Response from the government of the Philippines dated 19 June 2007 KILLING OF MR. VICENTE DENILLA Investigation conducted by the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office disclosed that on 27 March 2007 at about 7:30 a.m., Mr. Denilla was shot by two (2) unidentified armed men wearing ski masks a few meter away from his residence at Sitio Cansuyong, Barangay Novailas, Negros Oriental. Thereafter the suspects fled towards Sitio Lamakan, Barangay Sta. Cruz, Negros Oriental. The police recovered one empty bag and one live ammunition for 12 gauge shotgun at the crime scene.
Investigation also disclosed that the victim was a beneficiary of a parcel of land from Mr. Deogracias Erac, under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which is believed to be the cause of dispute between the two. During a confrontation between the victim (who was then with companions Anastacio Villa, Jr. and Francisco Ruben, also CARP beneficiaries) and Mr. Miguel V. Duque (caretaker of the properties of Mr. Erac), the victim and his companions were allegedly threatened that they will be killed.
Continues investigation is being pursued by the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office for the possible identification and apprehension of the suspects.
KILLING OF MR. PORFERIO MAGSALANG, SR. Mr. Magsalang, Sr., a member of the Pambansang Katipunan ng Makabayang Magbubukid (PKMM), was killed at Sitio Cara-an, Barangay Tampalon, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental. The suspects were later identified as Rustom Puro a.k.a..Rastom, certain Felix, Willy and Parok who are allegedly members of an underground movement in that area. It is perceived that the victim's secret linkage with military intelligence was the reason behind the killing,
A case of murder was filed against the suspects on 28 August 2006 at the Kabankalan City Prosecutors Office and was later endorsed to the Presiding Judge of RTC Branch 61, Judicial Region, Kabankalan City. The Presiding Judge issued an Order of Arrest against the suspects with no bail recommended. On-going manhunt operation is being conducted by the Kabankalan City Police Station for the possible apprehension of the suspects.
KILLING OF MR. ENRICO CABANIT Investigation conducted by Task Force Cabanit disclosed that the killing of Mr. Cabanit on 24 April 2006 at around 6:10 p.m. at Panabo Premium Market, Panabo City, Davao del Norte appears to be connected with his position as Secretary- General of UNORKA-Mindanao. His daughter, Dafodil Cabanit, was also seriously injured during the attack.
It is believed that victim's active advocacy in the promotion of the farmer's welfare and in upholding their rights have consequentiy put him in conflict with different influential personalities and groups in that area. However, this angle could not be established by the investigators due to thé death of suspected gunman Enrique D. Solon II a.k.a. Monching and his companion, Michael B. Buenaflor, on 26 May 2006 at Purok Malipayan, Hadanao Hiway, General Santos City.
The PNP could not elevate the case in court due to the non-cooperation of Mr. Cabanit's daughter. The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Camp Crame is coordinating with Ms. Cabanit for identification and confirmation of some evidence related to the case. Meanwhile, Task Force Cabanit is continuously conducting investigation to identify the mastermind in the killing.
KILLING OF REV. ANDY PAWIKAN Investigation conducted by the Nueva Ecija Police Provincial Office revealed that Rev. Pawican was killed during an encounter between the members of the 48th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and a group of communist terrorists on 21 May 2006 at Sitio Maasip, Barangay Tayabo, San Jose City, Nueva Ecija.
Philippines: Impunity for Killings of Leftist Activists Violation alleged: Impunity; Deaths due to attacks or killings by the military
Subject(s) of appeal: 4 males
Character of reply: Largely satisfactory response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur The Special Rapporteur appreciates the information provided by the Government of the Philippines. He would note that he reported on the overall pattern of killings of human rights defenders following a visit to the Philippines in February 2007 (A/HRC/8/3/Add.2). The SR would appreciate receiving updated information should any progress be made in achieving justice in these cases.
Letter of allegation dated 15 September 2006 sent with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders
We would like to draw the attention of your Government to information we have received regarding the extrajudicial killings of Pastor Isaias Sta. Rosa, Ceasar Quimco, Victor Olayvar, and Napoleon Bautista allegedly by members of the military.
According to the information received:
Pastor Isaias Sta. Rosa, a United Methodist Church religious worker and a member of the leftist Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bicol (Peasant Movement of Bicol), was killed in Barangay (village), Malobango, Daraga, Albay. On 3 August 2006, several armed men reportedly entered the house of Pastor Sta Rosa and ordered all those inside to drop to the floor. They then grabbed Pastor Isaias and beat him while trying to force him to admit that he was in fact a person named "Elmer". Pastor Isaias allegedly denied being that person and told them to check his identification card. According to our source, Pastor Isaias was then taken outside. When his family was certain that the armed men had left, they rushed outside. His family found the dead body of Pastor Isaias lying in a nearby creek, some 40-50 meters away from their residence. He reportedly suffered six gunshot wounds in his chest, thigh and foot. According to the information received, this case appears to involve the military, given that the body of an alleged perpetrator was found next to the Pastor’s body. The local police have identified the body as being that of Corporal Lordger Pastrana. The following items were found on his body: an identification card showing that he was a member of the Army's 9th Infantry Division (ID), based in Pili, Camarines Sur; a 45-caliber pistol; a cellular phone allegedly taken from Sta. Rosa's house; and a mission order detailing the operation he was part of and signed by Major Earnest Mark Rosal. Corporal Pastrana is believed to have been one of the armed men who entered the house of Pastor Isaias, but it is thought that he was accidentally shot by his own men while Pastor Sta. Rosa was trying to escape. The Corporal reportedly received a bullet in the right side of his body. On 22 August 2006, Ceasar Quimco was killed in Barangay (village), Ipil, Carmen, Cebu.
According to our source, Mr. Quimco had received death threats and his family was being harassed by elements of the Army’s 78th Infantry Battalion. It is reported that Mr Quimco had a conflict with two military attached to the said Battalion.
On 7 September 2006, Victor Olayvar was shot dead by armed men riding on a motorcycle at Bridge Caban, Barangay (village), Cantubod, Danao. At the time of his death, Mr. Olayvar was an active leader of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or Bayan-Bohol. He was also the former president of HUMABOL (Bohol Peasant Organisation) from 1997 to 2000. Mr. Olayvar is believed to have been targeted by the military in Bohol as he was been threatened by elements of the 302nd Brigade.
According to the information received, the same day the death body of Napoleon Bautista was found in Barangay (village) Pungo, Calumpit, Bulacan. His hands were tied with wire and his feet had torture marks. He suffered two gunshot wounds to his head and back. According to our source, on 30 August 2006, Mr. Bautista was abducted together with his wife, allegedly by elements connected to the military. His wife was released a day after she was abducted while her husband remained disappeared. Napoleon Bautista was a member of Samahang Bantay Palaisdaan, a group of fishermen that belongs to a national organisation of fishermen Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya). El Sr. Bautista was amongst those who survived the Mendiola massacre in 1987. In that incident, government forces reportedly opened fire at a crowd of peasants and protesters killing several of them while they were holding a protest demanding land reform.
We are gravely concerned by the increase in reports of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. Indeed, more than 50 killings have taken place since January 2006, many of which were brought to your attention in our letters sent to your Government in 2006. In the Annex to this letter you will find the latest cases of alleged extra-judicial executions which have been brought to our attention. The cases are illustrative of this broader tendency and share certain common elements: witnesses have reported victims being shot dead by unidentified men, with suspected links to the military police, and other security forces. The principal targets of the shootings are political opponents (in particular left-wing party activists), human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, community leaders, and union workers who speak out against the authorities.
According to the information received, the lack of effective investigation and prosecution of perpetrators creates a climate of impunity which further fuels human rights violations and extrajudicial killings.
While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we urge your Excellency’s Government to take effective measure against impunity to deter and prevent further assassinations political activists.
In this respect, we would like to recall that, as reiterated in Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2005/34 on “Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions” (OP 4), all States have “the obligation (…) to conduct exhaustive and impartial investigations into all suspected cases of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, to identify and bring to justice those responsible, (…) and to adopt all necessary measures, including legal and judicial measures, in order to bring an end to impunity and to prevent the recurrence of such executions”. This obligation, affirmed also in the jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee (see, e.g. the Committee’s views in Arhuacos v. Colombia, Communication no. 612/1995, § 8.8.), is indeed part and parcel of the obligation to respect and protect the right to life enshrined in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
We would also like to refer your Excellency's Government to the fundamental principles set forth in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and in particular articles 1 and 2 which state that everyone has the right individually or in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and that “each State has a prime responsibility and duty to protect, promote and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms, inter alia, by adopting such steps as may be necessary to create all conditions necessary in the social, economic, political and other fields, as well as the legal guarantees required to ensure that all persons under its jurisdiction, individually and in association with others, are able to enjoy all those rights and freedoms in practice”.
Furthermore, we would like to bring your Excellency’s attention to the following provisions, and in particular:
- article 12 paras 2 and 3 of the Declaration which provide that the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the Declaration. In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions also wishes to remind your Excellency’s attention that, to date, he has not received a response to his request for a factfinding mission. If accepted, a visit would allow him to examine in situ questions relating to impunity and to formulate pertinent recommendations with the objective of strengthening the protection of the right to life.
It is our responsibility under the mandate provided to us by the Commission on Human Rights and reinforced by the appropriate resolutions of the General Assembly, to seek to clarify all cases brought to our attention. Since we are expected to report on these cases, we would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters:
1. Are the facts alleged above and in the annexed table accurate?
2. Please provide the details, and where available the results, of any investigation, medical examinations, or other inquiries which may have been carried out in relation to these cases. If no inquiries have taken place or if they have been inconclusive please explain why.
3. In the event that the alleged perpetrators are identified, please provide the full details of any prosecutions which have been undertaken; have penal, disciplinary or administrative sanctions been imposed on the alleged perpetrators?
4. Please indicate whether witnesses to these attacks have been afforded with adequate security and witness protection.
5. Please indicate whether compensation has been provided to the victim and the families of the victim.
Response from the Government of the Philippines dated 15 June 2007 Further to their letter dated 27 November 2006, the Government of the Philippines provided the following information.
Pastor Isaias Sta. Rosa was recruited to the National Democratic Front (NDF) in 1989 to take charge of the underground publication and printing of anti-government materials. In 1999, he relinquished his position as provincial chair of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)-Albay but remained incognito until his death. From 2003 to 2006, he was monitored frequenting far-flung areas in Albay with his sister, Mercy Sta. Rosa, head of the United Front Committee of BRCP, and Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA), organizing farmers associations.
Pastor Sta. Rosa was shot to death on 30 August 2006 in Barangay Malobago, Daraga, Albay. One of the suspects in the killing, CPI. Lodger G. Pastrana of the Philippine Army was also found dead beside Pastor Isaias' body. Among the things recovered from his body were a mission order signed by Maj. Ernest Marc Rosal dated 11 July 2006 expired on 30 September 2006 and a 45 caliber pistol Llama with silencer loaded with 6 live ammunitions. However, a spent shell and a slug of 45 caliber pistol which were recovered at the crime scene and examined by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Lab, revealed that these were fired from 2 different 45 caliber pistols and not from the pistol Llama recovered from the body of Cpi. Pastrana. The recovered pistol Llama was later on verified and was found to be registered to one Amaldo L. Manjares whose license expired in November 2001.
The Philippine Army claimed that Cpl. Pastrana was a member of the Public Affairs Office of the 19 Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Albay and at the time of the incident was visiting a girlfriend in the same barangay. However, the Chairman of said barangay issued a certification that Cpl. Pastrana was never seen nor was known courting a girl in said locality.
Police investigators are having difficulty solving the case due to the non-cooperation of the Philippine Army in the investigation. They are closely coordinating with the family of Pastor Sta. Rosa in gathering additional information.
On 18 May 2007, a case of murder was filed by PNP at the Albay Prosecutor's Office against Maj. Ernest Marc Rosal, Arnaldo L. Manjares and ten other John Does docketed as IS# 2007-0213.
Philippines: Impunity for Killing of Leftist Activists Violation alleged: Impunity
Subject(s) of appeal: 5 males
Character of reply: Receipt acknowledged
Observations of the Special Rapporteur In relation to the Government’s request that more specific information be provided on the locations of the incidents concerned so as to facilitate coordination with the relevant local authorities, the Special Rapporteur would note that the information provided should have been completely sufficient for that purpose, and he looks forward to receiving a substantive response.
Urgent appeal dated 21 December 2006sent with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders
We would like to bring to your Government’s attention information we have received concerning Mr Alberto Yadan, peasant leader, activist for agrarian reform and director of Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Lokal na Organisasyon sa Kanayunan (UNORKA – Pilipinas), Mr Bong Gonzal, a community organiser for PROGRESO and regional coordinator for PEACE, a national non-governmental organization in Visayas, Mr Jesus Buth Sevida, labour activist and member of the Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW), Mr Joel Sale and Mr Kenny Mari Severo.
According to the information received:
On 6 December 2006, Mr Alberto Yadan was shot dead at his home in Barangay Tipas, San Juan, Batangas, in the presence of his family. Sources allege that the police failed to conduct a proper investigation of the crime scene and did not take into account any forensic evidence which may have been present. Reportedly Mr Alberto Yadan and other family members had been receiving death threats since 2004, the most recent on 5 December 2006, from policemen in the village. Mr Yadan and his cousin Ms Lorenza Marcos had allegedly been involved in a land dispute with landowner Ms Norma De Leon and her son-in-law, Mr Melanio Gazzingan, who is a Municipal Police Officer. However, Mr Melchor Bataller, another village policeman, has purportedly been arrested in connection with the murder as it is believed he made threatening remarks to Mr Yadan the day before his death.
On 8 December 2006, Mr Bong Gonzal, was the victim of an armed attack in Estancia, Iloilo, in which he suffered gunshot wounds to his arms and legs. Furthermore, on 11 December 2006, Mr Jesus Buth Servida, Mr Kenny Mari Severo and Mr Joel Sale were subjects of an attack carried out by an unidentified gunman which resulted in the death of Mr Servida and injuries to his two companions. The attack was apparently carried out at 6:15am in front of Gate No. 2 of the Yakazi-EMI (EDS Manufacturing Incorporated) factory in Imus, Cavite.
Grave concern is expressed that the killing of Mr Alberto Yadan and the attack on Mr Bong Gonzal may be related to their legitimate activities in defence of human rights, in particular their involvement in campaigns to advocate for genuine land reform and the defence of the rights of peasants and of other members of the community who are affected by land disputes. Concern is expressed that the attack on Mr Jesus Buth Servida, Mr Kenny Mari Severo and Mr Joel Sale may be related to Mr Servida’s active involvement in the defence of labour rights. Furthermore, concern is expressed that a full and detailed investigation will be carried out in each of the cases described above, as it is feared that they may represent a sustained campaign of harassment of human rights defenders in the Philippines.
While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of the information received, we would like to refer your Excellency's Government to the obligations arising under international law from the situation described. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provide that every individual has the right to life and security of the person, that this right shall be protected by law and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life. These provisions impose on Your Excellency’s Government an obligation to take all reasonable steps to prevent any attacks, and particularly a lethal attack, against Mr. Gonzal, Mr. Servida, Mr. Mari Severo and Mr. Sale. This obligation, which benefits all persons under Your Government’s jurisdiction, applies in a particular manner to them, as they are likely to be targeted for acting in defense of human rights.
In this respect, we would like to refer Your Excellency's Government to the fundamental principles set forth in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and in particular article 1 stating that everyone has the right individually or in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels. Article 12 paras 2 and 3 of the Declaration further provide that the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone against any violence, threats, retaliation, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the Declaration. In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We therefore urge your Government to take all necessary measures to guarantee that the right to life of Mr. Gonzal, Mr. Servida, Mr. Mari Severo and Mr. Sale is respected and that their right to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms in safety and security is ensured.
Moreover, it is our responsibility under the mandates provided to us by the Commission on Human Rights and extended by the Human Rights Council, to seek to clarify all cases brought to our attention. Since we are expected to report on these cases to the Human Rights Council, we would be grateful for your cooperation and your observations on the following matters:
1. Are the facts alleged in the above summary of the case accurate?
2. With regard to the allegation that the police failed to conduct a proper investigation of the crime scene and did not take into account any forensic evidence which may have been present, please provide the details, and where available the results, of any investigation or other inquiries carried out in relation to the killing of Mr Alberto Yadan, including measures to protect the witnesses of the killing. If no inquiries have taken place, kindly give the reasons thereof.
3. Please provide the details, and where available the results, of any investigation, medical examinations and judicial and other inquiries which may have been carried out in relation to the death of Mr. Servida. If no inquiries have taken place or if they have been inconclusive, please explain why.
Response from the Government dated 8 January 2007 The Mission informed that it requested more information or details on the cases of Messrs. Alberto Yadan, Bong Gonzal, Jesus Buth Servida, Joel Sale and Kenny Mari Severo (such- as the specific places where the incidents occurred and the possible involvement of state actors in the latter four cases) to help ensure proper coordination with concerned authorities in the Philippines.