Victims, relatives of rights violations hit Congress for ‘insensitivity’

publicinfo: May 27 12:37PM +0800

Press Statement
May 27, 2015

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

Relatives of victims of human rights violations criticized the House of Representatives (HOR) Committee on Human Rights for its “insensitivity” to their “urgent and immediate concerns for justice.” The reaction came after yesterday’s (May 26) omnibus hearing on several cases of rights abuses

Nelson Salvador, husband of extrajudicial killing victim Engr. Fidela Salvador said, “The committee opted to hear the perpetrators instead of hearing the facts of the case from us—the families, victims, and witnesses.”

Salvador was among the relatives and victims present in the hearing but said they were not given the chance to speak. “It is painful for us to hear the same old scripted lies and barefaced alibis of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to absolve themselves from the crimes against our loved ones and our families,” he said.

Aside from the case of Fidela Salvador, which violated international humanitarian law, the committee also tackled the case of slain Dutch aid worker Willhem Geertman, fair trade activist Romeo Capalla, and Karapatan worker William Buggati; the killing and disappearance of indigenous people’s leaders and anti-mining activists; arrest and harassment of peasant leaders and political activists like Andrea Rosal, Edward Lanzanas, and Rudy Sambajon; and a host of children’s rights violations.

The victims and relatives have long waited for the hearing, saying it was “long-overdue” and the resolutions were “gathering dust in Congress.” Some of the resolutions were filed as early as 2013 and relatives like Nelson Salvador religiously followed up Congress on this.

“Actually the committee opted to hear the state agencies first. But we came to register our point.” Salvador scored the Congress’ foot-dragging in acting on the resolutions, the preference to hear the accused first instead of the victims and relatives, and in conducting an omnibus hearing for all the cases instead of giving ample time to individual cases of human rights violation.

“We strongly urge Congress to immediately act on them, because it is through these investigations that victims can ferret out the truth to help us in this lonely and painful crusade for justice. Justice delayed is
justice denied,” Salvador added.

Karapatan said the outcome of yesterday’s hearing may be a “preview” of the next congressional inquiries on human rights abuses under the BS Aquino regime. “Congress should prove these hearings are not token exercises to absolve BS Aquino’s state security forces from accountability,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay who was invited by the Makabayan bloc to serve as resource person.

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.

“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’,” added Palabay. ###


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Karapatan dares Philippine Army to disarm paramilitary group Amalara

publicinfo: May 27 10:24AM +0800

Press Statement
May 27, 2015

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

“We dare the 72nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) to disarm Alamara which has been on a killing spree in Kapalong, Davao del Norte,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said. Alamara, a paramilitary group known to be armed and supported by the 72nd and 60th IBPA, has been “reportedly on a power trip and sowing terror in Kapalong villages by killing people out of sheer compulsion or even personal grudges,” Palabay said.

Last April 4, 2015, in Patel, Kapalong Davao del Norte, Reynaldo “Inal” Martir and Teresita were killed inside their corn mill by Alamara member Panggong Masaloon who was drunk.

Masaloon approached Reynaldo and asked the latter to have his corn milled ahead of others’. Teresita and Reynaldo declined as the mill has a “first come, first served policy”. Masaloon left and warned Teresita that he would come back. After a few minutes, Masaloon returned with a bandolier and an M14 rifle. He immediately fired three rounds at Reynaldo killing him instantly. Teresita screamed in horror and was shot with three rounds right after.

After killing the couple, Masaloon turned his sight to Nicole, the 8-year-old daughter of the Martir couple. Nicole’s uncle immediately pulled her away before Masaloon was able to pull the trigger. Masaloon then ran
outside the mill and began strafing the passers-by.

In Barangay Gupitan, Lumogtan brothers Mando, Rodel, Manggot, Labyan, and Romy who are all members of Alamara killed Songkok Asero, 45, and daughter Diane, 20, on March 26. The reason for the killing: rejection of a marriage proposal.

Five years ago, when Diane was only 15 years old, she and Mando Lumogtan were engaged through “buya” (arranged marriage). The wedding did not push through because Diane was then a minor and was not ready to marry. The rejection drove Mando mad and threatened to kill Diane and her family. Last
year, the five brothers were recruited to Alamara and were armed.

Now armed and backed by the army, the five brothers went to the Asero residence at Sitio Magimon, Barangay Gupitan. When they did not find Songkok and Diane were not at home, the Lumogtan brothers slashed all the water containers. They then left.

The Lumogtan brothers immediately came back to the Asero residence when Songkok and Diane arrived, and instantly fired at the father and daughter. Meren, Songkok’s wife and their third son, Buro were able to escape.

As early as 2002, Karapatan has documented cases of human rights violations involving Alamara, directly or as back-up of the military during operations. The cases include extrajudicial killings, harassment and
intimidation, and massacre.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines establish paramilitary groups like Alamara as force multipliers in the counterinsurgency operation. Turning the people against their own, the AFP arms civilians to sow terror, to
pacify any form of unrest—a cheap trick by the AFP to cover-up the violations they commit,” Palabay concluded. ###

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.