PHILIPPINES: Two human rights defenders threatened to be killed


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-106-2010
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Human rights defenders, Threats and intimidation,

Dear Friends, 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes with deep concern regarding the continuing threats to two human rights defenders. Both of them have received letters containing messages threatening to kill them in separate incidents. They are being told that their days are numbered and a hireling has been paid to kill them. These threats cannot be taken lightly because in most cases those who had been threatened had been subsequently killed. 

CASE 1: 

In the morning of April 9, 2010, Yolanda Pineda had received a letter given to her by her eldest daughter who found the letter. The letter, which had black ribbon on it, bore the name “Let Pineda”, which is Yolanda’s nickname written on it. The sender was supposedly a certain Ka Diego Magtanggol. The message in the letter, which was written in Tagalog, has been unofficially translated below as:

“We are giving you reasonable time after receiving this notice to clear your name. Your failure to comply would mean you are not interested in clearing your name and it will mean a bold forceful move or DEATH!”

The sender claimed to have known Yolanda and accuses her of having connection with an illegal armed group, the Marxist Leninist Party of the Philippines (MLPP-RHB / Marxista Leninista Partido ng Pilipinas – Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan), who was giving training and education. The letter further claimed apart from being a member of the group, she also continuously participates in demonstration as a member of the Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD) Movement for Nationalism and Democracy). 

Days after receiving the letter, on April 14 between 6:30to 7pm, about eight houses away from Yolanda’s residence two unidentified men on a motorcycle approached Richard Absalon, a health worker in the Barangay. The two asked him: “Do you know let Pineda? Where does she live?” Richard, replied, “I know Let Pineda, but why should I tell you? I don’t even know you”. The two men left. They were described as wearing camouflage uniforms, civilian clothes and helmets. 

At the time, Yolanda had just taken part in a press conference which the KPD and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) had conducted. The conference was to oppose the heavy military presence in the area. However, it was only two days later, April 16, that Richard informed Yolanda about the incident. 


Yolanda Pineda is a day care teacher for Antonio Day Care Center in Barangay San Antonio, Lubao. When the military established an army detachment adjacent to the day care center where she was teaching, she had been very critical against it since June 2008. Since then she has been actively demanding the removal of the detachment. She had also organized the parents of the preschool students in joining her. 

She also led in the submission of a petition letter the filed with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Local Government Units (LGUs) which demanded the pull out of the military detachment. It is strongly believed that this was the reason why the army attached to the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) had subjected her to continuing harassment and intimidation. 

The KAISAKA (Pagkakaisa ng Kababaihan para sa Kalayan/ Unity of Women for Freedom) is a national organization of a group of women and a member organization of KPD. It has organised work in Central Luzon and particularly in Pampanga. It is engage in arousing, organising and mobilising women on issues affecting the sector of women and other issues that directly affect the women and communities. 

CASE 2: 

Below is the full text of the unofficial translation of the hand written sworn statement by the victim, Bernardino Patigas, given to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC): 

I am Bernardino Patigas, nickname Toto, a former organiser of fishermen in one of our districts in the province and now the secretary general of the Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights (NNAHRA). 

In November 2009, I have received a letter from a person who claims to have known me. In the letter, it wrote: “Beware because the people led by Efren Amarilla will kill you. Efren is a member of an organisation (Guardians) established by the military”. 

I don’t have the letter with me because I’m already used to this type of threats. I have received many threats; however, in January 2010, I have received another letter containing threat. The letter said that Efren Amarilla, Boy Palabrica, Tolendoy and two others whose names were not mentioned: “My people will kill you.” The letter also attached a mission order from Efren and signed by the chief of the Intelligence Special Action Force (ISAFP). They will be paid 50,000 pesos if Timoteo Ballesteros could kill (me). A member of our organisation had spoken with Boy Palabrica, one of those paid by Tim Ballesteros, and he had admitted that (the letters containing threats) is true. But the person does not want to stand as witness if I decide to file a case. 

I remain vigilant because not only this people had planned to kill me but also the (sugarcane) planters and the military. As of now, there are leaflets that they had distributed in the city showing me carrying coffin towards a person in the mountain carrying firearm. There are also leaflets showing me carrying a firearm stepping on dead bodies. I have received information that I would be included in the charges of arson, robbery in band, multiple murder and others. 

All these did not frighten me. It instead inspires me to continue in awakening the people whom others want to be blinded despite the reality that our rights are being trampled upon by this heartless people, executioner and reactionary government of US-Arroyo. 

Signed: Bernardino Patigas

Please write letters to the authorities listed below asking them to have these cases investigated thoroughly and that adequate protection, wherever is possible, are afforded to the victims involved without further delay. 

The AHRC has also written separate letters to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders requesting for her intervention. 

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear ___________, 

PHILIPPINES: Two human rights defenders threatened to be killed 

CASE 1: 
Name of the victim: Yolanda Pineda, her nickname Let. She is a teacher in a Day Care center, leader of KAISAKA (Pagkakaisa ng Kababaihan para sa Kalayaan/ Unity of Women for Freedom) Lubao, Pampanga. She is also the paralegal officer of DEFEND CENTRAL LUZON (Central Luzon Human Rights Defenders) 
Alleged perpetrators: Soldiers attached to the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) 
Place of incident: Purok 5 (subsection of the village), Barangay San Antonio, Lubao, Pampanga 

CASE 2: 
Name of the victim: Bernardino M. Patigas, 62 years old, of Escalante City, Negros Occidental 
Alleged perpetrator: Timoteo Ballesteros, over 40 years old, sugarcane planter of Bacolod City, Negros Occidental 

I am writing to voice my deep concern to the continuing threats that the two human rights defenders, Yolanda Pineda and Bernardino Patigas, had been receiving. 

Pineda, a day care center teacher, had began receiving threats on her life after opposing the establishment of a military detachment adjacent to the day care center where she was teaching in Barangay San Antonio, Lubao, Pampanga since June 2008. On April 9, 2010, she received a letter with a black ribbon on it which writes:

“We are giving you reasonable time after receiving this notice to clear your names. Your failure to comply would mean you are not interested in clearing your name and it will mean a bold forceful move or DEATH!”

The sender is supposedly a certain Ka Diego Magtanggol. He claimed to have known Pineda and accuses her of having connection with an illegal armed group. I am deeply concerned, however, that the motive of the sender and the claims the letter had linking the victim to an illegal armed group, had been intended to justify in killing her. This pattern had commonly been taken place in numerous cases that we had earlier reported. 

Few days after receiving the letter, April 14, two men were reported to have inquired about the location of her residence. It was also the same day that Pineda had taken part in a press conference organized by her organization and a local human rights organization to opposed against the heavy presence of military in their area. 

Meanwhile, in Patigas case, I have learned that there had been credible source who had confirmed that the threats he had received contained in a letter in November 2009 and January 2010 were accurate. On November 2009, he had received a letter which wrote:

“Beware because the people led by Efren Amarilla will kill you. Efren is a member of an organization (Guardians) established by the military”.

Since Patigas have had numerous threats in the past, he paid little attention to it until he had received again another letter in January 2010 mentioning the names of persons, Efren Amarilla, Boy Palabrica, Tolendoy and two others, to have been hired allegedly by a certain Timoteo Ballesteros to kill him. The letter also had a mission order allegedly coming from the Intelligence Special Action Force (ISAFP) attached to it. 

After receiving the letter, one of the colleagues of Patigas, who knew one of the alleged hirelings, Boy Palabrica, had spoke with the latter regarding the content of the letter mentioning his name and the rewards of 50,000 pesos offered to kill Patigas. It is said that Boy Palabrica had confirmed the accuracy of the threat on him and the offer of reward. However, since he is unwilling to cooperate to stand as witness in taking legal action against Ballesteros, no action had been taken against the alleged mastermind. 

Apart from the letter he had received, there had numerous leaflets wifely distributed in Escalante City where the victim lives showing Patigas carrying coffin and carrying firearms. In one of those leaflets, he had been portrayed as stepping on pile of dead bodies. This practice is nothing new. However, once again the AHRC is deeply concern that these would be a prelude to murdering him. 

Patigas has been actively involved documenting cases of human rights violation, particularly in helping sugarcane plantation workers, in his area. In the past, he has also been a community organizer focused on helping poor fishermen. 

I am urging for your immediate intervention to have these threats and those responsible immediately investigated. Adequate protection and security, wherever possible, should also be afforded to the victims to prevent them from being harmed. They should also be given assistance in terms of legal aid should they decide to pursue legal remedies on their cases. 

Yours sincerely, 


1. Mr. Benigno Aquino III 
Republic of the Philippines 
Malacanang Palace 
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel 
Manila 1005 
Fax: +63 2 736 1010 
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80 

2. The Commissioner 
Commission on Human Rights 
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue 
U.P. Complex, Diliman 
Quezon City 
Fax: +63 2 929 0102 
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188 

3. Deputy Director General Jesus A. Verzosa 
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP) 
Camp General Rafael Crame 
Quezon City 
Fax: +63 2724 8763 
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763 

4. Mrs. Leila de Lima 
Department of Justice (DoJ) 
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura 
1004 Manila 
Fax: +63 2 521 1614 

5. Mr. Emilio Gonzalez 
Deputy Ombudsman 
Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military 
and Other Law Enforcement Offices 
3rd Floor, Ombudsman Bldg., Agham Road, Diliman 
1104 Quezon City 
Fax: +63 2 926 8747 
Tel: +63 2 926 9032 

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-106-2010
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Human rights defenders, Threats and intimidation,