PHILIPPINES: Another four activists face threats in General Santos City
July 12, 2006
[NOTICE: The AHRC has developed a new automatic letter-sending system using the "button" below. However, in this appeal, we could not include e-mail addresses of many of the Philippine authorities. We encourage you to send your appeal letters via fax or post to those people. Fax numbers and postal addresses of the Philippine authorities are attached below with this appeal. Thank you.]
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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
12 July 2006
UA-228-2006: PHILIPPINES: Another four activists face threats in General Santos City
PHILIPPINES: Threats against human rights and political activists; inaction by authorities to ensure their security and protection; inadequate police investigation; violence against women; complete collapse of rule of law
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes with deep concern regarding the safety of another four activists who have received threats from unknown persons in General Santos City, Mindanao. On July 5, activists Shamroud Adulaziz, Blanche Yamba, Bill Andres and Juvy Hornales received threats via SMS (short message service) messages one after another. The message read: MGA SUPPORTERS NG CPP-NPA-NDF MALAPIT NA MTPOS ANG ARAW NYO - AralSaMasa (Supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) your days are numbered- AralSaMasa). The senders author was purportedly AralSaMasa whose number also appears to be +63 9066677136.
The four are all spokespersons working for a human rights organization, the youth sector and a political party in provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City or (SocSkSarGen), all in Mindanao. Adulaziz is the spokesperson for Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights), Yamba for Gabriela Party list, Andres for Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) and Hornales for Anak Bayan.
Prior to the incident, on July 4, a local tabloid newspaper in General Santos City published a news story quoting an intelligence report regarding an alleged emergence of a death squad who are reportedly plotting to kill seven leaders of the progressive organisations. It was not known who the source of the story was and a by-line was not provided. All the four, however, are attached to organisations that are reported to have been plotted against.
It was also learned that AralSaMasa sent similar SMS messages to activists George and Maricel Vigo (husband and wife) two weeks before they were killed on June 19. The Vigos were riding on a motorcycle in Barangay (village) Singao, Kidapawan City when attacked by two gunmen riding on a motorcycle (Please see our previous appeal: UA-205-2006). The existence of AralSaMasa or the death squads have yet to be investigated.
The four activists had already approached General Santos City Mayor Pedro Acharon Jr. and City Council Eduardo Leyson III, chairman of the City Councils Committee on Peace and Order, requesting their appropriate intervention. Their interventions, if there would be any, have yet to materialise. On July 11, three of the four activists meet Acharon for a dialogue. Despite days having past, no credible investigations have been conducted so far into the threats, existence of AralSaMasa and the reported death squad.
The AHRC has reported on a number of activists who are facing serious threats. What is common amongst them is the failure and inaction of the authorities, in particular the police, to ensure their safety and security. Those facing threats have not received any protection that often led to their deaths. When the police do investigate case, the results are often inconclusive and those responsible remain unknown.
Take the case of labour leader Vicente Barrios of Compostela town, Compostela Valley. On June 10, at around 9:30pm an armed man wearing a bonnet forcibly entered his house. The perpetrator, however, said nothing and soon after left. A month after the incident no reports that he and his family were afforded with protection. The perpetrators likewise remain unknown (Please see our previous appeal: UA-191-2006).
No conclusive findings were also reached in the threats made on human rights lawyer Jobert Pahilga and activist Ms. Marissa Dumanjug-Palo. On June 2, Pahilga reported that two men riding on a motorcycle pursued him. On May 31, activist Dumanjug-Palo also noticed four men riding on two motorcycles apparently following her while riding in a taxicab in Quezon City (Please see our previous appeal: UA-178-2006). Those persons reportedly following them have remained unknown.
In another case, those who made threats to Reverend Renato Respicio of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) of Nueva Ecija also remain unknown. Respicio was reported to have received death threats written on a piece of paper during Sunday masses on May 26 (Please see our previous appeal: UA-175-2006). This is similar to the case of Fr. Rolando de Leon of San Andres Apostol Parish, Norzagaray, Bulacan who also received threats on 30 October 2005. Although police investigated the case, they were not able to identify those who made threats to him (Please see our previous appeals on this: UA-219-2005). Respicio and De Leon likewise have not been afforded any protection.
The authorities have likewise failed to provide security and protection to three activists in Baguio City. The activists, namely Windel Bolinget, Joan Carling and Manny Loste have likewise not received any protection despite serious threats on their lives. The threats reportedly began in October 2005 (For details of the case: UA-067-2006). One of their colleagues, Markus Bangit, has already died after he was attacked on 8 June 2006 at a stopover restaurant in Echague, Isabela (Please our previous appeal: UA-191-2006).
The colleagues of slain activists Cathy Alcantara of Abucay, Bataan, who had been receiving threats and was spied upon by armed men, was killed without having received any protection from the concerned authorities. On 5 December 2005, Alcantara was killed (please see: UP-160-2005), two of her colleagues have also been killed in separate attacks. They were activists Audie Lucero who was found dead in Abucay, Bataan on 13 February 2006 (UA-078-2006) and Annaliza Abanador-Gandia of Balanga City who was killed on 18 May 2006 (UP-111-2006).
Please write letters to the concerned agencies requesting their intervention to ensure the safety and security of these four activists facing threats without delay. An effective investigation must be conducted to identify those who made the threats. Considering the seriousness of the report, it must also be look into why the concerned authorities are failed to inform them or not providing immediate protection, if indeed the report of a plot against them is true. They must give explanation as why they failed to take appropriate action.
PHILIPPINES: Another four activists faces threats in General Santos City
Name of victims facing threats:
1. Shamroud Adulaziz of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights)
2. Blanche Yamba of Gabriela Womens Party list
3. Bill Andres of Bayan (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan)
4. Juvy Hornales of Anak Bayan
All of whom are spokesperson of their respective organisations in the SocSkSarGen area (provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City)
Those responsible for the threats: The sender of SMS (short message service) messages sent by mobile phone number +63 9066677136 was AralSaMasa
Date of the incident: On 5 July 2006, all four received the said messages from the same number one after another.
I am writing to express my deep concern in regards to the safety of four activists, namely Shamroud Adulaziz, Blanche Yamba, Bill Andres and Juvy Hornales, who had serious threats from unknown persons on 5 July 2006. I have learned that they all received similar threatening messages from one sender, AralSaMasa, who accused them of being supporters of a communist movement and warned them their days are numbered.
I am extremely shocked to hear of yet another incident of threats and violence targeted at human rights and political activists. As you are aware, a number of activists have had threats on their lives, some of them have been killed and attacked after having received such threats. I have learned that it was also AralSaMasa who sent threatening messages to activists George and Maricel Vigo (husband and wife) two weeks before they were killed in Kidapawan City on June 19. The Vigos had not been afforded any security and protection prior to their killing. Their orphaned children have likewise not been afforded any protection. The existence of AralSaMasa, whether it is true or not, have likewise not been investigated thoroughly.
I have learned that despite days having past, the four activists have not been afforded any immediate security and protection. Their concerns regarding the emergence of a death squad out to kill some of their colleagues and the existence of AralSaMasa who made threats on them have not been adequately investigated. While I appreciate the assurances given by the local officials, in particular Mayor Pedro Acharon and city councilor Eduardo Leyson III, that nothing will happen to them, I insist that these assurances are empty and not sufficient unless concrete actions are taken to ensure their safety.
I urged that an independent and credible investigation must be conducted to identify those responsible for these threats. Reports regarding the existence of death squads and the group AralSaMasa must also be looked into. The authorities must exhaust all effective means of investigation to identify those responsible for plotting and threatening to attack these four activists. Those responsible for releasing the report, whether it is the military or the police, regarding the plot against the activists but actually failed to inform the persons concerned must also be investigated. They must explain why they failed to provide security and protection to the persons concerned despite the seriousness of the report.
It is totally unacceptable that despite the knowledge of the authorities, if indeed the intelligence report as quoted by the media is true, they did not take any appropriate action to ensure the security and safety of these persons. I would like to remind you that it is the duty of the law enforcement agencies to ensure that the lives of their citizens, in particular those seeking and in need of protection are indeed protected. Given the situation of the unabated killings of human rights and political activists in the country, any report of threat and plot must be taken seriously and acted upon without delay. Any actions to ensure the safety of those facing threats must be done with the utmost urgency.
I am looking forward to your forthcoming intervention in this case.
PLEASE SEND LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. Pedro Acharon Jr.
Office of the City Mayor
City Hall Building
General Santos City
Tel: +63 83 552 7231
Fax: +63 83 554 4212
2. Ms. Rosalinda Tolosa
Commission on Human Rights (CHR XII)
Sy Compound, Leon Lldio Street
9500 General Santos City
Tel/Fax: +63 83 553 8887
Cotabato City extension Office
Tel: +63 64 482 0384 / 421 6307
3. Ms. Purificacion Quisumbing
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
4. Director General Oscar Calderon
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Tel: +63 2726 4361/4366/8763
Fax: +63 2724 8763
5. Mr. Raul Gonzalez
Department of Justice
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
6. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
7. Mr. Ronaldo V. Puno
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
A. Francisco Gold Condominium II
EDSA cor. Mapagmahal St., Diliman
Voice: +63 2 925 0330 / 31
Fax: +63 2 925 0332
8. Ms. Hina Jilani
Special Representative of the Secretary General for human rights defenders
Attn: Chloe Marnay-Baszanger
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 93 88
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS)
9. Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
Attn: Ms Vernonica Birga
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9615
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN)
Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (email@example.com)