in the Aurora Province )
2. Staff members of PAMANA
Alleged Perpetrators:
1. About 15 soldiers attached to the 56th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, searched her house;
2. Two unidentified men believed to be intelligence officers were seen spying at her office
Date of incident: Janauary 16 and 17, 2014
Place of incident:
1. Sitio Ilaya, Barangay Zabali, Baler, Aurora; and at the PAMANA office in Maria Aurora, Aurora
I am writing to raise my grave concern about the harassment and overt surveillance on Rosemarie Rojas.
On 16 January 2014, at 11pm, Rosemarie Rojas, (44), was sleeping in her home when the soldiers attached to the 56th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army surrounded her house. Some of the soldiers were positioned on a grassy lot across the street from her house, while others were aiming their weapons at the house. Apart from her house, the soldiers also entered in the courtyards of some 42 residents nearby.
Some of the soldiers entered Rojas’s yard, and others peered through the windows and through the small gaps in the walls. The soldiers lest at 2am of the 17th. Rojas was sleeping by herself on the second floor of the house, and only came to know about the presence of the soldiers in the morning. She immediately reported to the village officials.

On the same day, at 11 am, two unidentified men believed to be intelligence agents, were also seen to be carrying out surveillance at the office of Panlalawigang Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Aurora (PAMANA or Alliance of Peasants in the Aurora Province ) in Maria Aurora, Aurora province. The presence of the two men was noticed by staff members of PAMANA as they were riding on a tricycle parked near its office. They were seen taking photographs of the PAMANA office before they left after being seen.
Rojas is one of the community organizers of PAMANA, and a coordinator of Samahang Magbubukid na Kababaihan (Samaka or Association of Women Farmers). She also works for the Samahang Magbubukid na Kababaihan (Samaka or Association of Women Farmers) in the municipality of Baler , province of Aurora .
Her group, SAMAKA, established a community-based pharmacy for women and children’s basic health needs in select villages with the Gabriela Women’s Party list. When the incident happened, SAMAKA was also preparing for a medical mission.
PAMANA actively participates in the campaign to oppose the Aurora Development Master Plan and Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Act of 2010 (APECO). The said project aims to transform the Casiguran town and Aurora province into a commercial and industrial district and eco-tourism zones. The APECO project is spearheaded by the Angara family through the former senator Edgardo Angara and Juan Edgardo Angara a member of the House of Representatives in Congress.

The APECO project, which resulted to massive land-grabbing and the displacement of Dumagat and Alta tribes, is widely opposed by the people of Aurora , primarily by the farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples.

PAMANA has also been involved in the campaign seeking justice for the killing of Romualdo Palispis, member of Bayan Muna and Justice and Peace Action Group of Aurora, and Wilhelm Geertman, a Dutch national who were killed on June 30 and July 3, 2012 respectively. Geertman spent almost 40 years in the Philippines as development worker. He was executive director of Alay Bayan-Luson, Inc.
I urge you to conduct an effective investigation to hold to account those responsible in the harassment and overt surveillance on Rosemarie Rojas, and his colleagues. 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 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

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

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