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Category Archives: Human Rights Violation

San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SFCHRP) is proud to present the shadow puppet piece, Karapatang Pantao (Human Rights). It is dedicated to all victims of human rights violations (HRVs).

Please anticipate a second version of this shadow puppet piece coming in the near future. In the meantime, we hope you all enjoy this first version.

For more information, please visit sanfranchrp.com

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Bayan Muna Partylist provincial chairperson & elected Municipal Official shot to death in Aklan, Panay, Philippines

UA No: 2010-07-01

UA Date                     :           6 July 2010

UA Case                     :           Assassination, Violation against Children’s Rights to Protection or

Safety by the State or its Agents, Threat/Harassment/Intimidation

Victim/s                      :           Assassination

Fernando Baldomero

  • 61 years old, male, married with children
  • A resident of Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Biga-a, Lezo, Aklan, Philippines
  • 2nd Termer Municipal Councilor of Lezo, Aklan
  • Provincial Chairperson, Bayan Muna Partylist
  • Provincial Coordinator, Makabayan Coalition-Aklan
  • Member, Society of Ex-detainees for Liberation, against Detention and for Amnesty (SELDA)

Threat/Harassment/Intimidation, Violation against Children’s Rights to Protection or Safety by the State or its Agents

Karl Philip Baldomero

  • 12 years old, male
  • Son of Fernando

Place of Incident        :           Brgy. Estancia, Kalibo, Aklan

Date of Incident         :           July 5, 2010 at around 6:30 AM

Alleged Perpetrator(s):         two unidentified armed men believed to be military elements

Account of the Incident:

At around 6:30 AM, Fernando Baldomero was in front of his rented house in Brgy. Estancia, Kalibo boarding his motorcycle with his 12-year old son on their way to school when two medium built men in

a black motorcycle stopped in front of them.  The backrider who was wearing a black jacket, a helmet and a pair of sunglasses that completely covered his face disembarked, and using a handgun, started shooting the victim at close range in front of his terrified son.  The driver was wearing a white shirt and a pair of denim pants and had no covering over his face.  Witnesses noticed that there was a long firearm at the back of the driver.

Baldomero suffered two gunshot wounds to the head which pierced through his helmet and one to the neck.  The assailants left soon after.  Witnesses even tried to run after them but they drove very fast.  The victim was immediately brought to the Kalibo Provincial Hospital but he was pronounced dead-on-arrival.

Baldomero’s son, Karl Philip, was also immediately brought to the doctor because he was severely traumatized by the incident.

It can be recalled that during the 2010 election campaign period, two men on board a motorcycle with no license plate lobbed grenades at the Baldomero ancestral house in Brgy. Sta. Cruz Biga-a, Lezo, Aklan on 19 March 2010.  One of the grenades landed and exploded in the kitchen located at the rear part of the house, while the other one landed inside the main part of the house where Fernando’s 92-year old father Ramon was preparing feeds for his chicken.  Fortunately, the second grenade did not explode.

In 2005, while Fernando Baldomero served as a barangay (village) councilor in Lezo, he was arrested and detained because the military and the police linked him with a unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) and charged him with the alleged crime committed by the rebel group in Guimbal, Iloilo and San Remigio, Antique.  He was cleared from both charges and was later released.

He was again slapped with two trumped up charges by the military in connection with NPA activities in Tubungan, Iloilo but they two were dismissed at the Provincial Prosecutor level.

Fernando Baldomero was a political detainee in the 80s tagged by the military as a high-ranking official of the NPA.  After his release, he settled in his hometown in Lezo.

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

  1. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives

from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that

will look into the assassination of Fernando Baldomero, the Violation against Children’s Rights to

Protection or Safety by the State or its Agents and the Threat/Harassment/Intimidation of Karl Philip Baldomero;

  1. The arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of the above mentioned crime/s;
  1. The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”
  2. The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch).

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III

President of the Republic of the Philippines

Malacañang Palace,

JP Laurel St., San Miguel

Manila, Philippines

Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80

Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968

E-mail:

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)

7th Floor Agustin Building I

Emerald Avenue

Pasig City 1605

Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066

Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216

E-Mail Address: osec@opapp.gov.ph

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

Atty. Leila De Lima

Secretary, Department of Justice

Padre Faura St., Manila

Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721

Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.214

Fax: (+632) 521-1614

Email:  soj@doj.gov.ph

Acting Chairperson Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing

Commission on Human Rights

SAAC Bldg., UP Complex

Commonwealth Avenue

Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188

Fax: (+632) 929 0102

Email:  coco.chrp@gmail.com,

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:

KARAPATAN (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights)

National Office

2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES

Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146

Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org

Website: http://www.karapatan.org


Picture

Dr. Alex Montes and patient
We need money for healthcare and education! So why is the US sending over $30 million taxpayer dollars each year to arrest, jail and torture health care workers and other innocent civilians in the Philippines?

Every year, the US sends tens of millions of dollars in military aid to the Philippines–and it’s added up to a whopping $1 billion US taxpayer dollars since 1999.  What has been the result? Record-high numbers of human rights violations have been committed against innocent civilians, including: 1,118 killings  • 1,026 cases of torture • 204 forced disappearances • 1,983 illegal arrests. Who is perpetrating these human rights violations?  Reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, and KARAPATAN all conclude that the Philippine military, police and paramilitary units are the perpetrators, and are targeting pastors, teachers, union leaders, students, lawyers, journalists, healthcare workers, artists and others whose only “crime” is voicing criticism of the government for neglecting and exploiting the Filipino people. They are being arrested, tortured and killed for doing what the government should be doing–serving the poor and oppressed.

The arrest, detention and torture of 43 healthcare workers is the latest outrageous case of human rights abuse. On Saturday, Feb. 6, the Philippine military and police used a bogus search warrant to raid a First Responders healthcare skills training in Rizal, where they violently arrested and jailed 43 community healthcare workers, including two renowned doctors, a nurse, and midwives. The military has inflicted physical and psychological torture on the healthcare workers, including: sleep deprivation, prolonged tactical interrogation with death threats, 36+ hours of being blindfolded and handcuffed, solitary confinement, and denial of legal counsel and medical treatment.  The health workers are still being held in jail on trumped up charges of being rebels, and the military has even defied a Supreme Court order to produce the 43 health workers at a court hearing.

The 43 health workers and doctors were undergoing health training to serve the vast majority of Filipino people who do not have access to healthcare. They should be treated like heroes!  But instead, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her military are persecuting them.

You can help.  Join the growing movement of grassroots organizations, churches, individuals, and labor organizations and unions such as the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), National Nurses United (NNU), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to demand the release of the 43 healthcare workers.

Sign the petition at http://www.PetitionOnline.com/Free43/petition.html so you can
1.    Tell Congress and the Obama administration to end all US military aid to the Philippines. No US tax dollars for torture!
2.    Tell President Arroyo to Free the 43 health care workers and end all human rights violations being committed by her military.

For more info: www.bayan.ph/freethe43.php or http://freethehealthworkers.blogspot.com or www.bayanusa.org.

Download printable


By Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change

First 100 days agenda: GMA, Luisita, human rights abuses. With the presidential elections now over save for the official proclamation of Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, we ask what is perhaps the same question in the mind of most Filipinos today: what can our forlorn people expect from an Aquino presidency?

The first 100 days of the Aquino administration will be crucial. This period will reveal and set the tone on the priorities of the new government as well as demonstrate the intent, if not ability, of Aquino to address the injustices that our people have long been suffering.

Thus, for the first 100 days of Aquino as President, we strongly believe that he must make considerable headway in resolving three of the gravest injustices that we face: the plunder perpetrated by Mrs. Gloria Arroyo and her cohorts; social injustice such as at the Hacienda Luisita; and the extrajudicial killings, abductions, and other human rights violations under the brutal Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) military campaign of the Arroyo administration.

By depicting himself as the bearer of genuine change, indeed as the anti-thesis of Arroyo, Aquino has raised people’s expectations of his administration. Invoking the legacy of his parents, the martyred Ninoy Aquino and former President Cory, it is reasonable to ask for tangible steps in his first three months – when and how will he investigate and prosecute Mrs. Arroyo and her cohorts in crime?

As president who claims to have the high moral ground compared to other presidentiables, how will he pro-actively ensure that the Cojuanco-Aquino clan will give up Hacienda Luisita in favor of the poor peasants and farm workers? What will he do with regard to the case of the Morong 43, Jonas Burgos, and many other victims of human rights violation under Arroyo? What will he do to make the likes of Gen. Jovito Palparan accountable for his bloody crimes against the people? Will he dismantle the oppressive Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) 2 or will he embark on an OBL 3 or similar “Internal Security Plan” that tramples on constitutionally-guaranteed rights in the name of so-called national security?

Aquino built his successful bid for the presidency on a strong advocacy against Arroyo and all that her administration represents, encapsulized in his political ads enticing Filipino voters to take the “daang matuwid” (righteous path) with him. Many Filipinos, disgruntled by nine years of grand scale corruption, abuses, and poverty under the despised Arroyo presidency, responded to his call and gave him a strong mandate to lead.

However, while corruption aggravates the people’s poverty and suffering, the basic premise of Aquino’s advocacy – that corruption is the root cause of poverty (“kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap”) – must be challenged. This premise glosses over the fundamental truth that poverty is bred by age-old unjust social structures strengthened through the years by anti-people economic policies allowing a few to monopolize society’s wealth.

Such situation is clearly illustrated, for instance, at the Hacienda Luisita. Poverty will not be solved without substantial reforms in these structures and policies, e.g. genuine agrarian reform that will truly distribute vast landholdings like Hacienda Luisita to farmers and farm workers, as Pagbabago! articulated in our People’s Agenda.

The time for mere rhetoric about change and justice is now over. We who come from people’s organizations, sectoral formations and non-government organizations, who have long been fighting for genuine reforms in the country’s misshapen and undemocratic political and economic system, want to see whether Aquino’s “daang matuwid” will lead to redemption or greater perdition.

source: http://kodao.org/blog/contributor/noynoy-must-show-what-%E2%80%9Cdaang-matuwid%E2%80%9D-concretely-means

The FACT SHEET exhibit is a collection of the piece reflects a few of the endless cases of human rights violations in the Philippines. Each of the pieces are based on Fact Sheets that contain important information on these cases. Artists’ ARREST in collaboration with the KARAPATAN (RIGHT) collected works from artists as part of CineVeritas 2008.

Currently, the  FACT SHEET exhibit has crossed the Pacific Ocean  and presenting  30 posters about human rights violations in the Philippines. It is inspired by Bay Area’s Social Serigraphy movement that started in the 1960s, 20 works and ideas of Artists’ ARREST, an art collective in the Philippines.  In addition 10 pieces from Kwatro Kanto collective, Lainerz, KA68, and others artists from the U.S.  The exhibition will show how art can be used as a social practice by forming alliances and mobilizations, from a single person to an entire nation.

Media Contact: Lian Ladia, lian_ladia@yahoo.com

MHF Contact: DiAnne Bueno, dianne.bueno@manilatown.org

MHF: 415-777-1130, 415-399-9580

www.manilatown.org

Political Poster Exhibition on Human Rights at Manilatown

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – San Francisco – January 11, 2010

EVENT: Manilatown Heritage Foundation (MHF), a Filipino American community arts organization based in San Francisco, will host “FACTSHEET: Activism is Not a Crime,” an exhibition of 30 posters by artists in the U.S. and the Philippines about human rights violations in the Philippines, curated by Lian Ladia and Con Cabrera and co-presented with SF Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines.

WHEN: Exhibit runs from February 6-April 24, 2010

Opening reception: Saturday, February 6, 4-6  PM, with live performances and special guest,  Marie Hilo from KARAPATAN, a human rights organization in the Philippines. FREE, donations appreciated

Film & Discussion: Saturday, March 27, 4-6 PM

Film shorts about human rights in the Philippines from the Southern Tagalog Exposure, followed by a panel discussion with Bay Area community organizers. $5-$10, no one turned away for lack of funds

Closing Reception: Saturday, April 24, 4-6 PM

FREE, donations appreciated

WHERE: International Hotel Manilatown Center, 868 Kearny Street (and Jackson), SF

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION: “FACTSHEET: Activism is Not a Crime,” showcases 30 posters by artists in the U.S. and the Philippines about human rights violations in the Philippines. It is inspired by Bay Area’s Social Serigraphy movement that started in the 1960s, as well as by the works and ideas of Artist Arrest, an art collective in the Philippines. FACTSHEET shows how art can be used as a social practice to form alliances and mobilize, from a single person to an entire nation.

ABOUT MANILATOWN HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The Manilatown Heritage Foundation is a non-profit community-based organization formed in 1994 and incorporated in 1998, to advocate for the rebuilding of the International Hotel (I-Hotel) and the preservation of the Filipino legacy in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its mission is to promote social and economic justice for Filipinos in America by preserving our history, advocating for equal access, and advancing our arts and culture. The I-Hotel was the last vestige of a vibrant 10-block area known as Manilatown. Manilatown Heritage Foundation emerged out of the struggle to defend the tenants’ rights to their homes and to preserve the Manilatown District. 28 years after the brutal eviction of the tenants, the new International Hotel Senior Housing opened its doors in August 2005. The Manilatown Center has now come alive with exhibits, weekly events and activities.

###


Posted date: December 04, 2009
GENEVA — Investigations into the deaths of 57 people in an election-related massacre in southern Philippines must be the start of a major reform process in the country, two United Nations human rights experts said on Wednesday.
The two experts called for the “effective” prosecution of those behind the killings and an end to manipulation by the elite of the country’s election process.
The authorities must also put in place immediate measures to prevent similar murders in the run-up to elections next May, said the experts, who report to the UN Human Rights Council on extrajudicial killings and on freedom of expression.
“The premeditated killing of political opponents, combined with a massive assault on the media, must be tackled at various levels that go well beyond standard murder investigations,” declared the two experts, Philip Alston and Frank La Rue.
The massacre took place in Maguindanao province on Nov. 23 in the Philippines’ deadliest ever election-related crime. The killings were blamed on members of the Ampatuan family, whom President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has in the past called valuable political allies.
Threat to democracy
Alston and La Rue said the inquiry “must be followed by effective prosecutions of all those responsible for the killings.”
But the massacre should also spark extensive reflection “on the elite family-dominated manipulation of the political processes and the need to eliminate such practices in order to assure the future of democracy in the Philippines,” they said.
The two UN experts—Alston from the United States and La Rue from Guatemala—said any broad inquiry into the country’s political system would have to focus on how to improve protection for journalists, 30 of whom died in the massacre.
Even more urgent was the creation of a task force to prevent more election-related killings.
“There is every indication that the run-up to the May elections will sound the death knell for many political activists,” the two added.
UN intervention
In Manila, journalists said Philippine media groups might ask the United Nations to intervene in the probe of the massacre.
“We’re considering all options, including asking the UN rights body to step into the massacre,” Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, told reporters, adding the local press must “not drop the ball to allow the suspects to get away with the murders.”
Int’l press group’s mission
International press groups were also sending a mission to the Philippines to look into the massacre.
Around 15 delegates from groups like the International Federation of Journalists, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, and the Committee to Protect Journalists were expected to arrive in Manila this weekend, according to National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) board member Rowena Paraan.
“This shows that there is international attention on the incident, as it should be. The trip will also be an expression of solidarity with local journalists,” Paraan said.
Paraan said members of the media would march on the Don China Roces Bridge (formerly Mendiola) on Dec. 9 as part of the Global Day of Action for the slain journalists.
In a report released Thursday, a fact-finding team that went to Maguindanao observed that police had handled evidence poorly, leading to its possible contamination.
“There was little or no consideration given to preserving the evidence. There was little or no consideration given to avoid the contamination of the crime scene,” the report said.
The group said the vehicles used by the suspects in stopping a convoy carrying journalists and relatives of a clan opposed to the Ampatuans were still unaccounted for.
“Investigators said the suspects also used a Nissan Frontier pickup with police markings. One such police vehicle issued to the Maguindanao police is still unaccounted for. This jibes with claims by (witnesses) that police vehicles were involved in the blockade,” the team said.
‘Culture of fear and silence’
The killings have stoked fear among students in some areas of Mindanao.
Fr. Edgardo Tanudtanud, OMI, director of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) for Central Mindanao, cited a recent incident in which several students, out of fear, canceled their participation in a march for peace in Cotabato.
“It has created a culture of fear and silence among the people, including the students, Christians and Muslims alike. But that fear did not stem from that massacre incident alone, but because of the history of violence in the area,” Tanudtanud said.
In a statement, the association of 1,272 member schools, colleges and universities said: “This mass murder … has showcased the extent corrupt individuals are willing to go in order to arrogate the power to themselves.”
Msgr. Gerry Santos, president of the CEAP, said the group was demanding long-term solutions to the decades-old conflict that had forced Maguindanaoans to live in fear and subhuman conditions.
“We ask the government to dismantle private armies and put an end to the anarchy of clans in the region,” Santos said. Reports from Reuters, Alcuin Papa and Tina G. Santos

PRESS STATEMENT Reference:  Marie Hilao-Enriquez

November 26, 2009                                            Chairperson, Mobile No. 09175616800

Inaction on and tolerating human rights violations abet crimes such as the Maguindanao massacre

KARAPATAN condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the massacre of 57 civilians which included media persons and two women lawyers in Maguindanao, on November 23, 2009.

Early this year, the human rights alliance has warned of escalating violence as extrajudicial killings have continued despite declarations from the Arroyo government that it is adhering to the recommendations of the UNSR on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Prof. Philip Alston; and as the government-pronounced deadline of ending the insurgency comes to a close in 2010, which is also an election year..

The Maguindanao massacre was an event waiting to happen with the continued implementation of this criminal government’s anti-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).  Under OBL, the recruitment of para-military groups such as the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) and Civilian Volunteer Organization (CVO’s) as well as the arming of these individuals have persisted and in fact have been resorted to by the government in its mad design of purportedly “ending the insurgency by 2010.”  Such groups, which have been placed under the supervision and effective control of the military, have been tagged, together with the latter and the police, as responsible for various human rights violations happening around the country.

With this counter-insurgency program, so many victims, easily labeled as “fronts”  of “communist organizations”  and “enemies of the state”  have turned up dead, killed in a brutal manner and some disappeared; with the Arroyo government doing nothing to stop the killings, disappearances and other human rights violations.  In fact, it even heaped praises for known perpetrators identified with these crimes.  Under this counter-insurgency scheme, the Arroyo government has become the biggest warlord in the land.

Now the country is jolted by a brutal crime ostensibly committed by a private army of a warlord in one of the so-called election hotspots in the country.  The public is now witness to the barbaric impunity by which the perpetrators can kill and even try to hide the crime as if no law can be applied to prevent them from committing such a brutal act in broad daylight, hiding even such evidences as vehicles with the use of government properties!

For far too long has this regime considered itself a law above the citizens, contravening the laws laid out in the legal instruments of the land so much so that its coddled political allies have imbibed the mindset that they, too, can commit such transgressions with impunity.  Thus, on Monday, these perpetrators have been emboldened to commit the carnage that shocked the world. Such is the result of condoning and tolerating human rights violations.

The public must not allow this government to just relegate such a heinous crime as this massacre of civilians into a mere election-related offense. We must not allow a whitewash of the investigation on this dastardly act especially in the face of the declarations of this regime to get the perpetrators of the crime. We demand for a thorough, diligent investigation, arresting and initiating prosecution proceedings against the known perpetrators of this crime.

We call on the Arroyo government to immediately disband the paramilitary units of the AFP and private armies of warlords and politicians and stop the Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program as its method to eradicate the festering insurgency in the land.  This strategy is only engendering crimes against humanity.

JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE!

JUSTICE FOR ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS UNDER THE ARROYO REGIME!

—–
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.  It was established in 1995.

Philippine Official Says Victims Were Sexually Mutilated

By CARLOS H. CONDE
The New York Times
Published: November 27, 2009

DAVAO CITY, the Philippines — Most or all of the 22 women among the 57 people massacred Monday in the southern Philippines were sexually mutilated, the authorities said Friday, adding grim details to the catalog of horrors that has already emerged.

“Even the private parts of the women were shot at,” the justice secretary, Agnes Devanadera, said on national television. “It was horrible. It was not done to just one. It was done practically to all the women.”

While work continued to identify all the dead, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said that it appeared that 30 journalists and their assistants had been killed. About a dozen of the victims were the relatives, lawyers or supporters of Esmael Mangudadatu, a local politician whose determination to challenge the entrenched Ampatuan clan in a gubernatorial election apparently touched off the violence.

Investigators said that the rest of the victims, perhaps as many as 15, happened to be stopped at a checkpoint along the highway in Ampatuan, a town in Maguindanao Province, when the convoy of Mangudadatu supporters and journalists was stopped by police officers and militiamen loyal to the Ampatuans. They were killed to eliminate witnesses, investigators said.

Ms. Devanadera said that several of the men accused of taking part in the slaughter had surrendered and offered to testify. Though the killings violated a traditional custom against harming women, the men seemed to be troubled more by the deaths of the journalists and the bystanders.

“They are bothered by their conscience because they thought that only the Mangudadatus would be shot,” Ms. Devanadera said.

Andal Ampatuan Jr., a local mayor who is suspected of having ordered the killings, turned himself in Thursday, protesting his innocence. He is expected to be charged with murder next week. Ms. Devanadera told The Philippine Daily Inquirer that Mr. Ampatuan’s brother Zaldy and his father, Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., the clan patriarch, were also under investigation.

Mr. Mangudadatu’s wife, Genalyn, his two sisters and two lawyers working for him were among the women who were mutilated and murdered. He said on Thursday that his wife had been shot “in her private parts.”

Ms. Devanadera said that the zippers of the women’s pants had been undone and that some of the women had had their pants pulled down. She said the authorities were still trying to determine whether the women had been raped, but “it is certain that something bad was done to them.”

Felicisimo Khu, a police superintendent, said Wednesday that the women’s bodies had been found separate from the men’s.

At least one witness, according to Ms. Devanadera, told investigators that Andal Ampatuan Jr. was on the scene giving commands but that it was not clear whether he fired a gun.

On Friday, Mr. Mangudadatu, leading a 50-vehicle convoy guarded by soldiers and heavily armed police officers, finally filed his certificate of candidacy to run for governor of Maguindanao — precisely what the others were on their way to do when they were murdered. “I had to do it,” he said in a telephone interview on Friday. “I owe it to my dear wife, to my family, to my supporters and to all those journalists who died while doing their job.”

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has been under intense pressure to pursue and prosecute the killers. The Ampatuan family is her closest political ally in the southern Philippines and played a critical role in her 2004 election victory. Her government has assisted the Ampatuans and other area clans in building potent militias to combat the secessionist and Islamist insurgencies that have plagued the region.

On Friday, she ordered Interior Secretary Reynaldo Puno to take direct control of the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao, a collection of provinces on and near the island of Mindanao, and to suspend local, police and military officials if necessary to proceed with the investigation.

A military spokesman said Friday that two ground commanders of the armed forces in Maguindanao had been relieved of their commands. The military on Thursday took control of the provincial capital, Shariff Aguak, and other towns, a day after disarming dozens of militiamen employed by the Ampatuans.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the largest media group in the country, urged the government on Friday to form a special court to try the suspects. “This is to help ensure that no whitewash will happen and to identify the roots and those responsible for this unimaginable crime,” said Nestor Burgos Jr., the group’s chairman.
http://carlosconde.com/2009/11/28/philippine-official-says-victims-were-sexually-mutilated/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+carlosconde+%28Carlos+Conde%29&utm_content=Twitter

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chair, GABRIELA USA, gabrielawomen@gmail.com

GABRIELA USA CONDEMNS PERPETRATORS OF THE AMPATUAN MASSACRE, AND HOLDS GMA ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE STATE OF WARLORDISM AND CLIMATE OF IMPUNITY IN THE PHILIPPINES

The election-related carnage on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) took the lives of 57 people, 14 women including
2 women lawyers and 17 journalists

San Francisco, CA–10 years ago, a United Nations Assembly resolved to recognize November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) to work towards the end of violence affecting women all over the world. GABRIELA USA members from San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles and New York are taking this day to remember the significance of this international effort to raise awareness about women’s issues in the light of the horrific massacre which took place in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, in the island of Mindanao.

The death toll is rising in the massacre of unarmed civilians included lawyers, journalists, and at least 14 women who were not only murdered but also raped, mutilated and beheaded. The bodies were found buried on shallow ground on the side of the road where the 6 vehicle convoy carrying the victims were stopped in broad daylight on November 23rd. The victims where on their way to file election paperwork with the Commission on Elections to challenge the ruling political clan in the upcoming elections.

This incident cannot be separated from the thousands of other human rights violations committed under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime, wherein hundreds of women activists, leaders and community members have been killed, abducted, tortured and disappeared with impunity.

Arroyo’s share of responsibility for this massacre is certain as she has repeatedly facilitated and funded armed clan-based militias, utilizing US military aid, and has created the state of impunity in the Philippines where her close political allies could conceive of
carrying out such a heinous crime in broad daylight.  In fact, until today, no arrests has been made in the horrific crime, despite the
fact, or because of the fact, that the tractor used to hide the bodies belongs to the local government, controlled by the Ampatuans, GMA’s close allies.

The UN Declaration for the Elimination of Violence Against Women calls for all forms violence, including those condoned by the State. GMA must be held accountable, and we must be vigilant in continuing to demand the arrest, thorough investigation, and prosecution of the perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre. Many believe that the massacre was perpetrated by 100 men led by Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., of the Ampatuan clan, which delivered what has been dubbed as the “Maguindanao Miracle” a 100% of the votes for GMA’s slate in the 2007 elections.

Moreover, we must continue to struggle against GMA’s anti-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya II, which provides license for state-sponsored violence against anyone who asserts their democratic rights.  This U.S.-sponsored plan, which calls for the extermination of the “communist insurgency” by 2010, is a formula for continuing impunity for the military and military-sponsored civilian militias to commit human rights violations, especially against those they label as “community-fronts”.

On this 10th anniversary of IDEVAW, GABRIELA- USA recommits to demand an end to U.S. military and financial aid to the GMA regime, who we hold accountable for the illegal abduction and torture of Filipino American woman Melissa Roxas in May of this year, and hundreds of other human rights violations against women and children.

The women of GABRIELA-USA believe that the Ampatuan Massacre is a foreshadow of an escalation in the violence and human rights violations to be expected this election season, and should be a reminder for all, including the international community, to
participate in ensuring clean and honest elections.

This IDEVAW, GABRIELA USA condemns the relentless violence of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime against the Filipino people, especially women and children.  We stand in solidarity with women worldwide who are facing violence and will continue fighting for the day in which aggression towards women will no longer be tolerated.  And we will work pro-actively to support the election of genuine women’s representatives who will be our partners in this effort.

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By CHERYLL D. FIEL
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY — Election violence erupted this early right in the heart of Maguindanao, a province long wrought by political killings.

Forty persons, including lawyers and journalists on their way to Maguindanao’s capital town of Shariff Aguak, were reportedly taken by armed men at around 9:30 am on Monday, November 23.

Combined military and police search team recovered 21 bodies in Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town later in the afternoon, according to Colonel Jonathan Ponce, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson.

Ponce said the bodies were believed to be part of the convoy led by Genalyn Mangudadatu, on her way to Shariff Aguak town to file the certificate of candidacy of her husband, Buluan town Vice Mayor Ismael Mangudadatu.

The Buluan vice mayor is running for governor in Maguindanao, a post currently held by incumbent governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr. a close ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Maguindanao, one of the provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, is about 160 kilometers from this city.

Ponce, however, said the bodies have not yet been positively identified. He also believed there could still be more.

Buluan Mayor Ibrahim “Jong” Mangudadatu, brother of the Buluan vice mayor, earlier told the media that among those killed were his relatives, two women lawyers and some media persons. The Buluan mayor earlier went on air over a Cotabato City station to report that six members of the party led by his wife, Genalyn, had been beheaded.

Among the persons initially identified in media reports as missing are Genalyn Tiamzon-Mangudadatu, wife of Buluan vice-mayor, Bai Eden Mangudadatu, vice mayor of Mangudadatu town and sister of the Buluan vice mayor and Lawyers Connie Brizuela and Cynthia Oquindo. NUJP confirmed 12 of their colleagues to have died but did not yet identify the names.

Reports from the NUJP local chapters in Mindanao named the journalists abducted to include a certain Ian Subang, president of a broadcasters’ association in General Santos City; Leah Dalmacio, Gina dela Cruz from General Santos City; Marites Cabutas, print reporter from General Santos City; Bart Maravilla, Bombo Radyo Koronadal chief reporter; Joy Duhay; Henry Araneta of DZRH Cotabato; Andy Teodoro, publisher of a local paper based in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat; Bong Reblando, reporter of Manila Bulletin; Mac-Mac Areola, Jimmy Cabillo and Neneng Montano of radio station DXCP.

“There are still persons who have not been identified, so we are not sure yet if this is the complete list of journalists abducted and beheaded,” the NUJP said.

The Mangudadatus are also a powerful political family in Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao provinces while the Ampatuans have closely been identified with Arroyo.

Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan of ARMM has recently been appointed as regional chairman of Arroyo’s newly-merged Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino-Christian Muslim Democrat (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) political party. He is the son of Andal Ampatuan, the Maguindanao governor.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the abduction and killing, calling it “a brazen challenge” to efforts in strengthening the country’s fragile democracy.

“Running for office and voting are as much exercises of free will and expression as covering and reporting the news,” the NUJP statement said.

NUJP’s statement said the military confirmed the involvement of a mayor and a police officer in the abduction.

“The Ampatuan massacre goes beyond the issue of freedom of the press and of expression and strikes at the very foundations of democracy,” the NUJP statement said. “This incident not only erases all doubts about the Philippines being the most dangerous country for journalists in the world, outside of Iraq, it could very well place the country on the map as a candidate for a failed democracy.”

Buluan mayor Mangudadatu confirmed in a radio interview with the Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation that 12 journalists were killed. He also said that six of those abducted were beheaded.

“If it is true that a local government official and a police officer are involved, then it says a lot about how far government has gone to eradicate the warlord politics that continues to reign over many of our provinces,” the NUJP statement said.

The media group called the hostaging of journalists an “assault to the Constitution” and demanded swift action from the government to resolve the crisis.

“We expect nothing less from this government than the swift apprehension and punishment of everyone involved in this gruesome assault on the national body politic, including the masterminds, regardless of who they might be,” the statement said.

“Anything less would mean that the impunity that has emboldened those who would silence the press has spread to embolden those who would subvert our democracy for their own selfish interests.”

The NUJP demands that the abductors release the hostages, including the journalists, unconditionally.

“Should any harm befall our colleagues, we will hold accountable the civil and security officials of Maguindanao, the ARMM and the national government for their failure to end the culture of violence and warlordism,” the NUJP said. (Cheryll D. Fiel, davaotoday.com)