Archive for June, 2011


June 26, 2011, Philippines

Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas today joins the global community in commemorating the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.   Our solidarity on this important event comes in the context where human rights defenders in the Philippines and elsewhere are under attack.  Peoples organizations are vilified as terrorists and enemies of the state.  Their members, supporters and organizers are tagged as communists.  Movements are watched; projects and actions are suspected.  Human rights defenders are threatened, at risk and under surveillance.

We join the international appeal for the total abortion of the use of torture.  We put forward a dream where human rights defenders are sincerely considered partners in the creation and foundation of a worldwide culture of human rights, peace and development; where torture becomes a thing of the past; and, where human rights defenders are protected in the conduct of their duties.

On this significant day, Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas takes the occasion to remind us all that torture has no place in a civilized society like ours.  This is our protocol.  This is our challenge.  This is an urgent call in a country where torture is unconsciously accepted as the “standard operating procedure” of the security sector.  Where, pain is induced without remorse to exact confession; to break victims, their families, friends and organizations; to cow human rights defenders from pursuing works for human rights, peace, justice and development.

A torture-free society is also a society of compassion.  It seeks to eliminate cruel, degrading and inhuman conditions.  It looks at the circumstance of prisoners and the state of their incarceration.  We call for a special attention in the case of Mariano Umbrero, a prisoner of conscience with cancer now in fourth stage.  Together with the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and the rest of the human rights community, we appeal for his immediate pardon or granting of executive clemency on humanitarian grounds.  Due to his medical condition, his case needs urgent action; aside from the fact that no one shall be deprived of liberty based on political reasons.

Given our concrete condition today, we call for the reorientation of our institutions in the work for  human rights, to include “all” particularly the protection and promotion of the rights of human rights defenders.  In a functioning democracy, everybody has a responsibility to anybody; even ordinary citizen.  Thus, protection for HRDs is a responsibility of EVERYBODY lest we forget that we live as a community.

For more information, contact: companion
Renato Mabunga, Chairperson, 437-8054, hrd.pilipinas@gmail.com

Human Rights Defenders – Pilipinas
#45 St. Mary Street, Cubao, Quezon City
Tel. # (632) 437-8054  Fax: (632) 911-3643

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In January this year the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) aired its claim of “paradigm shift” in its internal peace and security plan called “bayanihan” with “ugnayan” as the Northern Luzon Command’s (NOLCOM) counterpart campaign plan.  While we welcome the emphasis of “addressing the needs of our less fortunate communities, in collaboration with other stakeholders”, we are wary of the institution’s truthfulness and sincerity with the latest multiple harassment cases in Central Luzon.

From June 1 to 6 this year, residents of Barangay Taal, Purok 1, Malolos City, Province of Bulacan were witnesses to a new round of military operations by elements of the 70th Infantry (Cadre) Battalion, 7th ID Philippine Army and members of CAFGU.  They are looking for members of Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and SANLAKAS (all legal organizations), and alleged these groups have ties to the New People’s Army (NPA).  Families were interviewed and peoples’ organizations were vilified. At least three residents were asked to report to certain Sgt. Mendoza at the camp located in Niugan, Malolos.

The incident brings to fore canny military procedure that sows fear in the communities of Central Luzon.  What is more worrisome is the targeting of human rights defenders – members of organized groups whose only desire is to protect and assert their guaranteed rights under the Philippine Constitution and the International Bill of Rights.

In a landmark study on the protection of human rights defenders in the Philippines, Renato Mabunga, Chairperson of HRD-Pilipinas identified threats to Life, harassment and stigmatization as the dangers for human rights defenders.  These threats are borne-out of military operations’ house-to-house “census”, witch-hunting and vilification proceedings on community and peoples’ organizations.

The latest case in Bulacan undermines the sincerity of the armed forces’ security plan.  It projects a weak command of the military echelon in asserting a marching order of a paradigm shift.  A shift in orientation from the old concept and operation to new cooperative and synergetic actions together with various stakeholders in the community.

Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas (HRD-Pilipinas) therefore calls on the Armed Forces of the Philippines:

–          to immediately stop its “census” and vilification operations in the communities of Central Luzon;

–          Review military actions in the field that breed human rights violations to individuals and communities;

–          Identify and penalize certain “Sgt. Mendoza” and company for instigating actions inimical to the image of the AFP as “changed institution”;

–           to investigate the case of harassment in Central Luzon and other areas of similar situation;

–          Re-orient its ranks and files in its claimed “broader framework of security serving society, acting in harmony with other government strategic policies for peace, security and development.”

To the Commission on Human Rights, to investigate and document this case in Brgy. Taal, Malolos City; and, monitor compliance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to human rights protection and promotion.

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