Tag Archives: Armed Conflict

(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.

___________________________

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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International Human Rights Organizations Conducted Fact-finding Mission in Mindanao

25 Nov

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International federation for Human Rights (Fidh) recently concluded the fact-finding mission for cases involving human rights defenders in Mindanao, particularly those in Lanao del Norte and South Cotabato. From November 14 to 16, the fact-finding team was able to interview and meet with victims, activists, and local personalities that would help in providing vital information to complete its report. The said report will be published and eventually submitted to concerned agencies of Philippine government to address protection of human rights defenders. The fact-finding mission was assisted and in coordination with the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), and Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas (HRDP).

Briefing on Mindanao issues especially on human rights defenders. With Ms. Claudina Samayoa and Lawyer Vrinda Grover both from OMCT/Fidh; Ms Rose Trajano and Mr. Max de Mesa of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA).

Interview with defenders and human rights victims held at the Demokratikong Kilusan ng Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (DKMP) office in Lanao del Norte.

Courtesy call and meeting with Diocese of Marbel Bishop Dinualdo D. Gutierrez, who is a staunch critique of mining in the province.

Defenders of South Cotabato met with the fact-finding team and shared their stories. The activity was conducted at the Social Action Center in Koronadal.

Getting the other side of the story. Interview with Mayor Leonardo Escobillo of Tampakan, South Cotabato, regarding the massacre of the Capion family on October 18, 2012. The Capions of the B’laan tribe are known for their stance against mining in their ancestral land. The Mayor admitted he endorses mining operations in his area, and that his family owned company is the contractor and supplier of construction materials for SMI/Xtrata.

The witness. Rosita Lasib Capion, sister-in-law of Juvy Capion, and aunt of jordan and john,who were killed by troops under the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine army.

Peace and the Peace Process

19 Oct

This is just a pit-stop; the race is not yet won

by: Dr. Renato Mabunga

The landmark signing of an initial peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has reinvigorated hopes of a peaceful resolution of the decades-long conflict in Mindanao.

The framework peace deal lays the foundations for a “just peace” that should be guided by human values and international standards of good governance, human rights and the dignity of peoples and communities.

The peace deal is supposed to aim at the full development of a nation, nay of a community, guaranteed by the supreme sovereignty of the people.

What can be observed in the “framework agreement” signed by government and rebel peace negotiators this month is the truthful reference to the pains and aspirations of the people of Mindanao and its adjacent islands.

Unfortunately, only well-intentioned individuals, the wounded and those who empathize with the people of Mindanao can fully appreciate, without equivocation, the agreement. It comes out devoid of pretension and political subtlety.

People in Mindanao (and even outsiders), however, should understand that peace is not a political compromise between conflicting parties. Political compromises connote the satisfaction of vested interests of opposing camps.

Peace is a resolution of tensions perpetrated by warring parties. Negotiations should only serve a higher unifying goal. The warring groups stole peace and owe it to the people of Mindanao. Payback time should be now.

The peace process that the MILF and the government went through was a courageous show of rising above human frailties. It was an act of acceptance of the parties’ failures to the masses.

We all should also be reminded that the “framework agreement” is only a legal manifestation of intent. It is not yet “the peace agreement.”

What makes peace is making details work according to agreed principles, and the satisfaction of all requisites in restoring people to a collective dignified existence.

The peace question in Mindanao is a product of inequality. It is therefore a foremost consideration to allow the development of all people, rather than of only a particular sector, in a final peace deal.

Peace is universal. It is for all. The sufferings of the past need total healing, and to do so requires genuine empowerment of peoples and communities as active agents of society.

Autonomy for the Moro people is not enough. They need to be informed, to speak and be heard. It is not enough to grant Moro fighters an end to hostilities and relief.

What needs to be provided is a conducive, effective and lasting environment for people to self-actualize and realize their economic, social, cultural and collective rights.

The signing of the “framework agreement” is only a pit stop in a winding process of achieving peace. Continuous vigilance, peoples’ engagement and active monitoring of the progress of its implementation are demanded to ward of the devils in the details of the peace process.

(This article was first posted at UCA News website.)

Photo Source: http://opapp.gov.ph