Tag Archives: dignity

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.

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.

The Capion Massacre

28 Oct

The Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas (HRDP) express its deep concerns regarding information from the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) about the killing of a B’laan tribal leader who fought against the entry of a mining company, including the death of her two (2) sons and wounding of her lone daughter.

The incident happened on October 18, 2012, at aroung 6:30am in Sitio Fayahlob, Barangay Datal Aliong, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, Mindanao.  Based on reports, members of the Philippine Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion led by 1Lt. Dante Jimenez trooped towards the scene and allegedly strafed the house of the victims using their automatic rifles. Killed instantly were Juvy Capion-27 (sustained gunshot wounds at left leg and left upper portion of the chest) who was three months pregnant, Jordan Capion-13 (gunshot wounds at his forehead) and John Capion-8 (gunshot wounds at the right portion of his head). Also during the incident, Juvy’s younger daughter Vicky Capion-4, was wounded while a close kin named Ressa Piang-11, luckily escaped unhurt but apparently suffering from severe trauma.

The military claimed that the victims were caught between crossfire when they pursued their attempt to serve an arrest warrant and capture Daguil Capion (husband of Juvy) and his supposed companions which allegedly resulted to exchanges of gunshots. Before being hunt by police and soldiers, Daguil is a staunch critic of mining in their area. Authorities said that Daguil is already an outlaw. He is currently facing multiple murder charges in relation to 2010 ambush of three (3) construction workers of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI).

But according to witnesses, no traces of Daguil and companions during the alleged firefight, and that victims were the only persons inside the house when the army started to fire gunshots indiscriminately. And yet after the strafing of the house the perpetrators allegedly poked their rifles towards the survivors Vicky and Ressa. Soldiers threatened to kill them too.

As we carefully followed the circumstances surrounding the incident and  based on the accounts of the witnesses, it is clear that the military blatantly abuse its discretion and consciously violates its own protocols and procedures:

  1. Indeed the soldiers knew that there were civilians inside the house when the indiscriminate shooting happened. Weeks before the incident, soldiers are regularly conducting roving patrol in the area and have established familiarization in the community. From then on, we perceived that they already identified residents and their respective houses including that of the victims. Undoubtedly the soldiers violated several provisions under the International Humanitarian Law which our country is a signatory. Those provisions include: the prohibition of targeting civilians as non-combatants; acts or threats of violence to spread terror among civilian population; target verification; indiscriminate attacks and method or means of combat without distinction; an attack which resulted to incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects; and many others;
  2. The military violated their own rules of engagement or manual. No advance warning. Since the situation requires for it, soldiers should have warned the enemy to surrender and their intention to attack the place, so that the noncombatants and especially the women and children were immediately removed before the bombardment commenced;
  3. No coordination with the local officials and the police. The serving of an arrest warrant is a police matter. The soldiers should have informed police officers to assist them before pursuing their effort to arrest the suspect. The head of an attacking force, in an open assault or not, must, before undertaking its move, should have made an effort to give notice thereof to the local authorities;
  4. Violation of the Presidential Decree 1829 specifically on “Altering, destroying, suppressing or concealing any paper, record, document, or object, with intent to impair its verity, authenticity, legibility, availability, or admissibility as evidence in any investigation of or official proceedings in, criminal cases, or to be used in the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases.” Soldiers already removed several blood stains splattered inside the victims’ house. Clothes of the victims were thrown outside the house. When the police investigators arrived, the crime scene was already been disturbed.

Aside from the said violations, as a matter of command responsibility the government is accountable for what these soldiers had wrongfully executed. It breached several international commitments that our government vows to abide, these are:

  1. Violation in relation to the United Nation (UN) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Through the years the community of the B’laan tribe led by Juvy fought against the Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI)- a mining firm started to operate within their ancestral domain. Juvy together with other local leaders held several campaigns and lobby activities to encourage support from the local government. They also educate the people about the environmental harm, the displacements of residents and lose of livelihood, once the SMI fully establish its operations.
  2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (The right to self determination, means of subsistence, non-discrimination, etc.)
  3. Violation in relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 8 – protection against armed conflict).

Adding insult to injury, the regional office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) apparently did not acted with urgency when non-government organizations (NGOs) requested an investigation of the incident. According to NGOs, they were advised that CHR’s investigation will commence once procedures have been observed.

We could not imagine how soldiers brutally killed members of one family. A pregnant woman and human rights defender, and two innocent young boys both minors.

We could not imagine how tragic the victims had gone through. They were all helpless.

We could not imagine the pain and sorrow left for victims’ loved ones mainly to Juvy’s daughter Vicky who survived the massacre.

It is insane that there are members of the security forces who thirst for blood and kill innocent people just to achieve their purpose.

It is a sham that these kind soldiers continuously being sheltered by our very own institution pretending to be protectors of the people.

It is a shame for our government not to seriously address human rights violations despite several international instruments signed, and since statistics are increasing from the time President Benigno Aquino III assumed office.

HRDP condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of Juvy, Jordan and John. We share our sincerest empathy to the victims’ families and the B’laan tribe for the loss of their loved ones. We hope more courage for survivors facing their current ordeal. We salute the community in continuously defending their sacred land.

Justice for the Killing of Juvy, Jordan and John!

Hold Accountable and Prosecute Perpetrators!

End Impunity Now!


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Contact Person: Rommel Yamzon


(PHILIPPINES) Civil Society Report on the Implementation of the ICCPR (Replies to the List of Issues CCPR/C/PHL/Q/4)

12 Oct

106st session of the Human Rights Committee, Geneva – October 2012

please access the following link:



File Photo: Action Network Human Rights Philippines

Peace is possible if people work for it (Greed of the few endangers happiness of the many)

6 Oct

By: Dr. Renato Mabunga

The world marked the International Day of Peace last week, on September 21, the same day the Philippines marked the 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law.

This year, the United Nations called on countries around the world to work for “sustainable peace for a sustainable future.” The UN statement highlighted the use and abuse of land and natural resources in instigating conflict situations.

The UN urged member states to initiate “ceasefires” and stop the wanton destruction of the environment and the bloody massacres of people out to defend their ancestral domains.

Early this month, gunmen ambushed a Subanen tribal leader in the southern Philippines. Timuay Locenio Magda survived but his 11-year-old son Jason did not.

The incident allegedly arose from a dispute over ancestral domain claims among mining interests in the area. The attack on Magda was the 36th documented incident in the area in the past two years.

In South Korea, villagers of Gangjeong have been protesting the construction of a naval base on Jeju Island. The island has been dubbed the “Island of Peace” by the government but peaceful protests were met with force and violence.

In Cambodia, the government’s abuse of law and misuse of the courts have led to the displacement of the Boeung Kak and Borei Keila communities in Phnom Penh. Activists and human rights defenders like Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony, who were arrested on September 4 and 5, respectively, are also persecuted.

In Myanmar, Wai Lu was arrested in early September for helping farmers win back their land from a copper mining company in Latpadaung mountain range.

Attacks against communities underscore the connection of peace, human rights and the aggressive promotion of “progress” that displace people. And as conditions of people worsen, governments create “illusions” to cover up their violations and obligations.

Governments speak of peace and draw a future that is far removed from the aspirations of their people. Peace has been corrupted by political and economic individualism and greed, yet it remains a symbol of resistance and a source of courage for the afflicted.

Peace and sustainable future describes the legitimacy of the continuing struggle of indigenous peoples, communities and environmental activists in protecting ancestral land, their life, culture and future against corporations and armed groups.

Peace provides reason for the assertion of communities and peoples who debunk the idea of peace as a mere construct. These communities assert that peace is an action fueled by inspirations and sacrifices of peoples and nations searching for a sustainable future.

As the world celebrates the “International Day of Peace,” peoples around the world continue to clamor for it, act on it and die for it.

In the same manner, Filipinos remember the 20 years of martial law to remind themselves that tyrants can be overthrown, people have the power, and peace is a possibility.

As dark days continue to linger in many parts of the world, especially in Asia, it is apt to consolidate the lessons of history, muster the courage to block the horrors of the past and lay down a solid foundation for peace that is mindful of the universal dignity of all and for all.