Tag Archives: agrarian reform

(PHILIPPINES) A female Human Rights Defender in the Agrarian Reform Sector is brutally murdered

15 Nov

URGENT APPEAL

November 12, 2013

ISSUES: Human Rights Defenders; Harassment and Intimidation; Agrarian Reform; Land Grabbing

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Dear friends,

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the killing of a female human rights defender in Quezon Province.

If you wish to make any inquiries please contact the Research, Documentation and Information Program of TFDP, kindly send email to tfdp1974@gmail.com or call +632 4378054/9950246.

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Case Title: Tulid HRD Killing

Case: Killing of a Human Rights Defender (Non-State Actor)

Name of Victim: Elisa Lascoña Tulid

Date of Incident: October 19, 2013

Place of Incident: Sitio Kumbenyo, Barangay Tala, San Andres, Quezon Province

Alleged Perpetrators: Rannie Bugnot, in connivance with Edwin Ausa (suspected henchman)

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Account of the Incident:

A female human rights defender in the agrarian reform sector and leader of the peasant group Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Barangay Tala at Camflora, was murdered on October 19, 2013, at 2:00pm in Sitio Kumbenyo, Barangay Tala, SanAndres, Quezon Province.

Elisa L. Tulid, 37, of Sitio Kabulihan, Barangay Tala, was shot point-blank by a certain Rannie Bugnot, and was pronounced dead on the spot.

According to witnesses, moments before the shooting incident, Elisa together with her husband Danny Boy, 46, and daughter Melanie, 4, were seen walking on their way home from Sitio Tamnay. Apparently the three sought the service of a repairman to restore their traditional plough used in farming.

When they reached Sitio Kumbenyo, the couple was surprised when Bugnot blocked their path. Without any warning, Bugnot pointed his gun at Danny Boy. The lone gunman fired three gunshots, but luckily Danny Boy was able to run a few meters from the scene. Their daughter Melanie was pushed by Elisa and was able to flee in another other direction.

Danny Boy thought that Rannie will spare his wife. He was shocked when he saw the gunman shoot his wife at short range. Danny Boy was helpless and could not do anything to save the life of his wife.

Danny Boy immediately rushed to the military camp in Barangay Tala to seek help and report the incident. The military called the police and requested their assistance.  The police eventually arrested Bugnot at their house in San Andres.

At around 4:00pm, Danny Boy with some military personnel went to the crime scene. There they met the police and saw the dead body of Elisa lying on the ground.

Elisa suffered gunshot wounds in the nape, mouth, left eye and left thigh.

Additional Information:

Motive of the Killing

Elisa and her clan had long been receiving death threats and harassment from paid goons of influential claimants. Influential landlord-claimants have long targeted this public land and have continuously deceived the farmers that they are the real landowners.

According to the staff of the Quezon Association for Rural Development and Democratization Services (QUARDDS), Elisa together with farmer groups has a longstanding dispute with an alleged land grabber named Edwin Ausa and his trustee Rannie Bugnot.

It started when Edwin and Elisa had a confrontation in a meeting at the DENR office to recognize their land rights. Elisa together with other farmers submitted documents and proof that they were the ones who developed and improved the land they tilled. On the other hand, Edwin submitted none but insisted that the land is supposedly owned by their clan. Embarrassed of not having evidence of his claim, he started to threaten Elisa and her colleagues.

In 2012, Elisa filed a complaint before the Barangay Council against Edwin Ausa, Rannie Bugnot, et al., when the group took the coconuts cultivated by Elisa’s family without consent.

In the same year, Edwin harassed Elisa’s family when he filed criminal charges against her father Guillermo Castanas Guinoo, 72, for grave threats. Guillermo was detained and eventually released due to his old age.

Since then, Elisa received a number of death threats from Edwin and his group. He told the Tulids that he will kill all of them if they still remain and continue fighting for the land which they (Tulids) developed and improved.

Hours before the killing of Elisa, residents spotted Edwin and Sonny Hanabahab on a motorcycle and carrying a bag apparently with a hard object inside suspiciously go towards Barangay Tala where Rannie resides.

Although there is yet no evidence for the actual participation linking Edwin Ausa to the killing of Elisa, the people claimed and stressed that he has something to do with the case, and since Elisa and other farmers were continuously threatened and coerced by Edwin and his group.

Current Situation of Family Members

Elisa’s husband Danny Boy together with four (4) others is presently staying at the house of his brother in the nearby municipality.

Elisa’s youngest daughter Melanie, 4, is possibly experiencing post traumatic stress disorder. Family members often observe that the child instantly panics and gets frightened whenever she hears a firecracker or loud noise from things that fall or drop. Melanie wakes up in the middle of her sleep crying. She often cries out the name of her mother.

Danny Boy on the other hand looks anxious and fearful.

Land Dispute Backgrounder

Bondoc Peninsula lies at the southern tip of Southern Tagalog, 222,254 hectares in size, with 355,158 population and 70,688 households. Eighty percent of the households there were into subsistence farming (mostly coconut and banana monocropping) and fishing.

There exists a persistent feudal exploitation brought about by an extreme insufficiency of information on basic rights of tenants and an absence of viable mechanisms for resolving agrarian reform-related conflict.

Domingo Reyes is one of the biggest landholdings in Bondoc Peninsula with family holdings estimated at 12,000 to 16,000 hectares in three municipalities (Buenavista, San Narciso and San Andres, consisting of 10 barangays and 30 sub-villages).  Before 1996, not a single hectare was included in the agrarian reform program because of the landowner’s “fearsome reputation.” Out of fear, not one tenant wanted to apply for agrarian reform coverage. Tightly guarded, the lands are hard to penetrate.   A sharing of 60-40 prevails in the Villa Reyes property where 60% of the total harvest goes to the landowner, while the tenant shoulders the production expenses.

In 2004, the settlers filed a petition that they should be covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The farmer-tenants started to boycott and stopped giving the 60% share of harvest to the Reyes clan after Elisa and other settlers learned from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that portions of the land claimed by Reyes were declared as public land. The DENR also certified these lands as timberland (2005-2006).

Elisa was in the forefront of the struggle of the land occupants to take possession of the government land through the process set forth by the DENR.

Theories have surfaced that the gunman Rannie Bugnot and Edwin Ausa are both henchmen of the Reyes clan. Farmers alleged that since they learned that the land claimed by the Reyes are alienable and disposable public lands, also considering the farmer-settlers’ application to acquire the land is underway, Reyes’ has no other option but to acquire the service of these henchmen by giving them a ‘fair share’ of the land, just to sow terror in the community so that farmers will discontinue their land right claims and eventually leave the land they currently are in possession.

REQUESTED ACTION:

Please write a letter to the following authorities, calling on them to initiate inquiries into the case of the brutal murder of Elisa Lascoña Tulid. Likewise, urge concerned agencies to immediately resolve the land conflict.

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear ____________,

I am writing to draw your attention regarding a female human rights defender in the agrarian reform sector and leader of the peasant group Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Barangay Tala at Camflora, who was murdered on October 19, 2013, at 2:00pm in Sitio Kumbenyo, Barangay Tala, San Andres, Quezon Province. Elisa L. Tulid, 37, of Sitio Kabulihan Barangay Tala, was shot point-blank by a certain Rannie Bugnot, and was pronounced dead on the spot.

I have learned that Elisa was in the forefront of the struggle of the land occupants to take possession of the government land through the process set forth by the land and environment agencies such as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

I have also learned that Elisa, her family and other farmers had long been receiving death threats and harassment from paid goons of influential land claimants.

It was also brought to my attention that Elisa together with farmer groups has a longstanding dispute with an alleged land grabber named Edwin Ausa and his trustee Rannie Bugnot (the gunman). Theories have also surfaced that the gunman Rannie Bugnot and Edwin Ausa are both henchmen of the Reyes clan who owns one of the biggest landholdings inBondoc Peninsula with family holdings estimated at 12,000 to 16,000 hectares in three municipalities such as Buenavista, San Narciso and San Andres, consisting of 10 barangays and 30 sub-villages.

At present, Elisa’s youngest daughter Melanie, 4, is possibly experiencing post traumatic stress disorder. According to family members, they observe that the child instantly panics and gets frightened whenever she hears a firecracker or loud noise. They often see Melanie when she wakes up, in the middle of her sleep, crying. Also, she often cries out the name of her mother.

Therefore, I humbly urge you to initiate a probe into the brutal murder of Elisa L. Tulid and that government authorities ensure no repeat of such incident. I urge authorities to probe deeply into the link of the alleged gunman with interest groups including a certain Edwin Ausa and the Reyes clan.

Also, we would like to appeal that the government should recognize the initiatives of farmers in observing the agrarian reform processes and to immediately resolve the land dispute.

I look forward to you urgent action is this case.

Respectfully yours,

_________________________

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

Please send your letters to:

1.    Hon. Benigno Simeon Aquino III

President

Republic of the Philippines

Malacanang Palace

JP Laurel Street, San Miguel

Manila 1005

Philippines

Fax: +63 2 736 1010

Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

Email: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

2.    Secretary Virgilio R. Delos Reyes

Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)

Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City

Philippines

Fax: +63 2 920 0380

Tel:  +63 2 929 3460; 928 7031, Local 401

e-mail: secretary@dar.gov.ph / gildlr2010@gmail.com

3.    Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)

Visayas Avenue, Diliman,

Quezon City 1100

Philippines

Tel. No. 920-4352, 926-2688,

926-2535, 925-2329

Fax No. 920-4301

Trunkline No. 929-6626 Local 2258, 2272, 2146

Email: osec@denr.gov.ph

4.    Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales

Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue

U.P. Complex, Diliman

Quezon City

Philippines

Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188

Fax: +63 2929 0102

Email: rosales.chr@gmail.com

5.   Police Director General Alan LA Madrid Purisima

Chief, Philippine National Police

Camp General Rafael Crame

Quezon City, Philippines

Fax: +63 2 724 8763/ +63 2 723 0401

Tel: + 63 2 726 4361/4366/8763

Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

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Politicians and their Conscience

13 Feb

In times like these consult your politicians. Surprisingly, they would present the best solutions to our societal snags and suggests in a simplest way how to carry out these proposals once they are elected. How clever it is. But really in the contrary they will do the opposite. More often than not, they will make an excuse eventually and convince us that their decisions and actions are guided purely by their conscience. But who knows what their conscience says?

Did they ponder on their conscience when thousands of families forcibly evicted from their homes in exchange of their so-called urban development? This is usually done without exhausting the Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development Housing Act (UDHA). Because of this, thousands of families left homeless.

Did they consult their conscience not to approve the increase in salary/wages of our workers? Not only that. They have done nothing with regard to the security of tenure, the banning of labor unions in most factories and establishments and other labor related violations.

Did they consider their conscience in apparently delaying intentionally the distribution of land to our poor farmers? With reference to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER), the government is now racing time since it will end until July 2014. Maybe because most politicians are landlords/owners. And probably because they will do anything to reinstate their idle possessions.

Did they consult their conscience not allowing the Freedom of information (FOI) bill pass into law? Congress killed the FOI bill apparently due to lack of quorum. But really, politicians are afraid they would be subjected to legitimate public scrutiny. It would guarantee the right of people to know the pleasant or distasteful, and appalling about them.

Did they refer to their conscience in arresting a human rights defender named Timogen “Cocoy” Tulawie, and the unceasing impunity in the country? Cocoy is falsely accused by his detractors of a crime he did not commit. Before he was charged and arrested, Cocoy experienced harassments and received countless threats while actively involved in promoting, protecting and defending the rights of the Moro people.

George Bernard Shaw once said, “There is nothing more dangerous than the conscience of a bigot”, Most of us should anticipate that all through the election campaign they will promise abundance and prosperity. But mind you, they will work only for their own interest, and provide nothing but impairment and despair.

What matters most really is the people’s prospect and judgment of what is rightful and just. We must unite as one against these phony saviors and pretenders, and reclaim our inherent rights and freedoms.

Contact Person:

Rommel Yamzon

#45 St. Mary Street, Cubao, Quezon City

Tel (632) 4378054 / Fax (632) 9113643

Email: hrd.pilipinas@gmail.com

Urgently Adopt all Necessary Measures to Guarantee Life, Integrity, and Safety of HRDs

10 Dec

On the occasion of the International Human Rights day on December 10, 2012, the Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas (HRDP) salutes all working women and men in reclaiming the dignity of persons and those who continuously strive towards the achievement of all human rights for all.

Sadly, sixty-four years after the states adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), cases of human rights violations especially against human rights defenders are of an alarming number and must be urgently addressed.

Reports of extra-judicial killings of political activists, predominately those associated with grass-root organizations fighting for land distribution and against mining, have now caused increasing concern. Most of the killings are carried out by unidentified men believed to be hired goons, or associated with private armies and paramilitary groups. But most appallingly gross violations perpetrated by soldiers acting on behalf of private corporations and/or mere suspicions.

Take the case of a family who were killed in Sitio Fayahlob, Barangay Datal Aliong, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, Mindanao. Juvy Capion and her two sons Jordan and John died due to fatal gunshot wounds found on various parts of their bodies. According to witnesses, members of the Philippine Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion led by 1Lt. Dante Jimenez, trooped towards the scene and strafed the house of the victims using their automatic rifles. Victims were killed instantly. Juvy Capion is from the B’laan tribe who strongly opposes mining operations conducted by SMI/Xtrata within their ancestral land.

Another human rights defender Venecia “Inday” Natingga, 49, was murdered along the highway of Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte around five (5) in the afternoon on June 19, 2012. She was going home riding a motorcycle from the town center when she was killed. She sustained seven (7) gunshot wounds. The most fatal hit her head causing her sudden death. Her family and colleagues believed the killing had something to do with Natingga’s active involvement in helping farmers acquire a small portion of land through agrarian reform. They claimed that previous owners of the Segovia Estate dreadfully contested the Natingga’s efforts.

The same fate befell Datu Jimmy Liguyon, an indigenous chieftain and Dao village captain who was shot dead allegedly by Aldy Salusad, a member of the New Indigenous Peoples’ Army (NIPAR). Liguyon was killed on March 5, 2012 inside his own house in San Fernando, Bukidnon. Before the killing, Jimmy led his community to protest against ongoing militarization of their community. He was also a staunch critic of mining activities in the area.

Repeatedly, HRDP calls on the Aquino government to proactively investigate these cases and punish those responsible. We urge the Philippine government to immediately and urgently adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, integrity, and safety of human rights defenders in the country and those who work for the welfare of the marginalized.

The acts of violence and other attacks perpetrated against human rights defenders not only affect the guarantees that belong to every human being, but undermine the fundamental role human rights defenders play in society.  Violations against HRDs leave all those whom they fight for defenseless.

Our leaders should keep in mind that the work of human rights defenders is essential to the formation of a solid and lasting free society. They must realize that human rights defenders play an important role in the process of pursuing the full attainment of the rule of law and the strengthening of democracy.

We condemn in the strongest terms the killing of one of our own–Ka Moises Fuentes

20 Jul

The murder of Moises C. Fuentes is a great loss in the agrarian sector specifically in advancing the rights and welfare of farmers in Bukidnon.

Ka Moises , a member of Human Rights Defenders Pilipinas-Bukidnon chapter and a local leader of a farmers organization was gunned down by an unidentified assailant in his residence in Barangay Kuya, Maramag, Bukidnon on June 16, 2012 at about 1:00pm. He sustained five (5) gunshot wounds which caused his instant death.

Witnesses said that the assailant was wearing blue jeans with a light green jacket and a hat. They added that the perpetrator is medium built, with brown complexion and in his middle 30’s.

A few months prior to the killing, Ka Moises and his colleagues received death threats supposedly in relation to their active involvement in the farmers’ struggle for land reform.

On February 22, 2010, the Office of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has distributed a total of fifty (50) hectares to the farmer-beneficiaries. One of the recipients includes Kuya Christian Farmers Association which was led by Ka Moises. They were awarded a total of 9.8 hectares.

Ka Moises’ group encountered harassments from security personnel employed by Ocaya Ranch – a private claimant of the disputed land. Eventually, the petitioners left the area to avoid confrontation and physical harm.

On December 18, 2011 the farmer-beneficiaries were reinstalled by the Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer (PARO) of the Department of Agrarian Reform and then later on settled in the area.

It is clear that the responsibility for the killing lies with the present regime. It is duty-bound to stop extra judicial killings.  It can only be so if it accepts the realities that human rights violation in the country is extensive and that clear programs and mechanisms must be instituted to resolve it.

Fuentes’ case is directly tied to land claims.  Even as the issue is legally awarded to farmer-beneficiaries, the death of Ka Moises proves it is far from over.  The dispute remains and shall not stop unless the government rid off with finality unscrupulous desire of people who amass wealth for their own.  As primarily obligated by various international human rights norms, the government must not renege of protecting its people from parties that seek to violate or abuse rights.  Its duties do not stop at granting certificates of land ownership to farmers.  It is eternally bind to promote, protect and fulfill the rights of its people against itself, its apparatuses and against third party entities.

 

Stop the Killings!

Justice for Ka Moises Fuentes!

Protect Human Rights Defenders Now!

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