Philippine government sent hired killers to The Netherlands to kill communist

This video is called Philippines Human Rights Video.

This is an unofficial translation from the original in Dutch, an article by Folkert Jensma in Dutch daily NRC.NEXT 30 May 2008, pp. 10-11, paper edition:


The Philippine government tried to get rid of Communist leader Sison in Utrecht

The Philippine government sent hired killers to The Netherlands to kill the Communist Sison.

Details are coming out now


The Hague. They stayed in the Amsterdam budget tourist hotel Tourist Inn at the Spui [downtown Amsterdam], the members of the Filipino ‘hit team’ which came to The Netherlands in October 1999 in order to perpetrate a political murder. Their target was Jose Maria Sison, the rather elderly Filipino Communist leader who has resided in Utrecht as an exile since 1987. Two men, with several thousand dollars cash and travelers checks. They had landed in Frankfurt and travelled by train to Amsterdam. There they bought two prepaid mobile cards and rented a car at Avis.

But the assassination of Sison was not committed. A second attempt with a second team, a few months later, also failed. The aspirant-killers first had difficulty in finding Sison. When they had found out his home, office and routes, they almost came into action twice. One time against the wrong person. Another time they got afraid and withdrew because Sison was walking, holding a child. Their rented car was also broken into – luggage gone. They gave a notification of this to the local police because of the insurance.

The killing was supposed be carried out with a knife and an axe. But it took so long the teams lost courage, felt literally cold in The Netherlands and they got worried about home. They also found that they were conspicuous. The Utrecht people walked around in the cool spring weather just in T-shirts. They had thick jackets. And they had to hide therein the axe. Why did Manila anyway want that it had to be done with a knife? A real gun, that’s what they wanted!

The details come from the interrogation conducted by the Nationale Recherche [National Criminal Investigation] in the end of February 2008 at the American army base, Clark, in the Philippines with Jose Ramos (53). This person stayed for weeks over seven years ago in The Netherlands with the objective to kill Sison. He dropped out because he heard that back home he had been put on record as “deserted” [AWOL “away without leave”]. That made him afraid. He feared that the secret service would kill him after the assassination.

Sison himself had in the meantime found out about everything. His sources in Manila had informed him by letter. And he gave a detailed notification to the Utrecht police. This latter warned the AIVD [General Intelligence and Security Service], and after this everything remained still. No one was arrested. “Too few reference points,” says the Public Prosecutor’s Office later.

Until last week. Then the current lawyer of Sison, Michiel Pestman, came back from vacation. He found six new folders with testimonies on his desk. It looked like “the nth installment” in the procedure of the Public Prosecutor’s Office to get Sison in jail for a double murder in the Philippines. For against Sison there are the necessary complaints (see sidebar). But in the dossier there was a little gift: the curious declaration of Ramos – who appeared to incriminate himself, and so delivered the first proof that the attack [assassination attempt] earlier was real.

Ramos had kept the hotel bill and gave this willingly to the Nationale Recherche. The witness Ramos had contact with the [Philippine] secret service, from whom he received money and travel papers. And thus there was a connection with the Philippine government. Even a failed attempt at political assassination, according to Pestman, is a violation of the Dutch sovereignty by a foreign power. Since when does a friendly country send death squads, to Utrecht, by the way?

The new information is for him also a chance to give a new turn to the Sison case. This Ramos and his travel companions must be extradited to The Netherlands. Or at least, in his estimation, they should be prosecuted in the Philippines. The Public Prosecutor’s Office says that the assassination was not carried out and thus it is not criminally punishable. But Pestman rejects the juridical argument of ‘voluntary withdrawal” [“vrijwillige terugtred”]. A ‘defective attempt’ remains criminally punishable if it is a grave crime which is committed ‘in association’. That was the case here. He now demands criminal prosecution.

In the dossier there was still something crazy. In one of the murders of which Sison is suspect, the police have discovered another suspect. A certain Edwin Garcia, also with connections to the secret service, who was supposed to also be in Utrecht. This man is supposed to have been recognized at the assassination of a renegade member of the party of Sison, a certain Kintanar. This person had gone over to the government side and appears to have organized the attack in Utrecht.

In that way, the ‘James Bond film’ was complete. The killing of Kintanar in the Philippines could have been organized in order to put the blame on Sison. Sison is supposed to then have a double motive. Revenge against a traitor from one’s own circle who also tried to kill him in Utrecht.

Did Sison really do it or was he caught? There is no concrete proof for this. Only indications. Pestman points to official Philippine requests to The Hague to have Sison prosecuted. The suspicion against Garcia precisely takes the burden off his client. Just like the attack [assassination attempt] in Utrecht, it proves that the Philippine state wants to go very far to put Sison out of the way. However, the Public Prosecutor’s Office sees no connection between the cases.

Pestman calls the whole case a “stinking game” [“onwelriekend spel”]. Pestman is still making complaints against all the steps that the Public Prosecutor’s Office takes against Sison. Up to now, he is declared correct by the judges. Against Sison there were insufficient serious complaints to seriously consider him a suspect. Pestman thinks that the case of the state is so weak that he would consider an interim dismissal disappointing. He prefers most a complete acquittal.

On June 10 the judge will issue a ruling on his complaint against the ‘notice of further prosecution’. Depending on that, the spokesman of the national office of the prosecutor says, “we are again evaluating the case”.

[Sidebar] Sison on the EU-terror list

Jose Maria Sison causes a headache to the US and the Philippines already for decades. Since last year, the national office [of the Public Prosecutor] in Rotterdam tried to get Sison behind bars for the killing of two renegade members of his party in the Philippines.

The national office acknowledges that Sison was not in the Philippines during the time of the killings and that he has not spoken with the actual perpetrators. But because of his leading political role, it finds Sison to be ‘functional perpetrator’ [‘functioneel dader’].

The Nationale Recherche, with American and Philippine support, carried out extensive investigation in the Philippines. Sison is since 2002 on the US and EU terror list. His bank account was blocked.

The EU Court of First Instance, part of the European Court of Justice, decided in 2007, that the listing on the terror list is unjust. The Council of Ministers however keeps him [on the list]. Sison was refused asylum in The Netherlands, but is tolerated because he cannot be expelled.


22 thoughts on “Philippine government sent hired killers to The Netherlands to kill communist

  1. Dutch court orders frozen bank accounts of NDF unblocked

    ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau, ABS-CBN News Online, 6 June 2008

    The District Court in The Hague has ordered the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office to unblock the bank accounts of National Democratic Front (NDF) officers and others that were frozen in September in connection with the arrest of Jose Maria Sison last year.

    In a hearing held at the Palace of Justice June 5, complainants including Luis Jalandoni, Connie Ledesma, Fidel Agcaoili, Dan Borjal and Jose Maria Sison and wife Juliet filed a motion asking the court to order the Prosecutor to unblock the bank accounts and to return the data and digital files that are still in the Dutch office’s possession.

    “The prosecutor decided today that all the accounts are being unblocked from tomorrow, all the accounts of the complainers who are related to Mr. Sison,” Marcel van Wezel who is one of the five lawyers of the NDF and other complainants told ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau in an exclusive interview.

    Simultaneous with the arrest of Sison, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair, last August 28, raids were conducted in his apartment, the NDF office in Utrecht and five houses of Filipinos.

    PCs, laptops, CDs and documents were taken by the police from the raided establishments and in September, the NDF’s bank account and the personal accounts of Agcaoili, Juliet and other NDF members were blocked.

    Months later, the PCs, laptops and some CDs were returned but not all NDF files and until this hearing the bank accounts remained frozen.

    Van Wezel said that the blocked accounts were suspected of being connected to Sison.

    “They thought that all the amounts of money in the accounts are belonging to Mr. Sison,” van Wezel said in the exclusive interview.

    Agcaoili was very angry because, he said, that he and the other complainants do not have anything to do with the murder charges against Sison.

    “Ang reklamo namin, hindi naman kami akusado o sinasabing akusado pero bakit yung aming mga account eh kasama sa blocked. Aming mga papeles at documento eh kasama sa pinagkukuha, eh ano ang batayan?” blurted Agcaoili to ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau.

    “Ngayon nag-file ng kasagutan ang prosecutor. Ang sabi nila ang punto eh kasi tinitignan nila lahat ng mga possibilities in relation ke Joma sa ganito, mga ganyan dahil sa kanyang pagkakalagay sa terrorist listing kaya lumalawak ang kanilang pag-iimbistiga,” added Agcaoili.

    Agcaoili also complains that it took nine months for the hearing to be held because of several postponements.

    Sison agrees that the Prosecutor has no right to freeze the accounts, not even his wife’s account.

    “They have nothing to do with the charge of inciting murder on Kintanar or even insinuation. Wala namang evidence ‘yong money landering, etc. Wala namang grounds,” Sison said.

    Sison complains that the only real bank account blocked that belonged to him is his joint account with his wife and even this has no connection to the murders of Kintanar and Tabara.

    “Sa lahat ng bank accounts na dinakma, ang bank account lang na tunay na akin eh ‘yong joint account namin ni Julie na doon na nakapasok ang aming Japanese yen na kinita namin bilang honoraria nung nasa Japan kami nung 1986 and then ‘yong bayad ng German publication house and American publication house. Binigyan ako ng several thousands of dollars for manuscript preps and royalties. Eh 1988 ‘yon so anong kinalaman sa 2001 and 2003,” said Sison who is also chief political consultant of NDF in stalled peace talks between the NDF and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

    “Asan ‘yong ‘limpak limpak na pera kay Sison dahil sa mga revolutionary tax’? Eh wala. ‘Yong mga bank accounts na kinuha eh pag-aari ng mga foundation at individuals na walang kinalaman sa akin, independent of me and I have no control” Sison said.

    No decision yet on return of confiscated materials

    Although the court’s immediate partial decision was a victory for the NDF, no decision has been issued yet with regards to its other complaint which is the return of the confiscated materials.

    Pendong Jalandoni, son of the NDF chair Luis Jalandoni and also one of the five lawyers of the NDF and other complainants, said he is disappointed that there was no outright decision on the confiscated materials and thinks that the Prosecution is fishing for some other information.

    “First of all, the people they raided. There’s no indication of any links or association with the criminal acts suspected si Prof. Sison of. Secondly, it’s a big fishing expedition and they took more things than necessary,” the younger Jalandoni said.

    He said that documents such as the Permanent People’s Tribunal’s files from last year have no connection to the murder charges against Sison which took place four years ago.

    “Those were documents related to events that took place four years after the murders so if there was a murder, it is very very unlikely na related pa ‘yan or there will still be communications four years after,” Pendong said.

    He also thinks that the Dutch Prosecution office was gathering information about the Philippine Left because even the documents relating to the peace talks were seized and not returned.

    Agcaoili confirms that there is a big bulk of files from the Joint Monitoring Committee between the NDF and GRP containing about 20 to 25 folders of materials against the Philippine government that remained in the Prosecutor’s hands.

    “They confiscated all documents regarding peace talks. So very obvious that the reason for them to confiscate was not to find evidence on a murder case but to get information about the left opposition in the Philippines and to collaborate with different intelligent agencies,” Pendong said.

    Pendong thinks that there is a very big political game at play.

    “The outcome is clear that the Dutch government does not want to return or destroy those documents that clearly have nothing in relation to the murder case and it’s clear to me the political meaning of this persecution,” he added.

    “They have shown some willingness to return some hard copies but the data, the digital information they’re not willing or destroy or even say they will not even give to Philippine authorities or other security agencies in the world,” said Pendong.

    Pendong’s father, who looked very tired after the more than three hours of hearing of the Dutch court can only say one thing.

    “This blocking and seizing of material and blocking of account are unfair and unjust and should be undone right away,” Jalandoni said.


  2. Time, Monday, Jun. 09, 2008
    The Philippines’ Disappearing Dissidents
    By Peter Ritter/Manila

    On April 28, 2007, Jonas Burgos, a 37-year-old Philippine political activist, was eating lunch in Ever Gotesco shopping mall in Manila. At around 1:20 p.m., a group of four men approached his table. They spoke quietly to Burgos for about 20 minutes. Then the men began pushing him toward the mall’s exit. “I’m just an activist,” a waitress heard Burgos shout. A mall security guard approached the group. As the guard would later testify, the men warned him that they were police officers. They hustled Burgos outside and into a maroon Toyota. As the car vanished into traffic, the guard wrote down the license plate.

    Burgos’ family began to worry immediately when he didn’t show up for a family event that evening. His mother, Edita, tried dialing his mobile phone, but when he answered, he seemed groggy, as though he’d been drugged. When she called again later, his phone had been turned off. Two days later, Edita Burgos called a hasty press conference to ask for help finding her son. Tips began to trickle in. One tipster, who claimed to be a former army intelligence officer, said that Jonas Burgos had been snatched by the Philippine military. “I had no sleep,” Edita Burgos recalls. “I was imagining all sorts of horrors.”

    These are dangerous times for Philippine activists. A police task force assigned to investigate politically motivated killings says that 141 activists have been murdered since 2001, when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power. All but a handful of those cases remain unsolved. Karapatan, a Philippine human-rights group, estimates a much bloodier tally: 902 murdered labor leaders, journalists, local politicians, priests, and peasant organizers. Dozens more activists have vanished. In June 2006, less than a year before Jonas Burgos was snatched, two young female organizers from the University of the Philippines were abducted at gunpoint in Bulacan.

    The Philippine government has pledged to improve its human-rights record. Yet most of these abduction cases linger in limbo, stymied by the military’s recalcitrance or police ineptitude. A March report by the U.S. State Department noted that “judicial inaction on the vast majority of disappearances contributed to a climate of impunity and undermined public confidence in the justice system.” During a highly publicized six-month inquiry by the Philippines Court of Appeals, witnesses and military personnel offered tantalizing glimpses into the shadowy circumstances surrounding the brazen daylight abduction of Jonas Burgos. Yet when the proceeding concluded last week, Edita Burgos was no closer to knowing who took her son, or why. But that should not be surprising. As the case of Jonas Burgos demonstrates, families of the disappeared often expect to find neither solace nor justice in Philippine courtrooms.

    Cycle of Violence

    Experience had taught Edita Burgos to fear the worst. During the military dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, her husband, Jose, had published a popular opposition newspaper. The paper’s offices were frequently raided, and Jose Burgos was held under house arrest for two years. Jonas and his siblings were nursed on their parent’s leftist politics, often taking photographs or covering rallies for their father. The family was also steeped in Catholicism. After her husband died in 2003, Edita Burgos became a lay Carmelite nun. Jonas himself briefly considered joining the priesthood, but instead took a degree in agriculture, specializing in organic farming. When the family relocated from Manila to a farm in Bulacan province, Jonas adopted rural life wholesale. “He dressed like a farmer,” says Edita. “He was just like them in his manner, so he could relate to them. He had a rapport with the people.”

    In Bulacan, Burgos began working with a peasant activist group, training farmers in organic techniques and giving political seminars. The government has accused the group of supporting the New People’s Army (NPA), a Communist insurgency that has festered for more than three decades in the country’s impoverished hinterland. But the peasant group’s leader, Joseph Canlas, says that neither Burgos nor his group was connected with the insurgents. Burgos certainly had deeply felt leftist sympathies. Yet even his own family cannot say for certain whether he was a mere fellow traveler or an active NPA supporter. On occasion, his mother says, he would disappear for weeks into the mountains. He would tell her he was meeting farmers in remote villages; she suspected he was meeting insurgents in their jungle redoubts.

    Philippine police and military have long blamed the killings and kidnappings on internal purges within the Communist insurgency. The NPA does have a history of murderous infighting: in 2003, a former insurgent leader was gunned down in a Manila restaurant while eating lunch. But international and Philippine human-rights watchdogs allege that the military itself is responsible for many of the deaths and disappearances. According to Ruth Cervantes, a spokeswoman for Karapatan, the violence peaked in 2006, at the height of a new government offensive against the NPA. In a scathing 2007 report, Philip Alston, a special rapporteur for the U.N., wrote that the country’s military “is in a state of denial concerning the numerous extrajudicial executions in which its soldiers are implicated.” For the first time last year, the U.S. made some of its military aid to the Philippines contingent on the country improving its human-rights record. The international disapprobation was a source of embarrassment to an Arroyo administration already staggered by allegations of vote-rigging and corruption. And the government has taken steps to prosecute the killings more aggressively, including participating in a national summit last July on extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances. At that summit, the country’s Supreme Court declared a new remedy for victims of government violence. Adapted from Latin American legal systems, the writ of amparo—”protection,” in Spanish—would, in theory, disallow blanket government denials in cases were soldiers are suspected of kidnapping activists. Thus far, the new law has proven a qualified success, according to Neri Colmenares, a human-rights lawyer who has represented more than a dozen families of abducted activists. In one case involving two farmers who alleged they were detained at various army bases for 18 months and subjected to torture—including whippings with barbed wire and being bathed in their own urine—the Philippines Court of Appeals agreed that the military was culpable, and that military investigators had failed to sufficiently probe their complaint. But many other cases where the military is suspected of involvement in disappearances have resulted in few answers.

    Dead-End Investigation

    Burgos’ abduction grabbed headlines in the Philippines in part because of his family’s prominence during the Marcos era. Arroyo herself called Edita Burgos to assure her that police would pursue the case aggressively. But from the start the investigation seemed to sputter. A week after the abduction, police told Burgos’ mother that they’d found a corpse resembling Jonas. The man had been bound with a cord, strangled, shot twice in the skull, and dumped by a lonely country roadside. Edita Burgos insisted it was not her son. As part of their investigation, police also traced the license plate of the Toyota used by the kidnappers. They discovered that the plate had originally belonged to a vehicle in Bulacan. In July 2006, the owner of that vehicle was cited for illegal logging illegally, and the vehicle itself was impounded by the army’s 56th Infantry Battalion, also stationed in Bulacan. A second car allegedly used by the kidnappers was traced to a top military officer. Since then, the impounded car—and its license plate—have been sitting on an army base. The plate seemed to point to the military’s involvement in Burgos’s abduction. “This is vital information that connects the military to the case,” says Purificacion C. Valera Quisumbing, chair of the Philippines Commission on Human Rights at the time of the abduction. “We’re not saying they were the ones who did the abduction. We’re just saying that this is a vital connection.”

    The military conducted its own internal investigation into the license plate. While that report recommended censuring three of the battalion’s officers for failing to keep track of the plate, it did not offer an explanation of how the plate became attached to the car used to snatch Burgos—other than to suggest that someone seeking to discredit the military may have snuck into the base and stolen it. In July, a senior government prosecutor announced that he wanted to interview six military officers in connection with Burgos’ abduction. He was immediately removed from the case. Senior military officers have offered their own explanation for the abduction. In a letter to the human-rights commission, General Hermogenes Esperon, head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at the time of the abduction, suggested that Jonas Burgos was, in fact, a high-ranking insurgent who went by the nom de guerre Ka Ramon. In August 2007, four months after Burgos disappeared, police produced three new witnesses: former NPA insurgents who claimed they had seen Burgos’ kidnapping. The ex-insurgents claimed that Burgos was an NPA member, and was targeted by his own comrades in a dispute over money.

    General Esperon, who retired last month, declined repeated requests for an interview. A military spokesman, Lt.Col. Bartolome Bacarro, says that the military was not involved. “We as an organization categorically deny we were involved in the abduction of Mr. Jonas Burgos,” Bacarro says. “There is just a possibility that some AFP members might be implicated. If that happens, we would make available members implicated in the abduction in court. It is not a policy of the AFP to be involved in these kinds of activities.” Bacarro also says that he does not believe the military was investigating Burgos at the time of his abduction. But a confidential military memo dating from May 2007 places Burgos in the army’s “order of battle”—a roster of NPA insurgents targeted for arrest or elimination. Next to Burgos’ name is the word “neutralized.” The memo bears the name of the 56th Infantry Battalion’s chief intelligence officer, but is not signed. Bacarro will not confirm the document’s authenticity. “It is the subject of an investigation so we’re leaving it to the court to assert the authenticity,” he says.

    Thus far, however, Philippine courts have shed little light on the murky circumstances surrounding Burgos’ abduction. As part of an amparo complaint filed by Edita Burgos, a number of military officers have testified; all have denied military involvement in the kidnapping. Burgos continues to insist that the army orchestrated her son’s disappearance. If he is still alive, she says she would like him released; if dead, she would like only to know where his body is buried.

    In late March, Burgos’ family held a celebration for what would have been his 38th birthday at the Carmelite convent where Edita Burgos works. As she sat in the convent’s sunlit courtyard, in front on an untouched chocolate cake, a procession of care-worn middle-aged women came up to her. They were, she explained, mothers of other activists who have vanished. When the women had gone, Burgos continued: “This is not about Jonas alone. They are killing the future leaders of our country. If you kill these people, who will be left?”


  3. Press Statement

    12 June 2008



    By Coni Ledesma

    International Committee DEFEND

    We are deeply gratified and happy to learn that the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), together with other organizations of human rights advocates, adopted the common position of exposing the violation of human rights of Filipinos living in The Netherlands and defending said Filipinos, during the 8th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 11 June 2008.

    In representation of IADL, Atty. Edre U. Olalia, president of the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), made an intervention in the course of the consideration of the report of the Working Group on the human rights record of The Netherlands. He exposed the oppressive actions undertaken by the Dutch government against the members, consultants and staffers of the panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiating with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

    He pointed out that the Dutch government and the GRP had collaborated in using false criminal charges against Prof. Jose Maria Sison, NDFP chief political consultant, as a pretext to arrest and detain him, raid the NDFP information office and the homes of the peace panelists, consultants and staffers of the NDFP and seize their computers, digital files, documents, bank accounts and many other things on 28 August 2007.

    Olalia criticized the disparity between the pious pronouncements of the Dutch government about human rights and the continuing political persecution of Filipino political exiles, asylum seekers and refugees like Filipinos in the Netherlands who are in legitimate and democratic opposition to what they view as anti-people policies and programs of the Philippine government.

    He called attention to the Gestapo-like simultaneous raids on the offices and residences in August last year of those associated with the NDFP negotiating panel. He described the NDFP as a national liberation movement, whose status is recognized under international law, and which has maintained an open international information office in the Netherlands for a long period of time, and is engaged in peace negotiations with the GRP.

    Olalia protested, “How could arbitrary and indiscriminate carting away of an immense amount of materials, including the records and related study materials of peace negotiations since 1986 as well as complaints, evidence and files of the Joint Monitoring Committee, a body designed to monitor compliance with a bilateral agreement on human rights and international humanitarian law be justified?”

    He pointed out that the Netherlands government gave credence to false information provided by the Philippine government, particularly from a body called the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group, which the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Prof. Philip Alston recommended to be abolished.

    Olalia averred that peace advocates are concerned that the false criminal charges have paralyzed the said peace negotiations. He demanded that the Dutch government show respect for human rights by doing away with persecution through false or politically-motivated charges in order to strengthen the rule of law and promote the implementation of agreements between the GRP and the NDFP, such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). He called for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations in order to pave the way for the end of the armed conflict in the Philippines and lay the ground for human rights to thrive.

    He called attention to the Dutch government’s lack of respect for human rights by subjecting Prof. Sison to arbitrary arrest and continuing political persecution, labeling and legal harassment. He pointed out that the Filipino professor had lived peacefully in exile in the Netherlands and followed its laws for more than 20 years.

    Olalia decried the fact that Prof. Sison had been hounded by false criminal allegations to deny him political asylum and residence, bar him from employment, deprive him of social benefits, freeze his bank accounts, stigmatize him and circumvent the legal protection afforded to him by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Olalia challenged the UN Human Rights Council to react or respond to reports that Dutch and Philippine government authorities at the highest level have a long-running scheme to “oppress and criminalize” Prof. Sison by subjecting him to such false charges and to an endless politically-motivated criminal investigation by the Dutch State.

    The oppressive policy of the Dutch government towards Prof. Sison does not cease despite the series of decisions of the Hague District Court on 13 September 2007, The Hague Court of Appeal on 2 October 2007, and the examining judge on 21 November 2007 that there is no prima facie evidence against him. The latest decision of the Hague District Court on 5 June 2008 declares that up to now there is no incriminating evidence against him.

    Olalia stressed that persecution through false charges is a major form of human rights violation. The falsely accused is subjected to detention, humiliation, stigmatization, unnecessary expense of efforts and resources, loss of income and opportunities and public incitement of violence against his person and reputation.

    He protested, “In this regard, how can the Dutch government guarantee that in the sphere of criminal investigation, prosecution and judicial decision-making, political interests are subservient to the supposed rule of law in the Netherlands so that the human rights of individuals who exercise their basic freedom of thought and expression are promoted and protected?”

    He demanded that satisfactory answers be made to the questions he raised. He said, gWithout satisfactory answers, we are afraid that other individuals and organizations in the Netherlands will suffer the same fate in contravention of the basic international instruments to which the Netherlands has committed itself.h He asked the UN Human Rights Council to consider his comments when it decides to adopt the outcome of the review in plenary and to include them in the report of the Councilfs session.h###

    Please contact:

    For reference please contact:

    Coni Ledesma

    International Committee DEFEND


    Telephone: 00-31-30-8895306


  4. Mothers of ‘desaparecidos’ left to seek children, justice on their own
    07/17/2008 | 09:15 PM

    If there is one person best placed to explain why the best definition of torture includes the deliberate infliction of mental as well as physical pain, it is Erlinda Cadapan, the 59 year-old mother of missing university student Sherlyn.

    It is now more than two years since her daughter was abducted by suspected military agents and joined the long list of desaparecidos — human rights activists and political leaders who have ‘been disappeared’ and simply vanished.

    Sherlyn, a sports science student at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, was taken at gunpoint on June 26, 2006 alongside fellow student Karen Empeño and farmer Manuel Merino, who stepped in to try and help after hearing the girls’ scream. All three were reportedly bundled into a stainless steel jeep with license plate number RTF597.

    The three disappeared two years ago last month while working as community organizers in Bulacan just north of Manila. Jonas Burgos was similarly working there at the time he was famously abducted from a shopping mall in Quezon City 10 months later.

    “The only thing normal in my life is the abnormality of it,” said Mrs. Cadapan who, like Edita Burgos, mother of missing Jonas, refuses to give up looking or simply stay home waiting for news that might not ever come.

    While the government and the executive may be systematically failing all those missing — unable or simply unwilling to help — the families of the disappeared refuse to give up and become silent victims themselves.

    Mrs. Cadapan can no longer count how many times she travels three hours to Manila each week to give interviews, attend forums and speak at meetings. Often she arrives home late at night only to receive a text asking her to return to the capital the following day for another event.

    Despite financial constraints and the incessant traveling that is taking its toll, she welcomes each and every invitation to speak.

    “I have to do this as mothers who give up never find their children,” she told the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project.

    “I really need to remain active so the international community, our local media, even the authorities and, too, the perpetrators know that I know where my daughter is. The military is holding her and it is the military’s responsibility to help me find my daughter,” Mrs. Cadapan said.

    Speaking last month in a live television debate, Mrs. Cadapan explained how she had repeatedly been turned away by soldiers at gunpoint when turning up at military bases to look for her daughter.

    Last December, two farming brothers testified at the Court of Appeals how they had been held captive by the military alongside Sherlyn and the two others.

    Raymund Manalo provided a detailed account of the time he spent with Sherlyn, Karen and Manuel as part of a petition for a writ of amparo served on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) by Mrs. Cadapan.

    The writ of amparo obliges respondents to prove they did not violate the human rights of the named people.

    Manalo, whose testimony corroborated accounts given by other abductees, stated how he and his brother had been held captive alongside Sherlyn and the others in Camp Tecson in San Miguel in Bulacan. Camp Tecson hosts the First Scout Ranger Regiment. He added that they were then all transferred to the 24th Infantry Battalion (IB) camp in Limay in Bataan.

    He testified how Sherlyn, who was expecting her first baby when abducted, was chained up, tortured and repeatedly raped. He also claimed that the two women suddenly disappeared from the military camp one day in June 2007 when he, his brother and Merino were all taken out and forced to sleep overnight in a nearby forest.

    Manalo testified that they were brought back the following day but that neither he nor his brother ever saw Sherlyn and Karen again. He claimed Merino was subsequently killed and his body burnt inside the camp, and was told by a soldier not to bother looking for Sherlyn or Karen as they and Merino were “already together.”

    The AFP continues to deny any responsibility for the abductions or knowledge about their whereabouts. However, the Court of Appeals has ruled that there was strong evidence that Merino and the others were abducted by the military. It moreover found that Major General Jovito Palparan, former commander of the 7th Infantry Battalion, “was not telling the whole truth,” and his men were “evasive and contradictory” in their claims to know nothing about the case.

    Palparan, the army’s former counter insurgency chief and a fierce anti-Communist, has been charged by the media and human rights groups with responsibility for abductions and extra judicial killings. When it was finally published in February last year, the government’s own Melo Commission report claimed “there was an increase in activist killings in the areas where Gen. Palparan was assigned.”

    Palparan denies any responsibility for extra judicial killings.

    Still hoping

    Yet despite testimonies, both Mrs. Cadapan and Karen’s mother, Mrs. Concepcion Empeño, are still hoping that their daughters will one day return safely home.

    “The only hope I am holding on right now is that I will be able to see Karen soon,” Mrs. Empeño said in a phone interview. “We are always waiting for her. I will always keep on searching.”

    Says Mrs. Cadapan: “I never thought that something bad would happen to my child because I see nothing wrong with her being an activist, helping the people who were not familiar with the laws and the benefits they should be receiving. To me this constitutes helping the government but the government obviously thinks otherwise.”

    Mrs. Cadapan added that it was only after her daughter disappeared that she realized their family had been under some kind of surveillance. Still, though, she cannot quite believe it.

    “I never thought my family would be a victim of a human rights violation by the government. I am respected in our community as the secretary of the homeowners association. When the head is not available, people come to me and so I never had any inkling that we had a problem with the authorities,” she said.

    Now though her heart is full of pure anger for those she considers responsible for her daughter’s disappearance.

    “When I imagine how they tortured my daughter, my anger with the government boils up as I expect them to protect and serve the people as mandated by our Constitution,” Mrs. Cadapan said.

    Perhaps not unexpectedly, the case of their missing daughters has turned both mothers into activists themselves. It is both part therapy and part solidarity. The mothers of the disappeared help and strengthen each other. Many of them also look to and receive support from the human rights group Karapatan.

    According to its general secretary, Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan provides a range of services to the families of victims including legal support, assistance and even counseling.

    “Our office is an office in the morning and a safe house in the evening for people to come when they need to,” she said, adding that they encourage the relatives to organize themselves into a group “because it is only when they are together that they see hope”.

    Mrs. Cadapan agrees. By bonding together and with the support of groups like Karapatan and support among the media, the families of the victims are able to gain strength from each other, and to make a lot of noise and heap pressure on those deemed responsible for the desaparecidos — both perpetrators and the politicians who claim to be in charge. – Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project


  5. Published on Bulatlat (
    The Philippine Labor Situation

    As the global economic crisis reaches new lows this first half and with worse to follow in the coming months or even years, the Philippine labor force is being battered by one gut-level whammy after another. While the effects of the surge in prices of petroleum products, rice and electricity are indeed being borne by all sectors of society, the country’s 36-million labor force is taking the lion’s share of the beating by virtue of its ever-growing abundance in an ever-shrinking economy.

    Posted by Bulatlat
    Vol. VIII, No. 30, August 31-September 6, 2008

    As the global economic crisis reaches new lows this first half and with worse to follow in the coming months or even years, the Philippine labor force is being battered by one gut-level whammy after another. While the effects of the surge in prices of petroleum products, rice and electricity are indeed being borne by all sectors of society, the country’s 36-million labor force is taking the lion’s share of the beating by virtue of its ever-growing abundance in an ever-shrinking economy.

    The highly-unpopular government under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is trying to handle the situation by instituting populist policies designed to take the heat off its governance, while conveniently avoiding crying solutions that could make significant inroads towards addressing the roots of the problem. Labor and general public unrest fulminates as the regime continues to hedge on its social obligations, while faithfully observing policies it deems required to keep it in good terms with foreign and local big business interests, as well as with multilateral funding institutions (MFIs) that grant its perennial request for loans. What’s in store for Philippine workers the rest of this year and beyond is foretold by the following objective reading of the local labor situation.

    Criminally-low wages

    By its own minimalist computation, the Arroyo government pegs the family living wage (or daily-cost-of-living/DCOL for a family of six) to be P894 ($19.466 at an exchange rate of $1=P45.925); on the other hand, the current nominal minimum wage (including ECOLAs) is only P382 ($8.535) in the National Capital Region (NCR), translating to a wage gap of P512 ($11.148). This also means that the nominal wage is only 42.7 percent of the living wage.

    Real minimum wage is at P243.31 ($5.297) with 2000 as the baseline year. While nominal minimum wages across regions are higher now on the average by 39 percent as compared with those in 2001, the year that Mrs. Arroyo took over as President of the country, real minimum wages are now lower by 7 percent than those at the start of her term.

    In the face of such an “indecent” disparity, the current administration still refuses to legislate a P125 ($2.72) across-the-board wage hike, long demanded by militant labor unions under the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and the broad alliances of the Wage Increase Solidarity P125 in 1999-2000 and the Unity for P 125 at present., and on the basis of social justice. At the very least, doing so would have raised the nominal minimum wage to P507 ($11.039), still in deficit when compared with the living wage but certainly providing some immediate relief and better elbow room for minimum wage earners to weather out the crisis, until the necessary next round of increases. But since Arroyo’s assumption of power, she has only approved an accrued measly basic wage hike of P62 ($1.35) and with the rest as incremental increases in cost-of-living-allowances (COLA), including the P15 ($0.326) and P5 ($0.108) NCR increase last June 14.This has hardly made a dent on the wage gap of P260 ($5.66) then existing in 2001 and the P384 ($8.36) increase in the family living wage (or DCOL) that has piled up on top in the last 7 years, leading up to the current wage deficit of P512.

    Hiding unemployment, “globalizing” jobs

    Stymied by worsening landlessness in the countrysides and a chronically backward industrial sector, job generation under Arroyo’s watch has failed to keep up with a constantly growing labor force, currently at 36,450,000, of which 33,536,000 are officially “employed”. The country’s unemployment rate worsened from 9.58 percent in 1996-2000 to 11.4 percent in 2001-2005.

    After arbitrarily redefining “unemployed” beginning in April 2005 to exclude own-account, domestic household and unpaid family workers, the Arroyo government was able to magically reduce subsequent unemployment figures by 1.8 million. The current joblessness statistic of 2.9 million was derived using this manipulative computation, easily rectified by using the old definition, which puts the country’s real unemployment rate in double-digits and makes it the highest in Asia. Underemployment, on the other hand, is at 6.6 million individuals.

    State-sponsored schemes to sop up the country’s surplus labor have reached new heights, with the Arroyo government throwing its full weight behind such services-oriented solutions as labor-export and business-process outsourcing (BPO), twin mantras for “development” under neoliberalism aggressively promoted by MFIs such as the IMF-WB and the ADB. While these stop-gap measures do give some temporary relief to a regime beleaguered by social pressures of its own making, they have only further exposed Filipino workers to violations of core labor standards here and abroad while drawing the economy farther away from a much-needed comprehensive and strategic industrialization program.

    Last year, the number of documented overseas Filipinos have reached 8.7 million. Around 5 million of these are contract-based workers, while the remaining 3.7 million are permanent residents or immigrants. Their remittances, amounting to $17 billion in 2007, have grown by an annual average of 16 percent since 2001 and now comprises 10 percent of the current GDP.

    On the other hand, the BPO “industry” has burgeoned not only in the NCR but also in outlying regions such as Central Luzon, Central Visayas and Southern Mindanao. Centered mainly around contact centers (or “call centers”), BPO has been touted by the Arroyo government as a “recession-proof” alternative for the upper-scale job market, and most certainly a boon for MNCs abroad eager to save up on peripheral operations cost. Accounting for 2.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2005 and employing around 163,000 workers (70 percent of whom are in call centers), the BPO industry is optimistically projected to employ some 1 million workers by 2010.

    But this seeming oasis of employment opportunity is now under scrutiny from trade unionists for being extremely exploitative, anti-union, and generally hazardous to workers’ health. On the average, local call center employees receive only one-fifth of the salaries of their counterparts in subcontracting countries such as the US and UK. Majority of these local workers also suffer from a host of work-related health problems, most of which are lethal in the short- or long-run.

    Workers who do find jobs in the Philippines find that they face another big hurdle after being hired: contractualization. Big businesses, whether foreign or local, have long mastered the fine art of labor flexibilization in employment, assisted no end by a President and a government that is thoroughly sold out on the scheme. Based on the 2003 admission of Donald Dee, President of Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), 7 out 10 firms in the country practice contractualization. Some of the worst “contractualizers” among companies are also among the biggest, such as Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco’s San Miguel Corporation (SMC) conglomerate (1,100 regulars out of its 26,000 total workforce); Henry Sy’s SM Shoemart (1,300 regulars out of 20,000); and Manny Pangilinan’s Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (4,100 out of 10,000). Such widespread destruction of tenurial security in labor has had a profound impact on Philippine workers’ freedom to exercise their trade union and other democratic rights. Most of all, massive contactualization has greatly reduced the variable capital for wages, with the monopoly capitalists seeking ever-increasing superprofits in the face of the current world capitalist crisis of overproduction.

    Crippled unions, no unions

    More than at any other period in its history, institutionalized trade unionism in the Philippines has become a sham. The Arroyo government’s all-out rush to attune the local labor market to the demands of the neoliberal agenda has run roughshod over core labor standards, seemingly leaving no option to workers but to adopt an independent and militant form of advocacy.

    While local laws such as the Labor Code exist that formally guarantee the right of workers to unionize, the finer print and state actions themselves say otherwise. Laws that constrain or even prohibit the formation and actions of workers’ organizations abound, foremost of which are those that allow “qualified” contractualization like Articles 106-109 of the Labor Code, the Herrera Law and the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) D.O. 18-02; mandatory 30-day notice in the filing of strikes; the Marcos-era strike provision that allows ingress and egress of company goods and scabs; and the indiscriminate issuance of Assumption of Jurisdiction (AJ) orders by the DOLE that covers even non-strategic or non-vital industries.

    Among the anti-union legislation and practices arrayed against Philippine labor, contractualization is especially destructive. Whereas there are no explicit provisions in any law against unionizing of contractuals, their concrete circumstances itself becomes the prohibition. No employer would consent to them being part of a union’s bargaining coverage, since they only have 5-month contracts at the most. For the same reason, no union composed mostly or exclusively of contractual workers in a firm would be able to obtain a CBA with management or even to uphold one in a practicable period of time. Under this situation, contractualization is turned into a benign-looking but immensely effective tool by big business to block nascent unionism or to bust existing unions.

    Those that persist and succeed in forming unions immediately become targets of persecution by big capitalists and the state, who seem to find common ground in fostering a “no union, no strike” environment particularly in the country’s special economic zones. To cite a dramatic case, Gerardo Cristobal, President of the EMI-Yazaki Garments union in Imus, Cavite was fatally shot last March 10 after having survived a previous attempt last year. Also a leader of broad-based labor alliance Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW), Cristobal became the 80th in a list of trade unionists killed for political reasons under the Arroyo government. None of these killings have been satisfactorily prosecuted to date.

    Given such hostile conditions, it comes as no surprise that the number of genuinely unionized workers in the Philippines has sharply declined. While in 1995 14.6 percent of the labor force was still unionized, 2007 data shows a much-reduced 5.6 percent or 16,861 unions with a total membership of 1,893,000 workers. But even this is not reflective of the real picture, since DOLE does not monitor the status of unions on a regular basis and includes even those in firms that have closed down over the past few years. A more accurate benchmark would be the number of existing CBAs and their workforce coverage, which now counts 1,573 agreements covering some 222,000 workers all over the country. These figures portray the true state of union-building in the country, and is a damning record of big capitalist-state collusion in the suppression of Philippine workers’ democratic rights under “globalization”.

    Renewed bases for struggle and unity

    There are two major reasons that make the big business ideal of “cheap and docile labor” in the Philippines a temporal victory at most. Firstly, the current global economic crisis is projected by analysts to last even longer than the previous ones; and secondly, the labor movement’s core of independent and militant labor are not known for taking such periodic crises lying down.

    In the midst of the recent alarming slew of price hikes, militant and independent labor organizations quickly formed themselves into an alliance called the “Unity for P125”. It aims to build a broad mass movement among private sector workers that will leverage not only for an immediate and substantial wage increase but for the scrapping of regional wage boards (RWBs) that are being used by government to regulate wage fixing in favor of big capital.

    Workers’ organizations are also in the thick of multisectoral networks and alliances that seek to bring down the prices of oil, electricity and rice. Among the concrete public measures urgently being sought are the scrapping of 12 percent value-added tax on petroleum products, repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law, lowering of systems-loss charges in power rates, and subsidized pricing in rice. More strategic calls, however, are also being floated to deal with price spikes in the long term and address their systemic roots, such as nationalization of the oil and power industry and genuine agrarian reform. Hit hard by crisis engendered locally and abroad, the Philippine labor sector gathers its strength to fight not only for its own welfare but for those of other marginalized sectors as well. EILER/Posted by Bulatlat

    Source URL:


  6. Published on Bulatlat (
    Karapatan at 13: Defending Human Rights, Advancing People’s Rights

    Why do they risk death to defend human rights? For Karapatan workers, it’s the way to live.

    Volume VIII, Number 30, August 31- September 6, 2008

    “What is there in these people to work in the way they do? Perhaps, the biggest reward they could get is a hug from a victim… It really goes against human nature to go against self-preservation but these people risk their lives.”

    Mrs. Edita Burgos, mother of the disappeared activist Jonas, said these words, referring to members of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights), during the group’s 13th anniversary celebration.

    Karapatan was formed in a congress on August 17 to 19, 1995, at the Bulwagang Plaridel of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

    On its 13th year gathering, held on August 20 at the Claro M. Recto Hall in the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Marie Hilao-Eniquez, Karapatan secretary general, recalled the context by which the group was founded.

    She said that during the Aquino administration, there was disorientation among human rights workers, especially with regards how they view human rights and the situation then. “Many thought the Aquino, being the wife of a victim of human rights abuses during martial law years, would bring forth the promotion of the people’s rights.”

    Benjie Oliveros, who was with the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines and the Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace then, added that the Aquino government implemented some political reforms in response to the demands of the anti-dictatorship movement that ousted Marcos such as the release of political prisoners, the restoration of formal democratic rights, and the creation of the Presidential Committee on Human Rights with the late Sen. Jose W. Diokno at the helm. But it did not implement fundamental reforms. She did not even repeal the repressive decrees of the Marcos dictatorship; and human rights workers failed to see this.

    Enriquez continued, “Her government proved to be a restored elite democracy. She was no less the representative of the ruling class. It was not long before she unsheathed the ‘sword of war’ against the people.”

    Enriquez said that Aquino implemented a vicious counter-insurgency campaign patterned after the “low intensity conflict” strategy of the US government. A fact finding mission headed by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark in 1987 found striking similarities between the counter-insurgency strategy employed by the US in Vietnam and that of the Aquino government.

    The succeeding regime of Fidel Ramos employed a soft approach to the insurgency, Enriquez said. This included an amnesty program and enticing the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) into a final peace agreement. It was also Ramos who first employed Special Operation Teams, small teams of soldiers specializing in psychological warfare.

    Enriquez added, however, that the Ramos regime’s counter-insurgency programs Operation Lambat Bitag 2 and 3 in Cagayan Valley and Negros brought about many human rights violations.

    She noted that Ramos’ globalization policies wreaked havoc on the lives of the people, violating the people’s socio-economic rights.

    “This was the backdrop by which Karapatan was formed,” said Enriquez.

    She recalled: “In 1994, we walked out of the Congress of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA).”

    She said that PAHRA leaders had developed a different view on human rights.

    Enriquez explained, “Human rights do not exist in a vacuum. It must be viewed in the context of social and political situation.”

    She added, “We are always biased for the victims, never neutral. Human rights workers must work within the people’s movement, not above it.”

    Prof. Sarah Raymundo of the Congress of Teachers for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND) said that Karapatan, unlike other human rights groups, has a comprehensive understanding of rights to include economic, social, civil and political rights. “Saklaw nito ang karapatang pang-ekonomiko para magkaroon ng buhay na may dignidad,” (This covers economic rights so that people could live with dignity.) said Raymundo.

    Enriquez said that 11 out of 13 regional chapters of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) became the backbone of Karapatan. Only the chapters in the National Capital Region and Southern Mindanao remained with PAHRA.

    She also recognized the contribution of Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Para sa Amnestiya (SELDA), an organization of political prisoners, and the Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace (EMJP) to the early years of Karapatan.

    Enriquez said that even before the founding congress of Karapatan, its flag was unfurled several times during protest actions at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP), at the Department of Justice and during the arrival of the Papal Nuncio. She said Karapatan had to voice out its position on pressing issues.

    She recalled that in January 1995, political prisoners staged a hunger strike to demand the immediate release of the elderly and the sick. She said that 45 prisoners were successfully released. “Karapatan carried the most progressive position on the issue of political prisoners,” she said.

    In May 1995, Enriquez related, Karapatan and its member organization Migrante went into the limelight after a picket at the Singapore Embassy in support of Flor Contemplacion.

    Filling a vaccum

    In her solidarity statement, Mrs. Burgos said, “Karapatan came to be because there was a vacuum; there was a need to defend human rights.”

    Enriquez said the founding congress was held with the full support of then PUP President Dr. Nemesio Prudente.

    She said that Armando Malay, Romy Capulong, Crispin Beltan, Dan Vizmanos, among others, attended to welcome the formation of Karapatan.

    In 1997, Karapatan held a national fact finding mission. Karapatan opposed Ramos’ proposed measures such as the Anti-Terror bill and the National ID system.

    Karapatan also joined other groups in opposing the attempts of the Ramos government to remove the limitations on the term of the president and other public officials, and the safeguards on national patrimony through a charter change.

    Karapatan described the Estrada administration as corrupt and repressive.

    Enriquez recalled that due to Estrada’s all-out war in Mindanao, thousands of internal refugees were found in cramped evacuation centers.

    Karapatan helped form the Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) to assist the victims.

    She also criticized Estrada’s counter insurgency program Oplan Makabayan and the ratification of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

    Enriquez said that in 2000, Karapatan was the first organization to call for Estrada’s ouster because of human rights abuses.

    Worse than Marcos

    Enriquez said that in 2001, upon Arroyo’s assumption to power, Karapatan presented to Arroyo the human rights agenda.

    Karapatan urged Arroyo to stop the all-out war, resume peace negotiations, indemnify victims of human rights violations especially during martial law, release all political prisoners, and review the Oil Deregulation Law, among others.

    “GMA said that all of these would be studied but nothing has been realized,” related Enriquez.

    Enriquez said further, “She brought the country back to martial law years. It is as if Marcos never left.”

    She said that Arroyo is even worse. “Gross and systematic violations of the people’s rights are committed without openly declaring martial rule.”

    Risking lives

    CONTEND’s Raymundo said that Karapatan played a very important role especially in the recent years. She said that extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances targeting legal political activists are implemented through the Oplan Bantay Laya.

    Raymundo said that Karapatan considers rights not as an abstract concept but a way of life. “Naisasabuhay nila ang karapatan sa pamamagitan ng pagtataguyod nito (They uphold human rights as a way of life).”

    Karapatan has three line works, which include services, documentation, administration, and media liaison.

    The group continues to conduct trainings on documentation, paralegal, fact-finding missions, media work, service delivery, lobby work, international relations and solidarity work.

    Burgos spoke about the courage of Karapatan workers who formed fact-finding missions and provided services to victims of rights abuses: “Imbes na magtago, sila pa ang mangunguna (Instead of hiding, they are in the forefront.)…they get abused, they get killed.”

    Sen. Ma. Consuelo ‘Jamby’ Madrigal, in her solidarity statement, also commended Karapatan. “You’re the only ones who give your life to a cause.”

    She added, “Karapatan members, whether here or in Geneva or elsewhere, show undiminished passion and zeal for the defense of human rights.”

    Burgos recalled that it was on April 30, 2007 when she had her first direct contact with Karapatan. They then held a press conference announcing the disappearance of Jonas.

    “Kaming mga biktima, hindi namin alam lahat ng aming mga karapatan. Ano ang law, rule, ordinance. (We, the victims don’t know all our rights, which law to invoke) Karapatan provides these for us,” said Burgos.

    She said it has been 170 days since the day she met Karapatan. “Kung pwede lang, gusto ko katabi ko lagi sila. There is this confidence.”

    She added, “Will I find my Jonas? Without Karapatan, it won’t be possible for us to continue.”


    Burgos said, “They have the courage that not everybody has. Is it because of the blood spilled by the martyrs?”

    A short video was shown as a tribute to 33 slain human rights workers, volunteers, and legal counsels.

    When the lights were turned on, most of Karapatan members fought back their tears. They were reminded of their fallen colleagues.

    Enriquez said, “We celebrate their lives. Our martyrs will continue to inspire us.” Bulatlat

    Source URL:


  7. America is in the Heart
    by Carlos Bulosan

    Introduction by Carey McWilliams.

    “I know deep down in my heart, that I am an exile in America … I feel like a criminal running away from a crime I did not commit. And this crime is that I am Filipino in America.” —Carlos Bulosan

    First published in 1946, this autobiography of the well-known Filipino poet describes his boyhood in the Philippines, his voyage to the U.S. and his years of hardship and despair as an itinerant laborer following the harvest trail in the rural West.

    Bulosan does not spare the reader any of the horrors that accompanied the migrant’s life; but his quiet, stoic voice is the most convincing witness to the terrible events he witnessed.

    Softcover, 327pp


  8. September 6, 2008

    A year after arrest, Sison’s case in the Netherlands still in limbo

    ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

    It has been one year since the arrest of Jose Maria Sison in Utrecht, Netherlands on Aug. 28, 2007, yet it is still not clear where his case is headed, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau reported.

    The founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines was detained in Scheveningen prison on charges filed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office for the murders of erstwhile allies Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara in the Philippines but was released two weeks later on lack of incriminating evidence.

    At the same time as his arrest, the National Democratic Front office and houses of the NDF members were raided which resulted in the confiscation of computers, diskettes, CDs and files but which are slowly being returned now.

    In June, the Prosecution was granted permission by the District Court of The Hague to continue its investigation of Sison until December.

    On the anniversary of his arrest, Sison expressed his anger because he said that up to now there is really nothing against him.

    “I was dissatisfied with the ruling of the court with regard to our demand that our investigation and prosecution be ended but there’s a key point in that decision of the court, that there’s no incriminating evidence. It’s just giving way to the prosecution to continue investigating as it wishes. The prosecution has that much prerogative to continue its investigation with the police even without the presence of an investigating judge,” Sison said.

    “Mahabang panahon na ang dumaan bago ako naaresto noong 2007. Ngayon napatunayan sa court na walang evidence and they [prosecution] got more than, more time to do the investigation so meron silang plus na one year by September. ‘Yong malaking abuso sa akin eh ‘yong pang-iipit na walang pinangbabatayan so may basis kami by September to complain and make a demand to end [the investigation],” Sison added.

    Seized materials being returned

    Sison complained that since June, he didn’t hear anymore from the Prosecution except that it is now returning the rest of the materials that were confiscated last year.

    In a visit to the NDF office in Utrecht for this interview, Negotiating Panel official Fidel Agcaoili and staffer Aldo Gonzales showed to ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau five boxes containing binders of documents, diskettes and books that the Prosecution recently returned to the office.

    “Sabi nga mga twelve boxes ang sinauli pero para sa lahat ‘yon. Sa akin parang three boxes, para sa akin eh kulang pa ‘yon. Marami pang kulang sa akin. Me hinihintay pa akong isang box ng mga CDs, ah no, hindi CDs, kundi diskettes at ilang pang files na hinihintay ko,” Agcaoili said.

    For Sison however, this is a good sign.

    “Nearly everything confiscated during the raids of Aug. 28 last year, sinasauli na. Konti na lang natitira and only a few days ago, things taken were returned and only the remaining few materials shall be returned next time so we think that the Prosecution is moving already towards the closing of the case because of the continuing lack of evidence,” Sison said.

    “Of course we don’t have word now. But it’s our estimate that it [prosecution] can’t find, it seems that it hasn’t found any evidence, otherwise due notice would have been given the court and to me as suspect,” Sison added.

    Filing complaint

    But Sison is still readying to file a complaint if the case is not yet closed by September.

    “Well when it comes in September and there will be no finding of incriminating evidence, then it will be good. The lack of incriminating evidence will be a good basis for demanding the termination of the case. Because you know, the passage of more than one year would mean that the prosecution went into the arrest operations of Aug. 28 without any basis, not withstanding the fact that it did not prepare for the case well before Aug. 28, 2007. He had one more year to investigate and it has nothing,” Sison exclaimed.

    Sison said that he seems to have been born with a lot of patience since he has become immune to abuse.

    “Kung titignan mo, sa dinami ng paratang sa akin at sa haba ng panahon eh pinatutunayan na wala naman akong kinalaman sa mga paratang. Hindi ba ang dami na. Yung china-charge sa kin,” Sison said.

    He gave examples of why even when he was still in the Philippines, it was impossible for him to commit a crime.

    “Directly, galing ako sa fascist imprisonment under Marcos, Pagkatapos paglabas ko sa detention, I entered government service by getting reinstated sa UP. Full time ako naglecture bago ako umalis at wala akong pahinga sa mga press interview at speeches. Wala akong pagkakataong gumawa ng kahit na anong krimen,” Sison said.

    Sison charged that his persecution continues and believes that it will never stop.

    “Hindi na titigil siguro dahil ako naman walang tigil sa pagtataguyod ng prinsipyo at pagbatikos sa pagsasamantala at pang-aapi ng mga imperyalistang Amerikano sa ating bansa at syempre sa maraming concrete issues pati na yung walang batayang pagiging presidente ni Gloria dahil nandaya sa election. At si Gloria naman, para mapatibay ang posiyon niya eh sumakay sa anti-terrorism campaign ng U.S. sa kagustuhan niyang matulungan siya ng U.S. para mapanatili siya sa kapangyarihan. Sumasabay siya sa U.S. sa aking persecution,” Sison said.


    D.D. 12 NOVEMBER 2008

    In June 2006, the Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation (L4L) organized an International Fact Finding Mission (IFFM) on the attacks against Filipino lawyers and judges. Amongst other things, it concluded that Filipino lawyers and judges were threatened, harassed or even killed while carrying out their legal profession.

    Since then, we have been aware of various developments in the Philippines. The Melo Commission was installed and reported its findings in the beginning of 2007. The Philippine government claims that it has followed up the Melo Commissions’ recommendations and has taken other measures to address the killings.

    However, international and Philippine civil society organizations claim that the reality remains that the killings, threats and harassment of persons involved in social activism, including lawyers and judges, still continue.

    In view of the above, L4L organized a follow up Verification & Fact Finding Mission (IVFFM) in order to:
    (a) verify the status of cases of harassed or killed lawyers and judges investigated by the IFFM in June 2006;
    (b) verify and collect as many findings as possible regarding several new cases of threats, harassment and killings of human rights lawyers and judges as well as the (lack of) reaction thereto by the competent Philippine authorities;
    (c) verify and collect as many findings as possible regarding the effectiveness of the measures the Philippine government claims to have taken to address the problem of extrajudicial killings, and
    (d) inform the appropriate Philippine authorities and the international community, more specifically any national and international lawyers organization about these findings.

    So far, the IVFFM has interviewed lawyers and judges facing threats, relatives of killed lawyers and judges, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, representatives of various state agencies concerned such as PNP, Task Force USIG, NBI, IALAG, DILG, civil society organizations and the CHRP. In addition, interviews are scheduled with the Ombudsman and a representative of DoJ.

    Today, the IVFFM will only presents its initial findings. A full report with its conclusions and recommendations will follow in due course.

    November 4-12, 2008
    Manila and Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
    Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation
    (Stichting Advocaten voor Advocaten)

    Hosted by
    the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and
    the Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL)

    Members of the Mission:

    1. Atty. Judith Lichtenberg –Head of delegation
    2. Judge Thea Gijsberts
    3. Judge Nol Vermolen
    4. Judge Gerrard Boot
    5. Atty. Adrie van de Streek
    6. Atty. Hein Karskens
    7. Atty. Angela Meijer
    8. Atty. Jo Dereymaeker

    Lawyers, Judges or Relatives Interviewed:

    1. One (1) Central Luzon lawyer
    2. One (1) Metro Manila judge
    3. Five (5) Metro Manila lawyers
    4. One (1) Southern Tagalog judge
    5. Two (2) Bicol lawyers
    6. Two (2) Visayas lawyers
    7. Seven (7) Mindanao lawyers

    Government Offices/Officials Visited/Met:

    1. Supreme Court
    2. Senate Minority
    3. Committee on Human Rights in the House of Representatives
    4. Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
    5. National Security Agency (NSA)
    6. Philippine National Police (PNP)
    7. Inter-Agency Legal Assistance Group (IALAG)
    8. Task Force Usig (TFU)
    9. National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)
    10. Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
    11. Cavite Prosecutor’s Office

    Non-Governmental Organisations Interviewed/Met:

    1. National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
    2. Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL)
    3. Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (KARAPATAN)
    4. Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM)
    5. Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
    6. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)

    Diplomatic Offices Met:

    1. Royal Netherlands Embassy
    2. European Union

    Others still to be Interviewed/Met:

    1. One (1) Visayas lawyer
    2. Ombudsman
    3. Department of Justice (DOJ)
    4. Amnesty International (AI)
    5. Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)

    11 NOVEMBER 2008

    Inclusion of lawyers in military’s order of battle, red baiting slammed: LABELLING IS A THREAT ON THE LIVES OF LAWYERS

    A group of lawyers condemned the Armed Forces of the
    Philippines (AFP) and the Arroyo government for listing lawyers in the military’s order of battle.

    Based on the own monitoring and documentation of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL) from 2001 to 2008, there were 15 lawyers and two lawyers’ groups who have either been told they are included in the military’s order of battle (OB) or have been openly labeled as rebels. Two of the 15 have already been killed.

    Atty. Norman Bocar was gunned down, September 1, 2005, in Borongan, Eastern Samar. He was among those listed in the OB called Oplan Ligpit (Operation Plan Exterminate) of the 8th Infantry Division.

    Atty. Juvy Magsino was shot dead on February 13, 2004 in ,
    Naujan, Mindoro Oriental. In 2002, then Col. Jovito Palparan Jr. of the 2nd nfantry Division of the Philippine Army labeled Atty. Magsino as a communist and supporter of the New People’s Army (NPA). Palparan even told the media that the Army would be monitoring Atty. Magsino.

    Atty. Remigio Saladero, legal counsel of labor group
    Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) has been charged with false criminal charges in relation to two incidents of raid by the New People’s Army (NPA). Saladero has been labeled as a member of the NPA; the military said his supposed nom de guerre is Ka Patrick. He is detained at the Calapan City District Jail.

    In 2004, Judge Romeo Capulong also became a subject of
    black propaganda and demonization campaign of the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP). He was then serving as the counsel for the striking workers of the huge farmland Hacienda Luisita. In the AFP publications “Trinity of War,” “Part III: Overview of Hacienda Luisita Incidents and Other Significant Events,” and powerpoint presentation “Knowing the Enemy,” Judge Capulong, with the PILC, was made out as a tool of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), NPA and National Democratic Front (NDF) purportedly in order to bring the issues
    concerning the Hacienda Luisita to an international level.

    On January 24, 2005, in a command conference at Camp Macabulos in Tarlac, then Philippine Army Northern Luzon Command Chief Lt. Romeo Dominguez told the national security adviser and the presidential chief of staff that militant groups such as Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela,under the leadership of Judge Capulong and Tarlac City Council Abelardo Ladera, were the cause of the turmoil at the Hacienda Luisita. Ladera was later killed on March 3, 2005.

    Neri Javier Colmenares, secretary general of the NUPL, was
    himself a victim of labeling. In 2005, Colmenares has been informed by a colleague working in government that he was included in the OB. In the same year, the long-defunct Protestant Lawyers League of the Philippines (PLLP) and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) were among the organizations listed by the military in the security briefing titled “Knowing the Enemy” as an “enemies of the state.”

    In July 2006, Attys. Colmenares, Edre Olalia Ingrid Gorre
    and other CODAL convenors were falsely linked to the underground movement by members of the PNP’s Task Force Usig. The incident happened during and after an international fact-finding mission on attacks on Filipino lawyers and judges hosted by CODAL.
    Meanwhile, sometime in November 2006, Atty. Emil Bermas
    found a letter inserted at the gate of his residence, requiring him to attend a workshop so that his name would be deleted in the military’s order of battle.

    On October 6, 2006, around 9 a.m., Atty. Robert Tudayan
    received an anonymous letter. When he opened the envelope, he saw a black ribbon inside.

    Before the incident, on the last week of September, Atty.
    Tudayan was labeled as a lawyer for the NPA by elements of the 50th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in a forum conducted at Barangay (village) Burobor, Galimuyod, Ilocos Sur. In separate incidents from 2001 to 2008, human rights lawyers Jobert Pahilga, Tirsendo Poloyapoy, Pergentino Deri-on, Tonyboy Azarcon, Ernesto Peñaflor and David Erro were also labeled as members of the NPA.

    Atty. Harry Roque received text messages on January 3, 2007 labeling him as a lawyer of the “communist terrorist group in the Philippines.”
    Colmenares said,”Such labeling puts our lives in danger. Two of our colleagues who had been in the military’s OB have been killed and so are the many victims of extrajudicial killings in the country.”


    January 2001-November 12, 2008

    Monitored and Documented by Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL) (formerly Committee for the Defense of Lawyers) and the
    National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), Philippines

    Number of Lawyers Killed 2001 to present 22
    (6 of which are human rights lawyers)

    Number of Judges Killed 15
    Number of Paralegals, Law Students Killed 03

    Number of Lawyers Attacked 49
    Number of Human Rights Lawyers Attacked 41

    Lawyers and judges who survived attempted slay 05
    Lawyers and judges who received death threats 12
    Victims of Labeling/Included in the Military’s
    Order of Battle (OB) 15
    Lawyers and judges under surveillance



    The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL) express its gratitude to the Dutch Lawyers for Lawyers Foundation (L4L) for its continuing concern over the attacks against lawyers and judges and the human rights situation in the country. The launching of the International Verification and Fact Finding Mission (IVFFM) has never been more timely than now, when there is a resurgence in extra judicial killings and more blatant attacks on human rights. The Arroyo government has made strong efforts to delude the international community into believing that the human rights condition in the country is improving, and the holding of an objective and independent international fact finding mission will expose the contrary reality—that the human rights situation is deteriorating. In fact, extra judicial killings are once again on the rise, and attacks on human rights defenders through the filing of harassment cases and trumped-up criminal charges has increased.
    Continuing attacks and human rights violations

    The attacks against lawyers and judges continue two years after the 2006 first International Fact Finding Mission concluded that “ The primary duty of the Government is to protect the life of the people, including lawyers and judges. The Arroyo administration, however, has hardly done anything to address the extrajudicial killings effectively.”

    There was a sharp 68% increase in the killing of lawyers since 2001 from fifteen in 2006 to twenty-two lawyers brutally murdered by 2008. Six of the 22 lawyers killed are human rights lawyers. There was a 66% increase in the killing of judges from ten in 2006 to a total of fifteen judges killed by 2008 the latest of which is Judge Navidad in Samar.

    The attacks and harassment of lawyers also escalated, the latest of which is the abduction, detention and the filing of trumped-up harassment suit against labor and peoples’ lawyer Atty. Remigio “Ming” Saladero Jr. Atty. Ming was illegally arrested for allegedly joining the NPA in an ambush of government troops and for burning a Globe Cellcite. This is nothing more than a ridiculous trumped up charge considering that Atty. Ming is a columnist of a weekly news magazine, a high profile labor lawyer handling more than 700 cases and was in fact one of those who personally argued before the Supreme Court against the constitutionality of the repressive Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR) policy of the Arroyo government. There is no other conclusion than that Atty. Saladero was arrested because of his human rights advocacy and scathing critique of Pres. Gloria Arroyo. The international legal and human rights community has in fact been alarmed by this brazen persecution. There were forty-nine attacks and harassment of lawyers recorded since 2001, forty-one of which were committed against human rights lawyers.

    Attacks threaten the legal profession and judiciary

    An attack against lawyers and judges is an attack against the legal profession itself and the independence of the judiciary, and the constitutional right of the people to access to justice because they aim to discourage lawyers from providing the people their legal services with utmost integrity and independence. Article III, Section 11 of the Constitution provides that “Free access to the courts and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty.” These attacks only make it more difficult for the people, especially the poor and marginalized, from availing the services of human rights lawyers.

    According to Paragraph 18 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the Eight United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders (1990) “lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their client’s causes as a result of the discharge of their functions.” The Philippine government is required to protect lawyers under Paragraph 16 of the above Principles which declares that “governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and consult with their clients freely; (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic and other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.”

    The Arroyo government has not only failed to protect the lawyers and judges from the attacks but has in fact committed the attacks themselves in the case of human rights lawyers critical of the government’s human rights record.

    The need for continuing international concern

    The expression of concern by the international community has been a major factor in the decrease of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances. Since practically not one of the perpetrators who committed the killings and disappearances was arrested and the machinery that perpetrated the killings remain intact, the NUPL strongly concludes that the attacks and killings will escalate again. There is therefore a need for the continuing vigilance of peoples abroad over the continuing repression and the IVFFM plays an important role in informing the international community of the human rights condition in the country.

    The attacks against lawyers and judges, especially those involved in human rights legal work, will also increase as impunity further engulfs the country. The Philippines has become one of the most dangerous places for lawyers and judges in the world since there are very few countries where 37 lawyers and judges are brutally murdered in a span of 7 years, and, where the real perpetrators have not been held accountable for the crime. The NUPL will prepare a complaint before the United Nations against the failure of the Arroyo government to protect the lawyers and judges from attacks, and the Arroyo government’s actual complicity in the attacks against human rights lawyers.

    The NUPL will sustain its strong representations with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Leandro Despouy to visit the Philippines after the IVFFM to conduct a UN fact finding mission on the same. We strongly urge the Arroyo government to allow the participation of the UN by officially granting the long-standing request of Mr. Despouy to visit the country without which the UN Special Rapporteur will not be able to officially conduct the fact finding mission. We strongly demand the release of Atty. Ming Saladero and for the Arroyo government to desist from attacking human rights defenders through the filing of false criminal charges.


  10. Rebel without a clue
    The two-year rape of Raymond Manalo

    By Patricia Evangelista
    Philippine Daily Inquirer
    First Posted 00:46:00 11/16/2008

    IT was Valentine’s Day, and Raymond was meeting his girl. It was a special day. They had been together a full year and a month. Plans were made the night before. They would spend the day together, meet at noon and wander down San Ildefonso’s main road to a street corner stall to buy fifty-peso lunches of Sprites and liver on sticks.

    He called her early in the morning, but her phone was off. When she called, it was to say that she would be late, and that she would see him at five in the afternoon. Raymond didn’t mind.

    Raymond was a farmer, the same as his girl’s family, the same as his father, the same as his father before him. They tilled their own land, grew their own food, and were accountable to no one but themselves and the fickle Bulacan sun. Raymond did not aspire for more. There was none of the moving to Manila for a better life, none of the flying abroad in search of the Filipino dream. Raymond was already living the dream.

    Every morning, at six, he would wake up to drink his one cup of black coffee mixed with the fresh milk his 68-year-old father milked from the family’s own carabao. He would walk out to the farm with his sickle to clear the fields of rats and frogs and the occasional snake. On that Valentine’s Day three years ago, he went home after and fell promptly asleep in his room beside his small cousin, while his parents watched “Eat Bulaga.”

    Then there were shadows blocking the sunlight in his room. A banging door, the butt of a gun slamming into his stomach, rough voices demanding to know where his brother was. He knew he was going to die. Where is your brother, where is your brother, where is your brother? His brother, Bestre, who joined the New People’s Army at the age of 14 and had disappeared for years, Bestre who had woken up much the same way as Raymond had, more than a decade ago when the Philippine Constabulary in the 1980s forced their way into the farmhouse and demanded information on the NPA, Bestre who had watched his mother weep as his father was dragged out of the house with a 6-year-old Raymond in his arms, forced to stand with his small son for execution before three men with M16s.

    At that time, said Raymond, the family knew nothing of the NPA. His father could offer no information, and had bent his head when he thought he was going to die. When the men lowered their guns, it was only at the commander’s whim.

    Then Bestre disappeared into the mountains.

    Raymond remembered all of this when he saw guns trained on his father and mother, as he was hauled out of the front door and out into the backyard. The men with guns called themselves vigilantes. They tied his wrists together, and dragged his hair down and his chin up until all he could see was the soft blue of a February sky. Around him, he saw members of the military’s civilian arm, some of whom he knew by name, as well as two local village officials. They identified Raymond as an NPA informer.

    They walked him down the road, past his brother Reynaldo’s home, where his 38-year-old sibling was raking coal. They tossed apart his home looking for guns and found none. They forced him to the ground in front of his wife, beat him and demanded that he admit he was a member of the NPA. Reynaldo pleaded and begged and said he knew nothing. The brothers were blindfolded, laid on opposite benches of a white L300, beaten again as panic poured down their necks into pools of cold sweat. It was a long ride.

    They were carried out of the vehicle, led past a door. They took his brother. Raymond raised his hands, bound at the wrist, and pushed up his blindfold. He was alone in a room 10 feet by 10, a dark, silent man bound and blindfolded in a corner. There were cement walls, a door, a small window. It was dark outside. He heard cicadas singing, and his brother screaming. He heard the slap of something hard against skin, almost musical. God, screamed his brother, God. Except God didn’t hear him.

    It took all of 15 minutes. By then, Reynaldo had admitted everything they wanted. Yes, he was a member of the NPA. Yes, he had killed many, so many. Ten! Ten men. He had killed 10 men. He had killed everyone they mentioned. Yes, it was me, but please, stop.

    They brought back Reynaldo, broken and shivering. Raymond had pulled down his blindfold. He followed the armed men out; he never thought of fighting. He found out what it was he heard, that heavy, repeated slapping against skin—chains, heavy metal chains, whipped into his back, flogged against his buttocks, slammed behind his knees, followed by two by four lengths of wood. His knees gave way, his feet gave way. He tried to scream, but a thick gardening hose was pressed against his nose, and Raymond Manalo looked up into a dark bowl of sky studded by stars, as a rush of cold water pushed into him, nose, mouth, throat, until he choked, until he couldn’t breathe. The voices never stopped. Where is your brother? Where are your comrades? Where do you hide your arms? Who killed Dante Mendoza? Who, where, when, chain to back, wood to knee, fist to his heaving chest.

    Yes, yes, yes, he said. Yes, I am of the NPA. Yes, I solicit food, I solicit aid, yes, I am their messenger. Please, I said yes, please, stop.

    They brought him back to his brother. For days they stayed in that room, ankles manacled, wrists manacled, a short length of chain connecting the ankles to wrists. They walked, backs bent, knees bent, buttocks close to the ground—they were monkeys, dragging themselves across grimy cement, pissing into liter bottles of Coke, unable to stop urine from spilling over onto the floors. They slept on their sides, curled, because the chains bit into their bruised skins.

    One night, a man entered the room and kicked Raymond on the chest with a foot shod in combat boots. Why were they still alive, they should have been killed long ago, they had no right to be alive. Then the man took the bottle of Coke from the corner, poured the warm urine over Raymond’s head, poured boiling water after the piss, then a bucket of ice cold water. Beating again. Wood this time. When the man tired of Raymond, he started with Reynaldo, whose head poured out blood. They took lengths of burning wood, pressed the ends into the brothers’ bare skin.

    Then the man left, promising to finish the job.

    Raymond ran away. Forced his hand out of one manacle, squirmed out a window, walked, hunched over, across fields and forests. He used a rock to break open the cuffs on his feet, but could not remove the manacle and chain from his right. He walked, walked, walked, until he saw a firing range, and buildings, and a school. He was barefoot, and bleeding, and he asked an old man for directions home.

    He was in Palayan City, he was told. Fort Magsaysay, under the jurisdiction of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

    When they caught him, walking down the highway hours later, he ran. And when they poured gasoline over him, and surrounded him, when he knew he was going to die, he knew he would do anything to live.

    Raymond Manalo is still alive. Someday, he will farm again. Today he has a story to tell.


  11. “If they are looking for my husband, they should look for him and not include my daughter who is innocent” – Evangeline Pitao.

    Dear Friends:

    We ask all of you to send strong letters of condemnation. It is most condemnable and tragic because Rebelyn is just a school teacher. Please forward this to people you know who stand up for human rights, justice and peace.


    MIGRANTE Europe

    Body of NPA leader’s daughter found
    By Jeffrey M. Tupas
    Mindanao Bureau
    First Posted 09:23:00 03/05/2009

    DAVAO CITY, Philippines — (UPDATE 2) The body of the daughter of a New People’s Army commander was fished out of a river in Carmen town in Davao del Sur early Thursday evening, some 24 hours after she was abducted by what her family suspect to be military agents.

    Kelly Delgado, secretary general for Southern Mindanao of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), said Rebelyn Pitao, 20, was found in Purok (sub-village) 5, San Isidro, Carmen around 6:30 p.m.

    Rebelyn, the daughter of NPA commander Leoncio Pitao, also known as Commander Parago, was abducted around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday while on her way home to Bago Gallera in this city.

    “If they are looking for my husband, they should look for him and not include my daughter who is innocent,” her mother, Evangeline, said soon after the abduction, blaming the military.

    Former Bayan Muna representative Joel Virador told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of that the incident was clearly part of the military’s strategy against the NPA and those opposed to the Arroyo government.

    “Since they cannot capture the father, they resorted to abducting the daughter instead,” Virador said.

    But Major Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the military’s Eastern Mindanao command based in Camp Panacan here, said there was no basis to link them to the disappearance of Pitao’s daughter.

    “The military does not conform to this kind of method,” he said.

    Cabangbang said victims of the NPA leader’s atrocities could be behind the abduction.

    “It is not fair for the military to be accused of abduction. Victims of Parago, mostly businessman, may have done it out of revenge,” he said.

    Parago is known as the rebel commander behind the abduction of then general Victor Obillo and captain Alex Montealto in the 1990s.#


    Daughter of Lencio Pitao a.k.a Commander Parago abducted and summarily executed in Davao City, Philippines
    submitted on Fri, 03/06/2009 – 16:48


    UA case type:
    Abduction, Summary Execution and Rape
    Rebelyn M. Pitao, female, 20 years old, single, a substitute teacher in St. Peter’s College in Toril, Davao City, daughter of Lencio Pitao a.k.a Commander Parago, and resident of Purok 2, Bago Gallera, Tolomo, Davao City
    Place of the incident:
    abducted at the crossing of Bago Gallera de Oro subdivision, Bago Gallera, Tolomo, Davao City, found dead at Carmen, Davao del Norte
    Date of the incident:
    4 March 2009, at around 6:30 in the evening, her body was found at around 6:30 in the evening the following day, 5 March
    Alledged perpetrator(s):
    four unidentified men believed to be military or police elements
    Account of Incident:

    At around 6:30 in the evening of 4 March 2009, Rebelyn M. Pitao was at the tricycle terminal in Bago Aplaya getting a ride home. She was the first to board the tricycle driven by Danny E. Pelicano, occupying one of the seats at the back of the tricycle. Two men joined her, one sat in front while the other one joined her at the back, facing her. The men told the driver to go ahead; they would just pay for the fare of the vacant seat. But before he could drive away, a woman arrived and joined them, sitting beside the man in the front.

    At about 300 meters away fron the terminal, in the dark portion of the crossing of Bago Gallera de Oro Subdivision, a white van was parked at the left side of the road and two men quickly blocked the tricycle. They pulled Danny off the seat and ordered him to drop to the ground. One of the men told him not to run or he will be shot. But Danny run back to the terminal as fast as he could to call for help. The other woman passenger was also able to run, leaving Rebelyn behind, held by the men and forcefully pushed inside the waiting van. The two men who were in the tricycle joined the men in the van. They fled in an unknown direction.

    Danny said that the men may be from out of town because they did not look familiar. He reported the incident to the police.

    At around 6:30 in evening the following day, Rebelyn’s body was found in the river in Purok 5, Brgy. San Isidro, Carmen, Davao del Norte. She was found with her mouth covered with packing tape, her pants partially pulled down and her underwear missing.

    Based of the initial findings of the autopsy conducted by the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) Dr.Tomas Dimaandal, Jr., Rebelyn’s eyes were badly bruised and bleeding that may be due to a blow from a hard object. She had a 3-centimeter ligature mark in the neck. She sustained 5-stab wounds (possible weapon ice pick): 2 above the left breast, one of which hit the lungs; two wounds under the left breast, one of which pierced through the liver and another one in the diaphragm which also hit the liver. She had lacerations around her genital area which maybe caused by the insertion of a hard object. Traces of blood were also found but maybe due to the embalming fluids, no traces of sperm were detected.

    At the time she was found, she was almost 24-hours dead which could mean that she was killed right after her abduction.
    Rebelyn’s abduction and eventual execution is a blatant violation of the International Humanitarian Law that clearly specifies that family members of an armed group party to the conflict who are not combatants and do not participate in the armed conflict are considered civilian.
    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 abduction, rape and summary execution of Rebelyn M. Pitao and the protection of Danny E. Pelicano from further threat/harassment/intimidation.
    2.The arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of the crime/s of summary execution.
    3.The immediate and proper indemnification of the victims; and
    4.The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.

    You may send your communications to:

    H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
    President of the Republic
    Malacanang Palace,
    JP Laurel St., San Miguel
    Manila Philippines
    Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
    Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
    Cell#: (+ 63) 919 898 4622 / (+63) 917 839 8462
    E-mail: /

    Jesus D. Dureza
    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) 635 9579

    Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr.
    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

    Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez
    Secretary, Department of Justice
    Padre Faura St., Manila
    Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
    Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.214
    Fax: (+632) 521-1614

    Hon. Leila De Lima
    Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
    SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
    Commonwealth Avenue
    Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
    Fax: (+632) 929 0102
    Email: :

    Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the said 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
    Emails: /


  12. Rebelyn

    Around 6:30 in the evening

    When she was abducted

    An evening after

    She was found dead

    In a creek

    Clad only in underwear

    She bore several stabs

    He hands tied

    Her mouth bound with masking tape

    She is 20 years old

    A Teacher

    A daughter of a revolutionary

    Her name is Rebelyn Pitao. Daughter of New People’s Armay (NPA )commander Leoncio Pitao known also as Commander Parago. On her way home in a tricycle, a white van blocked her path. Alighting from the van, armed men forcibly took her from the tricycle and boarded her to the white van in the evening of March 5. She shouted for help. The tricycle driver went back to the terminal to seek help. The incident occurred in Bago Gallera, Talomo District, Davao City (Minadanao). The day after, her lifeless body was found in a creek with marks of physical torture, and yes, humiliation.

    Rebelyn’s mother appealed that her daughter is not involved with the armed option and revolutionary actions being undertaken by her father. The mother unquestionably blamed the military for this atrocity and cruelty. For her, only the military could have had such a motive of abducting her daughter.

    The mother said, “Rebelyn is unarmed. She is a civilian who earns her living in a decent manner.”

    Must the daughter be used to force a revolutionary to give up his option? Must death of his nearest kin be the collateral to demoralize, humiliate and crush the father who has chosen the armed revolutionary path?

    There is a war going on in our land. The cowards are those who use treacherous, ruthless, and brutal tactics. They end up using despicable means to fight knowing fully well that they would never win in a battle just by observing justified rules in the conduct of engagements.

    The abduction, torture, assault t and killing of Rebelyn, must be condemned in the strongest terms.

    Few days from now, women around the world will be observing the International Women’s Day to honor the women who struggled and worked for justice around the globe. It is a continuing challenge for the women today, to carry forward the struggles of women as we dream of humanity living with honor and dignity.

    Rebelyn is another woman, whose young life was snuffed out cold-bloodedly. Her mother could only grieve for her and so with her father, the family and the rest of humanity.

    We shall remember Rebelyn, a youth, teacher, a daughter of a rebel. There could have been promises of a better future for her. There could have been opportunities for her to be of service to the community as a teacher. But the wicked and the cowards made it sure that she die in a most horrendous way.

    Perhaps it was to humiliate the father, and to demoralize him. Some classical tools of the tyrants to bring death to its enemies, and subdue the struggles of the dissenters.

    Norma P. Dollaga


    3/F NCCP

    879 Edsa Quezon City


  13. A Killing Too Far: Rebelyn Pitao | 03/14/2009 8:51 AM

    DAVAO CITY – Rebelyn was wearing her white school teacher’s uniform when she left home to go to work. “Ma, lakaw na ko (Ma, I have to go now),” she called out to her mother Evangeline.

    It was 6:30 a.m. – the last time Mrs. Pitao saw her 20-year old daughter. It was the last time she ever heard her voice.

    Rebelyn usually arrived back home by 6:30 p.m. each school day. But last week, Wednesday March 4, there was no sign of her. Mrs. Pitao was worried: An hour and a half later, local police officers and a tricycle driver knocked on her door and brought news that Rebelyn had been abducted on her way home by armed gunmen.

    “When I heard she had been taken, I knew I would never see her alive again,” said Mrs. Pitao from her small house in Bago Galera, Toril District in Davao City. “I knew they would kill her because they were angry at her father.”

    Rebelyn, who would have turned 21 on March 20, was the third child and daughter of New People’s Army (NPA) leader Leoncio Pitao, also known as Commander Parago. Her partially-naked body was found late the following day, Thursday March 5, in an irrigation ditch in Barangay (village) San Isidro in Carmen, Davao Del Norte, about 50 kilometers north from here. She had been bound, gagged, raped and repeatedly stabbed in the chest.

    “There were rope markings around her neck and mud all over her body,” her mother told the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project. “She was like a carabao.”

    According to the Scene of Crime Operatives (SOCO) of the Davao City police, Rebelyn had been dead for more than 20 hours before she was found by a local farmer. It suggests she was killed very soon after being taken.

    “Her body bore five wounds inflicted by a thin sharp object such as an ice pick, which pierced her lungs and liver,” according to Dr. Tomas Dimaandal who conducted the autopsy at a local funeral home. His report added that her genitals had suffered cuts “possibly caused by a hard object.” Her mouth had been taped up.

    Mrs. Pitao explained how, with the police officers listening, tricycle driver Danny Peliciano told her that two unknown men had boarded his vehicle alongside Rebelyn when she climbed in to ride home. As they neared Bago Gallera de Oro subdivision a white van – a Toyota Revo – blocked their path and forced the tricycle to stop.

    “Two other men came out of the van and dragged her out of the tricycle. The driver said Rebelyn was screaming for help but he could not do anything because the men were armed. The driver said he ran away. Then they dragged my daughter inside the van.”

    Mrs. Pitao believes the other two men on the tricycle were accomplices and all four men climbed in the van.

    The abduction site is about 300 meters from the national highway and is beside a church with the nearest house 50 meters away.

    Peliciano is now missing: A fellow driver who did not wish to be named said that right after the incident he quit working his usual route and disappeared. “He is no longer staying at home and we have no idea where he is now. I think he went into hiding because he is a witness,” said the man.

    Mrs. Pitao believes her daughter may have been attacked inside the van or taken to a place in nearby Panabo City or Carmen where she was tied up, tortured and killed soon after and then taken after dark to the ditch.

    It is believed she was dumped there between midnight and 1 a.m.

    According to a police report obtained by the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project from the Carmen police station, Rebelyn’s body was discovered by rice farmer Raffy Agres whose signed affidavit says he found her lying in the flooded ditch at around 5 p.m. that Thursday.

    “You could hardly see the body even when you were just beside the canal because of the grass here and the ridge,” said banana plantation worker Noel Lanoy who was with Agres when Rebelyn was found.

    “He screamed out that a body had been dumped and it was a summary killing,” said Lanoy. “I first thought it was a banana tree trunk.”

    Egles Brieta whose house lies about 100 meters away from the scene, says she didn’t see or hear any vehicle that would have been needed to dump Rebelyn’s body. “It is so quiet here, yet we didn’t hear anything or anybody.”

    A makeshift bamboo cross now stands in the knee-deep water where Rebelyn was found. According to Brieta, the bodies of two men were also found dumped here in 2004.

    Outrage and denials

    The abduction, torture and killing of Rebelyn have been met with widespread disgust and condemnation alongside public pledges to deliver justice and ensure an open, independent and transparent investigation.

    President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered government agencies to conduct a thorough investigation, and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has called the abduction, torture and murder “a deed most foul and the work of a monster.”

    A senior military officer has called it “a crime against humanity,” with Senator Richard Gordon calling it a “war crime.”

    So far however, Task Force Rebelyn, the group set up to investigate the crime claims it has few real leads. Davao City Police Chief Senior Superintendent Ramon Apolinario initially complained his men had only a few clues to work with – the testimonies of the tricycle driver and the rice farmer who found her –along with a description of the van allegedly used.

    Rebelyn’s guerilla father claims the vehicle has been spotted parked outside a “known army safe house in Carmen” –something the military hotly denies.

    Almost from the very moment she was reported missing, the Philippine Army’s high command has come out vehemently and repeatedly in public to deny the military was in any way responsible for Rebelyn’s abduction or her subsequent torture and killing.

    But after her own father –Commander Parago – publicly named four military suspects as his daughter’s killers on Sunday, the Army’s position has slowly changed. While it still denies any responsibility, it now admits two of the men Parago mentioned are currently their military intelligence officers who are now “restricted” to the barracks at the 10th Infantry Division headquarters in Camp Panacan in Davao.

    The military is now pledging 100 per cent cooperation with the police inquiry but insists the investigation also has to follow up all other leads too.

    A few days earlier, Major General Reynaldo B. Mapagu, Commander of the 10th ID, denied any involvement of the military in the killing of Rebelyn, adding that it was “not the policy of the Philippine Army to target civilians in its campaign against the communist insurgents.”

    And in a separate press statement, Lt. Colonel Rolando Bautista, 10th ID spokesperson, said they understand the ordeal of the family of Rebelyn “but it would be unfair to blame the incident (on) the military.”

    In the hours after she first went missing, military sources suggested Rebelyn was probably the victim of infighting between members of the NPA. They added that she may also have been targeted by relatives of people who were themselves kidnapped and abused by Parago over the years.

    But Rebelyn’s father is adamant that no other group could be behind her killing and claims the army “lashed out at her because they couldn’t get me.”

    He does not believe that any government-led investigation will bring justice for her daughter.

    “There were so many investigations for the victims of extrajudicial killings but none so far have been solved,” he said. “Not just political killings but also killing of journalists in this country -what happened to their investigations?”

    Ominously, he added: “We (the NPA) will be the ones to investigate and punish those behind the killing of my daughter.”

    Prepared with sacrifices

    Chief of the NPA’s 1st Pulang Bagani Command which operates in the fringes of this huge city, Parago said the killing of his daughter would “strengthen and intensify the efforts to continue the revolution.

    “I’m hurt and I’m enraged. Yet even if I cry, there’s nothing I could do to bring her back. When I learned that she was abducted, I already knew that were going to kill her. I’ve been expecting that to happen not just to my daughter but to my entire family as well.”

    Parago’s son Ryan claims he too was attacked by military agents and now lives with his father as an NPA guerilla. “They tried to stab me in 2005 and the next day I left to come here. Had I not, I would have been dead now just like Rebelyn.”

    Parago broke his silence three days after her daughter was found dead. The Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project and several journalists met up with him at a location in the outskirts of this city.

    “Since I joined the NPA (in 1978), I’ve been expecting that something will happen to my family,” he said. “You have to be prepared with all the sacrifices in all aspects when you’ll join the revolution.”

    Clad in black military uniform, smoking a cigarette and in full battle dress, the 51-year-old Parago worried that what happened to Rebelyn may also happen to other members of his family. “There is a big possibility that they will do my family harm because they could hardly capture me.”

    Parago accused two named sergeants with the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) and two named officers serving in the Military Intelligence Battalion (MIB) as those who he says are directly responsible for his daughter’s death. In a separate interview with a radio station he also named others –including an Army major.

    Parago said that based on the NPA’s “own intelligence information,” the four intelligence officers were responsible for the killing of his brother Danilo in June last year alongside others. “My brother was a provincial guard of Davao del Norte -he was a government employee, and yet still he was killed.”

    A spokesperson of the Army’s 10th ID has confirmed the names Parago mentioned to the journalists are members of the military. Two of them he confirmed are being held in the divisional barracks. The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Randolph Cabangbang said the military would fully cooperate with the police investigation.

    “We are also affected; the military organization is very concerned about this and by the perception of civilians. We are not looking into this incident as soldiers but as fathers too,” stressed Cabangbang.

    He added they were also investigating the white Toyota Revo with the plate number LPG-588 that was reportedly used in abducting Rebelyn. “We verified the plate number to the Land of Transportation office,” he said – “but apparently it is not registered or found in the LTO’s database.”

    Cabangbang was adamant there “would be no whitewash or cover-up” in the investigation “even if the suspects are from the military.”

    He added: “We will give the PNP (Philippine National Police) a free hand on this. We also welcome an independent body to conduct its own investigation to help bring justice for Rebelyn. This incident is already beyond the fighting between the AFP and the NPA, this is already an attack against humanity.”

    He flatly denied the military conducted surveillance on the Pitao family: “The only subject for our surveillance is Parago – not his entire family”

    Elusive Parago

    Parago has long been a wanted man: Former commander of the Philippine Army’s 10th ID Major General Jogy Leo Fojas last year vowed his troops would “nail the elusive Parago” before the end of 2008.

    Parago has been accused of kidnapping and killing civilians, whom the NPA suspected as “military intelligence assets.” He admits his guerillas have killed suspected informers in cold blood: Parago claimed he knew his “comrades” were responsible for the killing of an informer, but was “not around when the execution happened.”

    ”The People’s Court does not kill innocent civilians, we carefully examine their crimes against the people before we carry out punishments,” he said.

    Yet there is no such recognized court under national or international law and many people see absolutely no difference between extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by the military and those said to be committed by the NPA.

    In January 7, the NPA are believed to have killed Saturnino Rizaldo, a suspected member of the military intelligence group. A month later, they also reportedly murdered a second intelligence agent in Paquibato district here.

    In a mobile phone interview, Simon Santiago, southern Mindanao political director of the NPA, told the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project that the NPA executed Rizaldo because of his “crime against humanity.”

    “The NPA has standing order against those who have committed serious crime against the masses,” Santiago stressed.

    The other victim he said was “a former NPA member turned military asset.”

    Remembering Rebelyn

    Parago said he waited until his daughter was 11 before telling her he was the known Commander Parago of Southern Mindanao. “When they (my children) asked me where I was, I often told them I was working abroad.”

    Shortly after his release from a prison sentence in 2000 and learning that he would again go back to join the NPA, Parago recalled Rebelyn saying: “Pa, abi nako mag uban na ta hangtud sa hangtud (Pa, I thought we would be together again forever).”

    Parago was captured by military agents in 1999 at his home in Toril district. He was released without preconditions after spending just under two years in jail.

    He also recounted the time when Rebelyn asked for a new pair of jeans and he couldn’t give her one. “I told her to ask for the old pair of jeans from her older sister. Rebelyn did it and did not complain. When her mother was finally able to give her a new pair, Rebelyn was so happy and grateful. Even for the smallest things, Rebelyn never forgot to say ‘thank you.’”

    Mrs. Pitao also recalled that since Rebelyn was still small, she really wanted to be a teacher. “Since she was small, that was her dream -and she really fulfilled her dream,” she said.

    Rebelyn served as a substitute teacher for five months at St. Peter’s College of Technology and taught Grade 2.

    Her mother recalled how happy Rebelyn was when she had her first salary of PhP 7,800 (USD 162). “She was so happy because that was her first time that she actually had some real money.”

    Mrs. Pitao added said that her daughter’s fellow teachers were surprised to learn she was the daughter of Commander Parago. “Yet their treatment towards us never changed. They even sympathized with us because they knew we were not part of the conflict -we were not combatants.”

    Held hostage

    Mrs. Pitao claimed the military had harassed their family in the past. In 1999, she insisted, seven military agents came into their house and briefly held the family hostage to force her husband to surrender.

    “They knew my husband was coming down to visit us because it was All Saints Day,” she recalls. “The children were so scared because we were all held at gunpoint.”

    Parago also claims to remember the alleged incident: “I went there to visit but was surprised to see the military. I had a grenade with me but had I tossed it inside my house it would have killed my family as well as the agents –and so I let myself get captured.”

    Mrs. Pitao said the incident was a traumatic experience for the children: “Trauma has been gone for a long time but now it’s back again because of what happened to their sister.”

    Safety of the family

    Davao City Police have been providing 24-hour security during Rebelyn’s wake and Mrs. Pitao said she was thankful to Mayor Duterte. While having gone on record as saying he dismissed all allegations that any military or police officers could be involved in the killing, the mayor has made a public promise to Parago to find those responsible. The two have even spoken together on the phone.

    For her part, Mrs. Pitao is refusing to comment on her family’s future security: “We cannot say anything about it now or what are we going to do now. We have yet to talk about it. But I admit that we are very affected. I’m worried about my children because two of them are still studying and they are now worried for their security.”

    Rebelyn’s death brings the number of victims of extrajudicial killings in southern Mindanao since 2001 up to 93 according to Kelly Delgado, secretary general of the human rights group Karapatan for southern Mindanao region.

    Authorities contest Karapatan’s figure and insist it is much lower. But it is not known if either figure includes an anti-mining activist who was shot dead by two gunmen on Monday March 9 in nearby Koronadal City.

    Delgado claims the killing of Rebelyn was intended as a warning: “This is a message for the family members of not just the NPA but as well those who are in the progressive organizations that they too can be targets,” Delgado said. “It is also a message meant to demoralize our ranks.”

    “Since the government has set 2010 as the deadline to crush the communist movement, extrajudicial killings may even get worse because civilians whom they suspect as communist supporters will become soft targets,” Delgado said.

    “The killings have become systemic and it is impossible to stop them. What we can do now is to become vigilant and impose security measures among people.”

    Retired Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have set a 2010 deadline to end the insurgency.

    But last year, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano admitted that the government might not be able to wipe out the 40-year-old communist movement by 2010.

    The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), turns 40 on March 29 –the day before a public hearing on vigilante killings is due to open here.

    Bishop Delfin Callao of the Philippine Independent Church has said that an independent body needs to be created to investigate Rebelyn’s killing.

    “How can you investigate if you are the accused?” Callao asked reporters in a press conference last week. The investigation, he insisted, should not allow any representatives from government agencies, police or military to join.

    “This will assure us of complete impartiality and the findings can be the basis of any criminal charges to be filed against the suspects.”

    The investigating body, he said, should be composed of the people from church and civil society organizations. “Even if the government authorities snub the results, the most important thing here is we surface the truth.”

    Rebelyn’s funeral and burial is due to be held here on Saturday March 14. Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project

    (The author is a journalist based in Davao City and one of the founders of AKP Images, an independent photo agency.)


    Why Is the Military Being Blamed Over Poor Rebelyn?
    by Alan Davis
    Posted Thursday, 12 March 2009

    Has the military made itself an obvious suspect in Rebelyn Pitao’s killing because of its activity in so-called “white (urban) areas?”

    What is its policy in these areas anyway and why is the military investigating alleged links between armed insurgents and what been described as the “intellectual sector” by a senior army boss?

    Why is a deputy chief of staff talking about an “intellectual sector” anyway? And what does it mean or indicate? Is it that the army suspects a series of civilian fronts are assisting the New People’s Army in some way and that therefore makes them legitimate army targets?

    A senior military commander in Mindanao I spoke to in November told me ‘absolutely not – not unless they are armed and trying to use their weapon.’

    They would of course not be civilians, but guerillas in such cases.

    But why then is the army talking this way and is it active in urban areas?

    If crimes are suspected and laws have been broken with regard to extortion, illegal fundraising or even summary killings, the police and not the military should be involved.

    Major General Romeo Lustestica, deputy chief of staff for operations in Philippine army appeared in front of the media in Camp Aguinaldo on January 8 this year saying the military were committed to “dismantling priority areas including clearing 30 white (urban) area committees” as part of the government’s aim of ending the communist insurgency “once and for all” late next year. The story was well reported in the following day’s papers.

    These areas he said were the “umbilical cord” where the “red areas” –the guerillas in the mountains – get their alleged support. These “white areas” were also where ‘cadres” from the so-called “intellectual sector” are recruited.

    Is then the military being blamed for Rebelyn’s death –fairly or unfairly– because by its own admission, it is involved in areas it probably shouldn’t be in? Exactly what are these anyway, and how tight is the chain of command and control linking the chief of staff and regional commanders with military intelligence groups, the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) and village defense units that have been recently set up, armed and trained to look out for suspected guerilla activity?

    Task Force Rebelyn, the police group set up to investigate last week’s abduction and brutal killing of the 20-year-old teacher and daughter of the NPA’s Commander Parago needs answers to these questions. We all do – not least Rebelyn’s mother, siblings, friends and workmates.

    While the Task Force obviously must investigate every possible motive and lead, the fact remains that fairly or unfairly the military is being blamed for her death by many. “Like it or not, we (the government) will be blamed.”

    So said Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro on Monday (March 9):

    He went on: “Whoever is responsible, the Armed Forces are affected. For the sake of truth and the institution, we want a transparent investigation and I want to find out who was responsible.”

    Teodoro was himself at Camp Aguinaldo back in January when the AFP rolled out its plans to “dismantle” a total of 54 NPA fronts this year. And a few hours after he spoke on Monday, the leader of an anti-development aggression group was shot dead by gunmen in nearby Koronadal City. Eleazar “Boy” Billanes was head of something called the Anti-Development Aggression Coalition.

    The military may unjustly be accused of both killings.

    Eleazar Billanes might have been killed by those business interests who opposed his campaigning against them: he might have been killed for personal reasons – or he may even have been killed by some elements in or connected to the military because he thought to be sympathetic or in some way connected to the NPA.

    Who knows right now?

    The defense secretary’s problem is that a lot of right-minded people believe the military has a case to answer in connection with many previous killings and enforced disappearances and so will simply add these to the “charge sheet.”

    This doesn’t mean the NPA and people like Rebelyn’s own father don’t similarly have a serious case to answer.

    But the military act for the state and too many people believe they are impenetrable, ubiquitous, and unable to clearly differentiate between what constitutes a real threat to state security and what is legitimate dissent.

    To be fair, it sometimes is not always crystal clear what the threat is and what laws, if any at all, have been broken. Without doubt, some groups probably exploit that: Invariably there are NPA sympathizers in towns and cities and villages across the Philippines.

    But that is no crime and ultimately it is for the police and law enforcement agencies to determine if and when a crime has been committed and when a political sympathizer becomes a conspirator and- or insurgent.

    It is not the job of the army to do police work. The job of a soldier is typically to find the enemy – and kill them.

    This problem surely lies at the heart of the matter –especially when the military are caught talking about closing down ‘urban fronts.’

    Nobody can fairly deny there is a continuing armed insurgency in the Philippines which espouses revolutionary ideals, targets agents of the state and engages in criminal activity including extortion, kidnapping and murder. A nation’s military has the duty to defend the political system, the elected administration and too the constitution if it is under threat.

    Really under threat that is –from armed revolutionaries – not leftwing critics.

    The problem is that if soldiers have to be deployed on their own soil to confront their own compatriots there will invariably be tragedies and abuses on all sides.

    The British army was sent onto the streets of Northern Ireland forty years ago in a vain effort to keep the peace –and became a seemingly intractable part of the conflict itself. The continuing presence of the British army only helped people on all sides avoid addressing fundamental issues which were a stepping stone to peace. Terrorism appears to be returning this week to the streets of Northern Ireland, but the government is wisely refusing to redeploy the military.

    The AFP’s political masters in Manila might be wise to reconsider its own policy –particularly given it claims to be winning the ‘war’ against the NPA – and particularly given concerns over what its aims are in these so called “white (urban) areas.”

    Was Rebelyn somehow caught up as an innocent victim in some “white (urban) area” policy? Who knows? One can only conclude though that it is the position and statements of military chiefs that precisely put them in the frame and if they do not want to be “unfairly accused”, people need to come clean on what the policy is and who is doing what.

    Will the insurgency really end by force of arms whether employed in the hills or urban centers?

    Probably not:

    The wisest words this week come from one of the army’s own – Lt. General Victor Ibrado who was quoted speaking in Bacolod City in relation to the army campaign against the NPA. He reportedly admitted that the insurgency could not be completely annihilated by 2010, adding: “Insurgency is not a military war, but a socio-economic and political problem, which has to be solved by all of us.”

    Perfectly put and Ibrado’s superiors and political masters would do well to listen. For in the case of poor Rebelyn –and others – the military may or may not be actually responsible – but the hierarchy do have themselves in part to blame –at least those who shape and implement policy in so-called “white (urban) areas.”

    Such a policy – whatever it is – and that should be the focus of serious investigation – helps give the military a poor reputation in the eyes of many. And that is not fair to those many honorable soldiers in the Philippine Army who serve –and sometimes die– for their country.

    But everybody needs to understand it was Rebelyn’s country too.

    Alan Davis
    Director, Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project
    Director, Institute for War and Peace Reporting special projects


  14. A bloody milestone: 100 journalists killed in the Philippines since 1986

    Written by
    Friday, 13 March 2009

    Feb. 23, 2009 should be remembered as a milestone, albeit not a happy one, in the recent history of the Philippine press.

    On that day, Ernesto Rollin of Oroquieta City became the 100th journalist to be killed in the Philippines since 1986, when we were supposed to have regained our democracy.

    100 deaths, meant to silence men and women whose calling was to serve the people’s right to know; 100 deaths that expose as a mockery government’s claims to being a democracy.

    100 deaths that, at the same time, are a testament to the determination of the members of the independent Philippine press, who continue performing their duties despite all the attempts to stifle them, including through the ultimate censorship.

    In a democracy, life is held sacred and rights inviolable. In a democracy, free expression and opinion, including or, rather, especially the contrary, are valued. For it is in the arena of free discourse that democracy thrives.

    And surely a democracy would never suppress the truth.

    Unfortunately, aside from the regular lip service it pays, and the predictable creation of mostly useless task forces, government has done practically nothing to stop the killings and other assaults on journalists and bring the perpetrators, including masterminds, to justice.

    Especially not this administration.

    Not only have more than half the murders – 64 of 100 – happened during its watch, this administration is the only one since the unlamented Marcos dictatorship, that has actually attempted the wholesale muzzling of the press, as it did with its threats of takeover during the short-lived state of national emergency in 2006.

    More often than not, when reminded that its inaction and apathy to the killings is akin to tacit approval of these atrocities, this administration has often resorted to blaming a lack of ethics and professionalism among journalists, as if these justified the loss of lives and government’s failure to protect its citizens.

    And it is only in this administration that a presidential spouse has deigned to undertake his own large-scale harassment of the press by filing multiple libel cases against more than 40 journalists without a peep from the chief executive.

    We continue to mourn our 100 fallen colleagues, deprived of justice, even as we hail them as martyrs to our continuing struggle for genuine freedom of the press and expression.

    We vow that their deaths shall not be in vain, that we who remain shall not waver, in the face of continued threats and assaults and government’s failure or refusal to protect its citizenry, in our duty to deliver to our audiences the information so crucial to shaping their individual and collective future.

    Let us remember the fallen 100:

    1986 (3)
    Pete F. Mabazza
    Manila Bulletin
    1986 – April 24

    Wilfredo “Willy” Vicoy
    1986 – April 24

    Florante “Boy” de Castro
    DXCP/General Santos City

    1987 (6)
    Dionisio Perpetuo Joaquin
    Olongapo News
    1987 – April 12

    Narciso Balani
    DXRA / Davao City
    1987 – Aug. 27

    Rogie Zagado
    DXRA / Davao City
    1987 – Aug. 27

    Leo Palo
    DXRA / Davao City
    1987 – Aug. 27

    Martin Castor
    Pilipino Ngayon
    1987 – Aug. 28

    Ramon Noblejas
    DYVL/Tacloban City
    1987 – Aug. 28

    1988 (3)
    Noel Miranda
    Mindanao Scanner
    1988 – March 29

    Ruben R. Manrique
    Luzon Tribune/Bataan
    1988 – Aug. 12

    Josef Aldeguer Nava
    Visayan Life Today/lloilo
    1988 – 0ct. 30

    1989 (2)
    Severino Arcones
    DYFM-Radyo Bombo/ lloilo
    1989 – 0ct. 17

    Eddie Telan
    1989 – Dec. 0I

    1990 (2)
    Reynaldo Catindig Sr.
    Northern Sierra Madre Express/Isabela
    1990 – May 15

    Jean Ladringan
    Southern Star/General Santos City
    1990 – July 08

    1991 (1)
    Nesino Paulin Toling
    Panguil Bay Monitor/ Ozamiz
    1991 – April 14

    1992 (4)
    Danilo Vergara
    Philippine Post
    1992 – July 01

    Ladjid Ladja
    Prensa Zamboanga
    1992 – JuIy 03

    Rev. Greg Hapalla
    1992 – Sep. 21

    Gloria Martin
    DXXX/ Isabela Basilan
    1992 – Dec. 30

    1993 (3)
    Romeo Andrada Legaspi
    Voice of Zambales
    1993 – Jan. 11

    Rosauro Lao
    Cotabato News
    1993 – Nov. 22

    Ding Sade
    Cotabato News
    1993 – Nov. 22

    1994 (-)
    1995 (-)

    1996 (2)
    Ferdinand Reyes
    Press Freedom/Dipolog City
    1996 – Feb. 12

    Alberto Berbon
    DZMM / Manila
    1996 – Dec. 15

    1997 (3)
    Evelyn Joy Militante
    GMA Channel 2 / Legazpi City

    Daniel J. Hernandez
    People’s Journal Tonight / Manila
    1997 – June 03

    Regalado Mabazza
    Polaris cable network
    1997 – Dec. 17

    1998 (4)
    Odilon Mallari
    DXCP / General Santos City
    1998 – February

    Rey Bancairin
    DXLL / Zamboanga City
    1998 – March 29

    Nelson Catipay
    DXMY/ Cotabato
    1998 – April 16

    Dominador “Dom” Bentulan
    DXGS / General Santos City
    1998 – Oct. 30

    1999 (1)
    Frank Palma
    Bombo Radyo / Bacolod
    1999 – April 25

    2000 (2)
    Vincent Rodriguez
    DZMM / Pampanga
    2000 – May 23

    Olimpio Jalapit
    DXPR / Pagadian City
    2000 – Nov. 17

    2001 (4)
    Rolando Ureta
    DYKR / Kalibo, Aklan
    2001 – Jan. 03

    Eldy Gabinales (Eldy Sablas)
    DXJR-FM / Tandag, Surigao del Sur
    2004 – Oct. 19

    Gene Boyd Lumawag
    MindaNews / Jolo, Sulu
    2004 – Nov. 12

    Herson Hinolan
    Bombo Radyo / Kalibo, Aklan
    2004 – Nov. 13

    Michael Llorin
    Freelance photojournalist/ Manila
    2004 – Nov. 13

    Allan Dizon
    Freeman Cebu and Banat News
    2004 – Nov. 27

    Stephen Omaois
    Guru News Weekly / Kalinga
    2004 – Dec. 1

    2005 (10)
    Edgar Amoro
    Freelance broadcaster
    Pagadian City
    2005 – Feb. 2

    Arnulfo Villanueva
    Asian Star Express Balita
    Naic, Cavite
    2005 – Feb. 28

    Romeo Sanchez
    DZNL, Baguio
    2005 – March 9

    Marlene Garcia Esperat
    The Midland Review / Tacurong City
    2005 – March 24

    Klein Cantoneros
    DXAA-FM / Dipolog City
    2005 – May 4

    Philip Agustin
    Starline Times Recorder / Dingalan, Aurora
    2005 – May 10

    Rolando Morales
    DWMD-Radio Mindanao Network, South Cotabato
    2005 – July 3

    Ricardo “Ding” Uy
    DZRS-AM Sorsogon City
    2005 – November 18

    Robert Ramos
    Katapat, Laguna
    2005 – November 21

    George Benaojan
    DYDD, Cebu City
    2005 – December 2

    2006 (13)
    Rolly Cañete
    DXPR, Pagadian City
    2006 – January 20

    Graciano Aquino
    Central Luzon Forum, Bataan
    2006 – January 21

    Orlando Mendoza
    Tarlac Profile / Tarlac Patrol
    2006 – April 2

    Nicolas Cervantes
    2006 – May 2

    Albert Orsolino
    Saksi Ngayon
    2006 – May 16

    Fernando “Dong” Batul
    DYPR Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    2006 – May 22

    George Vigo
    Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), Kidapawan City
    2006 – June 19

    Macel Alave-Vigo
    DXND Kidapawan City
    2006 – June 19

    Armando Pace
    Radyo Ukay dxDS Digos City
    2006 – July 18

    Ralph Ruñez
    RPN 9, NCR
    2006- July 28

    Prudencio Melendrez
    Saksi Ngayon, Metro Manila
    2006- July 31

    Ponciano Grande
    The Recorder and Nueva Ecija Times
    2006- December 7

    Andres “Andy” Acosta
    dzJC Aksyon Radyo Ilocos Norte
    2006- December 20

    2007 (5)
    Hernani Pastolero
    Lightning Courier Sultan Kudarat
    2007- February 19

    Carmelo Palacios
    Radyo ng Bayan Nueva Ecija
    2007- April 18

    Dodie Nuñez
    Katapat Cavite
    2007- May 21

    Vicente Sumalpong
    Radyo ng Bayan Tawi-Tawi
    2007- June 25

    Fernando “Batman” Lintuan
    dxGO Aksyon Radyo
    2007- December 24

    2008 (7)
    Benefredo Y. Acabal
    Pilipino Newsmen Cavite-Bulacan
    2008- April 7

    Marcos Mataro
    UNTV 37 Manila
    2008- April 27

    Bert Sison
    DZAT-AM Lucena City
    2008- July 1

    Martin Roxas
    RMN DYVR – Roxas City, Capiz
    2008- August 7

    Dennis Cuesta
    RMN DXMD – General Santos City
    2008- August 9

    Arecio Pagrigao
    Radio Natin – Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental
    2008- November 17

    Leo Luna Mila
    Radio Natin – Northern Samar
    2008- December 2

    2009 (2)
    Badrodin Abas
    dxCM – Radyo Ukay
    2009- January 21

    Ernie Rollin
    dxSY-AM – Oroquieta City,. Misamis Oriental
    2009- February 23

    Muhammad Yusop
    DXID / Pagadian City
    2001 – Feb. 24

    Candelario Cayona
    DXLL / Zamboanga City
    2001 – May 30

    Joy Mortel
    Mindoro Guardian
    2001 – May 31

    2002 (3)
    Benjaline “Beng” Hernandez
    CEGP / Davao
    2002 – April 05

    Edgar Damalerio
    DXKP, Zamboanga Scribe /
    Mindanao Gold Star, Pagadian City
    2002 – May 13

    Sonny Alcantara
    Kokus / Celestron Cable TV
    San Pablo City
    2002 – Aug. 22

    2003 (7)
    John Belen Villanueva Jr.
    DZGB /Legazpi City
    2003 – April 28

    Apolinario “Polly” Pobeda
    DWTI / Lucena City
    2003 – May 17

    Bonifacio Gregorio
    Dyaryo Banat / Tarlac
    2003 – July 8

    Bonifacio Gregorio
    Dyaryo Banat / Tarlac
    2003 – July 8

    Rico Ramirez
    DXSF/Butuan City
    2003 – Aug. 20

    Juan “Jun” Pala
    DXGO/Davao City
    2003 – Sept. 6

    Nelson Nadura
    DYME/Masbate City
    2003 – Dec. 2

    2004 (13)
    Rowel Endrinal
    DZRC/Legazpi City
    2004 – Feb. 11

    Elpidio “Ely” Binoya
    Radyo Natin
    General Santos City
    2004 – June 17

    Roger Mariano
    DZJC-Aksyon Radio/ Laoag
    2004 – July 31

    Arnnel Manalo
    2004 – Aug. 5

    Jonathan Abayon
    RGMA Superadyo
    General Santos City
    2004 – Aug. 8

    Fernando Consignado
    Radio Veritas / Laguna
    2004 – Aug. 12

    Romy Binungcal
    Remate / Bataan
    2004 – Sept. 29

    Eldy Gabinales (Eldy Sablas)
    DXJR-FM / Tandag, Surigao del Sur
    2004 – Oct. 19

    Gene Boyd Lumawag
    MindaNews / Jolo, Sulu
    2004 – Nov. 12

    Herson Hinolan
    Bombo Radyo / Kalibo, Aklan
    2004 – Nov. 13

    Michael Llorin
    Freelance photojournalist/ Manila
    2004 – Nov. 13

    Allan Dizon
    Freeman Cebu and Banat News
    2004 – Nov. 27

    Stephen Omaois
    Guru News Weekly / Kalinga
    2004 – Dec. 1

    2005 (10)
    Edgar Amoro
    Freelance broadcaster
    Pagadian City
    2005 – Feb. 2

    Arnulfo Villanueva
    Asian Star Express Balita
    Naic, Cavite
    2005 – Feb. 28

    Romeo Sanchez
    DZNL, Baguio
    2005 – March 9

    Marlene Garcia Esperat
    The Midland Review / Tacurong City
    2005 – March 24

    Klein Cantoneros
    DXAA-FM / Dipolog City
    2005 – May 4

    Philip Agustin
    Starline Times Recorder / Dingalan, Aurora
    2005 – May 10

    Rolando Morales
    DWMD-Radio Mindanao Network, South Cotabato
    2005 – July 3

    Ricardo “Ding” Uy
    DZRS-AM Sorsogon City
    2005 – November 18

    Robert Ramos
    Katapat, Laguna
    2005 – November 21

    George Benaojan
    DYDD, Cebu City
    2005 – December 2

    2006 (13)
    Rolly Cañete
    DXPR, Pagadian City
    2006 – January 20

    Graciano Aquino
    Central Luzon Forum, Bataan
    2006 – January 21

    Orlando Mendoza
    Tarlac Profile / Tarlac Patrol
    2006 – April 2

    Nicolas Cervantes
    2006 – May 2

    Albert Orsolino
    Saksi Ngayon
    2006 – May 16

    Fernando “Dong” Batul
    DYPR Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    2006 – May 22

    George Vigo
    Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), Kidapawan City
    2006 – June 19

    Macel Alave-Vigo
    DXND Kidapawan City
    2006 – June 19

    Armando Pace
    Radyo Ukay dxDS Digos City
    2006 – July 18

    Ralph Ruñez
    RPN 9, NCR
    2006- July 28

    Prudencio Melendrez
    Saksi Ngayon, Metro Manila
    2006- July 31

    Ponciano Grande
    The Recorder and Nueva Ecija Times
    2006- December 7

    Andres “Andy” Acosta
    dzJC Aksyon Radyo Ilocos Norte
    2006- December 20

    2007 (5)
    Hernani Pastolero
    Lightning Courier Sultan Kudarat
    2007- February 19

    Carmelo Palacios
    Radyo ng Bayan Nueva Ecija
    2007- April 18

    Dodie Nuñez
    Katapat Cavite
    2007- May 21

    Vicente Sumalpong
    Radyo ng Bayan Tawi-Tawi
    2007- June 25

    Fernando “Batman” Lintuan
    dxGO Aksyon Radyo
    2007- December 24

    2008 (7)
    Benefredo Y. Acabal
    Pilipino Newsmen Cavite-Bulacan
    2008- April 7

    Marcos Mataro
    UNTV 37 Manila
    2008- April 27

    Bert Sison
    DZAT-AM Lucena City
    2008- July 1

    Martin Roxas
    RMN DYVR – Roxas City, Capiz
    2008- August 7

    Dennis Cuesta
    RMN DXMD – General Santos City
    2008- August 9

    Arecio Pagrigao
    Radio Natin – Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental
    2008- November 17

    Leo Luna Mila
    Radio Natin – Northern Samar
    2008- December 2

    2009 (2)
    Badrodin Abas
    dxCM – Radyo Ukay
    2009- January 21

    Ernie Rollin
    dxSY-AM – Oroquieta City,. Misamis Oriental
    2009- February 23


    visit also:


  15. AI: ‘Investigate and end political killings’
    First Posted 15:13:00 03/16/2009

    Filed Under: Human Rights, Murder, Armed conflict, Media

    MANILA, Philippines – The human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) has urged the government to “take immediate steps to end politically motivated killings in the Philippines,” following the murders of a journalist, a rebel’s daughter, and an anti-mining activist in Mindanao over the past three weeks.

    Another journalist, Cagayan de Oro’s Nilo Labares, was also shot and wounded during the same period.

    In an statement dated March 12, AI cited the killings of broadcaster Ernesto Rollin in Oroquieta City on February 23; Rebelyn Pitao, the daughter of New People’s Army commander Leoncio Piteo, whose body was found March 5, a day after she was abducted in Davao City; and anti-mining Eliezer Billanes, who was gunned down in Koronadal City March 9.

    The organization said it welcomed the “public commitment of the National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to investigate the murder” of Pitao, which her family and activist groups blame on the military.

    AI said it would “monitor the progress of this and other investigations, which must be prompt, effective, independent, and impartial. It is only through such investigation that impunity for political killings will end.”

    It also urged the government to “institute safeguards to protect human rights defenders and journalists, who are conducting legitimate activities” and renewed calls for “authorities to take further steps to improve investigations and prosecutions of political killings,” including “the use of independent forensic expertise and the creation of an independent body to monitor investigations to ensure impartiality.”

    AI also noted that witnesses in cases of extrajudicial killings under investigation “are particularly vulnerable to intimidation and reprisals, and sometimes even death.”

    “Many have complained repeatedly about the failure of the police to provide protection for them and their families, and said they have lost confidence in the ability of the Department of Justice to provide protection,” it said.

    It also said that, since Task Force Usig, the special police unit created in 2006 to investigate extrajudicial killings following international pressure on the government, has had “limited success in ensuring justice for survivors and families of victims.”

    The victims’ families, it said, “often cite flaws in the justice process, such as delayed investigations, inadequate crime scene analysis leading to a lack of forensic evidence, and unwillingness to interview suspected military and police personnel.”

    Nonoy Espina


  16. Press Statement

    31 March 2009

    On the Decision of the Dutch Prosecution To Dismiss Case Against Me

    By Prof. Jose Maria Sison

    I am very happy that, because of insufficient legal and convincing
    evidence, the Public Prosecution Service of the Dutch government has
    decided to dismiss the case against me concerning the deaths of two
    security consultants and military assets of the Philippine reactionary

    I have always been confident that the case would eventually be dismissed
    because in the first place I am innocent of the allegation. Moreover,
    the Dutch courts have previously made a series of decisions to release
    me from detention because of insufficient evidence and the political
    context of the case against me. The decision of the Dutch Public
    Prosecution Service to drop the case is long overdue and much delayed.

    I am glad that the false charge against me has not prospered in the
    Dutch judicial system despite the pressure of the Philippine and US
    political authorities and the accommodation of these by the Dutch
    political authorities. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service is absurd
    for insinuating in its press release that a wall of fear has deterred
    witnesses from testifying against me.

    On the contrary, the Philippine political and military authorities
    fabricated the false charge and provided a whole bunch of false
    witnesses against me. The Dutch Court of Appeals no less said that it is
    doubtful if I can avail of my right to get my own witnesses and
    cross-examine the witnesses of the other side because of the political
    context of the case.

    I take this opportunity to thank once more all the people and organized
    forces worldwide who have supported me in my time of need against the
    false charge. I congratulate and thank my lawyer, Michiel Pestman, for
    successfully defending me against such false charge.

    My lawyer and I are considering what further legal action to take in
    order to seek full justice and demand compensation for the legal costs
    and the moral and material damages inflicted on me. I presume that
    together with their lawyers, the chairperson and members of the
    Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines
    (NDFP), their consultants and staffers, are considering similar legal
    action in relation to the simultaneous raids and seizure of properties
    carried out against them by the Dutch police at the time of my arrest on
    27 August 2007.

    Consequent to the dismissal of the case I hope for the following to develop:

    1.The Dutch Public Prosecution Service should prosecute those involved
    in the assassination attempts against me in the years 1991-2001. In this
    regard, I have filed a court case against the prosecution for failing to
    prosecute those who tried to assassinate me in The Netherlands.

    2.The Dutch government should respect my rights and should have my name
    removed from the terrorist list of the Council of the European Union
    in order to make amends for the injustices it has done to me in my
    asylum case, in the terrorist listing and in the false charge of
    murder by repeatedly using false charges supplied by the Philippine
    reactionary government.

    3.The dismissal of the case against me enables me to have more time to
    work for the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP in my
    capacity as NDFP chief political consultant. I am determined to work for
    a just and lasting peace in the Philippines on the basis of agreements
    on social, economic and political reforms that address the roots of the
    armed conflict.###

    For reference and interviews please contact:

    Prof. Jose Maria Sison
    Telephone Nos.: 00-31-30-2805781

    Atty. Michiel Pestman
    Telephone Nos.: 00-31-6-21584900

    (Unofficial translation)

    National Public Prosecution Service
    P. O. Box 395
    3000 AJ Rotterdam

    Notice of No Further Prosecution

    The prosecutor at the National Public Prosecution Service in Rotterdam
    gives notice to the suspect

    Prosecutors Office Number : 09/750006-06
    Name : SISON
    First Names : Jose Maria Canlas
    Born on : 8 February 1939 in Cabugao (Philippines)
    Address : Rooseveltlaan 778, 3526 BK
    City : Utrecht

    In whose criminal case a criminal pre-investigation has run, which was
    closed on 21 November 2007;

    The prosecutor shall not further prosecute him because of:
    insufficient legal and convincing evidence;

    In this way, this case is closed, unless:

    a.because of new facts or circumstances I have to review this decision
    b.the Court of Appeal still orders a prosecution. That is possible if
    someone else who is disadvantaged by the act of which you are now
    suspected complains over my decision not to further prosecute you.

    Rotterdam, 31 March 2009

    The prosecutor,
    Mrs. J. S. de Vries
    for this,
    (Sgd.) H. C. M. van Bruggen

    Copy to the lawyers on:


  17. US troops in Mindanao and the mysterious deaths of Gregan Cardeño and
    Capt. Javier Ignacio
    by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)
    (in cooperation with InPeace Mindanao and Karapatan)
    June 9, 2010

    Gregan Cardeño was recruited by a private military contractor to work as an interpreter for U.S. soldiers last
    February 1. On February 2, he was found dead, just a day after he started work in a military facility in
    Marawi City. He was working with an elite unit of US Special Forces called Liaison Coordination Elements (LCE).
    Less than two months later, Capt. Javier Ignacio of the Philippine Army – a friend who helped recruit Cardeño
    and was helping the family shed light on his death – was gunned down while he was on his way to a meeting
    with a human rights group conducting an independent investigation on the case.

    These two deaths have caused great concern among human rights groups for more than four months now,
    mostly due to an apparent cover‐up and the continued silence and seeming disinterest of the Philippine
    government to investigate the case and seek justice for the untimely demise of Cardeño and Capt. Ignacio.
    Adding to the frustration of the family are the Philippine government’s and the U.S. military’s failure to disclose
    the real circumstances that may have been the reason for Cardeño’s death.

    A simple case of suicide was how the Philippine police treated Cardeño’s death, but the distress calls his wife
    received before his body was found raises doubts as to the true nature and manner of his death. Even the
    Commission on Human Rights’ independent investigation report was inconclusive.

    The untimely death of Capt. Ignacio (and the death threats he had been receiving and attempts to bribe him
    prior to his death) fuels speculation that a cover‐up was being undertaken.

    These incidents have also led to the discovery of a questionable U.S. military facility in Marawi City, Lanao del
    Sur. Its presence, which heretofore was unknown, leads to questions on the United States’ plans to reestablish
    bases in the southern Philippines. What is the purpose of the military facility in Marawi City and why was it
    hidden from public knowledge? Why did the U.S. troops need the services of a translator who could speak
    Bahasa? What was Cardeño doing that caused him so much distress?

    Beyond the need to take a more active role in the full and impartial investigation of the deaths of Cardeño and
    Capt. Ignacio, the incoming Aquino administration will ultimately have to deal with the question of expanded
    and continuing presence of U.S. troops in Mindanao and their costs.

    I. Narrative of events
    Thirty‐three‐year‐old Gregan Cardeño signed on Jan. 30, 2010 a contract with Skylink Security and General
    Services, stating he would work as a security guard with the agency from Feb. 1 to April 30, 2010. The real
    nature of his employment, however, was as interpreter for US troops, subcontracted by the US manpowerproviding
    firm Dyn Corporation.

    Dyn Corporation

    The Philippines is just one of the numerous countries in which DynCorp
    International has a presence. In an article for the March 2004 issue of Esquire, in
    which he described DynCorp as “an American firm that specializes in high‐risk
    contract work for the Pentagon and the State Department,” conservative
    American journalist Tucker Carlson enumerated the other countries where
    DynCorp is present. Wrote Carlson:
    “Pick an unsafe country and DynCorp is likely to be there. In Afghanistan,
    DynCorp bodyguards protect Hamid Karzai, the most imperiled president on
    earth. In Colombia, DynCorp pilots fly coca‐killing crop dusters slow and low over
    drug plantations, an integral part of Washington’s Plan Colombia. DynCorp is in
    Kosovo, Israel (three of its employees were blown up and killed in Gaza last
    year), East Timor, Sarajevo, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Liberia, and many other
    sketchy places. Last spring, DynCorp – along with Kroll Inc. and as many as
    twenty other large private security companies, and perhaps dozens of smaller
    ones, employing tens of thousands of individual contractors – came to Iraq.”
    In 2007, DynCorp was the subject of the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT)
    Session on Colombia. The indictment, prepared by the José Alvear Restrepo
    Lawyers’ Collective, cites DynCorp for its role in the commission of human‐rights
    violations and crimes in Colombia, as well as other offenses in Nicaragua, Bosnia,
    Haiti, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

    Part of the indictment reads:
    “Its presence in countries receiving US military assistance (either in low‐intensity
    situations or in settings involving open US intervention) have produced
    important scandals, directly implicating the enterprise in the commission of
    crimes and human rights violations.

    “For instance, in the 1980s the enterprise was implicated in the Iran‐Contra
    scandal. In the 1990s, the enterprise became a fundamental component for the
    US intervention of Haiti. Lastly, DynCorp members in Bosnia were involved in the
    sexual trafficking of minors, but due to their immunity no one was ever tried
    before any court in the world.”

    In Iraq, DynCorp has won several contracts amounting to $750 million for
    training police forces.

    “Available information stresses that the Iraqi police, trained by private security
    enterprises like DynCorp, have become a key component in the current dirty
    war, rather than a foundation for democracy proclaimed by US authorities,” the
    indictment continues. “In fact, US federal investigators are examining reports of
    criminal fraud by DynCorp employees, including the sale of ammunition
    earmarked for the Iraqi police.”

    In Afghanistan, aside from providing personal security for Karzai, it has trained
    police forces and has deployed 337 police advisers. In October 2004, one of
    Karzai’s security personnel from DynCorp aroused controversy after slapping the
    Afghan transport minister.

    ‐‐ from “What’s a Notorious US Military Contractor Doing Inside the AFP’s Camp
    in Zamboanga?” by Alexander Martin Remollino,, 12 September

    Cardeno was said to be fluent in several languages: aside from the national language, he also knew Tausug,
    Visayan, and Bahasa Indonesia.

    He had learned about the job opening from his friend, Capt. Javier Ignacio of the Philippine Army.
    Two days later, at about 6:45 am, his wife Myrna accompanied Cardeno to Edwin Andrews Air Base in
    Zamboanga City, from where he was to be flown to Cotabato City en route to Camp Sionco in Datu Odin
    Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

    At around 7:48 am on Feb. 2, Cardeno’s sister Carivel received a message from his mobile phone saying he had
    instead been brought to Marawi City. When asked whether he was fine, he replied in the affirmative.

    At 2:00 pm that same day, his tone had changed. “This is not the job I expected, this is so hard,” Cardeno told
    Carivel during a call. He sounded as though he was crying, and when asked what his actual job was, he could
    not reply. He asked Carivel to contact Skylink, ask for his salary, and request that he be pulled out of the US
    military facility where he had been assigned. He also said the only Filipinos working in the US military facility
    were himself and the cook, who goes home every afternoon. The call was then cut off.

    Two hours later, he called Myrna and said, “I’m in Marawi, they brought me here… I’m in a very difficult
    situation.” She advised him to return home anytime the following day to Zamboanga Sibugay, where they live.
    After that the call was cut.

    Later that day Cardeno called Myrna again, asking, “If ever I go home, would you still accept me?”
    “Why?” Myrna replied. “Did you do anything wrong?”
    The line went dead.

    At around 2:00 pm the next day, Carivel received a call from Cardeno’s mobile phone and was surprised to hear
    a different voice from the other end. It was an SPO3 Ali Guibon Rangiris of the Marawi City Police Station,
    informing her that Gregan had hung himself with a bed sheet at the barracks of the Philippine Army’s 103rd
    Infantry Brigade at Camp Ranao, Brgy. Datu Saber, Marawi City. SPO3 Rangiris also told Carivel the US troops
    were preparing to transport Gregan’s body to Zamboanga.

    The helicopter carrying the corpse arrived at Edwin Andrews Air Base at around 4:00 pm that same day. His
    relatives, however, were barred from claiming the body there, and were instead advised to later view it at the
    La Merced Memorial Homes in Zamboanga City.

    The cadaver was brought to La Merced without the required certificate of clearance from the appropriate
    government agency and death certificate from the Office of the Civil Registrar. Instead, a physician from the
    Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office in Zamboanga City, Dr. Rodolfo Valmoria, conducted a postmortem

    As the family observed, the body was not yet in rigor mortis though they had been informed Cardeno had been
    dead for 16 hours. They also noticed that the area around his upper body was filled with ice.

    That same day, the Marawi City Police Station reported on the incident, by radio, to the Lanao del Sur
    Provincial Police Office. The report identified Gregan’s assignment as a unit of the US military known as Liaison
    Coordination Elements (LCEs) based in Camp Ranao.

    In an article for the November‐December 2006 issue of Military Review,
    “Anatomy of a Successful COIN Operation: OEF‐Philippines and the Indirect
    Approach,” then‐Col. Gregory Wilson of the US Army explained the work of LCEs
    as follows:

    “Deployed at the tactical level, SF advisory teams called liaison coordination
    elements (LCE) are small, tailored, autonomous teams of special operations
    personnel from all services. They advise and assist select AFP units in planning and
    fusing all sources of intelligence in support of operations directed at insurgentterrorist
    organizations. LCEs conduct decentralized planning and execution using a
    robust reachback capability to the JSOTF‐P to leverage additional assets in
    support of AFP operations. These assets range from intelligence, surveillance, and
    reconnaissance assets such as tactical unmanned aerial vehicles to humanitarian
    assistance to tailored information products.”

    In one of his footnotes to the article, Wilson said LCEs “generally consist of 4 to 12
    SF advisers who are embedded with select AFP ground, naval, and air forces down
    to the battalion level.”

    At around 8:00 pm on Feb. 5, Carivel called SPO3 Rangiris, who this time contradicted his earlier statement
    saying Cardeno was actually found lying on the floor and when his body was found, the area was already

    Four days later, Cardeno’s sister Grace called Capt. Mike Kay, team leader of the US troops in Camp Ranao, and
    inquired about his death. Captain Kay replied that his colleagues had contributed money and asked how they
    can send it, saying further that they intended to send it the next day.

    On Feb. 11, at around 3:00 pm, Cardeno’s relatives went to the headquarters of the Western Command at
    Upper Calarian, Zamboanga City and had a dialogue with US officers identified only as Captain Boyer and
    Master Sergeant Gines regarding his employment status with the Joint Special Operations Task Force‐
    Philippines. Captain Boyer said Skylink should open dialogue with them after Gregan’s burial.

    On Feb. 13, Dr. Atanasius Rufon of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) did an autopsy on Gregan’s body
    as the family requested.

    That same day, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) investigators Raul Quiboyen and Reymundo Ituralde
    arrived in Ipil and asked Gregorio Cardeño, a relative of Gregan, to sign a complaint form.
    Gregan was buried on Feb. 15 at the Ipil Public Cemetery.On March 4, Gregan’s relatives received the autopsy results.

    Two days later, they approached CHR Chairwoman Leila de Lima for help and asked for a re‐autopsy, which
    request was approved.

    That same day, Judge Advocate General Office (JAGO) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) personnel went
    to the NBI‐Zamboanga office. The JAGO personnel ordered the latter to investigate the case.

    According to Faruk Batara of CHR‐Iligan City, FBI personnel went to Marawi City and conducted investigation on
    the case. The CHR, through Dr. Joseph Jimenez, conducted the re‐autopsy on March 25.

    On that same day he was expected to join the Cardeño family and a delegation from Karapatan, Captain
    Ignacio was shot dead by four men riding on separate motorcycles. Before that, he had been talking to the
    Cardeños and helping in the investigation. He also met with representatives of Karapatan. He had been
    receiving death threats and was also offered a bribe him to keep ilent. Captain Ignacio appeared to have
    information on the movement and activities of the US troops and how this was related to the death of Gregan.

    II. Analysis and demands
    The autopsies conducted on Gregan’s body affirm asphyxia as the cause of death, but are inconclusive as to the
    manner of death.

    There are several circumstances that point to possible attempts at a cover‐up: the inconsistencies in SPO3
    Rangiris’s statements, the refusal of Edwin Andrews Air Base personnel to let the relatives claim the cadaver
    there, and the refusals of Captains Kay and Boyer and Master Sergeant Gines to answer questions pertaining to
    Cardeno’s employment and demise.

    The killing of Captain Ignacio further fuels suspicions that a cover‐up is being perpetrated. Having been an
    officer of the AFP’s Military Police, he appeared to have relevant information on the circumstances behind
    Gregan’s death. Ignacio was personally helping in the investigation and had been talking to Cardeno’s relatives
    and to representatives of Karapatan before he was killed. Who would benefit from his silence?

    Arousing more suspicion is the fact that the US FBI has stepped into the investigation of the case. Is the
    Philippine government aware of the FBI’s involvement in the probe? Why is the FBI even involved in a
    supposedly domestic incident, unless there may have been involvement of US troops in Cardeno’s death?

    Based on the calls Cardeno made and the text messages he sent to his wife and relatives during his two days on
    the job, he clearly wanted out of his work. It is also interesting to note that all messages contained in Cardeno’s
    phone were mysteriously erased before the family arrived to retrieve the body, according to their account.

    It was already public knowledge that US troops had facilities located within Camp Navarro, Edwin Andrews Air
    Base, and Camp Malagutay, all in Zamboanga City; Camp Bautista in Jolo Island, Sulu; Camp Sionco in
    Maguindanao; and the Philippine Naval Station in Panglima Sugala, Tawi‐Tawi. The deployment of the Joint
    Special Operations Task Force‐Philippines (JSOTF‐P) can also be seen in their official website. Former Navy Lt.
    Senior Grade Nancy Gadian also revealed in her testimony the extent of operations of the US forces in

    It was only through Cardeno’s death that we learned of the existence of a unit of the US military based in
    Marawi. From what we know of the nature of this unit, the LCE, we fear that it may be a combat unit operating
    outside the purview of the VFA and in violation of the Constitution. It is important that the public be made
    aware of the possible clandestine operations US forces are conducting in our country, in violation of our laws.
    There are also questions as to the US forces’ engagement of Filipinos for undisclosed operations or work, via
    private military contractors and local sub‐contractors, to avoid any public accountability. What does Dyn
    Corporation really do in the country? What about their sub‐contractors like Skylink? What kind of operations
    do they run? How are they aiding the US military presence in the country?

    There are also questions as to whether there was adequate response of the Philippine government to the
    death of a Filipino inside an American military facility, and employed though indirectly, by the US military.
    Could a deeper probe have been conducted, instead of declaring the case closed by simply ruling it a suicide?
    Did the Philippine government even inquire what Cardeno was doing in Marawi? Or is there a presumption of
    regularity because those involved are US troops? Is not the Philippine government duty‐bound to investigate
    on the circumstances of Cardeno’s death?

    The deaths of Cardeno and Ignacio should spur the Philippine government to review the Visiting Forces
    Agreement (VFA) that allows US military presence on Philippine soil. This is just the latest of many incidents
    involving the US forces in Mindanao. The mysterious and possibly related deaths of Cardeno and Ignacio
    prompt us to ask these questions to the outgoing and incoming administrations.

    We demand the following:
     A full and impartial investigation into Cardeno’s death by the Legislative Oversight Committee
    on the Visiting Forces Agreement (LOVFA) and other relevant agencies. The probe should also
    review the response undertaken by the Philippine government and US troops with regards to
    Cardeño’s death.
     A probe into the presence of US troops in Marawi and other areas where they may be
    conducting clandestine operations. A disclosure of the real nature of the LCEs deployed in
     Full disclosure of the nature of the Philippine operations of private military contractor Dyn Corp
    and its subcontractor Skylink. They should clarify the real nature of Cardeno’s work in Marawi. A
    congressional probe can also be undertaken to examine the work being done by DynCorp in our
    country, given that it is known to be present in areas where there are armed conflicts involving
    US troops.
     An independent probe into the death of Captain Javier Ignacio.
     The review and abrogation of the VFA.

    1. Contract of Service between Thomas P. Rivera III and Gregan Cardeño, executed Jan. 30, 2010
    2. Fact Sheet No. 2010‐002, Kawagib (Alliance for the Advancement of Moro and Lumad Rights),
    prepared by Bai Ali Indayla, Feb. 23, 2010
    3. Transcript of radio message from Marawi City Police Station to Lanao del Sur Provincial Police
    Office, Feb. 3, 2010
    4. Gregory Wilson, “Anatomy of a Successful COIN Operation: OEF‐Philippines and the Indirect
    Approach,” Military Review, November‐December 2006
    5. Alexander Martin Remollino, “What’s a Notorious US Military Contractor Doing Inside the AFP’s
    Camp in Zamboanga?”, Sept. 12, 2009
    6. Alexander Martin Remollino, “US Troops in Philippines: America Pursues Expansionism, Protects
    Economic Interests,”, August 28, 2009
    7. JSOTF‐P Fact Sheet, http://jsotf‐‐p‐fact‐sheet.html (accessed June 4,


  18. Wikileaks: Dutch, Philippine gov’ts conspired to build case vs Jose Ma. Sison

    By Jerry E. Esplanada
    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    7:37 am | Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

    A 2007 cable from the United States embassy in Manila quoted then Foreign
    Secretary Alberto Romulo as saying that the Philippines had been working for
    several years with the Dutch government to build a case against exiled Communist
    Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison.

    The unclassified Sept. 4, 2007 memo was sent to the US State Department by then
    US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, and recently released by Wikileaks, the online

    Kenney said that Romulo had visited her residence for a private breakfast on
    Sept. 3, during which he expressed elation at the recent arrest of Sison by
    Dutch authorities.

    “(Romulo) said he and Cabinet colleagues had been working with the Dutch for
    several years to make sure the case they built was good. They were delighted to
    finally have Sison behind bars. Romulo said that given the US interest in
    prosecuting terrorists, he hoped we’d be prepared to assist the Dutch with the
    case, if the Dutch so requested,” Kenney reported.

    On Aug. 28, 2007, Dutch authorities arrested Sison, who was living in exile in
    Utrecht, on charges filed by the Philippine government for the alleged murder of
    his erstwhile allies Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara, former New People’s Army
    commander and Alex Boncayao Brigade head, respectively.

    The NPA is the guerrilla arm of the CPP while the ABB is a breakaway group from
    the NPA.

    Sison was, however, released from prison two weeks later. The Dutch government
    later said there was not enough evidence to charge Sison for the deaths of
    Kintanar and Tabara.

    In April 2009, then National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said the
    Philippine government would press Dutch authorities to “expel” Sison and send
    him back to the Philippines to face murder charges.

    “Sison may be free now from the suit against him in Dutch courts but not from
    the arm of our own justice system,” Gonzales said.

    Late last year, Sison told the Inquirer he hoped to “go home soon.” That is, “if
    the peace talks under the Aquino administration would succeed.”

    “I still have role here as peace negotiator in a foreign neutral venue according
    to the (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees),” said Sison, who has
    been based in Utrecht since the mid-1980s.


  19. US, Dutch and Philippine governments conspired to demonize Professor Sison – Committee DEFEND
    Published on September 9, 2011

    By D. L. MONDELO

    AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – The recent Wikileaks expose’ of a 2007 cable from the US embassy in Manila (which was published in Manila newspapers) revealing the collaboration between the Dutch, Philippines and US governments to file false murder charges against Filipino political exile Prof. Jose Ma. Sison is merely a confirmation of a conspiracy to persecute, harass and demonize him (Sison).

    Thus, stated Committee DEFEND in reaction to a published news report about an unclassified US embassy memo dated Sept. 4, 2007 sent to the US State Department by then US Ambassador to the Philippines Kirstie Kenney.

    According to the cable, released by online whistle-blower Wikileaks, the Philippine government through its Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, worked with Dutch and US authorities to build a case against Prof. Sison, who is a political refugee in the Netherlands and is chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in peace talks with the Manila government.

    Quoting Ambassador Kenney, the cable stated: “(Romulo) said he and Cabinet colleagues had been working with the Dutch for several years to make sure the case they built was good. They were delighted to finally have Sison behind bars. Romulo said that given the US interest in prosecuting terrorists, he hoped we’d be prepared to assist the Dutch with the case, if the Dutch so requested.”

    “Like the three evil witches conspiring in Macbeth, the US, Dutch and Philippine governments continue to pull tricks on Professor Sison to harass and demonize him, and ultimately put a leash on him from speaking his mind against the plunderous and repressive character of imperialism and for the cause of national and social liberation in the Philippines,” stressed Ruth de Leon of Committee DEFEND in an interview with Bulatlat.

    Committee DEFEND was at the forefront of the global campaign that called for freedom for Professor Sison when he was arrested and imprisoned on politically-motivated charges. It mobilized an international network that staged regular mass actions in front of Dutch embassies in major cities around the world that condemned the arrest and called for freedom for Sison.

    On Aug. 28, 2007, the Dutch police arrested Professor Sison based on charges filed by the Philippine government linking him with the murders of Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara. They also raided the international information office of the NDF in Utrecht, and several houses of the NDF peace panel members and staff. The Dutch police carted away laptops, computers, documents and other files including the file-archives of the peace negotiations.

    According to Committee DEFEND, false testimonies from paid Filipino witnesses were manufactured in the premises of the Dutch and US embassies in Manila to pin down Sison. However, two weeks after his arrest, a Dutch court threw away the testimonies it described as hearsay, and set Sison free for lack of evidence on the charges filed against him.

    Committee DEFEND and the NDFP peace panel then accused the Dutch police of staging a “fishing expedition” in connection with the raid of several other residences apart from Sison’s. The information the Dutch police was able to gather from the raid, they said, had nothing to do with the alleged murder charges.

    This prompted Luis Jalandoni, chairperson of the NDFP peace panel, days after the raids, to issue a statement warning the Dutch government not to use the information it netted from the raid against persons connected with the revolutionary movement in the Philippines. Jalandoni said the Dutch government would bear full responsibility if the information it gathered would be used to attack the revolutionary movement in the Philippines.

    Since 2007 after the arrest of Sison and the raid on the houses of NDFP staff in the Netherlands by the Dutch police, scores of activists and NDFP consultants have been added to the already long list of victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and illegal arrests perpetrated by the Philippine army and police. (



    By Luis V. Teodoro

    DESPITE its failure to deliver on its promises, some Filipinos still hail the 1986 EDSA uprising as a
    model of how peacefully change can be achieved.

    The shift in Thailand from military rule to democracy in 1992, and the fall from power of
    Indonesia’s Suharto in 1998, for example, were supposedly among the political upheavals the event
    inspired. Changes in other parts of Asia and in Eastern Europe have similarly been credited to the
    demonstration effect of Philippine People Power, or EDSA 1986.

    These claims, however, were mostly based on the broad similarities between what transpired in
    other countries and what happened in the Philippines in 1986. By the 1980s the United States was
    abandoning its global anti-communist strategy of fomenting dictatorial rule in favor of supposedly
    supporting the democratic aspirations of the people its own previous policies had forced into such
    tyrannies as Pinochet’s in Chile and Marcos’ in the Philippines. This shift in US strategy resulted in a
    number of US-encouraged pro-“democracy” uprisings all over the world similar to EDSA.

    Most of those who have been doing the hailing are also conservatives who define “change” solely
    in terms of the removal of Marcos from the scene, and who’re still trying to prove that the EDSA
    uprising was in that sense not only their sole creation, but also a rousing success.

    But the suspicion that EDSA 1986 had not changed anything beyond removing Ferdinand Marcos
    from power didn’t take long to develop. The most visible leaders of that event, Fidel Ramos and Juan
    Ponce Enrile, were after all also the most visible symbols of martial law when Marcos proclaimed it in
    1972: Ramos as chief of the dreaded Philippine Constabulary, and Enrile as Secretary, and later Minister,
    of National Defense.

    By the time of the Mendiola Massacre of January 1987, or less than a year into the
    administration of Corazon Aquino, the suspicion had turned into a conclusion. It was after all the very
    same police and military goons that during the Marcos dictatorship had suppressed protests that opened
    fire on the farmers massed at Mendiola street (only a few blocks from the Presidential Palace) who were
    demanding land reform, and killed thirteen of them, in a bleak demonstration that the same state
    apparatus of repression was still in place.

    Today the country is still mired in poverty; the vast income gap between the very rich and the
    very poor is growing; elite rule has turned the country into a vast den of corruption; justice, whether
    social or the simple variety that punishes the guilty and exonerates the innocent, is as elusive as ever; and
    human rights are still being violated, in many cases so flagrantly the martial law period might as well not
    have ended.

    That’s as far as the “change” part is concerned. The “peaceful” part is also contentious. EDSA
    1986 occurred in the context of a 14-year struggle against the Marcos dictatorship by a united front of
    anti-dictatorship and democratic forces and people’s organizations, including the New People’s Army and
    the Moro National Liberation Front. EDSA did not spring out of nothing overnight, but was the
    culmination of a process that included mass protests and the use of revolutionary violence against state
    violence. In the five days of EDSA itself, the presence of about a million people constituted a physical
    threat against the soldiers manning the tanks of the dictatorship, who could at any time have fired into the

    If successfully changing society is the criterion, EDSA 1986 would not be a model. But, warns
    Michael James Barker of the International Center for Non-Violent Conflict, what happened during and
    after EDSA does offer lessons to activists and revolutionaries in other parts of the world.

    In his “A Warning for Egyptian Revolutionaries: Courtesy of People-Power in the Philippines,”
    ( Barker contends that even a powerful popular
    movement such as the Philippine resistance to dictatorship could be undermined and hijacked, and its
    reformist, even revolutionary agenda transformed into its opposite: the preservation of the limited , anti-
    people interests of the local and foreign elite.

    Barker reiterates in this essay his argument in an earlier paper, “The American Hijacking Of The
    Philippines’ ‘People-Power’ Struggle,” ( that the United
    States undermined the nationalist and democratic aspirations of the anti-dictatorship movement and that
    this has to be understood if it is not to happen in the Arab Spring uprisings against dictatorships in the
    Middle East, specially Egypt. Otherwise, the end result would be similar to what happened in the

    Marcos’ overthrow was indeed the result of a popular uprising, says Barker, but official US
    circles prior to EDSA had been disturbed by the development of a broad political and social movement
    that among other demands wanted the US bases out of the Philippines and society restructured to reflect
    the hopes of workers and farmers for social justice and the equitable distribution of wealth.

    “Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the poor and oppressed citizens of the Philippines had been
    gathering political strength. This emerging power was significantly bolstered by the August 1983
    assassination of the most visible leader of the elite opposition, Benigno Aquino Jr.,” Barker points out,
    and there seemed little doubt by the mid-1980s that Marcos’ days in power were numbered.

    To prevent the removal of Marcos from morphing into a real revolution that would democratize
    political power and restructure the economy and society, the US dispatched operatives to the Philippines
    to redirect the movement of popular resistance from the reform and revolutionary path to what was
    essentially the return to power of the wing of the elite Marcos had swept aside, and the preservation of
    US influence and military bases in the country.

    Barker quotes University of California sociology professor William I. Robinson’s Promoting
    Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony (Cambridge University Press, 1996).
    Robinson said in that work that in 1984, Corazon Aquino was working with other opposition leaders to
    develop plans that “spelled out a nationalist-oriented program of social reform and development and also
    called for the removal of US military bases from the Philippines.”

    To prevent that from happening, the United States, says Barker, funneled financial and political
    support to the conservative and middle-class segments of the opposition. It also “dispatched (its) finest
    experts in conflict resolution to meet with Cory Aquino and the leader of the right-wing opposition,
    Salvador ‘Doy’ Laurel, to convince them to abandon the program and to keep the US bases in the

    They did, and the result was a police and military still committed to preserving elite rule and
    foreign domination, the return of some of the very same personalities, including the Marcoses, who had
    been so instrumental in establishing the dictatorship and keeping it in power, and hence the preservation
    of the status quo of poverty, social inequity, injustice, mass misery, and limited democracy.

    “US intervention,” Barker quotes Robinson, “was decisive in shaping the contours of the
    anti-Marcos movement and in establishing the terms and conditions under which Philippine
    social and political struggles would unfold in the post-Marcos period.”

    “The Egyptian people,” Barker then argues, “need to learn from the Philippine
    experience, and to do all they can to keep (what happened in the Philippines) from happening.”

    In short, EDSA 1986 does have a lesson to offer other movements across the planet that are fighting for
    authentic democracy and social change: as a negative example of how NOT to wage a revolution.–###

    Comments and other columns:
    Luis V. Teodoro is on Facebook and Twitter


  21. Pingback: Civilians suffer in wars | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  22. Pingback: Torture in the Philippines | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.