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Press Statement

December 5, 2009

Statement on the declaration of Martial Law in Maguindanao

The declaration of a state of Martial Law in Maguindanao sets a most dangerous precedent for the nation. Not since September 21, 1972 has there been any declaration of Martial Law, not even during the years of tumult under the Aquino, Estrada and, prior to this, the Arroyo regime. For the first time since 1972, the writ of habeas corpus has been suspended in an area in the Philippines.

We reiterate our call for justice for the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre but we cannot support measures that are both dangerous and questionable.

The alleged purpose of Proclamation 1959 is the arrest of the Ampatuan family members who are implicated in the November 23 Ampatuan, Maguindanao massacre. The regime justifies the declaration in saying that civilian institutions, especially the courts, are no longer functioning and that the dispensation of justice would not be possible.

The Constitution says Martial Law can only be declared during an invasion or during a rebellion. The failure of civilian government institutions, as in the case of the local government offices and courts in Maguindanao, cannot be used as a pretext for declaring Martial Law. The difficulty of gathering evidence, securing warrants and enforcing arrests also cannot be used as a basis for the declaration.

We demand the lifting of Martial Law in Maguindanao and the restoration of the civilian government institutions. Martial Law cannot solve the problem of state-sponsored warlordism and violence in the province. Martial Law will always lead to abuses because those implementing it, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, have very poor human rights records.

The national government must endeavor to restore the civilian administrative and judicial institutions in the province.

If Mrs. Arroyo refuses to lift the declaration, we call on Congress to exercise its powers to revoke Martial Law. Mrs. Arroyo is required by the Constitution to report to Congress within 48 hours. It falls on Congress, though dominated by Arroyo loyalists, to revoke this dangerous declaration. We must not wait for the maximum 60-day period allowed by the Constitution for the enforcement of martial rule. The leaders of the Lower House and Senate must convene within 24 hours to address this issue.

That Martial Law has been declared in a province less than six months before the national elections raises fresh fears that similar scenarios can also follow, thus severely undermining the conduct of the 2010 polls to benefit the incumbent president. We must not allow this scenario to be replicated in other regions for whatever pretexts. If Arroyo can declare martial law for reasons not defined in the constitution, imagine what she can do before the 2010 elections.

The Arroyo regime and its police and military have to be made accountable for its role in arming the Ampatuan family. The recently discovered arms cache in the Ampatuan residence shows the complicity of the AFP, PNP and the regime in supplying weapons to the local warlords. With this kind of track record, how do you trust the AFP and PNP with the vast powers of Martial rule? This kind of corruption and complicity cannot be solved by the declaration of Martial rule. l

We have learned the bitter lessons of Martial Law even as we are acutely aware of the propensity for abuse by the current regime. As we continue to demand justice for the victims of the Ampatuan massacre, we call on the public to remain vigilant at this time against possible abuses on civilians that may stem from this declaration. ###

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/

Top Stories / Top Stories

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/topstories/topstories/view/20090602-208434/FilAm-activist-accuses-military-of-torture

FilAm activist accuses military of torture

Seeks Supreme Court protection

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, Thea Alberto, Tetch Torres

Reporter

INQUIRER.net

Posted date: June 02, 2009

MANILA, Philippines– (UPDATE 3) A Filipino-American activist who went missing for six days has claimed that she was tortured by military operatives and asked the Supreme Court for protection.

In her petition for a Writ of Amparo, Melissa Roxas said she was detained blindfolded and in handcuffs in what she presumed was Fort Magsaysay in Laur town, Nueva Ecija province, a major military camp in the north.

There, Roxas said her captors repeatedly told her that she was being held because she was a member of the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army).

Fort Magsaysay is over an hour-long drive from La Paz town, Tarlac province, where Roxas and two other left-wing activists, Juanito Carabeo and Edward Jandoc, were abducted last May 19. Jandoc remains missing.

Named respondents in Roxas’ petition were: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Victor Ibrado, Philippine National Police Chief Director General Jesus Verzosa, and Army Chief Lieutenant General Delfin Bangit.

Roxas’ lawyer, Rex Fernandez, filed the petition before the high tribunal on Tuesday.

“The distance of the travel and the sounds heard by petitioner [Roxas] in the place where the petitioner and the two men were brought, as well as the buildings described by petitioner, are places inside Fort Magsaysay,” according to the petition.

Roxas recounted her ordeal in the petition, saying: “I heard construction activities—blowtorching, hammering and the construction bustle—and these stopped in the late afternoon and I also heard gun firing as though in a firing range and planes taking off and landing and it was loud and I could also hear goats bleating.”

The activist said she slept light on her first night there, and in the morning, she was interrogated without being served breakfast or lunch. She said she was also not allowed to see a lawyer.

“I was asked repeatedly if I knew why I was there and was told by them that I was abducted because I was a member of the CPP-NPA,” she said.

She said her captors told her that “it was because of people like me who are costing the government so much money and people like me are the ones who are making it difficult for the government.”

Roxas said several men took turns in interrogating her, including a certain RC and a certan Dex, whom she called as her “religious interrogators” because they only discussed religion and the evils of communism to her.

She said she sought for a certain Rose, the female in the next barracks who helped her take a bath, with the plan of finally talking to her, “to delay the expected torture.”

Throughout the interrogation, Roxas refused to talk and kept telling the men that she had rights.

“I did not answer and he would hit me on the chest strongly and I would lose breath and gasped for air after and then he would press my throat with his thumb and say ‘Huh…huh…huh!’ and I would gag and then he would hit me on my jaws, ringing my ears and numbing my jaws,” Roxas said.

“I would see a flash of white bright light and ringing in my ears and again the pressure to my throat with the ‘Huh … huh…huh.’ And saying to me, ‘ayaw mo pa din magsasalita [you still don’t want to talk]’ and then punched me in my rib cage and I crumpled but the other men forced me up. This torture continued and every time I crumpled the other men would force me up,” she said in a sworn affidavit.

Roxas continued, “I was having a streaming thought that I was going to die there and then, they held my feet and my hands down and doubled up plastic bags were pulled down on my head and face and closed on my neck and I started to suffocate and I could not breath anymore and I was seeing white and thinking I was going to die and then he released the hold and I could breathe but I was faint and weak [lantang lanta] and he patted me in the back and several men carried me to my cell.”

She said she was asked to sign a document and when she refused to, she was brought to another room where the interrogator “gripped and pressed my right shoulder hard.”

“It was very painful because there was a dislocation and he knew I had that dislocation and when he was telling me that I was hardheaded he pounded his pointer finger on my forehead and it hurt,” she said.

When she was released, Roxas said her captors gave her a SIM card so that they could contact her. As they dropped her off a few feet from her house, she said her captors also warned her against contacting the human rights group Karapatan.

She said her abductors also warned her that they would monitor all her movements. They also took her memory card, iPod music player, laptop, journal, sphygmomanometer, stethoscope and P15,000 in cash.

“I was so afraid to go out believing that they were just around monitoring me that I just stayed inside the room not even going out of that room…” she said.

Roxas said her cousin threw away the SIM card but she kept the clothes, handcuffs, and a piece of paper containing an email address and password that her captors had created for her, which would be used as evidence.

In her affidavit, Roxas said that at the time of abduction, the armed men “punched repeatedly at my right rib cage” while her two companions were “blindfolded and taped at the mouth and herded to a blue van.”

In six days of captivity, Roxas said she “was always blindfolded and handcuffed even in my sleep,” except when she took a bath.

Roxas said she suffered extreme physical and mental torture with her abductors constantly taunting her and even warning her she would be executed anytime.

Roxas said she was strangled several times when she refused to answer questions about her affiliations and she was even called Maita once, which supposedly referred to a Canadian activist.

“A fist struck me at my upper sternum and it hurt and then a thumb was pressed strongly to my throat, making me suffocate for quite a time and when he released the pressure I gagged and I coughed and then he struck me with his fist on my left jaw ringing my ears and numbing my jaw,” she said in her affidavit.

“I prepared for the worst,” she added, however maintaining vigilance and taking note of the sounds around her.

Roxas said she was even subjected to a “religious interrogator” and made to drink an “orange soda” that made her groggy just to convince her to speak on her supposed connection with the NPA.

Roxas however said she is a member of Bayan-USA and not of the NPA.

After days of ordeal, Roxas was brought back to her home but was warned that her abductors will continue to monitor her moves.

“RC [abductor] told me that they will be monitoring all my actions and something bad will happen to me if I do not cooperate that made me more afraid and I did what they told me,” she said.

“There is credible basis tod say that Melissa was abducted by the military as part of the government’s counter-insurgency operations. The abduction and torture were clear violations of her rights. It is despicable and those involved must be made accountable,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, Jr.

Reyes said that the matter has been brought to the attention of the US embassy in Manila.

Roxas bore bruises when she was surfaced last week, said Doctor Reggie Pumagas of the Health Action for Human Rights.

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