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GENERAL APPEAL (Philippines): 105 Human Rights defenders reportedly listed as military targets in a leaked document

June 2, 2009


ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal General: AHRC-UAG-001-2009

2 June 2009
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PHILIPPINES: 105 Human Rights defenders reportedly listed as military targets in a leaked document

ISSUES: Threats; Human Rights Defenders
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes with deep concern over the listing of 105 Human Rights defenders, which included, lawyers, journalists, human rights and political activists, physicians, union leaders and religious leaders in Davao City, as military’s targets in a document reported to have come from a military source. The AHRC feels that it is vital to have this issue investigated so that the personnel behind the creation of this list may be exposed. Any such failure will, on the other hand, expose the listed persons to assassination.

CASE DETAILS: (according to various reliable sources)

The 67-page power-point presentation, which is reported to have been prepared by the 10th Infantry Division (ID) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), listed the names of 105 human rights defenders and several organizations, which it claims have colluded with the communist movement for the “takeover of the seat of government”.

One of those mentioned in this list, Celso Pojas, has already been killed on 15 May 2008. For further details please see: AHRC-UAC-106-2008

The military establishment has already denied the existence of this document. However, there has not been a credible and independent investigation conducted in order to hold those responsible for of needlessly exposing human rights activists to unnecessary risk. Furthermore, there has been no concrete action by the government to protect these persons.

Suspicion that the document originated with the AFP’s intelligence gathering arose when a power-point presentation, entitled "Knowing the Enemy", was exposed in early 2000. The said document also listed several names of organizations it claimed to have colluded with the communist movement.

The release of the latter’s power-point document was actually one of the reasons that prompted the Supreme Court (SC) to promulgate of judicial remedy, "Writ of Habeas Data". This is a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act.

At the height of the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, most of the targeted victims were human rights and political activists attached to the organizations mentioned in the "Knowing the Enemy" power-point presentation. There has been no credible investigation into this incident in order to identify and hold responsible those who released the document as it needlessly exposes the persons associated with the organization to attacks.

The AHRC is deeply concerned that by failing to investigate and to hold responsible those who created this leaked document, it compromises the safety and security of those persons named. In the Philippines, associating a person to a communist or armed movement, regardless of whether the accusations are true or not, results in serious repercussions on the persons involved, including abductions and killings.

For instances, some of the human rights and labour rights lawyers have lost their clients after having been needlessly accused of colluding with the communist, journalist are being discriminated against by the army and police in collecting news and human rights and political activist are being spied. Even though the military and the police are openly accusing these individuals of being communist fronts they have not filed any charges in court.

In this latest power-point presentation, even local politicians and media organization that have already ceased operating have been considered as targets. Also, some of the personalities mentioned are known to the AHRC and had been involved in providing legal and appropriate assistance to victims of human rights violations.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the concern authorities listed below requesting them to have the content of this document investigated by a credible and independent body in order to determine what actions that should be taken. There should be prompt and appropriate arrangements in terms of protection made available to persons mentioned in this document should they require such in order to ensure their security and safety.

The AHRC has also written letters to the Special Rapporteurs for the human rights defenders and Extra-judicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions.

To support this appeal, please click here:

Dear _________,

Re: PHILIPPINES: 105 Human Rights defenders reportedly listed as military target in a leaked document

Names of persons listed as military targets:
1. Romualdo Basilio, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), BAYAN-SMR
2. Joel Maglungsod, KMU
3. Felix Irag, Anakpawis Party List
4. Omar Bantayan, Secretary General, KMU
5. Florante Ferrarin
6. Rudy Aranjuez, Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Davao City Water District, (NAMADACWAD) -
7. Antonio Flores (a.k.a. Tonying, Davao City, Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP)
8. Bobong Clarion
9. Maximo Goc-on
10. Boy Alcala
11. Dodong Intero
12. Segundo Naquilla,
13. Cesar Camarillo
14. Traquillano Goc-ong (a.k.a. Boy), Farmers Association of Davao City (FADC)
15. Amancio Carmelo
16. Bonifacio Bebera
17. Sergio Namate
18. Edilberto Gonzaga (a.k.a. Edil)
19. Celso Pojas (Deceased), Secretary General, FADC
20. Corazon Espinosa (a.k.a. Cora)
21. Joel Virador, Bayan Muna
22. Jeppie Ramada
23. Kelly Delgado, Secretary General, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY)
24. Prof Luzviminda Ilagan, GABRIELA Party List
25. Greg Cagula, Vice President, NAMADACWAD
26. Jake Coloma, Secretary, NAMADACWAD
27. Elsa Elorde, Treasurer, NAMADACWAD
28. Welmer Crasco, Auditor, NAMADACWAD
29. Jake Cadorna, PIO, NAMADACWAD
30. Lorna Maximo, Education Committee, NAMADACWAD
31. Romulo Reyes, Mobilizing Committee, NAMADACWAD
32. Ereneo Cubal, Social Welfare Committee, NAMADACWAD
33. Delia Olaer, Grievance Committee, NAMADACWAD
34. Inting Masucol, Para-Legal Committee, NAMADACWAD
35. Noel Legaspi, Chief Shop Steward, NAMADACWAD
36. Samuel Lasay, of lsla Village, Calinan, Davao City, Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON)
37. Edel Gonzaga
38. Frank Kimpes
39. Antonio Dodong Petalcorin
40. Toto Vulcan
41. Bishop Felixberto Calang, Davao City, Phil Independent Catholic Church (PIC)
42. Dr. Robinson Montalba
43. Ariel Casilao, Secretary General, BAYAN
44. Emma Villegas, Deputy Secretary General, BAYAN
45. Sr. Luz mallo M.A, Treasurer, Missionaries of Assumption
46. Irene Caharian, TF Militarization
47. Dr. Eugene Nalian MD,
48. Atty. Noreen Manatad, TF Women & Children FLAG
49. Prof. Mae Templa, GABRIELA Party List
50. Jimmy Aragon, TF Prisoner- SELDA
51. Rev Constante Claro, National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)
52. Fr Peter Lamata
53. Fr Paul Cunanan
54. Fr Bong Dublan
55. Fr Guillermo Afable
56. Bishop Ben Barloso
57. Bishop Valentino Lorejo Jr
58. Bishop Warlito Baldomero
59. Fr Bobby Parreno
60. Fr Eddie Pedregosa
61. Sis Antonietta Go
62. Nick Gonzales
63. Abundancio Bulac
64. Sr. Elsa Batalla, FMA
65. Sr. Maritta Banayo, FMA
66. Marcela Naloza
67. Terry Abundo
68. Helen Gaspar
69. Asuncion Carreon
70. Ofelia Malayao
71. Rogelio Gonzales
72. Nenita Batucan
73. Amante Villanueva
74. Lyda Canson, GABRIELA
75. Cacai Villegas, Secretary General, GABRIELA Youth
76. Evelyn Carias
77. Elizabeth Nuyad
78. Emily Sorongon
79. Belen Obeja
80. Olga Pacumbaba
81. Inriquita Sorongon
82. Carlos Conde, National Union of Journalist in the Phil. (NUJP)
83. Dr Shalom Lorenzana, RX Against Erap (RAGE)
84. Dr Ruben Robillo
85. Dr Rey Lasaca
86. Dr Lyn Lyndo
87. Dr Jose Lacuesta
88. Peter Lavina
89. Atty Angela Librado-Trinidad
90. Jimmy Dureza
91. Benjamin de Guzman
92. Atty Beverly Selima-Musni,
93. Gus Obenza
94. Antonio Apat, KAPI/WAP Agos Band
95. Gregorio Altarez
96. Glen Amoroso
97. Bobong Landero
98. Atty. Carlos Zarate
99. Cris Ranoa
100. Fe Salino
101. Ligaya Fuentes
102. Sr. Lita David
103. Dr Francisco Morales
104. Dr. Torralba
105. Bishop Anacleto Serafica

I am writing to express my grave concern over the listing of 105 Human Rights Defenders, whose names and group affiliations, are mentioned above, as they are described in a document that was reportedly created by the military. The origin and existence of this document should be investigated upon as it needlessly exposed the persons and organizations mentioned to serious risk of being targeted for attack.

In fact, one of those mentioned in this document, Celso Pojas, a peasant activist, was killed on the 15th May 2008. The concern of those mentioned in this list is rooted not only from Pojas’s murder but also from previous incidents, wherein subsequent killings have taken place after the release of a document. For instance, the other power-point presentation document entitled “Knowing the Enemy” in early 2000s, which mentions the names of organizations being targeted and accused of colluding with the communist.

As it is in the past, those who had been killed in recent years are human rights and political activists who are attached to the organization mentioned in the “Knowing the Enemy” presentation. I am deeply concerned that the security and safety of the persons mentioned in the latest presentation had been compromised and needlessly undermined.

Thus, the previous incidents and pattern should be a sufficient ground to commence an inquiry into this new leaked document. While I understand that the military establishment has either denied the existence of this document or that it originated from them I am unaware of any credible investigation that has been conducted to determined whether the military’s claims are true or not.

Thus, unless this is done, those mentioned in the document would be needlessly exposed to unnecessary risk and subjected to being discriminated against, as no one has so far been held to account for having their names included in the list of targets.

Also, if indeed that document did not come from the military establishment, the government must categorically reject this document and should initiate measures to protect these persons. Failing to do so would aggravate the already deep suspicions of the government’s complicity in this incident. However, the latter are actions the government has yet to take.

I am deeply concerned that unless appropriate and prompt action is taken, the release of this document would result in needless justification of a person’s abduction and killing, as has already happened in the past.

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph

2. Ms. Leila De Lima
Commissioner
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: chr.delima@yahoo.com or mtm_rodulfo@yahoo.com

3. Deputy Director General Jesus A. Verzosa
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2724 8763
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
E-mail: bluetree73@gmail.com

4. Mr. Raul Gonzalez
Secretary
Department of Justice (DoJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: raulgonzalez_doj@yahoo.com

5. Mr. Ronaldo V. Puno
Secretary
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
A. Francisco Gold Condominium II
EDSA cor. Mapagmahal St., Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 925 0332
Tel: +63 2 925 0330 / 31
E-mail: rvpuno@dilg.gov.ph

6. Mr. Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr.
Secretary
Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Tel: +63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax: +63(2) 911 6213
E-mail: osnd@philonline.com

7. Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano
Chief of Staff
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
AFP-GHQ Offices, Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 911 6436
Tel: +63 2 911 6001 to 50

8. 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
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 926 8747
Tel: +63 2 926 9032

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal General
Document ID :
AHRC-UAG-001-2009
Countries :
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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.