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Statement of SELDA on the passage of the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013

 

Twenty seven long years after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, a law confirming the atrocities and human rights violations under martial law is finally signed into law.  The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA, which led the filing of the historic class suit by the martial law victims against Ferdinand E. Marcos in a Hawaii court, welcomes the passage of the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

This is another victory of the Martial Law victims in their continuing struggle for justice. Through their relentless efforts, finally and officially recognized are the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who fought the dictatorship and were victims of human rights violations – summary execution, torture, enforced disappearances and all other gross forms of violations. They faced adversity, but took the courage to stand up and defend, not only theirs, but the people’s rights.

The struggle was protracted.  The process was agonizing and tedious. Scores of members of the Philippine Congress, in cahoots with the Marcoses and the military who vehemently opposed the passage of the law, tried to block its passing.  In some instances, they deliberately delayed the process or watered down the crafted bill.

Now, with a regime posturing as a “champion of human rights” and trying to score credits for its passage, the law was passed but mainly due to the persistent efforts of the martial law victims themselves.  Tirelessly working hand-in-hand with progressive party-lists and likeminded legislators, the bill was finalized and ratified.  Generally, the law is acceptable to the victims and survivors of martial law.

We take this opportunity to commend and express our gratitude to Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño, who stood with us since the filing of the bill, pursuing the most pro-victim provisions, and consistently pushing, on behalf of the victims, the legislature to finally approve the bill. We also appreciate the support of Senators Chiz Escudero and TG Guingona, and Reps. Edcel Lagman and Erin Tañada.

Here and abroad, we were supported by various peace, justice and human rights advocates in the campaign for the bill’s passage. We extend our solidarity and gratefulness to solidarity groups in the United States, Hong Kong and Switzerland who warmly supported and mobilized in the campaign for the passage of the law, as well as in helping the victims every step of the way. We also thank the members of Parliament of Switzerland as well as its mission in Geneva for lending an ear to the victims’ pleas every time we lobby for their support. Most of all, we commend and deeply thank the members of the peace panel and consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who tirelessly asserted, in the process of all peace negotiations with the Philippine government, that the victims of Martial Law should attain justice.

It is with pain and regret for us to witness the passage of this law at a time when many of our fellow victims and colleagues, who took part in the struggle against martial rule, have gone ahead of us. Also, there are still attempts to distort, sometimes even completely erase in the memory of our people, the dark days of the dictatorship. There are those among the architects of martial law who remain scot-free and unpunished. The most notorious culprits have been allowed to regain their political power and influence.

Under the law, the Philippine government is obliged to recognize and give reparation to the victims of human rights violations during martial law. While all the sacrifices and heroism of the Filipino people during martial law is priceless, we see these both as an affirmation to the people who struggle for justice, and as a warning to those who will continue to impose fascism and terror upon the Filipino people.

We dedicate this small victory to all martial law martyrs and heroes who have gone before us. We will continue to honor them, as we ensure that this law shall be implemented to the best interest of the victims and the Filipino people who survived martial law.

We may be jubilant, but we continue to watch with vigilance. To fully ensure that the law will serve the rightful victims and claimants, we will try to make sure that the HRV Victims Claims Board shall be composed of individuals who, in one way or another, know and can feel with the victims and have been involved in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorial regime.

We take cognizance that SELDA is part of the recommending entities to the Claims Board. We challenge the administration to appoint nominees of SELDA despite some government officials’ bias given SELDA’s political stands.

Also, it should be ensured that those who are included in the master list of the 9,539 victims and those who will consequently file their claims are those who were genuinely part of the struggle against martial law. We should guard against unnecessary bureaucratic processes and scams which will deprive the victims of just indemnification.

We should also take the opportunity to make the younger generation learn, understand and take on the challenge of having the same daring, vigilance, militancy and commitment to justice and human rights.

It has been 40 years after martial law but human rights violations continue to be committed, and with impunity. There has not been much change except for the worse under the dispensations that succeeded the U.S.-Marcos regime. The Marcos laws and executive orders were retained by the succeeding administrations.  The militarist mindset and fascist machinery remain intact especially with the continuous implementation of the US-backed counter-insurgency programs

As long as human rights violations continue, with or without martial law, we stand with the people for justice, democracy and human rights. NEVER AGAIN will we allow the enemies of the people to perpetuate the same injustices, oppression and exploitation against the majority of the Filipino people.  ###

References:

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson, 0917-561-6800

 

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The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) is an organization of former political prisoners in the Philippines. Founded on December 4, 1984, SELDA was initiated by newly-released political prisoners of the martial law period.  SELDA’s primary task is to work for the release of all political prisoners and to see to it that humane treatment of those who are still in detention are complied with by the Philippine authorities.  SELDA advocates justice for current and former political prisoners.  It calls for the mobilisation of resources in support of political prisoners, former detainees and their families.  It carries out legislative advocacy for the indemnification and rehabilitation of political prisoners. SELDA goes into partnership and builds solidarity with concerned individuals and groups for the freedom and welfare of political prisoners and all victims of tyranny. 
 
SELDA National Office: 2/F, Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets, 
Brgy. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City 1101, Philippines
Tel: 632-4342837 Fax: 632-4354146 

 

 

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

Federico “Boy” Dominguez was born on June 9, 1953 in Tangkulan, Bukidnon, Mindanao Philippines. He traces his descendents on to the Manobo and Mandaya indigenous peoples of Mindanao, and the Tagalog ethnic group in Luzon. He was raised in Davao City but spent his vacation in his parents’ community in Davao Oriental where he experienced some of the social events performed by his Mandaya relatives as well as several indigenous groups in Luzon.

He took up architecture and fine arts at the University of Mindanao and the University of the Philippines in Diliman respectively. He has been involved with various governmental and non-governmental organizations, and people’s organizations as a free lance artist doing posters, illustrations and layout designs on publications, mural painting, and production and stage designing.

The subjects of his works vary from social conditions that are happening in the Philippines, to everyday life of the Filipinos, and to a union of farmers across the world.  Boy’s illustrations are social commentary on what are happening to the nation, whether its about Imperialists   dumping their goods on the Philippine economy or Indigenous issues. His works are seen to have vibrant colors and texture that make the audience feel the emotions and mood of the subjects.

His favorite hobbies are playing the blues harp and guitar, and swimming. He loves folk rock and roll. He is a member of Tumbang Preso, a multi-media organization which renders services in visual, musical, performing and literary arts. He is currently based in Quezon City with his wife and three children.

A Primer on the Illegal Arrest, Detention and Torture of 43 Health Workers

Who are the 43 health workers?

The 43 health workers, also known as “Morong 43”, are health professionals and volunteer community health workers who were arrested in Rizal on February 6, following a raid by the combined forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The 43 were part of a Community First Responders’ Health Training sponsored jointly by the Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED) and the Council for Health and Development (CHD). The training was held at the residential compound located at 266 E. Dela Paz St., Brgy. Maybangcal, Morong, Rizal. The compound is owned by Dr. Melecia Velmonte, chairperson of COMMED’s Board of Directors and a renowned and respected infectious disease specialist and a professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Medicine.

On February 6, 2010 at 6:15 am, joint elements of the 202nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (202nd IBPA) headed by its commander, Colonel Aurelio Baladad and the Rizal Provincial Police (PNP) headed by Police Superintendent Marion Balonglong raided the l compound of Dr. Velmonte.

Among those arrested were 2 doctors, 1 registered nurse and 2 midwives and 38 volunteer community health workers.

They are :

1. Merry Clamor y Mia, 33 y/o, medical doctor, CHD staff
2. Alexis Montes y Sulinap, 62 y/o, medical doctor, Commed volunteer
3. Gary Liberal y Apuhin, 43 y/o, registered nurse, AHW
4. Ma. Teresa Quinawayan y Roncales, 26 y/o midwife, CHD staff
5. Lydia “Del” Ayo Obera, 61 y/o, AHW staff & health educator
6. Reynaldo Macabenta y Torres, 30 y/o, CHD staff
7. Angela Doloricon y Manogon, 50 y/o, health educator
8. Delia Ocasla y Medrano, 46 y/o, community health worker
9. Janice Javier y Quiatchon, 22 y/o, community health worker
10. Franco Remoroso y Bilugan, 28 y/o community health worker
11. Linda Racel Otanez community health worker
12. Pearl Irene Martinez y de los Reyes, 25 y/o community health worker
13. Eleonor Carandang y Orgena, 30 y/o community health worker
14. Danny Pi�ero, community health worker
15. Ray-om Among, community health worker
16. Emily Marquez y Manguba, 23 y/ocommunity health worker
17. Emilia Marquez y Manguba,20 y/o, community health worker
18. Jane Balleta y Beltran 27 y/o, community health worker
19. Glenda Murillo y Cervantes, 26 y/o, community health worker
20. Eulogio “Ely” Castillo, community health worker
21. Jovy Ortiz y Quidor, 23 y/o, community health worker
22. Samson Castillo y Mayuga, 42 y/o, community health worker
23. Miann Oseo y Edjao, 31 y/o, community health worker
24. Sylvia Labrador y Pajanustan, 43 y/o, community health worker
25. Lilibeth Donasco, 24 y/o, community health worker
26. Jenilyn Vatar y Pizarro, 19 y/o, community health worker
27. Ramon de la Cruz y Santos, 21 y/o, community health worker
28. Jaqueline Gonzales, community health worker
29. Maria Elena Serato y Edeo, 35 y/o, community health worker
30. Ma. Mercedes Castro y Icban, 27 y/o, community health worker
31. Leah de Luna y Bautista, 28 y/o, community health worker
32. Judilyn Oliveros Y Abuyan, 26 y/o, community health worker
33. Yolanda Yaun y Bellesa, 51 y/o, registered midwife
34. Edwin Dematera y Bustamante, 37 y/o, community health worker
35. Cherielyn Riocasa Tawagon, 31 y/o, community health worker
36. John Mark Barrientos y Roldan, 20 y/o, community health worker
37. Mark Escartin y Esperida, 20 y/o, community health worker
38. Julius Duano, 30 y/o, community health worker
39. Ronilo Espera, 31 y/o, community health worker
40.Romeo de la Cruz, 53 y/o, community health worker
41. Valentino Paulino y Abale, 35 y/o, community health worker
42. Ace Millena, community health worker
43. Lorelyn Saligumba, community health worker

Why were they arrested?

The arresting authorities claim that the 43 health workers were caught in the act of undergoing training on bomb-making and that they are members of the New People’s Army (NPA). The arresting authorities claim to have found firearms and explosives in the premises where the 43 were staying.

The military allege that they found C4 explosives, a pistol with seven bullets, three grenades (one allegedly found under a pillow) and some improvised landmines beside the grenade. However the search was conducted without being witnessed by Dr. Velmonte, any other house occupant, or independent witnesses such as baranggay officials. According to witnesses, the military conducted the search in the compound premises only after all the victims as well as the house owners and their house help were already outside the buildings.

Were the arrests legal?

No, the arrests were illegal. These were based on a patently defective February 5, 2010 search warrant issued by Judge Cesar Mangrobang of Branch 22 of the Imus, Cavite Regional Trial Court. The warrant was issued against a certain Mario Condes of Barangay Maybangcal, Morong, Rizal on allegations of illegal possession of firearms. It did not specify any address except for the name of the barangay. The house raided was not that of Mario Condes but that of Dr. Velmonte. There is no Mario Condes among the 43 arrested.

Were there violations of the rights of the 43 health workers?

Yes, there were gross violations of the right to due process, the right against illegal searches and seizures and the right against torture.

1. Violations in securing the search warrant

As stated earlier, the search warrant was patently defective and issued with grave abuse of discretion. The warrant did not indicate any exact address and in effect covered the entire baranggay, thus violating the rights of the accused against unreasonable searches and seizures. The house that was searched was not indicated in the warrant and did not belong to “Mario Condes”.

2. Violations during arrest

The 43 were arrested without any warrants of arrest; they were not informed of the reasons for their arrest nor where they were being taken. All throughout they were denied the right to call a lawyer.

All the training participants were frisked and ordered to line up outside the house. They were immediately handcuffed, interrogated and photographed by the military. Their personal belongings were confiscated. The military used old shirts and packaging tape which they brought with them to blindfold all the participants before loading them onto several trucks.

3. Violations during detention

For five days, the 43 were denied their right to counsel During the first 36 hours of their detention, the 43 were not informed of the reasons why they were being held. They were subjected to continuous interrogation and were being forced to admit that they were members of the NPA. Their fingerprints were taken while they were blindfolded.

Only during the inquest proceedings on the second day were they finally informed of the charges being levelled against them. The prosecutor from the Department of Justice (DOJ), State Prosecutor II Romeo Senson, simply called out their names, then read the charges against them. The 43 were denied their right to counsel even during the inquest proceedings.

There were several accounts of torture and ill-treatment as attested to by the detainees and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). The AFP violated several provisions of Republic Act No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law: both physical and psychological torture were inflicted on the 43. These include: being blindfolded and handcuffed for 36 hours; being subjected to multiple and prolonged tactical interrogation with death threats, harassment and intimidation; being deprived of sleep and urgent medication; being manhandled and beaten; being denied legal counsel for days; being denied medical treatment; being coerced to wrongly make admissions and implicate others; and being subjected to various indignities during their captivity. Some were held incommunicado and some remain in solitary confinement up to now.

Some detainees who were blindfolded and handcuffed were also subjected to the indignity of having their captors lower their pants and underwear just so they could relieve themselves.

The 43 remain detained in a military camp when they should have been transferred to a civilian detention facility especially after charges were filed against them in court.

Have the 43 health workers been charged in court?

Despite all the violations of due process committed by the AFP, PNP and the DOJ, charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives and violations of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) gun ban were filed against the 43 at Branch 78 of the Rizal Regional Trial Court in Morong. The charges were only filed on February 11, five days after they were arrested. Forty of the accused face non-bailable offenses (illegal possession of explosives). Clearly, the purpose of the hasty filing of said charges is to attempt to cure violations of due process and justify the continued illegal detention of the 43.

Were the health workers really members of the NPA? Were they really making bombs at the time of their arrest?

The military has made the sweeping accusation that the 43 are members of the NPA. Their proof consists of the firearms and explosives allegedly found in the premises of Dr. Velmonte. But the accounts of Dr. Velmonte and her household give sufficient ground to believe that the firearms and explosives were planted by the military/police.

Mere membership in the NPA cannot be used as basis for a warrantless arrest. Jurisprudence tells us that an overt act or an actual crime (in this case, taking up arms against the government) must first be committed to justify an arrest. There was no shoot-out at the time of the arrest; the 43 and Dr. Velmonte’s household were either doing their morning ablutions or getting ready for breakfast. It is a stretch of the imagination to claim that the 43 health workers were caught in the act of making bombs as early as 6:00 am when they were arrested.

What the military did was to fabricate and plant evidence and then accuse the health workers as NPA members, to justify their warrantless arrest and illegal detention.

The military has since concocted many versions of who the 43 really are. At first, the military alleged that the 43 were not health workers but bomb-makers. Later, the military would allege that the 43 were indeed health workers but were also undergoing training in making explosives. The military now calls them “medics” of the NPA.

The military also goes on to make the preposterous claim that Dr. Alexis Montes, a 62-year old surgeon, is a member of the NPA Special Operations Group tasked to assassinate Gen. Jovito Palparan.

According to CHR Chair Leila de Lima, even assuming for the sake of argument that the 43 health workers are NPA members, they still have the right to due process, including the presumption of innocence and the right to be free from torture and other degrading treatment.

Have the 43 health workers taken legal action? What has been done to secure their release?

The health workers through their relatives and their organizations have filed before the Supreme Court a petition for the writ of habeas corpus last February 9. The Supreme Court ordered the AFP to produce the 43 at the hearing at the Court of Appeals on February 12, 2010. The military defied the SC by not bringing the 43 to the scheduled hearing citing alleged security reasons and lack of time to prepare. The AFP received a strong rebuke from the CA and was ordered to produce the 43 at another hearing on February 15. As of this writing, the CA has yet to issue its decision on the petition.

A complaint has also been filed before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), asking it to investigate the allegations of rights abuses committed against the 43. The CHR has issued the order for the AFP to present the Morong 43 before the Commission in a scheduled hearing on March 18.

Who are supporting campaign to free the 43?

The campaign “Free the 43” is supported by a broad range of sectors of society, from colleagues in the health professions, lawyers, lawmakers, political leaders across party lines, religious formations, human rights advocates, artists, and advocates and beneficiaries of community-based health programs where the community health workers render their services. It is a national and international campaign calling on the Arroyo government to immediately release the Morong 43 and drop all charges against them. It is a campaign that supports the legal defense of the 43 and undertakes advocacy work and mobilizations. The campaign also supports the immediate needs of the families of the 43 in terms of visits, psycho-social counseling and other forms of concrete assistance.

Why are there volunteer community health workers?

In the Philippines, where seven out of 10 Filipinos die without ever seeing a doctor and where public health services are sorely lacking or inaccessible, non-government organizations (NGOs) like CHD and COMMED play an important role by bringing health services to the people. This means that these non-government organizations try to reach poor and underserved communities, set up community-based health programs, organize health committees, and train community health workers (CHWs). This way, the poor people living in urban and rural areas can attend to their health needs in the absence or dearth of government services.

For 37 years, community-based health program practitioners have been training volunteers who would like to become CHWs regardless of their educational attainment. CHD, for example, has trained tens of thousands of community health workers nationwide. Training participants are selected by the people themselves with little regard to their educational and socio-economic background nor their religious or political beliefs, so as long as they commit themselves to serving the people in their communities.

The Community First Responders’ Health Training is one of the courses CHD offers to community health workers. The training is in response to the assessed needs of the communities after the disastrous effects of the lack of disaster preparedness in the wake of tropical storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng”. The community health workers are also the frontliners in providing health services during disasters, so additional health skills are needed for them to be able to respond adequately, especially since many communities have no access to government health services.

Is this the first time doctors, health workers and volunteers have become victims of human rights abuse?

No, there have been similar attacks against health workers in the past. These can be better understood in the context of the government’s counterinsurgency programs, most especially the Arroyo regime’s US-supported Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) or Operation Freedom Watch.

The illegal arrest and detention of 43 doctors and health workers is directly linked to OBL. The latter has given rise to a rash of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, illegal arrests and detention and mass displacement of poor communities. Under OBL the military has been given a carte blanche by the Arroyo regime to disregard the most basic tenets of due process and human rights. For the AFP, once a person is accused of being an “insurgent” or “terrorist”, he or she is guilty until proven innocent. This is the kind of militarist mindset that the Arroyo regime has in pursuing its counter-insurgency program.

The military has a track record of targeting several other doctors and health personnel.

Just recently, on February 23, 2010, Ronald Capitania, a community health worker of Sipalay, Negros Occidental was shot by two unidentified bonnet-clad men on a motorcycle. Luckily, he survived the attack.

On February 11, 2010, Benjei Faldas, a community health worker in Davao del Sur was reportedly charged with frustrated murder following the wounding of a CAFGU member in an encounter with the New People’s Army. He is prevented from performing his duties as a community health worker.

In July last year, Dr. Reynaldo Lesaca Jr., a respected psychiatrist at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute and chairperson emeritus of the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), filed a complaint before the CHR regarding his inclusion, together with four Davao-based doctors, in the military’s “Order of Battle” thus making him vulnerable to being targeted for “neutralization” by military and paramilitary “death squads”.

This was a month after another Davao-based physician, Dr. Rogelio Pe�era, was shot and killed by motorcycle-riding assailants near his house in Davao City.

In 2008, Dr. Oliver Gimenes, a community-based doctor serving farmers’ communities in Cebu and Bohol, was placed under surveillance by the military and was vilified as a “rebel sympathizer”. He was later charged with murder in a questionable criminal case stemming from an NPA raid of a military detachment.

In 2007, sisters Emilia and Maricris Quirante, both community health workers of Guihulngan Mountain Clinic in Negros Oriental were arrested for trumped-up charges of child abuse and rebellion.

In July 2006, unidentified armed men ambushed Dr. Chandu Claver and his family in Kalinga province. The attack killed Dr. Claver’s wife, Alyce, seriously injured Dr. Claver himself, and traumatized their young daughter.

These attacks share several characteristics: they are politically-motivated; they are directed against those who serve poor communities or underserved sectors; the government attempts to justify these attacks by red-baiting the victims; and they have all been all perpetrated with impunity.

As the government’s self-imposed deadline to defeat or “render inconsequential” the communist-led armed revolutionary movement draws near, the military will even be more hard-pressed to show results. Thus, human rights violations are bound to continue and even escalate.

What are the implications of the arrest of the 43 health workers?

The illegal arrest, illegal detention and torture committed against the 43 health workers by the AFP are clear violations of human rights. The methods resorted to by the military are clearly unconstitutional, show a blatant disregard for the rule of law and pose a grave threat to ordinary Filipinos everywhere.

This incident is disturbing for health professionals and health science students as it imperils the people’s initiatives and efforts to build their own capacity and capability to manage their health needs in the absence of adequate public service.

For health professionals who may be considering the option of public service, this incident has a chilling effect. For the community-oriented academe, this single act of the military could undo decades of encouraging graduates to stay in the Philippines and create the necessary exposure and experience in community-based health trainings

This will deprive the people of much needed health services which will worsen the already deplorable state of health.

What are our demands and calls?

The campaign “FREE THE 43” demands the immediate and unconditional release of the 43 health workers who were illegally arrested in Morong, Rizal and are currently illegally detained in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal. We also demand that all the false charges against them be dropped.

We hold to account all the government officials involved in the illegal arrest, detention and torture of the 43 including those who have command responsibility over the military and police forces directly involved in the incident.

The complaint filed before the CHR states those responsible as:

“The President of the Republic of the Philippines herself, Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is primarily responsible as Commander-in-Chief under the principle of command responsibility because she knew or, owing to the circumstances at the time, should have known that the state forces were committing or about to commit the crimes stated in this complaint.

The public officials and cabinet secretaries also responsible for gross violations of Constitutional rights following the doctrine of command responsibility include National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, the Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno.

Meanwhile, the public officers who are also exercising command responsibility over the 202nd IB, 2nd ID PA and the Rizal Provincial Police, PNP and directly responsible for the illegal search, illegal arrests, physical and mental torture and other blatant violations of the Constitutional rights of the 43 doctors and health workers are Gen. Victor Ibrado, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit, the Commanding General of the Philippine Army; Lt. Gen. Roland Detabali, Commanding General, SOLCOM, Philippine Army; Brig. Gen. Jorge Segovia, Chief of the 2nd Infantry Division, Philippine Army; Col. Aurelio Baladad, Commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army; Lt. Col. Jaime Abawag, Commander of the 16th Infantry Battalion; Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa; and P/Supt. Marion Balonglong of the Rizal Provincial Police.

In the same vein, the Honorable Judge Cesar Mangrobang is also responsible for the issuance of the bogus and constitutionally defective Search Warrant that the military and police officers used to justify the raid of the farmhouse located at 266 Dela Paz St., Brgy. Maybangcal, Morong, Rizal.

State Prosecutor II Romeo Senson, the Department of Justice Prosecutor who conducted the defective inquest of the 43 doctors, nurses and medical workers and issued the Resolution indicting them with trumped-up charges, and Senior Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Severino Ga�a, the reviewing prosecutor who signed the findings of Prosecutor Romeo Senson, and Department of Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera are accountable for their complicity in the efforts to legitimize the military and police’s commission of human rights violations.”

We demand an end to the counter-insurgency program OBL, which has targeted unarmed civilians accused of supporting the NPA, in the name of fighting insurgency.

We call on freedom-loving people to make a stand for human rights and condemn in the strongest terms the human rights violations perpetrated with impunity by the Arroyo government.

(This primer was prepared by Free the 43 Health Workers)

Article printed from Bulatlat: http://www.bulatlat.com/main

A peep of my submission  for Factsheet art show. Come through, check out the dope pieces from the Philippines and here, and learn something new!!!

News Release

December 13, 2009


Reference: Atty. Arnedo Valera, Never Again to Martial Law (NAML), email: neveragaintomartiallaw@gmail.com


US COALITION AGAINST MARTIAL LAW CLAIMS VICTORY WITH LIFTING OF PROCLAMATION 1959 AND VOWS TO PURSUE ALL DEMANDS


Never Again to Martial Law (NAML), a US coalition launched on Human Rights Day opposing martial law in Maguindanao, is calling the lifting of Proclamation 1959 a victory for all those who condemned President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s declaration. NAML will continue to build its network on the ground nationally to call for a full restoration of civilian authority and the removal of all vestiges of martial rule in Maguindanao and other parts of the Philippines.

NAML believes the building pressure in the Philippines and internationally on Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) to lift martial law played a part in her decision.

“The lifting of Proclamation 1959 is a way for GMA to save face. International awareness about GMA’s arming of her warlord allies and the illegality of her declaration of martial law is growing. She may have lifted martial law to avoid embarrassment and questions at the upcoming Copenhagen conference and other international fora,” said Dr. Dante Simbulan, an NAML convenor and former political prisoner under Marcos.

In addition, NAML will remain on guard, preparing for the possibility of the re-imposition of martial law in Maguindanao or in other parts of the Philippines. “We believe GMA may have declared martial law to ‘test the tolerance,’ so to speak, of the Filipino people and the international community for it. For all we know, we could see it re-emerge in another form in the future. We must remember Marcos also lifted martial law temporarily in 1981 around the visit of the Pope to the Philippines,” said Atty. Arnedo Valera, international human rights lawyer.

NAML convenors    will also focus efforts on ensuring a clean and honest elections throughout the Philippines in May 2010 and lobbying within the US given the attention drawn to the Arroyo administration’s practice of arming “death squads.”

According to Professor Ligaya McGovern of Indiana University, “We must remember that with or without martial law, there exists a climate of repression and impunity in the Philippines that allows for gruesome acts like the Maguindanao massacre to occur. We will continue to do what is needed to stop human rights violations and to achieve justice for the victims of the massacre and all other victims of human rights in the Philippines.”

NAML will continue to generate signatures on its petition and to build local NAML chapters.

To view the petition, go to http://www.gopetition.com/online/32771.html


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

(The Philippine Star) Updated December 07, 2009 12:00 AM

ANGELES CITY, Philippines – President Arroyo can reassume the presidency after she is elected a member of the House of Representatives through a 1947 law on presidential succession, according to a lawyer.

Lawyer Ernesto Franciso said under Republic Act No. 181, when neither the president-elect nor the vice president-elect shall have qualified, and the Senate president and the speaker have not yet been elected, Congress shall elect an acting president from among the senators and members of the House.

That acting president shall remain in office until the president-elect or the vice president-elect shall have been qualified, he added.

Francisco said Mrs. Arroyo’s allies in Congress can elect her as acting president after she wins a seat in the House when the people fail to elect a president or vice president because of some events like the breakdown of poll automation, vacancy in the post of Senate president and the speaker on June 30 next year.

“RA 181 was not expressly repealed by the 1973 Constitution, and its provisions are not inconsistent with the provisions of the 1987 Constitution on presidential succession,” he said.

Francisco said that since the Constitution provides that Congress can choose who can act as president in case of permanent incapacity of the president until a new president is elected, any doubt on the validity of RA 181 may be remedied through a new law with exactly the same provisions.

Mrs. Arroyo’s election as acting president would be easy because under RA 181, the election shall be done by Congress in joint session, not necessarily with the Senate and the House of Representatives voting separately, he added.

Francisco said Mrs. Arroyo could remain president while the president-elect and the vice president-elect have not qualified.

“Also, it must be considered that any legal question on the matter of presidential succession that may arise on June 30, 2010 will be resolved by a Supreme Court filled with GMA appointees,” he said.

‘GMA can do an Adams’

Mrs. Arroyo can do what US President John Quincy Adams had done in the 19th century when he ran for Congress and won after completing his term as president, a lawmaker said yesterday.

Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas said the sixth US president was elected representative from Massachusetts after leaving the White House.

Adams served as a member of Congress for the last 17 years of his life, he added.

Gullas said Andrew Johnson, the 17th US president, was elected senator six years after his presidency.

“If Mrs. Arroyo does not wish to retire from active public service, that is her prerogative,” he said.

Gullas said suggestions that as a lawmaker Mrs. Arroyo could work on Charter change to shift to a parliamentary system of government so she could become prime minister are “overly speculative.”

“Once the people elect a new president next year, there will be a totally new order,” he said.

“Everyone will revolve around the new president. Mrs. Arroyo will just be one of 282 members of the House. Her vote will be as good as mine.”

Mrs. Arroyo has filed her certificate of candidacy for representative of Pampanga’s second district.

She joined three other Arroyos aspiring for congressional seats: her younger son Diosdado of Camarines Sur’s second district, brother-in-law Jose Ignacio of Negros Occidental’s fifth district, and sister-in-law Ma. Lourdes of the party-list group Ang Kasangga. – Ding Cervantes, Jess Diaz

–Atty. Theodore Te, UP College of Law

Which part of “Never Again” did you fail to understand?

The decretal portion of Proc 1959, as read by the Executive Secretary:

THEREFORE, I, GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, PRESIDENT OF RP, DO HEREBY PROCLAIM AS FOLLOWS:

SEC. 1 – THERE IS HEREBY DECLARED A STATE OF MARTIAL LAW IN THE PROVINCE OF MAGUINDANAO
EXCEPT FOR THE IDENTIFIED AREAS OF THE MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT AS REFERRED TO IN THE
IMPLEMENTING OPERATIONAL GUIDELINES OF THE GRP-MILF AGREEMENT ON THE GENERAL CESSATION OF HOSTLITIES.

SEC. 2 – THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS WILL LIKEWISE BE SUSPENDED IN THE SAID AREAS FOR THE DURATION OF THE STATE OF MARTIAL LAW.

DONE IN THE CITY OF MANILA, THIS 4TH DAY OF DECEMEBER, 2009. SIGNED, GLORIA M. ARROYO.

What is immediately apparent is that there is no period specified and none of the grounds in the Constitution would fit–unless these grounds are yet to happen according to good old military inteligence.

Meantime, it is left to both Houses of Congress–this time clearly voting jointly (ehem ehem ehem, can you say “cha cha” as well as “choo choo”?)–and the 93% Gloria-appointed Court to decide on this issue.

————
The relevant portion of the 1987 Constitution (which, if you put side by side with the proclamation, will clearly show the infirmity of the declaration) —

“ART. VI, SECTION 18. The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.

The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without any need of a call.

The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing.

A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ.

The suspension of the privilege of the writ shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with the invasion.

During the suspension of the privilege of the writ, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.”


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. ###