Filipinos’ anger about US military rapist

This video says about itself:

July 2 [2013] – Reuters’ Michaela Cabrera reports from the Philippines’ Subic Bay, former site of a U.S. naval base, where the return of U.S. warships is being welcomed by some and watched warily by others.

A video from Philippines TV which used to be on YouTube was called Philippine American Visiting Forces Agreement – a one-sided agreement.

From The Raw Story in the USA:

Filipino activists: US military siding with convicted rapist

Stephen C. Webster

Rage at soldier’s continued detention in embassy stretching diplomatic ties

Late 2006, four US Marines were accused of rape and complicity in the assault of a 22-year-old girl. Today, one convicted rapist’s pending appeal and continued detention in an American embassy has stretched to the breaking point American relations with a country it liberated during World War II.

Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith was convicted of the rape and initially held in a local jail in Manila. Three other US servicemen were accused of complicity in the rape, but their charges were dropped.

“Last month, the Philippine Supreme Court ruled that Smith should be returned to the custody of local authorities, saying that an accord between U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney and Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo that had allowed Smith’s move to the embassy violated the Visiting Forces Agreement between the two countries,” reported the LA Times. “Critics of the 1999 agreement say it is full of loopholes. They also argue that it should be scrapped as unconstitutional, a claim the Supreme Court rejected.”

“In convicting the Marine, the trial judge concluded that the woman ‘resisted his kisses, pushed him and fought him back until she lost consciousness because of alcoholic drinks she had taken,'” reported the Times.

“She is dismayed. She now expects no more help from the Philippine government, which she feels has sided with Smith,” said Evalyn Ursua, the girl’s attorney, during an interview on dzXL radio, as reported by GMA News.

‘Last weekend, the White House said Obama called President Arroyo and voiced support for the VFA, which governs the conduct of visiting troops during joint military exercises.”

“First of all, let me just clarify that the VFA is not about Smith,” said Deputy presidential spokesman Lorelei Fajardo, in a report by the Philipino Star. “We have not abandoned Nicole. We will be supporting her all the way and I’m sure there will be some kind of a compromise agreement between the two countries so that we can come to terms for the best, for what would be the best for Nicole. I think that should be clear enough.”

“She said the case of Smith is still under appeal and when there is a final conviction, the Philippine authorities would take him into custody.”

“This is not merely ignoring the rights of a Filipino woman who has been assaulted,” Luzviminda Ilagan, a member of the Philippine Congress, in a UPI report, “but the message is also that we are still subservient to the policies of the American government.”

“A resolution seeking to abrogate the treaty, which has the support of six senators, has been referred to the Senate foreign relations committee under Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago,” reported the Inquirer.

If his appeal is not upheld, the girl’s attorney says the accused faces 20 to 40 years in prison.

Britain: Rape case shows sexism ingrained in the police force: here.

The number of extra-judicial killings of suspected criminals in Davao city [in the Philippines] has risen to 888 since 1998. The consensus of human rights organisations is that the murders are the work of a death squad acting in collusion with local government officials: here.

Progressive forces in the Philippines have urged Manila to scrap a military deal with the US after former officials testified that US soldiers have been fighting in Mindanao in violation of the country’s constitution.

A new 10-year agreement that will give US forces extensive access to Philippine military bases was announced yesterday ahead of US President Barack Obama’s arrival in Manila today. Senior US National Security Council (NSC) official Evan Medeiros described the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) as “the most significant defence agreement that we have concluded with the Philippines for decades”: here.

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19 thoughts on “Filipinos’ anger about US military rapist

  1. Officials ‘help death squads’

    PHILIPPINES: Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused police and government officials on Tuesday of abetting death squads responsible for more than 800 deaths in the south of the country.

    After a probe found that the militias had gunned down 814 suspected drug dealers, petty criminals and street children between 1998 and February 2009, HRW director Kenneth Roth said: “The targeted killings in the city are not random events but the result of planned hits by a death squad that involves police officers and local officials.”


  2. Philippines: Dismantle ‘Davao Death Squad’

    Investigate Involvement of Officials in Targeted Killings
    Human Rights Watch
    April 6, 2009

    (Manila) – The Philippine government should investigate alleged “death squads” responsible for hundreds of targeted killings in Davao City and other cities on the southeastern island of Mindanao, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today at a news conference in Manila with Human Rights Watch executive director, Kenneth Roth.

    The 103-page report, “You Can Die Any Time: Death Squad Killings in Mindanao,” details the involvement of police and local government officials in targeted killings of alleged drug dealers and petty criminals, street children, and others, and describes the lack of any effort by the authorities to investigate the killings and bring those responsible to justice.

    “The hundreds of targeted killings in Davao City in recent years are clearly not random events but the result of planned hits by a ‘death squad’ that involves police officers and local officials,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The police consistently fail to bring the perpetrators to justice, while the local government cheers from the sidelines.”

    The report includes descriptions by persons with insider knowledge of the make-up, structure and operation of the so-called Davao Death Squad. Human Rights Watch investigated 28 cases of apparently targeted killings, conducting more than 50 interviews with victims’ families, witnesses, lawyers, journalists, human rights advocates, and government officials in Davao City, General Santos City, and Digos City.

    The number of victims of targeted killings in Davao City has steadily increased in the past decade. From two reported cases in 1998, the number rose to 98 in 2003, and 124 in 2008. In 2009, 33 targeted killings were reported in January alone.

    On March 30 and 31, 2009, the Commission on Human Rights held the first-ever public hearing on death squads in Davao City.

    Human Rights Watch found a pattern to the killings. The assailants usually arrive in twos or threes on a motorcycle without a license plate; they wear baseball caps and buttoned shirts or jackets, apparently to conceal their weapons, and they shoot or stab their victim without warning, often in broad daylight with little regard for those witnessing the crime.

    Barangay (local-level) officials, police officers and sometimes even city government officials have frequently warned people who subsequently became victims of these killings that their names were on a “list” of people to be killed unless they stopped engaging in criminal activities. In other cases, the victims were killed immediately after their release from police custody or prison.

    According to Davao Death Squad “insiders,” most members are either former communist New People’s Army insurgents or young men who themselves were death squad targets and who joined the group to avoid being killed. Their handlers, usually policemen or former policemen, provide them with training, weapons and ammunition, motorcycles, and information about the targets, these people said.

    Death squad members often use .45-caliber handguns, a weapon commonly used by the police but prohibitively expensive for gang members and common criminals.

    Insiders told Human Rights Watch that handlers obtain information about their targets from the police or barangay officials, who compile lists of those engaged in criminal activities. The insiders explained that local police stations are notified in advance to ensure that police officers are slow to respond to such killings.

    Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that the police arrive at the scene long after the assailants leave, even if the nearest police station is minutes away. Police often fail to collect obvious evidence such as spent bullet casings, or to question witnesses or suspects, but instead pressure the families of victims to identify the killers.

    “As quickly as the assassins arrive to kill their targets, they ride off – but almost always before the police appear,” said Roth. “And the police rarely seem interested in collecting evidence to hold perpetrators accountable.”

    Families that provided information to the police, such as names of potential suspects and witnesses, said the police either failed to follow up on such leads or have not informed the family if they have done so. In many cases, witnesses are also afraid to come forward with information, as they believe they could become targets by doing so. While police blame the lack of successful investigations on a lack of witnesses, Human Rights Watch said police or other institutions should create credible protection mechanisms so witnesses will report death squad killings to the authorities. But no protection mechanism can be fully successful so long as police are involved in the killings.

    Human Rights Watch also investigated a number of cases in which those killed were seemingly unintended targets, including victims of mistaken identity. Some Davao City residents also expressed the belief that some death squad members have become guns-for-hire, making everyone a potential target.

    The longtime mayor of Davao City, Rodrigo Duterte, has made numerous statements attempting to justify the killing of suspected criminals, believing that such killings have a deterrent effect on crime and have made the city a safer place. But according to statistics provided by the Philippines National Police, the number of annual crime incidents has increased some 219 percent in the last decade, while the city’s population rose only by 29 percent. An increasing number of death squad killings appear to have made crime rates worse in Davao.

    In February 2009, Duterte told reporters, “If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination.”

    In recent years, reports of targeted killings have expanded beyond Davao City to other cities in Mindanao, and to Cebu City, the Philippines’ second-largest metropolis. Mayors and city officials in several of these cities have made statements similar to Duterte’s, justifying killings in their own cities.

    The administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has largely ignored the targeted killings in Davao City and elsewhere. In fact, in 2003, Duterte became Arroyo’s consultant on peace and order, indicating her approval of his “tough on crime” approach that encourages violations of law.

    The inaction of the national institutions responsible for accountability, namely the Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police, the Ombudsman’s Office, and, until recently, the Commission on Human Rights, have apparently led those carrying out the killings to conclude that they will suffer no penalty for their actions.

    Human Rights Watch said the Philippine government and local authorities in Davao City and other cities should urgently take measures to stop the killings, hold perpetrators accountable, and bring justice to the victims’ families.

    Human Rights Watch called on the Philippine government to publicly denounce extrajudicial killings and local anti-crime campaigns that promote or encourage the unlawful use of force, and to take all necessary action to end the extrajudicial killing of suspected criminals and street children, beginning in Davao City.

    “Arroyo has been taking security advice from someone who openly advocates murder to bring peace and prosperity,” said Roth. “But this needs to stop. The Arroyo government should send a clear message to local officials and the police that the killings of petty criminals, drug users, and street children will not be tolerated.”

    Selected accounts from “You Can Die Any Time: Death Squad Killings in Mindanao”:

    “We didn’t go to the police to inquire about the case, because we had a strong suspicion that the people who killed my [relative] were either policemen themselves or well-known to the police. A wife of an officer from the Fermin Lira police camp told me some 10 days after the killing that this murder caused some trouble in the police – they called a meeting where they discussed that it was a mistake and that they felt sorry.”

    – Human Rights Watch interview with a relative of Gabriel Sintasas, killed in General Santos City in March 2008, believed to be a victim of mistaken identity.

    “Nobody said anything, because they were all afraid. The police asked who the victim was, and laughed as if they liked what they saw. They didn’t talk to any of the witnesses. And then they left, leaving behind the body and empty shells. They didn’t do anything. They didn’t seem to care about any evidence.”

    – Human Rights Watch interview with a friend of Conrad Dequina, killed in Davao City on October 10, 2007.

    “I went into the house, and when I came back into the yard some time later, I saw Danilo face-to-face with a gunman. The gunman had dark skin and long hair, and was wearing basketball shorts and a loose T-shirt. I saw his companion on a motorcycle parked a couple of meters away – it was a black XRM motorcycle, and the driver was wearing a military hat.

    “The gunman, who had a pistol in his hand, was asking Danilo about some other man, Jon-Jon. I came forward and said that there was no one with such name in our block. But the gunman didn’t leave. Danilo apparently sensed that something was wrong and tried to get inside the house, but at that moment the gunman shot him. He first shot him in the back, and then, when Danilo fell on the ground, the gunman kneeled next to him and shot him twice more, in the head, behind both ears. The gunman then jumped on the motorcycle that pulled by, and they drove away.”

    – Human Rights Watch interview with relative of Danilo Auges, 38, killed on May 26, 2008, in General Santos City.

    “Neither of [my friends in the death squad] has education, so there aren’t that many choices for them out there. They prefer this job to being involved in ordinary crime because this is the safest illegal activity that also pays well. They are not afraid, because the person who would be the one to arrest them is usually their boss, and the rest is coordinated with the police.”

    – Human Rights Watch interview with “Anthony” (pseudonym) on his four friends who are members of the Davao Death Squad.


  3. A very disturbing short film on poverty in the Philippines.

    Please forward widely to your respective websites, network. Thank you!


    In February 2006, at the 56th Berlin International Film Festival, film makers were invited to join a Short Film Competition on the theme: Food, Taste and Hunger.

    3,600 film makers from around the world joined the competition. But only 32 films were chosen to be screened at the Berlinale Talent Campus.

    This film by a Filipino topped the competition by being adjusted the Most Popular Short Film.

    Here is the video:


  4. Bayan condemns CA acquittal of US Marine Daniel Smith, protests set tomorrow April 24

    News Release
    April 23, 2009

    The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan did not mince words when it condemned the Court of Appeals acquittal of United States Marine and convicted rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.

    “We are outraged by the CA’s acquittal of Smith, but we are not a bit surprised. This denial of justice is but the logical conclusion of the maneuvers of the US government and the Arroyo government. The Smith acquittal is exactly what Malacanang has been praying for and working for from the onset,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

    “Everything from the Nicole affidavit, to the leakage of a draft decision acquitting Smith, up to the refusal of the Arroyo government to get back Smith despite a Supreme Court decision, these were all leading up to a Smith acquittal,” Reyes said.

    The CA ruling comes just days after the Supreme Court ordered an investigation into a leaked draft ruling form another CA justice acquitting Smith.

    “It is really sad that Filipinos cannot get justice from this judicial system, especially when the enemy is a foreign power like the US. Mrs. Arroyo has again demonstrated that she values relations with the US more than the interests of her own people. She has shown that she is more concerned with the Visiting Forces Agreement than with the welfare of Filipinos. Justice was denied today and we have the Arroyo regime to blame for that,” Reyes said.

    “Malacanang and Washington are beside themselves with glee now that a controversial issue in the VFA has been rendered moot. No longer will there be an issue of custody over Smith now that he has been acquitted. It is again business as usual between the two government. It is sickening, really,” Reyes said.

    The CA said that what happened between Nicole and Smith was not rape but a “spontaneous romantic episode.”

    “How can it be a spontaneous romantic episode when one party was clearly intoxicated and was even left half naked by the sidewalk? How can the CA justices turn a blind eye to such an incident and even call it romantic? It is outrageous!” Reyes said.

    Bayan believes that with the decision releasing Smith, the US Marine will be immediately flown to the US base in Okinawa and then to the United States.
    “He’s not gonna stay one minute longer than he has to. He’ll be out of Philippine territory ASAP. Ano pa habol natin?” Reyes said.

    “The decision to acquit Smith may also be due to a probe ordered by the SC into a supposed leaked draft ruling acquitting Smith. With this development, such a probe may be considered as moot and academic,” Reyes said.

    Bayan plans to lead a indignation protest tomorrow near the Court of Appeals to protest the decision acquitting Smith. A cultural is also scheduled tomorrow in Quezon City where artists are expected to add their voices against the VFA.


  5. Activist held for abuse in Manila

    PHILIPPINES: Police have arrested an Australian working for the World Health Organisation (WHO) on suspicion of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy, officials said on Tuesday.

    Marcus Hodge was arrested on Friday night inside his car in Manila’s Makati financial district with the child and an alleged Filipino pimp, said Raul Castaneda, head of the police investigation unit.

    The WHO said that it “condemns in the strongest terms the sexual exploitation of children and will assist the authorities with their investigation.”


    US troops to stay in RP

    Elite force of 600 ‘not yet done with mission’

    Philippine Daily Inquirer
    First Posted 02:33:00 08/22/2009

    WASHINGTON—Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to keep an elite 600-soldier counterinsurgency operation deployed in the Philippines despite pressure to reassign its members to fulfill urgent needs elsewhere, such as Afghanistan or Iraq, according to Pentagon officials.

    Senior officials say the US force and partners in the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) were instrumental in successes by the Filipino armed forces in killing and capturing leaders of the Abu Sayyaf group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), antigovernment organizations operating in the southern Philippines.

    In Manila, Malacañang and several members of Congress welcomed the report, while militant lawmakers said it was clear proof the United States was meddling in Philippine internal affairs. Gates held talks with Philippine officials on counterterrorism during a visit in June.

    The high-level attention given to the future of the US force, known as the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, illustrates the Pentagon’s difficulty in finding enough of these highly trained units for assignments to two wars—as well as for the wider effort to combat insurgencies and militancy in other parts of the world deemed to be threats to American interests.

    Senior US officials said the decision also acknowledged a cautionary lesson from Afghanistan: that battlefield success should be rewarded with sustained commitment, while prematurely turning the military’s attention elsewhere—as when the Bush administration shifted focus to Iraq—provides insurgents and terrorists the opportunity to rush back in.

    US mission not yet done

    In the seven years that the Philippines-based US force has been operating, its members have trained local security units and provided logistical and intelligence support to Filipino forces fighting insurgents.

    In a simultaneous counterinsurgency effort in the Philippines, members of the US force have completed hundreds of infrastructure projects, including roads, schools, health clinics and firehouses, conducted medical examinations and administered vaccines.

    Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of US forces in the Pacific, said the force’s work was not yet done.

    “The successes we enjoy, and the gains, can tend to anesthetize us a little bit,” he said. “When the options were presented to our leadership, the decision was made to continue the Philippines mission.”

    Even independent, nongovernmental organizations that normally cast a skeptical eye toward US military efforts have commended the Philippine operation.

    First and foremost

    “In general, the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines has been regarded as a success story, especially in terms of winning hearts and minds through civic action and medical assistance projects,” said Mark L. Schneider, senior vice president of the International Crisis Group.

    Schneider noted, however, that the insurgency in the Philippines “is a political problem first and foremost” and that no military effort alone can bring success against antigovernment forces.

    Special Operations Forces are the most highly skilled in the military at capture-and-kill missions against insurgent and terrorist leaders. Within their ranks, Army Special Forces, known as the Green Berets, have for decades been training allied troops on their home soil and conducting counterinsurgency missions.

    US ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney said that measuring the impact of the military mission in the country was difficult, but she emphasized that the task force’s efforts were multiplied by being closely coordinated with the Filipino government and American development assistance.

    Col. Bill Coultrup, the task force commander, said that when he arrived in 2007, his goal was simple: “Help the Philippines security forces. It’s their fight. We don’t want to take over.”

    His service includes deployments with Special Operations units in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Bosnia, where the mission focused on capturing or killing adversaries. But in the Philippines, Colonel Coultrup’s work has been only 20 percent combat-related. That portion of the military mission is designed to “help the armed forces of the Philippines neutralize high-value targets — individuals who will never change their minds,” he said.

    Eighty percent of the effort, though, has been “civil-military operations to change the conditions that allow those high-value targets to have a safe haven,” Coultrup added. “We do that through helping give a better life to the citizens: good governance, better health care, a higher standard of living.” New York Times News Service#


  7. A true internationalist

    Thursday 27 August 2009

    Ken Fuller

    Arriving at Heathrow in September 1963, a Filipina was asked by an immigration official whether she knew anyone in the United Kingdom. “Oh, I know a lot of people here,” she replied. “Lord Russell… Baron Brockway…”

    Celia Mariano Pomeroy, who died aged 94 on August 22, had, along with her US husband, served 10 years in a Philippine prison on charges of rebellion. After the couple were pardoned in late December 1961, Celia was initially denied a passport, leading husband William Pomeroy to conduct an international campaign in which he called upon the support of figures such as Bertrand Russell and Fenner Brockway. Folk-protest singer Phil Ochs was introduced to Bill by Pete Seeger and wrote and recorded Celia soon afterwards, although by the time it was released the battle had been won.

    After graduating from the University of the Philippines in 1935, Celia Mariano worked first as a high school teacher and then as a senior examiner in the Bureau of Civil Service. In 1937, she joined the Philippine Youth Congress. She was courted by the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP), which she joined two months before the Japanese invaded in December 1941.

    One of the earliest resistance groups outside Central Luzon was formed in the town of Tanay, Rizal province, on a farm owned by Celia’s family. When the Japanese entered Manila, PKP central committee member Mariano Balgos and other leaders were sent to join her. The farm was later betrayed by a non-party socialite, the property burned and Celia’s brother captured and tortured.

    In the meantime, Celia had been invited by PKP general secretary Vicente Lava to join the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (Hukbalahap, or People’s Anti-Japanese Army), which was formed in Central Luzon in March 1942 under PKP leadership. She became editor of the Huk newspaper Katabusan ng Bayan (Redemption of the Nation) and in 1944 was appointed education secretary of the party’s Central Luzon bureau and elected to the PKP central committee.

    With the war over, the new government of president Manuel Roxas saw the demobilised Huks as a threat to his and Washington’s plans for an independent Philippines. Hukbalahap members were arrested, beaten or killed and their areas bombarded. The Huks reassembled, initially for self-defence purposes, and later the name of the organisation was changed to the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (Army of National Liberation, or HMB) as the PKP adopted an ill-fated strategy of capturing state power.

    US Communist William Pomeroy, who had come to the Philippines as a soldier in 1944, returned in 1947, making contact with the PKP. Celia was assigned to him as an interpreter while he researched a book he was planning on the Huk movement – this would appear, in the form of a ghosted autobiography of Luis Taruc, as Born Of The People. They were married in 1948, commencing a lifetime’s mutual devotion. Two years later, they joined the Huk guerilla struggle, working in the education department.

    In January 1951, while in the mountains, Celia was elected to the politburo of the PKP. Later that year, the Pomeroys were put to their severest physical test. Forced to move as government forces closed in, they and others undertook a trek through the Sierra Madre that was to take 63 days, with no proper food for a third of that time.

    Following their capture in 1952, the Pomeroys saw little of each other during their 10-year incarceration and their presidential pardon came with a bitter rider – even if she had a passport, Celia would not be allowed to enter the US, while Bill was immediately deported from the Philippines.

    So they decided to make their home in Britain, where Celia worked as a primary school teacher – the first Filipino to teach in a British school – until her retirement in 1977. Celia was an active member of the National Assembly of Women, editing its journal Sisters for six years. She and Bill played a leading role in rebuilding PKP international links and travelled extensively in the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, which bestowed a number of honours on them.

    A few years ago the Pomeroys moved into a nursing home, where Bill died in January this year. After leaving the Philippines in 1963, Celia returned home only twice. It is now planned that her ashes will join Bill’s in Pomeroy Hall, the PKP headquarters in Bulacan province, with a view of the Sierra Madre mountains.


  8. 9 November 2009


    Reference: Garry Martinez/ Chairperson/ 09393914418

    Migrante slams DND Secretary Norberto Gonzales’ renewed anti-leftist campaign

    Migrant organizer ‘harassed to death’

    Migrante International mourns the death of 57-year old Danilo Benalo, a migrant organizer who died of a stroke early morning of November 24 after being harassed by suspected military agents. Benalo, a member of the Center for Filipino Seafarers (CENTERFILS), has been an organizer for Migrante since 2005.

    According to the sworn affidavit of Atty. Frederico Quevedo, a close friend of Benalo, the victim was accosted at around 11 am to 12 noon on November 23 by men who introduced themselves as members of a special intelligence group. He was shown a lengthy “dossier” supposedly detailing his record as a political activist. He was warned that the whereabouts of his family was known and was asked to cooperate with the military in order to spare them from harm.

    Distraught, Benalo agreed to meet again with the military agents at around 5 pm at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex. Before doing so, he met with Atty. Quevedo at the latter’s office in Makati, where he related the incident. Claiming that he could not immediately locate some of his family members and fearing for their safety, he promised to call Atty. Quevedo upon meeting with the agents. At around 7 pm, receiving no call, Atty. Quevedo called Benalo’s cellphone and was answered by a certain Jason, who told him that his friend has been rushed to the Ospital ng Maynila. Benalo had suffered a stroke, and he died the next morning.

    “It is appalling how military scare tactics claimed the life of one our most ardent organizers. The Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is directly responsible for Benalo’s death,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

    Martinez also claimed that suspected military agents were seen in the vicinity of Benalo’s wake, “brazenly trying to send a chill of fear down the spine of his relatives and fellow activists, even after his death.”

    Migrante International said that the incident is part of a renewed anti-leftist campaign spearheaded by newly appointed Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales. In a recent forum in Compostela Valley, Army 1003rd Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Eduardo del Rosario tagged Migrante as a “communist front” and dissuaded the local electorate from voting the group along with other progressive party-lists. Currently, Migrante is petitioning the Supreme Court for a Temporary Restraining Order on its de-listing by the Commission on Elections.

    “Nearing the 2010 national elections, Gonzales is stepping up directives aimed at harassing progressive organizations and party-lists. And this harassment has killed an innocent man, a true servant of the people,” said Martinez.

    “The OFW populace is still reeling from shock at the barbarity of the Maguindanao massacre, and now here is another case of state authorities practically getting away with cold-blooded murder. This government without shame has to be made accountable for its crimes,” he added.

    The migrant leader said that Overseas Filipino Workers will forever be grateful for Benalo’s contribution to the migrants’ cause, and will continue to fight for justice for all victims of human rights violations under the Arroyo government. OFWs and their families are gearing up for nationally and internationally coordinated protest actions to mark Human Rights Day on December 10.



    Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-165-2009

    30 November 2009


    PHILIPPINES: Three journalists who survived the Maguindanao massacre
    fear for their lives

    ISSUES: Massacre; human rights defenders; extrajudicial killings;


    STOP extrajudicial killings in the Philippines

    Dear friends,

    The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is closely monitoring the
    investigation into the massacre in Maguindanao on November 23, which
    left 57 people dead, among them two human rights lawyers and 30 local
    journalists. The AHRC is deeply concerned for the safety of three
    journalists who escaped. More than a week into the investigation, no
    offers or arrangements have been made for their protection by the
    state. One of the journalists has received death threats before in
    response to his work exposing summary executions in the area.


    The three journalists, whose names have been withheld for security
    reasons, were part of the convoy of over 50 people, which included the
    wife and relatives of a powerful politician, Esmael Mangudadatu;
    several of his political supporters; two of their legal counsels; and
    over 30 local journalists who were to cover the filing of Certificate
    of Candidacy (CoC) by Mangudadatu as governor of the province for the
    May 2010 election.

    Esmael had asked his wife, Genalyn and his two sisters, Eden and
    Farida Sabdula, to file the candidacy on his behalf at the provincial
    office of the Commission on Election (Comelec) in Shariff Aguak, the
    provincial capital. Shortly after 8am the group departed in a convoy
    from the Mangudadatus residence in Buluan, Maguindanao, to the Comelec
    office. The Mangudadatus are powerful, long-time political rivals of
    the provincial ruling party, the Ampatuan clan.

    In the local context the filing would have been a big event because it
    would have challenged the Ampatuans in a local election. Andal
    Ampatuan Sr., the incumbent governor, was reported to have been
    grooming one of his sons, Andal Ampatuan Jr., to succeed him in the
    May 2010 general elections.

    Before the group proceeded, security arrangements for the convoy had
    been thoroughly discussed. In one discussion, according to one of the
    survivors, it took two hours to lay out the security plans for the
    group, particularly the journalists’ group, because they were aware of
    the insecurity of the area. Two of the survivors and one of those who
    died in the massacre, Alejandro Reblando (also known as Bong), who
    wrote for national broadsheet, The Manila Bulletin, had even contacted
    Alfredo Cayton, the commanding general of the Army’s 6th Infantry
    Division, to ask his opinion about the security status of the area.
    His assurance that: ‘Walang problema kung papunta kayo dun’ (there is
    no problem if you go there –to Shariff Aguak town)’ convinced them
    that they could proceed. Cayton also reiterated that it was safe since
    there were many checkpoints along the highway stretch that the convoy
    would use.

    However one of the three survivors, following instinct, decided to
    trail the convoy in his own vehicle. He later decided to break-away
    from the convoy after he received a phone call telling him that
    persons were asking whether he was with the group. The two other
    survivors had chosen to leave the convoy and join him.

    When the three went back to the hotel they had been in the night
    before, to purposely distance themselves from the main group, they
    were further convinced not to proceed after hearing more from hotel
    staff about unidentified persons who were looking for them. On their
    way home the three found out about the massacre. However despite their
    necessary role in any credible investigation of the killings and their
    continued risk of assassination, these men have not been offered any
    state protection.

    According to other witnesses one of the perpetrators was Andal
    Ampatuan Jr., in command of militia forces and policemen in the area.
    Ampatuan Jr. has been arrested and charged, and is being held in
    detention at the headquarters of the National Bureau of Investigation
    (NBI) in Manila.

    As of 27 November the bodies of thirty local journalists have been
    recovered, along with those of the dead Mangudadatus and their two
    legal counsels. One of the journalists is also still missing. The
    journalists in the convoy were:

    1. Adolfo, Benjie of Gold Star Daily, a regional newspaper; a resident
    of Koronadal City

    2. Araneta, Henry of Radio dzRH; a resident of General Santos City

    3. Arriola, Mark Gilbert (nickname Mac Mac) of UNTV, a local branch of
    a television channel; a resident of General Santos City

    4. Bataluna, Rubello of Gold Star Daily; a resident of Koronadal City

    5. Betia, Arturo of Periodico Ini, a community newspaper; a resident
    of General Santos City

    6. Cabillo, Romeo Jimmy of Midland Review, a community newspaper; a
    resident of Tacurong City

    7. Cablitas, Marites of News Focus; a resident of General Santos City

    8. Cachuela, Hannibal of Punto News; a resident of Koronadal City

    9. Caniban, John of Periodico Ini; a resident of General Santos City

    10. Dalmacio, Lea of Socsargen News, a community newspaper; a resident
    of General Santos City

    11. Decina, Noel of Periodico Ini; a resident of General Santos City

    12. Dela Cruz, Gina of Saksi News; a resident of General Santos City

    13. Dohillo, Eugene of UNTV; a resident of General Santos City

    14. Duhay, Jhoy of Gold Star Daily; a resident of Tacurong City

    15. Jun Gatchalian of Davao City

    16. Legarte, Bienvenido, Jr. of Prontiera News; a resident of
    Koronadal City

    17. Lupogan, Lindo of Mindanao Daily Gazette, a community newspaper; a
    resident of Davao City

    18. Maravilla, Ernesto (nickname Bart) of Bombo Radyo; a resident of
    Koronadal City

    19. Merisco, Rey of Periodico Ini; a resident of Koronadal City

    20. Momay, Reynaldo (nickname Bebot) Momay of Midland Review; a
    resident of Tacurong City

    21. Montaño, Marife (nickname Neneng) of Saksi News; a resident of
    General Santos City

    22. Morales, Rosell of News Focus; a resident of General Santos City

    23. Nuñez, Victor of UNTV a resident of General Santos City

    24. Perante, Ronnie of Gold Star Daily; a resident of Koronadal City.
    He was a correspondent for the newspaper.

    25. Parcon, Joel of Prontiera News; a resident of Koronadal City

    26. Razon, Fernando (nickname Rani) of Periodico Ini; a resident of
    General Santos City

    27. Reblando, Alejandro (nickname Bong) of Manila Bulletin; a resident
    of General Santos City

    28. Salaysay, Napoleon of Mindanao Gazette; a resident of Cotabato

    29. Subang, Ian of Socsargen Today, a community newspaper; a resident
    of General Santos City

    30. Teodoro, Andres (nickname Andy) of Central Mindanao Inquirer, a
    community newspaper; a resident of Tacurong City

    31. Evardo, Jolito of UNTV; a resident of General Santos City. He
    remains missing.


    One of the survivors had already been receiving threats to his life,
    allegedly from the Ampatuans. The threats began in 2004 when he wrote
    a special newspaper report that exposed details of summary executions
    in Maguindanao, which were allegedly linked to the Ampatuans. He said
    that some of the reports he had obtained described personal or
    political rivals of the family being cut into pieces by a chainsaw so
    that their remains would be scattered and less easily traced. Despite
    this, no credible investigation took place and five years on, no one
    has been held to account for those killings. In the meantime he was
    told by a reliable source of a plot to kill him, which involved
    policeman, and he reports that attempts have been made on his life.
    His allegations were never investigated by the authorities and no
    protection was offered.


    Please write to the concerned authorities asking for their immediate
    intervention to ensure the safety of the three journalists who
    survived the massacre, and to ensure that a thorough credible
    investigation of this case takes place.

    The AHRC has also written letters to the Special Rapporteurs for human
    rights defenders; on Extra-judicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions
    and on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of

    To support this appeal, please click here:


    PHILIPPINES: Three journalists who survived the Maguindanao massacre
    fear for their lives

    I am writing to express my utmost concern for the three journalists
    who escaped the Maguindanao massacre. The survivors had left a convoy
    of 57 people who were summarily executed shortly after, on 23 November
    in Maguindanao province in central Mindanao. I am appalled to learn
    that several days after the massacre the witnesses have not been
    afforded with any protection from the government, and no official
    consideration has been given to their safety or security.

    The three were part of the group of journalists in the convoy, which
    included relatives of a local politician, their supporters and two of
    their legal counsels. The counsels were also human rights lawyers. As
    it has been widely reported, the dead bodies of the victims were found
    littered across the site of execution; some were buried in graves and
    others were buried together with their flattened vehicles. While I
    appreciate the government’s efforts in its investigation into this
    case–the arrest of an alleged prime suspect and the removal of
    several police officials who were allegedly involved from their
    posts–I am deeply concerned for the three survivors, who have been
    offered no protection whatsoever.

    Before the massacre took place, the three were supposed to be covering
    the filing of a Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) by a local politician,
    and one had chosen to tail the convoy in his own vehicle. However,
    when he started to receive calls from a colleague telling him that
    some persons were asking whether he was with the convoy, and where he
    was seated, he decided to delay his journey. Two colleagues chose to
    join him when they saw him stop in Tacurong City. The three went back
    to the hotel they had booked for the previous night, but were told by
    hotel staff that some persons had been looking for them. They decided
    to completely separate from the group and to return home.

    I am told that one of the survivors had already been receiving threats
    to his life, allegedly from the Ampatuans, since 2004 when he wrote a
    special newspaper report that exposed details of summary executions in
    Maguindanao. No credible investigation took place and five years on,
    no one has been held to account for those killings; instead he was
    told by a reliable source of a plot to kill him. The plot reportedly
    involved policeman and he reports that attempts have been made on his
    life. His allegations were never investigated by the authorities and
    no protection was offered.

    I therefore urge the government, the Department of Justice (DoJ) and
    the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in particular, to ensure that
    these three journalists are immediately afforded adequate protection.
    I am aware of the DoJ’s efforts to investigate this massacre, however,
    I expect these to include a concern for the safety of the survivors,
    who are also valuable witnesses in the case.

    Yours sincerely,



    1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo


    Republic of the Philippines

    Malacanang Palace

    JP Laurel Street, San Miguel

    Manila 1005


    Fax: +63 2 736 1010

    Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

    2. Ms. Leila De Lima


    Commission on Human Rights

    SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue

    U.P. Complex, Diliman

    Quezon City


    Fax: +63 2 929 0102

    Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188

    3. Deputy Director General Jesus A. Verzosa

    Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)

    Camp General Rafael Crame

    Quezon City


    Fax: +63 2724 8763

    Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763


    4. Ms. Agnes Devanadera


    Department of Justice (DoJ)

    DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura

    1004 Manila


    Fax: +63 2 521 1614


    5. Mr. Emilio Gonzalez

    Deputy Ombudsman

    Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military

    and Other Law Enforcement Offices

    3rd Floor, Ombudsman Bldg., Agham Road, Diliman

    1104 Quezon City


    Fax: +63 2 926 8747

    Tel: +63 2 926 9032

    6. Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral


    Department of Social Welfare and Development

    DSWD Bldg., Constitution Hills, Batasan Complex,

    Quezon City


    Tel: +63 2 931 8191 / 931 8068

    Telefax: +63 2 931 8191


    Thank you.

    Urgent Appeals Programme

    Asian Human Rights Commission (


  10. sent by:

    Edre Olalia, Esq.
    NUPL Deputy Secretary General for Int’L Solidarity Work
    IADL Bureau member

    The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) strongly condemns the extrajudicial killings of our 2 Filipina colleagues and an unprecedented number of journalists and civilians in the Maguindanao massacre last 23 November 2009 by local warlords and paramilitary groups.

    Attorneys Consuelo Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo, who were active members of our Philippine affiliate, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), were murdered while exercising their democratic rights as well as the duties of our legal profession

    We are appalled by this latest horrible attack on our colleagues and condemn the continuing climate of impunity that has besieged the Filipino people by state agents or clans closely associated with the government of President Gloria Arroyo.

    The IADL has been monitoring these attacks with grave concern, which now include 26 lawyers killed and 56 other lawyers who have been persecuted and intimidated by arrests, threats, surveillance and labeling since 2001.

    These atrocious attacks are part of other human rights violations targeting farmers, workers, partylist leaders, activists, community organizers, churchpeople, human rights and peace workers, and other human rights defenders.

    Since 2001, when Arroyo came to power, credible reports indicate that 1,118 persons have been extrajudicially killed, 204 disappeared, 1,026 tortured, and 1,932 illegally arrested. Scores of others fell victims to various forms of human rights violations by elements associated with the government. We find these continuing attacks on human rights simply totally unacceptable

    These killings and systematic human rights violations are engendered by the counterinsurgency program of the Philippine government, as confirmed by findings of UN special rapporteurs and international fact-finding missions. This program led or encouraged the creation of pro-government paramilitary groups that have been terrorizing local communities allegedly sympathetic to the progressive movement.

    The killings in Maguindanao are not only the result of a local political conflict but also the direct consequence of the policy conducted by the present administration in the Philippines of an all-out war against the progressive and peoples movement. This policy has led to a virtual standstill of the peace negotiations between the Arroyo government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

    The US and the EU have supported these unjust policies conducted by the Arroyo administration by criminalising and labelling legitimate organisations and leaders of the progressive movement such as Prof. Jose Maria Sison, NDFP chief political consultant, by including them in the so-called “terrorist” listings. Moreover, the US has a direct military presence and intervention through the Visiting Forces Agreement.

    This support to the Arroyo administration provides direct political, moral and even military basis for the total war against the Philippine progressive movement. The IADL urges the United States and the European Union to immediately end the support given to the Arroyo government.

    The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)RESOLVES, through its Bureau in present session:

    (1) to continue to firmly support the responses of our affiliate NUPL in regard to these killings and attacks;

    (2) to call on all its member associations all over the world to spread the truth on these issues;


  11. Arroyo Regime In The Philippines Crowns Its Rule Of State Terror With Barbaric Show

    By E. San Juan, Jr.

    03 December, 2009

    After the feasting, the bloodletting. Only a few months has passed since de facto president of the Philippines Gloria Arroyo was publicly criticized for wanton spending of thousands of dollars in her dinners in New York City and Washington DC when another political “scandal” explodes, this time a political mass slaughter of defenseless Filipino civilians.

    At least 57 victims of a hideous massacre last Nov. 23 were dug from shallow graves. Reporter Carlos H. Conde (New York Times 27 Nov 2009) reported that among the slain were 22 women, 30 journalists, 2 lawyers, and dozens of supporters of Esmael Mangudadatu, a local politician who is challenging the quasi-feudal control of Maguindanao province by the Amapatuan clan. Early forensic analysis indicates that the women were molested or raped, their private parts mutilated, with vehicles and other accessory evidence buried in pits dug by government backhoes (Agence France-Press, “Mayor Charged with Horrific Massacre,” The Nation, 28 Nov 2009, 6A).

    Everything now appears to have been premeditated. On that fateful day, with national elections looming, Esmael Mangudadatu, a local politician, dispatched a convoy to the provincial capital Shariff Aguak to file papers to challenge Andal Ampatuan Jr. for the governorship now occupied by Ampatuan Senior. This sizeable convoy included his wife Genalyn, two of his sisters, lawyers and media workers, and their associates. They were stopped in broad daylight in a major highway by police officers and militiamen loyal to the Ampatuans, dragged from their cars and summarily executed, as Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor (Nov. 23) reports. About 15 motorists passing by were also killed, all buried in mass graves dug before the assault.

    Who done it?–as the cliché puts it. Three journalists who survived the massacre as well as police officials and civilians directly involved have pointed to the entire Ampatuan clan as the responsible party. Not just one son. This clan rose to power by affiliating with the ruling class of landlords, compradors and bureaucrat-capitalists dominating this U.S. neocolony. Allied with the bloody Marcos dictatorship and active in the anti-communist campaigns of the Aquino, Ramos and Estrada administrations, Ampatuan Senior worked as a paramilitary leader with the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division. In the 1990s he hunted down local militants, both linked with the communist New People’s Army (NPA) as well as with two Muslim insurgent groups: the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

    With his close ties to the military, Andal Senior served in the Philippine Congress and later as governor of Maguindanao province in 2001 “handpicked” by the military–a “military-sponsored warlord” (Murphy’s term). He delivered millions of votes to Arroyo in the 2004 elections, giving her a large margin over popular movie star Fernando Poe Jr. Arroyo admitted this in the infamous “Hello Garci” congressional investigations. In return the Ampatuans received money, guns, and all the apparatus of coercive and consensual rule.

    In 2005 Ampatuan’s son Zaldy became governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARRM), a political rubric created ostensibly to give the local population more say over their own affairs and thus neutralize the political appeals of the MILF and the NPA. The Ampatuans guaranteed the elections of Arroyo’s candidates in the 2007 election. After that election, local school administrator Musa Dimasidsing exposed ballot stuffing, for which he was shot in the head. In an area where police and military, and all local officials, serve the Ampatuan clan, no wonder Dimasidsing’s murder hitherto remains unsolved. Alfredo Cayton, the commanding general of the 6th Infantry Division covering the area of the massacre, even assured the Manila paper The Manila Bulletin that it’s safe for the fate convoy to travel (Asian Human Rights Commission Urgent Appeal Case 165, 30 Nov 2009).

    How to explain (especially to State Secretary Hillary Clinton, visiting the islands soon) this Ampatuan fiefdom, a relic of the U.S.’s model “showcase of democracy in Asia” during the Cold War? Just a humdrum clan feud among traditional Moro warlords?

    Long before the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf came into the scene to justify the hundreds of U.S. Special Forces now operating in thinly disguised bases in the southern Philippines, political feudal fragmentation/clientelism has been perpetuated by U.S. colonial rule. The patronage system is alive and well in elite democracy. After various treaties ending Moro resistance in 1913, the U.S. allowed local chieftains from entrenched tributary clans to exercise its political and economic ascendancy. They worked with the predominantly Christian Manila-based ruling cliques, with the National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), to maintain the poverty and subordination of millions of Moro peasants, fishermen, workers, women, youth, including other non-Muslim tribal groups called “Lumads.” No wonder Maguindanao and the Sulu Islands remain the poorest in a country where the majority of 90 million citizens live on less than $2 a day.

    To continue the exploitation and oppression of the majority, the Washington-supervised AFP lacks manpower and logistics to defeat the organized insurgents. But to squelch any political resistance, the AFP employed the U.S.-recommended strategy of paramilitary groups (the CAFGUs, or Civilian Armed Fore Geographical Units; and CVOs, or Civilian Volunteer Organizations), similar to the U.S.-sponsored paramilitary formations in Colombia, Central America, and elsewhere.

    From the start, Arroyo’s electoral cheating and corrupion has been exposed, making her letimacy precarious. She needs periodic shows of violence to buttress the lack of consensual authority, more than previous presidents. In July 2006, Arroyo issued Executive Order 546. This move overturned a clause in the Philippine Constitution barring private armies such as those controlled by the Ampatuans and over a hundred political dynasties such as the Arroyos. The result: local officials like the Ampatuans and the police bureaucracies they control were given the power to create “force multipliers”
    in the fight against the NPA, MILF and MNLF, namely, AFP-sponsored “wild guns” of the CAFGUs and CVOs deputized to suppress political opposition. Estimates of the Ampatuan’s local army is about 800-1000 men, aside from those managed by four Ampatuan town mayors. Local analyst Jarius Bondoc and former congressman Michael Mastura have described the impunity of Ampatuan’s fiefdom, their control of all State funds and their clearance of police and military officials assigned to their area.

    The Philippine human rights monitor KARAPAAN correctly links this old U.S. counterinsurgency method of “low intensity warfare” to Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya, an inept and state-terrorist strategy to defeat the NPA and MILF. The counterinsurgency program of arming private armies such as the Ampatuans have led to extra-judicial killings of all “enemies of the state,” including those labeled front organizations. This happened with the dreaded U.S.-subsidized vigilante groups allowed by Corazon Aquino during her administration and in covert forms during the current campaign against the Abu Sayyaf.

    Arroyo ends her de facto president plagued with corruption scandals and the worst human-rights record of any presidency, even including Ferdinand Marcos’. As of 2001, the Arroyo regime has to its credit 1,118 extrajudicial murders, 204 forcible disappearances, 1,026 tortured, and 1,1932 illegal arrests. These have all been documented by the UN Special Rapporteurs, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other international monitors. The Arroyo regime not only has done nothing to render justice to the victims, but has even continued the policies that have laid the groundwork for these unconscionable violation of human rights. She has the gall to run for Congress next year to forestall any court case against her if thrown out of office.

    Cognizant of historical precedents and institutional contexts, KARAPATAN concludes that the “Maguindanao massacre was an event waiting to happen with the continued implementation of this criminal government’s anti-insurgency program….Now the country is jolted by a brutal crime ostensibly committed by a private army of a warlord…For far too long has this regime considered itself a law above the citizens, contravening the laws laid out in the legal instruments of the land so that its coddled political allies have imbibed the mindset that they too can commit such transgressions with impunity. [The Maguindanao massacre] is the result of condoning and tolerating human rights violations.”

    KARAPATAN calls on the immediate disbandment of the paramilitary units of the AFP and the gangster private armies of warlords and politicians. It calls on the abolition of the brutal Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program as a [state-terrorist] method to eradicate the festering insurgency in the land.”

    Cynics will dismiss this appeal for sanity and ethical governance. Not only skeptics but commonsensical people will ask: How can the bloody Arroyo government carry out a mandate of giving justice to its citizens when Arroyo and her minions are guilty of crimes worse than the Ampatuans? As commentator Inday Espina-Varona remarked, “who will protest us from our protectors?” Witnesses have now testified that three police officers of Abusana Majid, suspended police chief of Maguindanao province, were at the scene of the killing (as reported by Cecilia Yap and Joel Guinto, 24 Nov. blog in Arroyo adviser Jesus Dureza’s account of his highly comic ritualized “arrest” of Andal Ampatuan Jr. augurs beyond doubt of the eventual whitewashing and forcible “disappearance” of this case. Tragedy threatens to become a “Moro-moro” vaudeville, if not anticlimactic farce.

    Symptoms of a failed state? Or just ordinary election-related incidents in a U.S. neocolony? Abuse of power by the Ampatuans cannot be checked by the Arroyo regime whose existence owes its illegitimacy to the electoral frauds in Maguindanao and ARRM territory of the Ampatuans. As Maria Ressa (blog in CNN Amanpour) suggests, charges against Ampatuan’s killing of political rivals have never prospered. Only a special court and international vigilance can sustain any charge against the Ampatuan clan of “crimes against humanity.” Only local mass protests can provoke world conscience and an international tribunal duly formed to investigate and render justice to the victims of this latest horrible product of finance-capital’s globalization scheme (evinced by the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan) to destroy the planet.



    UN experts: End elite hold on RP politics

    Philippine Daily Inquirer Reuters

    Posted date: December 04, 2009

    GENEVA — Investigations into the deaths of 57 people in an election-related massacre in southern Philippines must be the start of a major reform process in the country, two United Nations human rights experts said on Wednesday.

    The two experts called for the “effective” prosecution of those behind the killings and an end to manipulation by the elite of the country’s election process.

    The authorities must also put in place immediate measures to prevent similar murders in the run-up to elections next May, said the experts, who report to the UN Human Rights Council on extrajudicial killings and on freedom of expression.

    “The premeditated killing of political opponents, combined with a massive assault on the media, must be tackled at various levels that go well beyond standard murder investigations,” declared the two experts, Philip Alston and Frank La Rue.

    The massacre took place in Maguindanao province on Nov. 23 in the Philippines’ deadliest ever election-related crime. The killings were blamed on members of the Ampatuan family, whom President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has in the past called valuable political allies.

    Threat to democracy

    Alston and La Rue said the inquiry “must be followed by effective prosecutions of all those responsible for the killings.”

    But the massacre should also spark extensive reflection “on the elite family-dominated manipulation of the political processes and the need to eliminate such practices in order to assure the future of democracy in the Philippines,” they said.

    The two UN experts—Alston from the United States and La Rue from Guatemala—said any broad inquiry into the country’s political system would have to focus on how to improve protection for journalists, 30 of whom died in the massacre.

    Even more urgent was the creation of a task force to prevent more election-related killings.

    “There is every indication that the run-up to the May elections will sound the death knell for many political activists,” the two added.

    UN intervention

    In Manila, journalists said Philippine media groups might ask the United Nations to intervene in the probe of the massacre.

    “We’re considering all options, including asking the UN rights body to step into the massacre,” Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, told reporters, adding the local press must “not drop the ball to allow the suspects to get away with the murders.”

    Int’l press group’s mission

    International press groups were also sending a mission to the Philippines to look into the massacre.

    Around 15 delegates from groups like the International Federation of Journalists, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, and the Committee to Protect Journalists were expected to arrive in Manila this weekend, according to National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) board member Rowena Paraan.

    “This shows that there is international attention on the incident, as it should be. The trip will also be an expression of solidarity with local journalists,” Paraan said.

    Paraan said members of the media would march on the Don China Roces Bridge (formerly Mendiola) on Dec. 9 as part of the Global Day of Action for the slain journalists.

    In a report released Thursday, a fact-finding team that went to Maguindanao observed that police had handled evidence poorly, leading to its possible contamination.

    “There was little or no consideration given to preserving the evidence. There was little or no consideration given to avoid the contamination of the crime scene,” the report said.

    The group said the vehicles used by the suspects in stopping a convoy carrying journalists and relatives of a clan opposed to the Ampatuans were still unaccounted for.

    “Investigators said the suspects also used a Nissan Frontier pickup with police markings. One such police vehicle issued to the Maguindanao police is still unaccounted for. This jibes with claims by (witnesses) that police vehicles were involved in the blockade,” the team said.

    ‘Culture of fear and silence’

    The killings have stoked fear among students in some areas of Mindanao.

    Fr. Edgardo Tanudtanud, OMI, director of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) for Central Mindanao, cited a recent incident in which several students, out of fear, canceled their participation in a march for peace in Cotabato.

    “It has created a culture of fear and silence among the people, including the students, Christians and Muslims alike. But that fear did not stem from that massacre incident alone, but because of the history of violence in the area,” Tanudtanud said.

    In a statement, the association of 1,272 member schools, colleges and universities said: “This mass murder … has showcased the extent corrupt individuals are willing to go in order to arrogate the power to themselves.”

    Msgr. Gerry Santos, president of the CEAP, said the group was demanding long-term solutions to the decades-old conflict that had forced Maguindanaoans to live in fear and subhuman conditions.

    “We ask the government to dismantle private armies and put an end to the anarchy of clans in the region,” Santos said. Reports from Reuters, Alcuin Papa and Tina G. Santos


  13. Sunday, December 6. 2009
    Ellen Tordesillas Blog (via GMANews.Tv)

    Martial law: A grand set-up in the making
    Let us beware. Let us not be lulled into another legal shortcut by Gloria Arroyo.

    We should learn our lesson from what happened in January 2001 when we closed our eyes and even aided her in grabbing power from an elected, although incompetent, president.

    Since then, she has made a mockery of the Constitution and perverted democratic institutions. And we allowed her.

    She got away with subverting the will of the people in the 2004 elections. She got away with multi-billion scandals. Why then would she stop?

    Last Friday, she issued Proclamation 1959, another proof of her contempt for the law and condescending attitude towards the Filipino people.

    If she gets away with 1959, she would be encouraged to impose Martial Law in the whole country.

    Proclamation 1959 declares a state of Martial Law and suspends the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the province of Maguindanao.

    The Constitution provides only two grounds for the imposition of martial law: rebellion and invasion.

    Rebellion is defined in the revised Penal Code as “rising publicly and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of the Philippine Islands or any part thereof…”

    Invasion is entrance of an armed force into a territory to conquer. Surely, there was no invasion by foreign forces.

    Proclamation 1959 was made to supposedly restore order in Maguindanao caused by the massacre perpetrated allegedly by the Ampatuan clan, political allies of Arroyo.

    In 2004, the Ampatuans helped Arroyo tamper with the results of the 2004 elections in her favor. In 2007, the Ampatuans also helped some of Arroyo’s candidates become senator.

    In the Nov. 23 massacre, 58 persons were killed identified as members of family and supporters of the Mangudadatu clan, political rivals of the Ampatuans but also allies of Arroyo.

    Thirty-one of those killed were members of media. Others were innocent motorists who happened to be in the area when the abduction took place.

    The charges filed against Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., who was identified by witnesses as the one who directed the massacre, were several counts of murder. It was not rebellion or invasion.

    As correctly pointed out by Rep. Didagen Dilanggalen (Maguindanao, 1st district), the Ampatuans are allies of the Arroyo government. They did not take up arms for the purpose of removing allegiance from the Arroyo government.

    Proclamation 1959 provided an exception. It states that Martial Law is not operative in areas identified as territory of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which advocates secession.

    The irony of the exception was not lost on a Muslim lawyer who quipped, “The Philippine Government declared martial law in Maguindanao to quell rebellion except in places where there are rebels.”

    The Supreme Court took exception to “whereas” number five of Proclamation 1959 saying “that local judicial system and other government mechanisms in the province are not functioning.”

    Lawyer Midas Marquez, Supreme Court deputy court administrator and spokesperson said that the cases filed in the Cotabato trial court in connection with the Maguindanao massacre continued to develop over the past days.

    Search warrants issued out of the Kidapawan regional trial court also made the police raids on the Ampatuan houses possible. “This is far from a picture of a non-performing judicial system,” he said.

    Justice Secretary Agnes Devanedara has come up with another tack: “brewing rebellion.”

    What Constitution is Malacañang’s legal advisers using? The 1935 Constitution?

    The 1935 Constitution, has included “imminent danger thereof” as basis for declaration of martial law in addition to invasion, insurrection and rebellion.

    But “imminent danger” has been removed and dies not appear in the 1987 Constitution.

    The Philippine National Police recently reported another seizure of high powered guns and arrest of 47 persons led by the patriarch of the Ampatuan clan, Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.

    The PNP press release said, “Those arrested and undergoing investigation for involvement in armed resistance against the government as indicated by the massing of forces in several towns, mobilization of local government employees for a stand-off with government forces and stockpiling of weapons.”

    So, the case is now “armed resistance.” What happened to the murder charges?

    One discerning lawyer/blogger, SaxnViolins, said,” Stroke of evil genius na naman. The government has a less than weak case for rebellion against the Ampatuans. Is this a setup for an acquittal?”

    There were talks the past few days of an ace still being held by the Ampatuans against Arroyo: the original copies of the 2004 Election Returns and Certificates of Canvass which would prove Arroyo’s biggest act of thievery.

    With the sweep of Maguindanao by the military and police, chances are the election documents are out of the hands of the Ampatuans.

    There was also an observation by those in touch with the Ampatuans of their reluctance to use the 2004 election cheating as leverage.

    Gloria Arroyo, the evil genius, is shooting several birds with one stone.

    Her allies, the Ampatuans, get away with murder and the evidence of her crime is destroyed.

    Next: martial law in the whole Philippines.



    08 December 2009

    In Bologna, candles were lit to end impunity, demand justice for Maguindanao victims

    BOLOGNA – Around 200 people joined today’s “Fiaccolata” or candlelighting activity calling for justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre, an end to the killings of journalists and activists in the Philippines, and genuine and long lasting peace in Mindanao.

    The Fiaccolata that started at 6.30 pm and lasted for an hour was a beautiful sight to behold, not only because of how the lit candles illuminated the old Piazza del Nettuno where it was held, but also for the show of solidarity among people of various nationalities residing in Bologna. The Filipinos and Italians were joined by people from Morocco, Romania, Bosnia, Bangladesh, Chile, and Germany.

    It was the first time that the Filipino community in Bologna led and organized a public mass action. Although held a day earlier, it was also intended to be part of the International Day Against Impunity on December 9.

    Among the speakers at the peaceful and solemn rally were University Professors Gianni Sofri and Giulio Soravia; Gerardo Bombonato, president of the Association of Journalists in the Italian Region of Emilia-Romagna; Leonardo Barcelo and Bouchaib Kaline, both officials of the city and province of Bologna, respectively. The Filipino community was represented by Adelle Ignacio, Councilor of the Province of Bologna and one of the lead organizers; Jose Avenido, president of the Federation of Filipino Associations of Bologna (FedFab) and Edwin Biglas of Migrante Sectoral Party.

    The program started with a child singing “One Little Candle” while the candles were being lit. After the song, the names of the thrity Filipino journalists who died in the massacre were read. Ignacio read the statement of the organizers saying that the activity was symbolic. “We should not remain silent in the face of such atrocities… In one of the darkest period of our history, we light the candles as a condemnation of the violence and our desire for justice and long-lasting peace,” she said.

    Sofri, an Italian professor of history explained the context surrounding the massacre for the benefit of the non-Filipino community in the crowd. He also observed how come the incident only gathered little attention in the European media and this is one way of increasing the European’s awareness of such issues.

    Bombonato, representing the journalists in the region said he usually does not go to such rallies, especially to participate because his job is to cover these events. However, what happened in the Philippines was deeply moving and he decided to join. He said journalists are also under attack in Italy for exposing the truth, mainly scandals involving the Mafia and read a poem about why people should stand up against the violation of our basic freedoms. Excerpts from statements of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, translated in Italian was also read.

    Kaline, a Moroccan immigrant said that it is important as a member of the larger community of nations, to express their solidarity to the people facing such atrocities and condemn the perpetrators. Barcelo, originally from Chile who sought asylum in Italy after the Pinochet coup on the one hand, shared his country’s experience under fascist rule and the need to fight tyranny together.

    During the program, many Italians who were just passing by the Fiaccolata, most of whom were doing their early Christmas shopping, stopped and listened. The activity appear to have also served the purpose of easing anti-immigrant sentiments in the community which had been on the rise due to the increasing unemployment in the country.

    The Fiaccolata also enjoyed the broad support of political, religious and regional organizations in Bologna. Among them were the Forum Immigrazione of the Partido Democratico (PD); CGIL, an institution for worker’s rights; Migrante Sectoral Party; the Council of Foreigners in the Province of Bologna; El Shaddai; El Elohim; FedFab; Lafa, an organization of Laguna residents; Lampada Milan; Kakampi; Guardians; Christian Joint Fellowship; Liwanag; Flussi; and San Pedronians. ###

    For reference:
    Adelle Ignacio, Councilor of Foreigners, Province of Bologna, Italy
    Tel No. +39 320 3450951


  15. U.S. Military Aid and the Paramilitaries Behind the Philippine Election Massacre

    “While the enormity of the violence committed is new, the brazenness with which the act was committed has been common in the Philippines over the past eight years of the Arroyo presidency. Acts of abduction and murder have been carried out with impunity by the police, the army, and people aligned with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo…”

    Katrina Abarcar
    December 11, 2009

    For many of us in the U.S., the sometimes vicious attack ads of last year’s presidential election are more than just a recent memory. The Philippines, a longtime ally of the U.S., is gearing up for its own round of elections in 2010. But in the Philippines, attacks are not contained to the TV and newspapers. Vicious attacks on an opponent can literally mean murder.

    On Nov. 23, 2009, around 60 people were massacred in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. A number of victims were part of a convoy en route to file the registration papers of an aspirant for governor. It was one of the most open and horrendous acts of election-related violence in recent Philippine history. Among the victims were women, two human rights lawyers, and 30 journalists. In fact, it was the single deadliest attack on journalists on record. The private army of the Ampatuan family, a ruling family in the province with close ties to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, are believed to be behind the attack.

    While the enormity of the violence committed is new, the brazenness with which the act was committed has been common in the Philippines over the past eight years of the Arroyo presidency. Acts of abduction and murder have been carried out with impunity by the police, the army, and people aligned with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Security forces have evaded conviction and some, such as General Jovito Palparan, have even been rewarded for their performance. In Maguindanao, the recent act was committed in broad daylight and the perpetrators appeared confident that they would get away scott-free. In the days after the incident, with not one arrest, it almost seemed like they would. In a surprising turn of events, on Dec. 4, Arroyo declared martial law, Proclamation 1529. The declaration, coincidentally, occurred as the media focused on the cache of around 1,000 government-owned, high-powered firearms and “ballot boxes” found on the Ampatuans’ grounds, and the Ampatuans’ supposed threat to tell all about electoral cheating in 2004 and 2007, of which President Arroyo was the major beneficiary.

    And while the declaration of martial law in the Philippines has headlined U.S. news, there has been little focus on the ugly truth that the Ampatuan family is suspected to have committed the crime with the help (direct and indirect) of national security forces, the Philippine National Police, and the Philippine Army. The Ampatuans’ private army consists of paramilitary outfits subsidized by the government and known to serve as hired mercenaries in their role as auxiliary units of the police and army. These types of units are used to carry out operations as part of the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency plan, Oplan Bantay Laya 2, which has been highly criticized for encouraging human rights violations in the name of fighting terrorism. Even worse, it is plausible that the arms and bullets used by the warlord Ampatuan clan were bought from the U.S. by the Philippines (care of U.S. tax dollars) in the form of Foreign Military Financing (allocated to the Philippines for the purpose of buying U.S. weaponry).

    Disappointingly, there are reports that the Philippines may see an increase in the amount of Foreign Military Financing it currently receives in FY11. Also, the State Department may choose to release the $2 million in military aid to the Philippines that Congress fenced in with human rights conditions in 2010, pending improvements in the nation’s human rights record and the Arroyo government’s supposed compliance with the human rights recommendations made by U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Allston.

    The Maguindanao Massacre shows that human rights violations continue to rage throughout the Philippines, under the direction of the Arroyo administration. With election season in the Philippines upon us now, U.S. tax dollars to the Philippines in the form of military aid might be lighting the fuse on a pile of dynamite.

    The magnitude of the Maguindanao Massacre has also garnered more attention for the human rights situation in the Philippines than anything else in recent years. In June, Katarungan organized an Emergency Human Rights Summit on the Philippines in anticipation of this very violence. We must remain on watch and be ready to expose all acts of election-related violence in the next 5 months — especially with the message that the Philippines should not receive more military aid until it ends its current counter-insurgency policy and resolves the existing human rights crisis. We also need to impose military solutions (i.e. martial law) to criminal cases.

    Katrina Abarcar coordinates the work of Katarungan, which seeks to promote peace, justice, and human rights in the Philippines through research, education, and grassroots advocacy.

    Patrick Mac Manus
    Midgaardsgade 13, 3. th.
    2200 København / Copenhagen N
    +45 22 45 41 78
    Foreningen Oprør / Rebellion (Denmark):


  16. Manila urged to scrap abortion ban

    Philippines: A US-based rights group urged Manila on Monday to reform a tough anti-abortion law that has spawned widespread underground procedures which kill about 1,000 women each year.

    An estimated 560,000 women in the Roman Catholic Philippines in 2008 sought abortion involving crude and painful methods such as intense abdominal massages by traditional midwives or inserting catheters into the uterus, said the New York-based Centre for Reproductive Rights. Almost 1,000 people die each year from abortion complications, it said.


  17. PHILIPPINES: The US sealed a 10-year deal yesterday to allow a larger US military presence.
    The Enhanced Defence Co-operation Agreement will give US forces temporary access to military camps and allow them to position fighter jets and ships. It is due to be signed today at the main military camp in the capital Manila.

    Left-wing activists have protested against the pact, saying that the agreement reverses democratic gains achieved when huge US military bases were shut down in the early 1990s.


  18. Pingback: United States AFRICOM wars all over Africa? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  19. Pingback: Philippines death squads, paid by United States tax payers | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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