ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-037-2016

22 April 2016
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PHILIPPINES : Manobo farmers face threats and harassment even after being released on bail

ISSUES: Torture, Right to life, Threats and Intimidation
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply concerned that the authorities continue to harass and intimidate the illegally detained farmers in Kidapawan city, Philippines , even after bail for their provisional liberty was posted. Eighty-two farmers were arrested on 1 April 2016 during a violent dispersal of a peaceful blockade conducted by 6000 farmers asking for drought assistance.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation by Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights (KARAPATAN) and sources interviewed by the AHRC)

On 1 April 2016 6,000 farmers were violently dispersed during their peaceful protest asking for rice and other subsidies, as well as the release of the emergency funds set up for the El Nino drought affected areas. Eighty-two farmers were illegally detained and some were tortured, with trumped up charges for direct assault and frustrated direct assault.

On April 16 at 12:05 a.m., the 82 detainees were released after posting provisional bail. Two of the farmers, Alfie Awe and Darwin Magyao, wounded, were also released, but it was later reported that they had been taken to the lock up cell of the Kidapawan Police Station in a vehicle owned by the Mayor of Arakan. According to the police, the two men needed to be further investigated even though bail had been posted.

Darwin Sulang was one of the farmers who was shot to death during the April 1 violent dispersal. Sulang’s family and relatives subsequently experienced threats and harassments from the Provincial government and the Philippine National Police. On April 6, North Coatabto Provincial Board members Kelly Antao and Lito Palma went to Sulang’s home and tried to convince them not to file criminal charges against Governor Emmylou Talino Mendoza and the Philippine National Police in return for P 100,000, but they failed to bribe the family. At midnight on April 12, the Sulang family was disturbed by two armed men walking around their house for almost four hours. The next day, the family received news that the military was looking for Darwin ’s father, Ebao Sulang. In fear, the whole family went to seek refuge at the Methodist church.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Kindly send letters to the concerned authorities listed below requesting their immediate intervention into this case. An investigation into the use of force against the peaceful farmers should be immediately undertaken, and the emergency relief allotted for the farmers should be urgently released.

The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the Special Rapporteurs on the right to food and rights of indigenous peoples, calling for their intervention into this case.
To support this case, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

Philippines: Manobo farmers face threats and harassment even after being released on bail

Name of the victims:
1. 82 Farmers of different Municipalities of North Cotabato
2. Ebao Sulang and family
3. Alfie Awe
4. Darwin Mayao

Name of alleged perpetrator:
1. North Cotabato Provincial Board member Kelly Antao, North Coatabato Provincial Board member Lito Palma, who tried to convinced bribe the Sulang family as ordered by Governor Mendoza
2. Governor Emmylou Talino Mendoza, who refused to negotiate with the Manobo farmers and ordered their dispersal
3. Philippine National Police North Cotabato Region and Armed Forces of the Philippines , Cotabato Region, who conducted the violent dispersal, shot, tortured and detained the farmers.

Date of incident:
1 April 2016 to present

Place of Incident: Kidapawan City , North Cotabato

I am writing to voice my concern for the continued harassment and threats to the Manobo farmers and their families.

On 1 April 2016, 6,000 farmers were violently dispersed during their peaceful protest asking for rice and other subsidies, as well as the release of the emergency funds set up for the El Nino drought affected areas. Eighty-two farmers were illegally detained and some were tortured, with trumped up charges for direct assault and frustrated direct assault.

I have learned that although the eighty two farmers have posted bail for provisional liberty, their battle is not over as the case against them is not yet dismissed. Moreover, two of the farmers, Alfie Awe and Darwin Mayao are still in police lock up, even though bail was posted, for further investigation.

In addition to this, the family of Darwin Sulang, who was shot to death during the April 1 violence, is receiving threats and harassment from the authorities. North Cotabato Provincial board members Kelly Antao and Lito Palma tried to bribe the family with P100,000 to not file a criminal case against Governor Mendoza and the Philippine National Police, but the family refused.

Therefore, I strongly urge you to investigate this incident and take action as soon as possible. I also urge you to ensure the immediate release of the two farmers remaining in detention who were illegally arrested, and grant full assistance and benefits to the farmer that has been allotted to them. Lastly, please ensure adequate security and protection for all the farmers and their families.
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. Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
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. 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 Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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