Another case of where the “war on drugs” can easily bleed over into the war against activists…

—— Forwarded Message ——
From: “AHRC Urgent Appeals” <listadmin@ahrchk.net> To: cafca@chch.planet.org.nz
Sent: 22/12/2016 8:15:15 PM
Subject: PHILIPPINES: Farmer activists falsely charged with possession of illegal drug

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-156-2016
http://www.urgentappeals.net/support.php?ua=AHRC-UAC-156-2016
22 December 2016
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PHILIPPINES: Farmer activists falsely charged with possession of illegal drug

ISSUES: Torture, fabrication of charges, threat and intimidation
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Dear Friends,
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply concerned about the illegal arrest of four farmer activists, and the planting of drugs in their homes in Bulacan. The farmers are involved in resisting the land grabbing of the Central Bank of Philippines and campaigning for fair land distribution to peasants.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation by the Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights (KARAPATAN))
On 6 October 2016, at 4:30 p.m. , armed policemen arrived at Purok 6, Sitio Karahume, Barangay San Isidro, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. They forcibly entered three houses in the community.
First, the police entered the house of Myla and Alfredo Ravelo, pointing guns at all family members. The Ravelo couple were held at gun point, while the police asked them to produce the guns that they allegedly have been hiding. The policemen accused them of being members of the rebel New People’s Army after seeing the flag of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in the house. They illegally searched the house and took the bags and personal belongings of the family, and arrested Alfedo Ravelo. The children and the family members remain traumatized after the incident.
Second, armed policemen and armed men wearing ski-masks also entered and searched the house of Rowena Reola. The police took cellphones and money amounting to PhP100,000 from the home. The police threatened Rowena after she asked them for a search warrant, saying she will be shot and killed if she doesn’t stop asking questions. The armed men handcuffed Rowel Reola, Rowena’s husband, and forced him inside the vehicle where he was mauled on the way to the police station. Rowel was hit with an armalite butt on his legs. Randy Sta. Maria and Lito Natural, Rowena’s neighbors, were also arrested. Rowena is the daughter of Segundina Gaitero.
Third, Segundina Gaitero, a landed farmer and chairperson of the Karahumi Farmers Association (an affiliate of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas ( peasant group)), was with Mel Grace Gaitero, Valentin Salceso, Blais Gaitero, and Charlotte Gaitero, when her house was raided and searched by the police. Armed policemen and armed men wearing bonnets entered the gated compound of the Gaitero residence and started pointing guns at civilians inside the household. When the policemen started to destroy and ransack all the belongings of the house , Charlotte tried to asked for a search warrant, but the policemen showed a charge sheet against Segundina. After going through the rooms, the police forcibly took Segundina and Mel Grace Gaitero, dragging them to the police vehicle parked outside. They also arrested Blais Gaitero and Valentin Salceso. The police also took money from Segundina amounting to PhP1.4 million.
After illegally searching the houses, the policemen ordered all the residents to get out of the houses and lie with their faces down on the muddy ground. Women and children were also told to get out, while the police pointed firearms at them. The police shouted at the residents to produce the guns they were supposedly hiding, and repeatedly accused them of being New Peoples Army members. A gun was allegedly discovered in the house of Rowel Reola, who immediately denied knowledge and ownership of the said weapon.
The farmers Rowel Reola, Alfredo Ravelo, and Lito Natural, all members of Karahumi Farmers Association, and Randy Sta. Maria were taken to the San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan police station. The police charged them with violating Sections 5 (Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors) and Essential Chemicals, section 11( Possession of Dangerous Drugs) and section 12 (Possession of Equipment, Instrument, Apparatus and Other Paraphernalia for Dangerous Drugs) of Article 2 of Republic Act 9165. After ransacking the farmers’ homes, the police planted 16 packets of transparent plastic containing methamphetamine and paraphernalia in their belongings.
On 19 October 2016 , 10 p.m., another Karahumi Farmers Association member, Romy “Nonoy” Gaitero was arrested by the police and accused of drug peddling, a non-bailable offense under Sec. 6 of RA 9165. There were no warrants of arrest against Gaitero.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
The Karahumi Farmers Association (KFA) is an active affiliate of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (AMB) and a member organization of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. The KFA and the residents in their village attest to the fact that the farmers detained are not drug peddlers/users, that they do not have possession of illegal drugs and that they are legitimate farmer-activists in the area. The Karahumi Farmers Association (KFA) has been resisting the land grabbing of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP, Central Bank of the Philippines) of more than 1,000 hectares of agricultural land in Bulacan for purposes of land banking and land speculation. Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (AMB) reports that the use of drug cases against farmers was brought by their insistent opposition to selling their lands to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has an impending deadline, already due on September 2016, to finish surveying the land. They were not able to complete this because of the resistance and campaigns of farmers and members of the KFA in the area.

In 1996, the disputed land was already up for distribution, with at least 59 farmers given their Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA). The other farmer-beneficiaries however, despite paying real property taxes to the local government of San Jose Del Monte, were not able to receive their CLOAs. Certificate of Land Transfers (CLTs) and CLOAs were also subsequently cancelled due to exemption orders by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

>From 1996 until now, farmers in San Jose del Monte have continued their campaign for land distribution in the area despite several incidents of demolitions and illegal maneuvers aimed at displacing the farmers; most recent is the incident of Oplan Bayanihan, the counter-insurgency program of the Armed Forces Philippines and the Philippine National Police targetting peasants asserting their rights, conducted in the guise of the war against drugs.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Kindly send letters to the concerned authorities listed below requesting their immediate intervention in this case.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in this matter and Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders.
To support this case, please click here: http://www.urgentappeals.net/support.php?ua=AHRC-UAC-156-2016
SAMPLE LETTER:
Dear __________,
PHILIPPINES: Farmer activists falsely charged with possession of illegal drug
Name of arrested persons:
1. Rowel Reola, Alfredo Ravelo, Lito Natural, Randy Sta. Maria and Romy “Nonoy” Gaitero all of them are farmers and member of Karahumi Farmers Association
Name of policemen involved in operation:
1 Police Inspector Marvin Miravalles
2. Police Officer 1 Mitch Leoven Bulatao
3. Police Officer 1 Argel Torres
Date of incident: 7 October 2016 and 19 October 2016
Place of Incident: Purok 6, Sitio Karahume, Barangay San Isidro, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan
I am writing to raise my serious concern about the police operation that arrested four farmer activists for selling illegal drugs in their community.
On 6 October 2016, 4:30 p.m. , armed policemen arrived at Purok 6, Sitio Karahume, Barangay San Isidro, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. They forcibly entered three houses in the community.
I have learned that the three houses were ransacked by the fully armed policemen, who took belongings and money from the residents. From Rowena Reola, money amounting to one hundred thousand (PHP 100,000), and from Sugundina Gaitero, PHP 1, 400,000 was taken. The police threatened all the family members, pointing guns at them.
The farmers who were arrested were forcibly taken and handcuffed by the police and brought to the police station lock up. Rowel was hit with an armalite butt on his leg. The police charged them with violating Sections 5 (Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors) and Essential Chemicals, section 11( Possession of Dangerous Drugs) and section 12 (Possession of Equipment, Instrument, Apparatus and Other Paraphernalia for Dangerous Drugs) of Article 2 of Republic Act 9165. After ransacking the homes, the police planted 16 packets of transparent plastic containing methamphetamine and paraphernalia in their belongings.
The arrested farmers are not peddlers of illegal drugs, but are legitimate farmer activists of their community, resisting land grabbing and campaigning for government distribution of land to the peasants.
I urge you to conduct a credible and adequate intervention and investigation into the allegations of illegal arrest, detention, torture and fabricated charges by the Police officers of San Jose del Monte Bulacan.
I trust that you will take appropriate action in this.
Yours sincerely,
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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. Rodrigo Roa Duterte
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. Mr. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
3. Maj. Gen. Delfin Negrillo Lorenzana
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
Email: osnd@philonline.com
4. Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre
Secretary
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Telefax: +632 523-954
5. Police Director General Ronald M. Dela Rosa
Chief of Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City, PHILIPPINES
Fax:+63 2724 8763

Thank you.

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

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