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there is another trend of repression in the Philippines by the means of forced disappearances.
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In 2005 Filipino-Americans has showed their concern on the rise of political killings that was happening in the Philippines.

The U.S. Military joined forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to do anti-terrorists exercises in the Philippines because of the declaration of being the 2nd front for terrorism. With the Balikatan exercises the U.S. will give a few million dollars to the Philippines government for hosting these counter insurgence programs.

These programs has produced a large amount of causalities of innocent victims: students, teacher, lawyers, activists, peasants and more. Noticing the increase of political killings, Filipinos and  Filipino-Americans  took action by holding a showcase that brought awareness to their peers that these killings are being sponsored by the U.S. government. A few thousand of people took action by signing petitions and sending it to the senators and congressmen.

With the raise of concern from the American public the political killings slumped down.
After the decline of political killings dropped the new trend of state repression in the Philippines has  moved onto forced disappearances. Witnesses have seen people being snatched away by men heavily armed in black with masks on.

The disappearance of Jonas Burgos, son of Joe Burgos a journalist during the Martial Law Era, brought out International Concerns when Edith Burgos, his mother, did a speaking tour in the U.S. a few years ago.

Currently, there has been a small spike in political killings with the recent count of 1,118 Political Killings and 204 forcibly disappeared.

The Amputuan massacre of journalists and innocent civilians has brought President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to lower a curtain of Martial Law on Maguindanao.  The history of martial law in the Philippines brought a lot of casualties. Thousands for Filipinos and Fil-Ams has expressed their concern that lots of people could lose a lot, especially if the whole country goes into martial law. The raising of martial law brought forward a coalition called NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW.

Many Filipinos and Filipino-Americans still keep an open eye  out for human rights violations that are happening in the Philippines. Artists both in the Philippines and in the U.S. has organized an artshow called Factsheet. The art pieces highlight a few of the human rights cases that KARAPATAN has filed.

http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2009/07/26/army-grills-villagers-on-socio-economic-projects/

Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat

By ALDWIN QUITASOL
Northern


BAGUIO CITY – In a recent interview, Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) Secretary General Jude Baggo expressed grave concern over the increasing presence of the Army and their so-called “soft approach” activities in the communities of the Cordillera.

Baggo said it is very alarming that after the so-called “soft approach” of soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to supposedly “win the hearts and minds” of people in communities they suspect to be influenced by New People’s Army guerillas, they are now resorting to intimidation and “indirect” interrogations to gather information regarding projects of civil society groups and community self-help activities.

Their continuous encampment and meddling into the daily lives of civilians in Talampac, Lacub, Abra and other areas are a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL), which upholds the rights of civilians in situations of armed conflict.

The CAHRIHL provides that the civilian community shall be protected from the risks and dangers posed by the presence of military troops in urban centers and other populated areas.

“It is a very alarming development that the military seems bent on ‘demonizing’ projects or assistance requested by the communities from concerned NGOs to alleviate their economic situation. These are now being labeled as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army- National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP),” Baggo said.

Baggo added that while there is an ongoing resistance by the people of Abra, particularly in Lacub, against the entry of large mining corporations, military presence and activities in those areas are noticeably intensifying.

Lacub has sources of high grade gold ore. It is among the municipalities of Abra which has pending applications for mining exploration by the Australian Rio Dorado Mining Company.

After encamping inside the communities of Barangay Talampac, elements of the Alpha Coy of the 41st IB Philippine Army are reportedly harassing the residents anew. The CHRA has monitored reports that Army soldiers question villagers on socio-economic projects (SEPs) initiated by non-government-organizations in the locality, aside from asking for the identification of members of community organizations in the area.

In one report, soldiers under the command of Lt. Limuel Jimeno held a meeting with the residents of Talampac in the evening of July 19. Jimeno’s unit asked residents to identify the organizations and individuals who helped or facilitated the acquisition of the rice mill, a desktop computer and farm tools and projects for the community.

“The soldiers gave residents one week to furnish them the information. This can be construed as a threat on the people”, Baggo said.

One informant, who has asked not to be named, said, “Although the soldiers did not ask specifics on the assisting organizations involved, by implication, the soldiers are trying to connect these socio-economic projects to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).”

The soldiers are also asking about the members of Saranay, a farmer’s organization in the said barangay. They also expressed their intention to organize an elders’ organization in the area.

Earlier, the same military unit formed an elders’ municipal alliance Gibon in the municipality of Baay-Licuan also in Abra.

It will be recalled that last February 15, members of the Re-engineered Special Operations Team (RSOT) of the AFP occupied the barangay hall and day care center and five houses in Talampac proper.

On March 1, they occupied the basements of two private houses while other members encamped in Sitio Pacoc of the same barangay. The soldiers even implemented a curfew in the communities.

Also, in Besao, Mountain Province villagers continue to air grievances over the continued presence of soldiers from the 50th IBPA. They complained of the continuing implementation of curfew by soldiers.

The community members were also told to use pinewood, instead of flashlights, when moving around during night time. They said the soldiers told them that flashlights are being used by NPA guerillas.

One resident added that they have to be extra careful and cautious when they get firewood in the forest because roaming soldiers may mistakenly think that they are carrying a firearm. “You can never tell what they will do to you”, he said in Kan-kanaey.

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Imagine that being denied enrollment at your high school due to military pressure, for 15 yr old, Phobe Kate Tubera because she is an activist, chairperson of the League of Filipino Students (LFS). The faculty told that she can enroll if she signs a waiver that prohibit her from organizing and leading protests.

Read more: Only 15, Student Confronts Military-Backed Political Repression in Quezon City School


Nestlé Philippines Inc. Nestlé S.A.
No. 31 Plaza Drive Avenue Nestlé 55
Rockwell Center 1800 Vevey, Switzerland
Makati City 1200 Philippines

International Labor Organizations (ILO) Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) 4 route des Morillons Muralla St. cor. Gen. Luna St., Intramuros
CH-1211 Genève 22, Switzerland 1002 Manila, Philippines

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
SAAC Building, Commonwealth Avenue
UP Complex, Diliman, Quezon City

Petition-Appeal for Justice “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits” Exodus 23:6

We, citizens of various nationalities and from different walks of life, have joined together to seek justice for the more than 600 employees of Nestle Cabuyao Philippines, Inc. who for over two decades now have been suffering human rights violations as they struggle for their right to collective bargaining (ILO Convention no.98).

The issue of retirement benefits is a valid issue in collective bargaining as decided by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in its resolution-order earlier and affirmed by the ruling of the Supreme Court in February 1991. The Supreme Court again ruled on the labor dispute on 22 August 2006 reaffirming the validity of its 1991 decision.

And on 26 March 2009, the final and executory decision is recorded in the Book of Entries of Judgment: the Nestle Management has been explicitly mandated to return to the negotiating table and resume Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiation with the Union, especially on the issue of retirement benefits.

The workers and their union launched on January 14, 2002 an arduous strike that has lasted up to the present because the Nestle Management continues to disregard the above rulings and directives and relevant international agreements.

“Nestlé uses all state instruments such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), the MTC-Cabuyao (Municipal Trial Court) and RTC-Binan (Regional Trial Court), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), with the blessings of a Philippine president who continuously clings to power …” (Nestlé abusing workers’ rights in the Philippines – and ignoring Supreme Court rulings, February 2009) http://www.nestlecritics.org/pdfs/nestlecabuyao0209.pdf

“Pres. Arroyo is betraying the people instead of defending the workers who have moral and just basis in their struggles. The Arroyo government likens the workers to criminals, drug lords, gambling lords and terrorists. It is like a rabid dog in kowtowing to the dictates of imperialist globalization and giant monopoly capitalists. Not contented, Arroyo further strengthened its iron hand rule by implementing the Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR) on Sept. 21, 2005 to further repress the rights of the people.” (ibid)

“This repression has directly or indirectly resulted in 23 strike-related deaths, including union leader Diosdado “Ka Fort” Fortuna, who was assassinated on his way home from a picket line on September 22, 2005. His predecessor, Union president Meliton Roxas, was assassinated in front of the picket line on January 20, 1989, during the workers’ previous strike involving the same issue. To date, not a single perpetrator has been apprehended for these murders.“ (ibid)

The represssion and oppression and other forms of violence perpetrated against the striking Nestle Cabuyao workers continue, the latest manifestation of which being the arrest and detention of Noel Alemania, the acting Union of Filipro Employees (UFE) President.

We, the undersigned demand:
Recognize the right of UFE to collective bargaining (ILO Convention no.98) especially the right to negotiate for their retirement benefits!
Stop the other repression / oppression and other forms of violence perpetrated against the striking Nestle Cabuyao workers!

We call on
a) the Nestle Management to return to the negotiating table and resume CBA negotiation with the Union, especially on the issue of retirement benefits
b) the Philippines government thru the Department of Labor and Employment to mediate and/ or conciliate the labor dispute
c) the International Labor organization (ILO) to take cognizance of the labor dispute, and
d) the United Nations Commission on HR to send representative(s) to the Philippines and/or ask the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines to conduct a thorough investigation of the human rights violations i.e., killing of Diosdado “Fort” Fortuna, and other related human rights issues.

SIGN OUR PETITION http://pinas-first.com/petition/

Fil-Am activist’s abduction raises howl in Washington


By RODNEY J. JALECO, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau | 06/10/2009 11:28 AM

WASHINGTON D.C. – The alleged detention and torture of Fil-Am activist Melissa Roxas is fueling efforts by militant groups to again catch the eye of US lawmakers on human rights abuses back home.

“People get kidnapped and just because they’re Filipino-Americans, their country of origin feels some right to kidnap, even to abuse them. The reality is they are Americans,” Congressman Jim Moran (8th District, Virginia) told a largely Fil-Am crowd last Sunday.

Moran is a 10-term congressman for a district that encompasses Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church – home to a large Fil-Am constituency.  He was the principal guest at the People’s Ball, which traditionally kicks off the series of Philippine Independence Day celebrations in the American capital.

After his speech, Moran told ABS-CBN’s Balitang America that he views Roxas as “an American just like my daughter is an American.”

“The Philippine government or military or paramilitary, whoever it was that abducted her, committed a crime. She is an American citizen and I sure hope for their sake that they have not harmed her,” he said.

Roxas, 31, a member of Bayan USA was abducted last May 19 in Lapaz, Tarlac.

In her petition before the Philippine Supreme Court, Roxas said she was kidnapped by suspected paramilitaries and brought to a military camp in Nueva Ecija where she was interrogated and tortured for six days on suspicions that she was a communist rebel.

She said she was only released after she convinced her captors that she would return to the folds of the law.

Roxas has gone home to Los Angeles, California after her ordeal in the Philippines, according to lawyer Arnedo Valera. He said Roxas has been traumatized after undergoing “physical and psychological torture” from her captors.

Roxas will undergo a more through medical and psychological examination, to determine if she was sexually assaulted as well. “She said there were times when she could no longer take it and she lost consciousness,” Valera said.

He said Roxas identified herself as an American citizen, adding she was on a research and writing assignment. Her abductors accused her of being a communist insurgent.

“I have never seen this kind of treatment to an American citizen, even during the time of Marcos,” Valera said.

He revealed they will file a complaint with the United Nations, ask the Special UN Rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak to investigate the Roxas case, file a complaint with the State Department against the Philippine government, and fie a case with a US federal district court under the Alien Tort Law.

Under the Alien Tort Law, US federal courts are given “original jurisdiction” for any suit filed by a foreigner for violation of the law of nations – especially human rights violations.

Valera said he has spoken with Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, urging his cooperation.

“There is an obligation that the culprits, because the victim is a US citizen, can be brought over here for trial under the Convention Against Torture,” Valera said.

Rights crisis

Last Saturday, a different group convened an “emergency summit” on the growing human rights crisis in the Philippines at the Methodist Building, right across the US Congress.

“We organized the summit in response to what we perceive as a resurgence of political killings and other human rights abuses in the Philippines,” explained Katrina Abarcar, coordinator for the group Katarungan.

The group said it is urging US Congress to set their sights anew to abuses in the Philippines. “This is like a first step to what you might call building bridges or stronger partnerships, between groups working on human rights that have for the most part worked independently of each other,” she said.

Militant groups are closing ranks with American churches, labor and civil liberty groups that have seen many of their leaders, members and friends fall victim to extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

“We want to educate the American people, Congress, the Obama administration. It’s good this summit was organized so we can see the impact of killings in the Philippines, which are now felt here,” said Jon Melegrito, a leader of the influential National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA).

Melegrito worked for Filipino World War II veterans equity and was active in the political campaigns of both State Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama last year.

“I am a Methodist, a church that is very committed to social justice. And the churches, not only the Methodists, the UCCP, Episcopalians, Lutherans and even the Catholic Church all have a commitment to social justice especially for the oppressed,” he said.

Human rights groups said over 800 union leaders, peasant organizers, churchmen and journalists have been killed under the administration of President Arroyo. The government has claimed only about 400 of these were politically-motivated murders.

“As far as the church is concerned, they are all part of God’s children. And if God’s children are being exploited, repressed and killed, then it’s against our religious upbringing. So the sponsorship and promotion of the church for human rights is just natural,” Melegrito said.

In March 2007, human rights groups submitted a report on the extrajudicial killings at a hearing chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer in March 2007. Not surprisingly, the State Department has alluded to a “culture of impunity” that allow abuses to continue.

Battle of perceptions

The Arroyo administration has worked hard to counter hardening perceptions, organizing a national summit in July 2007 to discuss extrajudicial killings.

Malacanang also launched a counter-lobby on Capitol Hill, dispatching top Philippine police officials to speak with lawmakers willing to listen.

It seemed to work – the Arroyo administration managed to convince senators to restore US military aid for 2008 – the Filipino militants’ main target – to $30 million, about two-thirds more than what the State Department suggested.

But the release of $2 million is predicated on the Philippine government meeting certain human rights criteria, particularly compliance with the Ralston Report.

Lawyer Brian Campbell of the International Labor Rights Forum told the summit audience that the money has not been released. He added that as far as he knows, the State Department has not yet submitted a certification to the US Senate that the Philippines has complied with the conditions.

“This all started the grassroots level. It started with people in Minnesota calling their congressman, people in California calling their senator, telling them ‘There’s a problem here and these are our families that’s being impacted’ and it’s time to raise this issue,” Campbell said.

“That resulted in the hearings chaired by Sen. Boxer which then led to human rights conditions on part of the military aid,” he explained.

Campbell acknowledged “little, systemic changes” implemented by the Arroyo administration to address human rights problems, but stressed the need for continuing pressure. The group is trying to convince lawmakers to tie future aid for the Philippines – economic and military – to improving human rights conditions.

Congressman Moran is an early supporter of the move. “There should be a direct link between military aid to a country and the way that country treats its own people and its neighbors.

“If a military is going to try to act with impunity whether it be in the Philippines, Indonesia, any other nation whether in Asia, Africa or South America, they should not be receiving military assistance because military assistance is meant to be used to further American values,” Moran told Balitang America.

Raising the ante vs violators

“If somebody has been tortured, it doesn’t matter if they’re in the United States or in their home country, if the US courts can get jurisdiction over the torturer, then they can bring a law suit here,” Campbell said.

He added that the Philippines already has first-hand experience with this legal avenue when human rights victims won a class suit against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Campbell said that while winning compensation may be difficult, there are other sanctions to be imposed on human rights violators.

“Those torturers cannot come to the United States, they cannot go to Las Vegas to watch Manny Pacquiao fight. They can not do it because then they will be subject to the jurisdiction of US courts,” he said.

as of 06/10/2009 11:31 AM

Philippine Embassy

News Release

02 June 2009

US renews commitment to aid RP in fight vs terror

Manila (PNA) — The top security official of the administration of United
States President Barack Obama on Monday renewed the commitment of his
government in helping the Philippines address threats posed by terrorists
and extremist groups.

In a press conference at the Armed Forces general headquarters in Camp
Aguinaldo, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he is also looking
forward to a broader and deeper defense cooperation with the Philippines.

Gates and Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodor earlier figured in
a one-on-meeting inside the camp to discuss issues of mutual concerns,
including the global threat of terrorism and responding to the threat of
disasters.

“I look forward to meeting a few Filipino troops after this meeting. I
will tell them as (I) told Secretary Teodoro – that we are partners and
we’ll continue to strongly support their efforts to defeat terrorists and
extremists threatening their country and the region,” said Gates.

“Together, we will not relent until this threat has been eliminated,” said
Gates. The US has been a great partner of the Philippines in the fight
against terrorist over the past several years.

The Americans have trained and equipped the elite Light Reaction Battalion
of the Army. Also, a number of US forces are still in the South, training
Filipino troops fight the Abu Sayyaf and providing the needed intelligence
information.

“Looking forward, I believe our relation needs to evolve into a broader,
strategic one. The Philippines can play an important role in regional
peace and stability and in fact just hosted the Asean regional forum’s
first ever field exercise,” said Gates.

“I also thank the Philippines for its contribution to aid United Nations
missions. It is clear that the Philippines is taking on a larger role on
the world stage and as it does, this relationship, one of our oldest
alliance partnership in Asia, is one that I believe that will endure and
deepen in the years to come,” he added.

For his part, Teodoro thanked Gates for visiting the country. This is the
first visit of a US defense chief to the Philippines in nearly 10 years.
Gates has been in the country about 20 years ago on a different capacity.

“We had a good conversation about a number of issues from United States
assistance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to broader regional
security matters,” said Gates on the issues he discussed with Teodoro
during a brief meeting.

“Over the last decade, the Philippines has faced a number of security
challenges and has met them squarely. This is testimony to Secretary
Teodoro’s strong leadership, his efforts to reform the Armed Forces and a
courage and adaptability of the Filipino military,” said Gates.

On the call of some groups to review or abrogate the RP-US Visiting Forces
Agreement, Gates said US is satisfied with the current VFA, that provides
legal framework to all joint exercise between US and Filipino forces.

Some quarters are clamoring for review or abrogation of the agreement
following the problem on the custody issue on Lance Corporal Daniel Smith
who had been convicted by a Makati City court of raping a Filipino. He was
later exonerated by a higher court.

During the course of the case, Smith stayed at the US embassy in Manila
when he, the proponents said, should be with the control of the Philippine
government.

“The United States is quite comfortable with the VFA. We are both nations
of laws. This agreement provides us with the legal basis for having our
people here in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. We
think it works and we are satisfied,” said Gates.

————————–

Reference:

Consul Gines Gallaga

Press and Information Officer

Email: ggallaga@cox.net

Tel: 202-467-9432