NDFP mourns the passing away of Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, its chief legal counsel and champion of the exploited and oppressed
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
17 September 2012
The entire National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) deeply mourns the passing away of Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, its Chief Legal Counsel and champion of the exploited and oppressed. The leadership of the NDFP, all its allied organizations, and the NDFP Negotiating Panel, its consultants and staff, express our deepest gratitude for the invaluable service he rendered through so many years, in the peace negotiations and other fields of people's struggles.
We express our sincerest condolences to his wife, Pia, his children, Alex, Eduardo and Roma Pia, and to other members of his family, his many friends and colleagues in the Philippines and abroad..
He was already a legal counsel to the NDFP peace negotiators in 1986-1987. In 1989, he accompanied several peace advocates to the Netherlands. In 1990, he came with Congressman Jose V. Yap for extensive discussions on peace negotiations.
From 1992 until 2008, despite his heavy schedule of defending political prisoners, peasants, workers and others subjected to political repression, he came to assist in peace negotiations. All 12 bilateral agreements from 1992 to 2004 were forged with the invaluable help of his legal expertise and firm stand for the revolutionary movement.
|Family in happier days before tragic attack took life of Alice Claver. (far right)|
Human rights violation data (Karapatan) show that during the Arroyo administration, there were 1,205 extra-judicial killings and 206 enforced disappearances. The data also show that in the two years of your administration, there were an additional documented 99 extra-judicial killings and 11 enforced disappearances. These cases do not include the countless number of victims of threats, political vilification, evacuations, torture, rape, and illegal detention. International human rights bodies have similarly documented these violations.
And there was not a word of mention in that address. What does this mean, Mr. President?
Does this mean that the concerns of the families of these victims of human rights violations are
not important enough to merit attention? Does this not fit your scenario of “where a citizen is
oppressed, he will find (you) an ally”? From your speech, I am guessing that it does not.
Does this mean that you are now tacitly in agreement with these military terror tactics? After two
years of inaction on your part, the families of the victims of the killings and disappearances are
now drawing that conclusion. In her 2006 SONA, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
declared this sentiment when she publicly praised General Jovito Palparan, a notorious human
rights violator. Right after your last SONA, you did a similar thing – you designated the Morong
43 torturer Col. Aurelio Balabad to a division command post. I am guessing that you are indeed
encouraging these terror tactics.
Or does this also mean that you are so afraid of the military that you dare not mention their dark
deeds? You talked tough against corrupt police officials coddled by illegal loggers, but you were
meek as a mouse about the bloody acts arising from the military’s Oplans Bantay Laya and
Bayanihan. I am guessing that you do not truly believe that the people are your “bosses” because,
as I see it, you have higher bosses.
As one of the families of the victims of extra-judicial killings, and on the anniversary of the
killing of my wife, I challenge you to “look (us) in the eye” and tell us that my guesses are
(Sgd) Chandu Claver
Husband of Alice Claver
Extra-judicial Killing Victim (July 31, 2006)
En espérant vous voir ce soir, le 1er mai 2012, pour manifester à Montréal avec les travailleurs et travailleuses du monde entier pour marquer la Journée international des travailleurs et travailleuses.
There are two activities, one begins at 4:30 pm, the other at 6:00 pm.
Manifestation anticapitaliste à Montréal
organisée par la Convergence des luttes anticapitalistes (CLAC-Montréal)
Rendez-vous à 16h30 au Champ-de-Mars
(derrière l'Hôtel de ville, métro Champ-de-Mars)
MARCHE DU PREMIER MAI À 18 HR À MONTRÉAL
Centre for Philippine Concerns will join the Migrant Workers' contingent at the demonstration organized by the unions at 6:00 pm. Meeting place: Corner of Beaubien and Louis-Hébert, Iberville metro.
Le Centre d'appui aux Philippines se joindra au contingent des travailleurs et travailleuses migrants à la manifestation organisée par les syndicats à 18 hrs. Point de ralliement: Coin Beaubien et Louis-Hébert, Métro Iberville.
À CE SOIR! SEE YOU ALL LATER!
River running in you and me,
Spirit of life, deep mystery.
Dancing down to the holy seas,
river run deep, river run free. *
From Province to Province: The Beaconsfield INITIATIVE January 1-12, 2012;
Strengthening Partnerships and Studying the Impact of Canadian Mining Interests in the Philippines
Connecting with the Local Filipino people
While in the Philippines for 13 days on the Beaconsfield Initiative Exposure tour, we visited many rural communities under threat from mining applications or who are directly impacted by mining activities, resulting in environmental degradation, human rights violations, militarization and other social and economic impacts in the communities.
To that end, in terms of our information gathering, we met with municipal mayors and councilors, provincial government representatives, 2 provincial governors, representatives from women’s organizations, and clergy organizations, political prisoners, the Canadian ambassador and his staff, the Attorney General of the Philippines, Bishops and other church leaders, women and children, Elders, and representatives from people`s organizations, including, CHESTCOR, CHRA, CPA, UCCP, NCCP, RECCORD, ETS and their student body, family members of the disappeared, family members of victims of extrajudicial killings and protestors of mining activity. As Christians engaged in justice, we have a responsibility to know what is happening in these areas of injustice in the Philippines today.
Our focus became clear when we divided our group into two teams in Salapaddan and Tubo, where we lived for several days. It became clear, through our first conversations with people in all communities, that the river is the source of life. It is sacred, holy, embodied with the life of the people, a place of creation and goodness, where the children play, the people wash and bathe, the fish swim, a place of celebration and delight in the abundance of the earth. It is a place of life!
The river is also a place of death! An individual who had spoken out against mining companies in the community of Tubo was decapitated, his body was desecrated, divided and thrown into the river. With the explosion of mining activities in the nearby centres, the Abra River has been impacted, with the mine tailings which contain deadly cyanide, mercury and a host of other chemicals being deposited into the once healthy and vibrant Abra river.
We followed the course of the Abra River from its headwaters where it continues to be polluted from the Lepanto mine. It winds its way through several provinces, many communities and opens, eventually, into the sea. Fish that once swam abundantly now float to the surface, destroyed. Skin diseases plague the Filipino people and their animals. The water buffalo, the most valuable domestic animal, and other domestic animals help the people preserve their way of life in subsistence farming and municipal or small-scale fishing. The Abra river is now an ambiguous place, a place where the balance of life needs to be restored and whose very flow of life is in peril with the development of mining practices.
As we heard the first hand stories of people who were directly impacted, individually and communally, we were awakened to the realities of gross injustice, realities we had heard about only in theory.
Chers membres et ami-e-s du Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Montréal (CAP-CPC),
CAP-CPC aura sa prochaine réunion mensuelle le samedi 21 avril 2012 chez Tess Tesalona, 653 Allion (Central), Lasalle, H8P 1K6 (Métro Jolicoeur, autobus 112) de 10h à 12h midi. Nous discuterons entre autres de la suite de la tournée des defenseurs des droits humains.
Après la réunion de la CAP-CPC nous allons déjeuner chez Tess T avec un invité très spécial en provenance des Philippines: Francisca "France" Castro, National Secretary of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers
Écrire à Tess Tesalona (firstname.lastname@example.org) pour d'autres suggestions pour l'ordre du jour de la réunion et pour signifier votre présence. RSVP. Rendez-vous tous! :-)
DERNIER MINUTE! "Cordillera Day", un événement annuel qui honore les populations autochtones de la région de la Cordillère des Philippines, sera célébrée dimanche prochain, le 22 avril 2012 de 15h à 17:30h à 6767 Côte des neiges (métro Côte des neiges). Nous soutenons l'évenement organisée par l'Association philippine Cordillère de Montréal. Dr. Chandu Claver de Bayan le Canada sera le conférencier d'honneur, et les six tribus de la région de la Cordillère sera représenté dans les performances de l'après-midi. Le groupe culturelle de PINAY sera également présent et un membre de l'Initiative de Beaconsfield exposera l'impact des compagnies minières canadiennes dans cette région riche en ressources. Tous sont les bienvenus, de la nourriture disponible, événement gratuit.
Dear members and friends of the Centre for Philippine Concerns - Montreal (CAP-CPC),
CAP-CPC will have the next regular monthly meeting on Saturday, April 21, 2012 @ Tess's Tesalona's house, 653 Allion (Central), Lasalle, H8P 1K6 (Métro Jolicoeur, autobus 112), from 10:00 am to 12noon. We will discuss follow up to the Human rights tour, and other upcoming events (see Last Minute news below)
After the CAP-CPC meeting we will lunch and share at Tess's place with a very special guest from the Philippines: Francisca "France" Castro, National Secretary of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers
Please email Tess Tesalona (email@example.com) with points to include on the agenda and to confirm your attendance. RSVP. See you all there! :-)
LAST MINUTE NEWS! Cordillera Day, an annual event honouring the indigenous people of the Cordillera region of the Philippines, will be celebrated this coming Sunday, April 22, 2012 from 3pm-5:30pm at 6767 Côte des neiges (Metro Côte des neiges). We are supporting the event organized by the Philippine Cordillera Association of Montreal. Dr. Chandu Claver of Bayan Canada will be the keynote speaker, and the six tribes of the Cordillera region will be represented in the afternoon's performances. The PINAY cultural group will also perform and a member of the Beaconsfield Initiative will expose the impact of Canadian mining companies on this resource rich region. All welcome, food available, free event.
Human rights defenders from the Philippines working in alliance with a cross-Canada network of churches, community groups and human rights and development organizations, including KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives and the United Church of Canada Asia Pacific Partnerships
• Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, Coordinator of Council on Health and Development, former political prisoner (2010)
• Angelina Bisuña Ipong, Coordinator of the Association of Ex-Detainees Against Detention and Arrest and former political prisoner (2005-2011)
• Bishop Reul Marigza, General Secretary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and initiator of an ongoing legal suit to hold the former President of the Philippines and other top military officials legally accountable for extra-judicial killings, abduction, torture, arrest, enforced disappearances and attempted killings.
Public events and consultations with civil society and government representatives.
• Public forums in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Victoria to raise awareness of cases of torture, imprisonment and extrajudicial killings committed with impunity in the Philippines
• Meetings with government officials to urge Canada to condemn these systemic human rights violations
Locations, dates and times of the public events are as follows
• Toronto: Saturday, March 31, 3:00-5:00PM, Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, Rm. 5-250, 252 Bloor St. W.
• Ottawa: Sunday, April 1, 2:00-4:00PM, Assumption Church, 320 Olmstead St.
• Victoria: Friday, April 13, 5:00—7:00 PM, Philippine Bayanihan Community Centre, 1709 Blanshard St.
• Vancouver: Saturday, April 14, 2:00–5:00 PM, Simon Fraser University – Harbour Centre, Rm. 2270, Sauder Industries Policy Room
WHEN: March 27-April 16, 2012. Delegates are available for interviews for the duration of the tour.
WHY: Human rights defenders are coming to Canada to raise awareness about the grave realities of human rights violations occurring within a climate of impunity in the Philippines. Two former political detainees, Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor and Ms. Angelina Bisuña Ipong, who were subjected to torture, sexual harassment and physical abuse while in jail, will tell their first-hand stories. The tour will also feature the perspectives of ecumenical community activist Bishop Reul Marigza, who is seeking to hold the perpetrators of these crimes legally accountable.
The delegation will be urging the government of Canada to bring forward recommendations on ending human rights violations in the Philippines to the upcoming UN Universal Periodic Review sessions in May 2012. The delegates will emphasize that Canada has a responsibility to ensure that trade, investment, development aid and other bilateral programmes do not contribute to perpetuating these violations.
Across Canada, the delegation will be hosted by churches, human rights and development organizations, local KAIROS chapters and Filipino community groups.
Bios of delegates are available at www.kairoscanada.org
- 30 –
Centre d’Appuix aux Philippines-Centre for Philippine Concerns
Communications Program Coordinator
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
(416) 463 5312, ext. 223
7 avril à Montreal - Nos voix ne seront pas réduites au silence, un forum sur les droits humains aux Philippines
• Dr Merry Mia-Clameur, coordinatrice du Conseil sur la santé et le développement, ex-prisonnière politique (2010);
• Angelina Bisuna Ipong, coordonnatrice de l'Association des ex-détenus contre la détention et l'arrestation et ex-prisonnières politique (2005-2011);
• Mgr Reul Marigza, secrétaire général de l'Eglise unie du Christ aux Philippines (UCCP), qui a intenté un procès judiciaire contre l'ex-présidente des Philippines et contre d'autres hauts gradés militaires pour leur responsabilité relativement à des exécutions extrajudiciaires, des enlèvements, des cas de torture, des arrestations, des disparitions et des tentatives d'assassinat.
ÉVÉNEMENTS PUBLICS QUI SERONT ORGANISÉS AU COURS DE LA TOURNÉE :
Activités publiques et consultations avec la société civile et des représentants de gouvernements.
• Assemblées à Toronto, à Ottawa, à Montréal, à Winnipeg, à Vancouver et à Victoria pour informer le public sur les cas de torture, d'emprisonnement et d'exécutions extrajudiciaires qui sont commis en toute impunité aux Philippines;
• Rencontres avec des représentants des gouvernements pour exhorter le Canada à dénoncer la violation systématique des droits de la personne.
LIEUX, DATES ET HORAIRES DE CES ÉVÉNEMENTS PUBLICS :
· Toronto : Samedi 31 mars, de 15h00 à 17h00, Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, salle 5-250 - Adresse : 252 Bloor Street West
· Ottawa : Dimanche le 1er avril, de 14h00 à 16h00, Assumption Church - Adresse : 320 Olmstead Street
· Victoria : Vendredi 13 april - de 17h00 à 19h00, Philippine Bayanihan Community Centre, 1709 Blanshard Street
· Vancouver : Samedi 14 avril, de 14h00 à 17h00, Simon Fraser University – Harbour Centre, Room 2270, Sauder Industries Policy Room
QUAND? PÉRIODE DE LA TOURNÉE DES PERSONNES QUI TÉMOIGNERONT : Du 27 mars au 16 april 2012. Les déléguées/és pourront être interviewés pendant toute la durée de leur tournée.
POURQUOI? OBJECTIF DE LA TOURNÉE : Des défenseurs des droits de la personne participeront à une tournée dans plusieurs villes du Canada pour sensibiliser le public à la grave situation de violations des droits de la personnes perpétrées en toute impunité aux Philippines. Deux ex-prisonnières politiques, le Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor et Mme Angelina Bisuña Ipong, qui ont été victimes d'actes de torture, de harcèlement sexuel et de violence physique au cours de leur emprisonnement présenteront leur témoignage au public. Au cours de la tournée, l'évêque et militant communautaire œcuménique Marigza Reul, qui a intenté un procès contre les auteurs de ces crimes pour qu'ils en soient tenus pour responsables, présentera les faits et ses perspectives.
La délégation exhortera le gouvernement du Canada à présenter au cours des prochaines sessions de la Révision périodique universelle de l'ONU, qui auront lieu en mai 2012, des recommandations visant à faire cesser les violations des droits de la personne qui ont cours aux Philippines. Les délégués soulignent que le Canada a la responsabilité de s'assurer que le commerce, les investissement s, l'aide au développement et les autres programmes bilatéraux ne contribuent pas à perpétuer de telles violations.
Dans chacune de ces villes du Canada, la délégation sera accueillie par des Églises, des organismes de défense des droits de la personne, des organisations de développement, des sections locales de KAIROS et des groupes communautaires philippins.
No Permanent Address
April 13 – May 26, 2012 @ Gallery TPW in Toronto
Opening Reception: Friday, April 13, 6:00 to 8:00 pm
Images Festival and Gallery TPW are very pleased to co-present work by Mark Boulos. No Permanent Address is a three channel video portrait of the New People's Army, a Maoist guerrilla group in the Philippines. Shot over several months while the artist lived amongst their members, the work speaks to the persistence of communist ideologies at a time in which Boulos suggests "capitalism has begun to lose its sense of inevitability." Resisting the impulse found in most political documentary to focus on victims, Boulos looks at the members of the insurgent group as quotidian heroes as he records their daily activities and speaks with them about notions of love, sacrifice, revolution and ideology. Acknowledging the incongruities between a lived Marxism and the communist philosophies from which Boulos often draws inspiration, No Permanent Address is at once a generous, humanist portrait and a provocation about political violence and the transmission of ideas and culture across borders.
Mark Boulos is an American video-artist who lives and works in Amsterdam and London. He makes multi-screen documentary video installations, mostly about miracles and revolutions. He has filmed oil guerillas in the Niger Delta, commodities traders in Chicago, Christian mystics in Syria, and Islamic jihadists in London and New York. In March 2012, MoMA NY presented a solo exhibition of his work as part of their 'Projects' series. He has had solo shows at the Miami Art Museum (2011), the Belkin Gallery in Vancouver (2010), Ar-Ge Kunst in Bolzano (2009), and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (2008). No Permanent Address was commissioned by and premiered at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in 2010. It was presented at Smart Project Space in Amsterdam in 2011, as it was long-listed for the Dutch Prix de Rome.
Mark Boulos is presented in collaboration with the 25th Images Festival,
April 12 - April 21 (www.imagesfestival.com) and continues through the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival in May (scotiabankcontactphoto.com).
Image Credit: Mark Boulos, Whirlwind Maneuver, production still, No Permanent Address, 2010. Image courtesy of Galerie Diana Stigter.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 12:00 - 5:00 pm
56 Ossington Avenue
Toronto, ON. M6J 2Y7
Press Statement: March 21, 2012
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should stop its habit of blaming the people whose rights are violated in the implementation of its counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, especially when the victims are children,” asserted Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan.
The AFP claimed that the 6 year-old Rodilyn Aguirre was killed, and her 4 year-old sister Baby wounded, because of their involvement with NPA activities, specifically in manufacturing improvised explosive device (EID). “These are not only false claims, these are preposterous! Rodilyn and her sister were hit by grenade shrapnel from an M203 launcher. The barangay residents believed that the explosion could only come from the nearby detachment of the 61st IB-PA as they often saw army personnel Willy Faulo brandishing that weapon, ” retorted Hilao-Enriquez.
Results of the fact finding by Karapatan-Panay stated that on March 11, the two children were in their house with their grandfather, Julian Aguirre, when an explosion struck a few meters from their house. The report said that, “Rodilyn was hit by shrapnel from M203 launcher in “different parts of her body, resulting in fatal injuries. The most fatal wounds were on her left eye and her neck. Baby sustained superficial injuries on her face, arms and stomach.” Rodilyn died on the way to the hospital which was “two hours walk and another hour by motorcycle away from the village.”
Karapatan said that the people in Brgy. Tacayan have, for years, complained of the military’s presence in their village for fear of their safety. Hilao-Enriquez said that, “this is proof that civilians’ lives are endangered by the mere presence of the military in the communities. Children are especially vulnerable to such violations, depriving them not only of a peaceful environment, but of their lives and security as well.”
Four days earlier, on March 7, 10 year-old Michael Mancera and brother Richard, 7 y.o., were likewise killed when soldiers from the 49th IB in Labo, Camarines Sur fired at the Mancera’s house. The 24 sqm. Mancera house was riddled with bullets. Recovered from the different spots outside the house were a total of 231 spent shells from armalite rifles. To cover up the killings, the military tagged Benjamin, Michael and Richard’s father, as “NPA militia” and called the incident an ‘encounter’ between the military and the NPA.
Karapatan said it has been the practice of the AFP to easily and immediately brand the victims of human rights violations as members or supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) to wash off their bloodied tracks. Hilao-Enriquez added that, “the AFP often uses ‘legitimate encounters’ or ‘hot pursuit operations’ against the NPA to cover up its rights violations against the unarmed civilians in the communities. They are mindless of who are victimized in the process because they have a healthy excuse -- branding civilians, including children as rebels, as if branding a person as NPA or NPA supporter justifies extrajudicial killing.”
Karapatan reiterates its call “to immediately pull out military units in the communities and stop the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan which is nothing but a repackaged Oplan Bantay Laya. ###
Reference: Marie Hilao Enrique, Chairperson, +63 917-561-6800
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, +63 918-979-0580
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.
Walking the Talk: Human Rights Abroad, Take II
Friday, March 16, 2012, Centre Block, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Thank you Mr. Julian, for the opportunity to participate in Walking the Talk: Human Rights Abroad Take II. I will focus my comments and remarks on the work we have undertaken in the Philippines which was comprised, as you have said in your introduction, of a 14 person delegation from five regions of this country, primarily with members of the United Church of Canada. We were hosted by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, The Cordillera Peoples Alliance and the Regional Ecumenical Council of the Cordillera.
The Cordillera Region is made up of five provinces with rich mineral deposits and, being remote and in the interior, are also home to the Ancestral lands of Indigenous peoples who have never been assimilated and, resisted 350 years of Spanish colonization, 50 years of American colonization, and live gracefully on the land, which they believe the Creator gave to them to protect. We followed the course of the great Abra River as it flows from its head waters down to the sea. The Abra River has been permanently ravished by the toxic waters from the Mine Tailings Ponds created by the Lapanto Mine, not a Canadian Mine, but one which has received major infusions of capital from Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines. Fish stocks have died off, rice fields can no longer sustain life and human health is at risk for those who live along the river.
In our study, we met with several Governors, Mayors, Municipal Councillors, Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, local unions, community leaders, women’s organizations, indigenous elders and people’s movements. Eighty-five percent of the land mass of Abra Province specifically, is now under application for exploration by 7 Canadian Mining Companies. The 1995 Philippine Mining Act has attracted transnational mining investors and it is no wonder. It allows for:
* 100% foreign ownership of Mining projects,
* allows foreign companies to have enormous areas for concession, both on shore and off shore,
* a 100% repatriation of profit,
* 5 years tax holiday which was later extended to 8,
* enjoyment of easement rights, mining leases for 25 years, extendable to another 25 years,
* losses can be carried forward against income tax among other things.
When it is all said and done, the mining industry in the Philippines contributes 1% of the Philippines GDP. For the affected Indigenous communities that we met and stayed with for three days, deep in the interior, there is wide scale resistance to any form of large scale mining development. The reasons are clear from many examples throughout the Philippines.
As Mining Exploration and development occurs, a whole series of vectors are released within the society. In brief:
-- Vilification, known by other names such as labelling, red-bating, smear campaign, guilt by association and many other names, is used to discredit an individual or an organizations credibility and has been a concern of the Progressive Peoples movement. I am quoting in part from Resolution #2225 introduced by Representatives Colmenares and Casino urging the House of Representatives to bring an end to vilification which was presented March 6, 2012. “Vilification is a Human Rights Violation because it undermines political participation, causes medical and psychological torment to the victims, it affects people’s mobility and their capacity to do their work among other things. Many organizations are placed on watch lists including the organizations with which the United Church of Canada has long term partnerships. And, once you are on that list, you are a target in a provisional order of battle for use by the Philippine Army and its paramilitaries. Professor Philipp Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur in 2007 named vilification as one of the two causes of Extrajudicial Killings.
-- Extrajudicial Killings: There have been over 1200 extrajudicial killings over the past 11 years. Indigenous leaders, lawyers, trade unionists, students, journalists, people’s movements, and 54 church clergy and workers, have been assassinated and murdered which continues to this day. Of that number only 1.3% of the perpetrators of these murders have come before the court. I personally attended a preliminary hearing of Major General Palparan and four others, in cases related to the abduction, torture and rape of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno. These two vibrant, young female university students remain missing and are part of an additional, over 400 enforced disappearances meaning no body has been recovered, however, people have often witnessed the abductions. Although four of the five charged are now “in custody,” two by the army and two by the National Police Force, General Palparan who attempted to flee the country is now in hiding. He has been known on the street for nearly a decade, as “the Butcher” which leads me to my next Vector.
-- Political Prisoners: There are 347 political prisoners currently detained in the Philippines and even though we had signed consent from the Minister of Justice we were denied access the day of the scheduled meeting. There are many others who are subject to illegal arrest and arbitrary detention including Angelina Ipong who at the age of 62 and who spent nearly six years in prison, was raped and tortured. Angelina will be here, on Parliament Hill as part of a Human Rights tour the first week of April. Please avail yourself to meeting with her and the other delegates.
-- Culture of Impunity: Presently, former President Arroyo is also in custody in a medical facility awaiting trial on various charges, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, who was unconstitutionally placed in his position by that same President, is currently undergoing impeachment hearings in the Senate. There exists within the main frame of the Philippine Society a Culture of Impunity and a wonton disregard for human life. If the vulnerable cannot have recourse to impartial judges, who cannot receive accurate information from credible witnesses, then society is at risk and lawlessness abounds. Corruption flourishes. War Lords prosper and in all this the people themselves bare the high cost and suffer.
-- Enter the militarization of communities: In an effort to bolster security for International mining efforts, the Armed Forces of the Philippines routinely intimidate, harass, threaten and affect the lives of whole communities, particularly indigenous communities. At will, they bivouac, taking over schools, often the only public building, abuse women and children including sex crimes against women, trample entire rice crops depriving villages from their primary food source and, with a new and disturbing development, made possible in October 2011, President Aquino authorized the deployment of paramilitaries, known as Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical United Active Auxiliaries the SCAA.
Colloquially in the Philippines they are know as “goons combined with guns and gold” - the three G’s - and mayhem breaks loose. According to a news release yesterday on March 15th, Congress representative Antonio Tinio is calling for a Congressional investigation into Human Rights abuses committed by a Canadian Mining Firm against small scale miners and Indigenous Subanen in Zamboanga del Sur. TVRID, is a subsidiary of TVI Pacific a publicly traded Canadian Mining company based in Calgary, Alberta. This is an extremely disturbing development as Mining Companies now have the capacity to hire these private militias who are armed and trained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
There is a total lack of accountability for any of their actions. Congressman Tinio alleges that with the aid of paramilitaries, paid for by TVI, they have committed numerous Human Rights violations in preparation for establishing an open-pit Gold Mine including, the demolition of Indigenous People’s homes. The bull-dozing of subsistent plots, destruction of small scale mining equipment, illegal searches and arrests, setting up check points, the imposition of blockades to prevent supplies from reaching communities and fencing off the Mountain Spring that serves as the main source of water for the community.
The Balabag Primary School attendance, the only one serving the remote communities, has dropped from 105 to 50 students as the activities of TVIRD have kept many children in the community from going to school. This is one example which is duplicated throughout the Philippines of the dislocation and mistreatment of Indigenous People by a globalized Mining industry, which spells out WRIT LARGE misery and suffering to vulnerable groups and sectors like, labourers, farmers, indigenous peoples, women, children and the urban poor among others.
Another vector or another reality is that people resist. And the New People’s Army, which is the armed wing of the Communist Party regularly clash with the regular Armed Forces of the Philippines and often the people are caught in the midst of this armed struggle. Tubo, where we stayed, was accused of supporting the New People’s Army and that is why their rice crops were stomped into the ground as a form of punishment and intimidation. Have we not learned from our own shameful history, only to repeat our historical, social and spiritual evils as they are visited upon indigenous peoples in the Philippines.
In closing, the Indigenous People’s have for centuries resisted incursions on their Ancestral lands. To deploy professional armies, paramilitaries and goons to advance corporate interests constitutes a form of depraved indifference which according to definition, “is so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime” rests in the hands of a complicit, ill-informed Canadian Public, the Canadian Government which intentionally blinds its own seeing eyes to this fundamental injustice and furthermore it subsidizes, loans and invests billions of dollars through Export and Development Canada, the CPP and Consular support to the Canadian Mining Industry.
Someone is getting away with murder!
Canadian Church mission looks at impact of Canadian mining projects in Philippines: Letter to President
President of the Philippines
1000 Jose P. Laurel St, Manila
Your Excellency :
We are members of the United Church of Canada, visiting your country in an activity we call the Beaconsfield Initiative.
The Beaconsfield Initiative is an exposure mission to the Cordilleras in the Northern Philippines between January 2nd -12th, 2012. The trip is in conjunction with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), The National Council of Church’s in the Philippines (NCCP), the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), the Regional Ecumenical Council of the Cordillera (RECCORD) - all of which are long time partners of the United Church of Canada. Some of these church organizations are also members of the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines, and a KAIROS partner in the Philippines.
For more on the Beaconsfield Initiative visit: http://beaconsfieldinitiative.tumblr.com/
|Lepanto mine tailings dam is cracking (Mission photo)|
In our journey, we have met with two citizens that seem to be detained without charges, in total disrespect of the principle of the constitutionally mandated right not to be detained without charges. We are concerned about Mr. Edward “Kiwet” Galao, 30 years old, single, farmer and resident of Brgy. Concepcion, Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, and Mr. Hilario Bantew, 42 years old, resident of Mankayan, Benguet, both belonging to the indigenous people now in prison in Cervantes, detained without charges by the PNP, since September 23rd, 2011.
It appears that they have both been illegally arrested by elements of 50th Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army and turned over to the Philippine National Police, Cervantes, under PSI Simplicio Rabago. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) filed a complaint of illegal possession of firearms against them, accusing them also to be members of the New Peoples Army (NPA). However, the Prosecutor has not acted on any of these and no formal charges have been filed.
Both are in need of medical help. One of the two prisoners has documented schizophrenia and has no access to proper medication and care. The other has to undergo mental health assessment and medical attention as well.
|Beaconsfield Initiative delegates with Philippine friends|