At the HOR: Karapatan scores Oplan Bayanihan, GPH’s violations of various rights accords

publicinfo: May 26 12:35PM +0800

Press Statement
May 26, 2015

Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, +63917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580*

Human rights watch groups called for the scrapping of Oplan Bayanihan, BS Aquino’s counterinsurgency program, at today’s hearing of the House of Representatives-Human Rights Committee. The hearing tackled cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance and threats to human rights defenders.

“Oplan Bayanihan’s implementation has resulted in the continuing extrajudicial killings and a host of other human rights violations that victimized HR defenders, political activists and non-activists alike, only because they are labeled as ‘enemies of the state’ and ‘members of communist front organizations’,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay who was among the resource persons in the hearing.

Karapatan has documented 238 victims of extrajudicial killings and 270 victims of frustrated killings under the BS Aquino government.

“The killings and disappearances continue despite the Philippine government’s assurances at the UN Universal Periodic Review in 2012 that it would take ‘firm measures to address the problem’ and despite the
recommendations of UN Special Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston for the GPH to direct the military to cease labelling and targeting human rights defenders,” said Palabay.

The situation on the ground has continued to deteriorate said Palabay. “Oplan Bayanihan violates the right to life, committed most notably by the state security forces—the police, military, paramilitary, and others who are under their watch.”

The GPH’s use of paramilitary force drew flak in the international community with several foreign missions calling for its immediate dismantling. The European Parliament passed a similar resolution in May 2012; while the UN Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights Defenders and Extrajudicial Killings came out with a similar statement on July 2012.

“But, the GPH disregarded these recommendations and stood pat on EO 546 with corresponding fund allocation. In 2014 GAA, PhP2billion were allocated for the CAFGUs, aside from the perks given by mining companies and local government units. This practice was confirmed in a hearing by the House Committee on National Cultural Minorities when it investigated the Capion massacre in February 2013,” explained Palabay.

Karapatan noted the failure of the government to implement the various laws it has enacted and fulfil its obligations as signatory to international human rights instruments and peace agreements. “The sincerity of the BS Aquino government remains questionable for as long as rights violations continue,” said Palabay.

In 1998, the GPH signed the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. “It was a landmark agreement that enshrines the most basic civil, political, economic and social rights of peoples, and obliges both parties to abide by its principles. Seventeen years after, violations by the GPH continue unabated,” she added.

Karapatan also called for prompt and impartial investigation of cases of human rights violations, a review and withdrawal of all criminal cases against human rights and political activists, and the immediate pull-out of all military troops from civilian communities. ###


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Karapatan urges UN body to look into the situation of political prisoners

publicinfo: May 26 11:40AM +0800

Press Statement
May 26, 2015

Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, +63917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, +63918-9790580

Karapatan urges UN body to look into the situation of political prisoners

Karapatan welcomed the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (UN SPT) scheduled country visit to the Philippines on May 25 to June 3, 2015. Karapatan also urged the UN SPT delegation to visit and look into the conditions of political prisoners, especially Miradel Torres, a breastfeeding mother of a five-month-old baby detained at the Taguig City Jail.

“We appeal to the UNSPT delegation headed by Ms. Suzanne Jabbour to also investigate the violations of the rights of the detainees as most of them face trumped-up criminal charges and are suffering from inhuman conditions and repression in detention centers,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

On April 13, 2015, the Quezon Regional Trial Court Branch 65 denied Miradel Torres’ motion to quash information for charges of murder and frustrated murder. The RTC cited the testimony of Pfc. Mc Ronald Bamba as basis that “probable cause exists.” Pfc. Bamba is a member of the Alpha Company, 16th
Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, said to be one of the victims of the ambush from which Torres’ case was based.

PFC Bamba’s testimony, however, failed to directly name Torres. The inclusion of Torres’ name in Bamba’s affidavit came from his recollection of the roll-call supposedly done by Torres’ leader after the firefight
happened. “It is unlikely that armed persons, after a firefight, will do a roll call of their names. It is also unlikely that Bamba will be able to remember more than 20 names several years after, and under such
circumstances,” Palabay said.

The UN SPT delegation visits places of detention in specific countries to examine the condition of prisoners’ detention, their daily life, and how they are treated. It also studies relevant legislative and institutional framework and other issues related to the prevention of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners.

In a letter addressed to UN SPT chair Mr. Malcolm Evans signed by Palabay and Karapatan Chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan said it looks forward to the visit as an opportunity for torture survivors to air out their experiences.

Karapatan also urged the UN SPT to visit political prisoners in Special Intensive Care Area-1 (SICA-1) at Camp Bagong Diwa who recently filed complaints at the Office of the Ombudsman and at the Taguig Regional Trial Court against jail warden Michelle Ng-Bonto for violations of RA 7438 that pertains to the rights of detained persons.

As of March 31, 2015, there are 527 political prisoners documented by Karapatan; 220 of them are arrested under the current BS Aquino administration. Torres is among the 43 women political detainees while there are 42 are elderly and 60 are with ailments. “Karapatan also documented 110 victims of torture, despite the existence of the Anti-Torture Law. But none of the state perpetrators of torture were brought to jail,” said Palabay. ###

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg.,
#1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES
1101Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.