Summary executions


Philippines: Impunity for Killing of Leftist Activists



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Philippines: Impunity for Killing of Leftist Activists
Violation alleged: Impunity
Subject(s) of appeal: 2 males, 1 female
Character of reply: cooperative but imcomplete 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.
Urgent Appeal dated 20 April 2007 sent with the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences and 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 situation of Mr Nilo Arado, national council member of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Chair of Bayan - Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, an alliance of human rights organizations which promote and defend the rights of peasants, workers, women, students and minorities; Ms Maria Luisa Posa-Dominado, an active campaigner for women's rights and a member of Selda, the Society of Ex-Detainees for Liberation, Against Detention and for Amnesty; and Mr Jose Ely Garachico, Secretary-General of the Panay of Karapatan.
According to the information received:
On 12 April 2007, Mr Arado, Ms Posa-Dominado and Mr Garachico were driving back home from the Antique province when they were ambushed by unidentified armed men in Oton town in Iloilo province. The gunmen opened fire at the vehicle and hit Mr Garachico in the left side of his neck. Mr Arado and Ms Posa-Dominado were forcibly taken to the van of the assailants who drove off. The van was later found charred in Barangay Guadalupe, Janiuay, 30 kilometres northwest of Iloilo City. The whereabouts of Mr Arado and Ms Posa-Dominado remain unknown as of today. As for Mr Ely Garachico, he was taken to the Iloilo hospital for surgery, and remains in critical condition.
Without prejudging the accuracy of the information received or the question whether the gunmen who carried out the attack and who appear now to be holding Mr Arado and Ms Posa-Dominado are military or police personnel or otherwise acting on behalf of your Government, we would like to recall that any act of enforced disappearance “constitutes a violation of the rules of international law guaranteeing, inter alia , the right to recognition as a person before the law, the right to liberty and security of the person and the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It also violates or constitutes a grave threat to the right to life” (Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, GA Res. 47/133 of 18 December 1992).
We also note with concern that Mr Arado, Ms Posa-Dominado and Mr Ely Garachico belong to organizations which are consistently characterized by military officials as “front organizations” for armed groups and as “enemies of the State”. As the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions observed in his Preliminary note on this visit to the Philippines (A/HRC/4/20/Add.3*, pages 3-4), this “labeling” and “vilification” results in “a wide range of groups – including human rights advocates, labour union organizers, journalists, teachers unions, women’s groups, indigenous organizations, religious groups, student groups, agrarian reform advocates, and others – [being] considered to be legitimate targets”.
We are therefore concerned that this attack against Mr Arado, Ms Posa-Dominado and Mr Ely Garachico may be in reprisal for their work in defence of human rights in the Philippines. This concern is heightened by the fact that the victims reportedly met with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions during his official visit in February 2007.
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 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.
Furthermore, we would like to bring your Excellency’s attention to the following provisions of the Declaration:
- article 5 points b) and c) which provides that for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups;
- 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.
We would also like to bring to your Excellency’s attention the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women which prohibits violence against women. The Declaration provides that the term "violence against women" means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. Article 4 (c & d) of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women notes the responsibility of states to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons.
In the event that your investigations support the above allegations, we urge your Government to take all necessary measures to guarantee that the rights and freedoms of Mr Arado, Ms Posa-Dominado and Mr Garachico are respected and that the accountability of any person guilty of the alleged violations is ensured. In particular, we ask your Excellency’s Government to urgently determine the whereabouts of Mr Arado and Ms Posa-Dominado and the identity of their captors.
In view of the urgency of the matter, we would appreciate a response on the initial steps taken by your Excellency’s Government to safeguard the rights of Mr Arado and Ms Posa-Dominado.
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, when relevant to the case under consideration:
1. Are the facts alleged in the above summary of the case accurate?
2. What steps have been taken to determine the whereabouts of Mr Arado and Ms Posa-Dominado and the identity of their captors?
3. Please provide the details, and where available the results, of any investigation, medical examinations, and judicial or other inquiries carried out in relation to this case. If no inquiries have taken place, or if they have been inconclusive, please explain why.
4. Please provide the full details of any penal, disciplinary or administrative sanctions that may have been imposed on the alleged perpetrators.
Response from the Government dated 7 June 2007
The Government informed that an investigation conducted by the Iloilo City Police Office disclosed that on 12 April 2007 at around 9.30 p.m., Mr. Jose Ely Garachico, Secretary-General of KARAPATAN-Panay, was driving a Mitsubishi L-200 van with plate no. FEA-789, together with Ms. Maria Luisa Posa-Dominado, member of the New People's Army (NPA) Reaffirmist Group and spokesperson of the Society of Ex-Detainees for Liberation against Detention and for Amnesty (SELDA) and Mr. Nilo Arado, Chair of BAYAN-Panay. The group was traveling from Antique province to Iloilo City to attend the Anak-Pawis assembly in San Jose, Antique when they noticed a Delica van with plate no. FVF-463 tailing them from Guimbal, Iloilo. Upon reaching Barangay Cabanbanan, Oton, Iloilo, they were overtaken and blocked the van. At that juncture, about three unidentified men wearing fatigue pants and armed with pistols alighted from the vehicle. One of them shot Mr. Garachico in the neck while the other smashed the left side window of the L200 van. The men pulled out Mr. Garachico from the L200 van and left him along the highway then drove said vehicle towards Iloilo City taking with them Ms. Posa-Dominado and Mr. Arado. Concerned residents in the area brought Mr. Garachico to the hospital for medical treatment. On the following day, the L200 van was found burned at the sugarcane plantation in Barangay Janiuay, Iloilo City. Verification made with Land Transportation Office (LTO) Region 6 revealed that the Delica van plate no. FVF- 463 was registered to a passenger jeepney. The owner of the jeepney denied owning a Delica van and told the police that said plate number was lost a long time ago and had reported the same to the LTO. A petition of Writ of Habeas Corpus for Ms. Posa-Dominado and Mr. Arado was filed by the counsels for the petitioners before the regional trial court (RTC) branch 35, Iloilo City against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Continuous investigation is being undertaken by the Police Regional Office 6 to locate the whereabouts of Mr. Arado and Ms. Posa-Dominado and for the possible identification and apprehension of the suspects. No penal, disciplinary or administrative sanctions have been imposed as the identity of the suspects are not yet established.
Philippines: Killing of Charlie Solayao and Mario Auxilio
Violation alleged: Impunity
Subject(s) of appeal: 2 males (human rights defenders)
Character of reply: Cooperative but incomplete response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur appreciates the preliminary information provided by the Government of the Philippines and looks forward to receiving the results of any investigations that take place.
Allegation letter dated 26 July 2007 sent 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 in relation to Charlie Solayao, the Vice-Chairperson of Kadamay, a community organisation dedicated to the protection of the rights of the urban poor, and Mario Auxilio, the Secretary-General of Bayan Muna, a farmers’ rights organisation.
According to information received:
At approximately 1am on 17 July 2007, Charlie Solayao and his wife were standing near their home waiting to be collected and taken to Old Road, Sagkahan, Tacloban City when a motorcycle carrying two men appeared. The driver wore a hooded balaclava while the other man was carrying a gun and began shooting at Mr Solayao. The two men then drove off on the motorcycle in the direction of Tacloban City. The victim’s family took him to the Divine World Hospital where he died 10 hours later. At the time of his death, Mr Solayao was Vice-Chairperson of the community organisation, Kadamay, and was involved in campaigns protecting street-vendors in Tacloban Market and the urban communities in the metro. Last month, Mr Solayao reportedly received a visit from an agent in the Philippines Military, who advised him that he would be killed if he did not cease his activities. Mr Solayao was scheduled to have a meeting with the human rights organisation Katungod-Sinirangang Bisayas, based in Tacloban City, in order to discuss this warning and the possible dangers which he may have been facing.
On 15 June 2007, Mario Auxilio was having an informal meeting in front of a store in Barangay Poblacion, Bien Unido, in order to organise a meeting with the farmers of Barangay Panaghiusa in Trinidad. Mr Auxilio noticed Hilario Diola, a military agent whom he recognised as Mr Auxilio had provided him with medical assistance in the past. Mr Diola was accompanied by someone unknown to Mr Auxilio. Their presence made him nervous and he decided to end his meeting and make his way home. As he was mounting his motorcycle, Mr Diola began shooting at him. Mr Auxilio was first taken to Talibon District Hospital before being transferred to the Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Tagbilaron City where he died from gunshot wounds at approximately 10.00 on 17 June. Prior to his death, Mr Auxilio had been leading protests against the alleged abuses committed by the 15th Infantry Batallion. Two day before he was shot, he had led a protest against tests for oil exploration in the Bohol strait. For the past year, he and his organisation, Bayan Muna, had been the object of intimidation and defamation allegedly instigated by the Mata na Bol-anon Movement, a group reported to have connections with the military.

Concern is expressed that the killings of Charlie Solayao and Mario Auxilio may be related to their peaceful human rights activities, in particular their work to protect the rights of the urban poor and farmers. Further concern is expressed for the physical and psychological integrity of their families and colleagues.


While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we would like to refer your Excellency's Government to its obligations reflected in a variety of international instruments. Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Philippines is a party, provides that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life. In its General Comment on Article 6, the Human Rights Committee has observed “that States parties should take measures not only to prevent and punish deprivation of life by criminal acts, but also to prevent arbitrary killing by their own security forces. The deprivation of life by the authorities of the State is a matter of the utmost gravity. Therefore, the law must strictly control and limit the circumstances in which a person may be deprived of his life by such authorities."
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 5 points b) and c) which provides that for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups, and to communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations.


  • 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.

We urge your Government to take all necessary measures to guarantee that the accountability of any person guilty of the alleged violations is ensured. We also request that your Government adopts effective measures to prevent the recurrence of these acts.


Moreover, it is our responsibility under the mandate 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 cases accurate?
2. Have complaints been lodged?
3. Please provide the details, and where available the results, of any investigation, medical examinations, and judicial or other inquiries which may have been carried out in relation to those cases. If no inquiries have taken place, or if they have been inconclusive, please explain why.
4. 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?
Response from the Government of the Philippines dated 19 September 2007

The Philippino Government responded that regarding the case involving Mr Solayao, no penal or disciplinary sanctions had been imposed, as the identities of the suspects had not yet been established. This was also the case in the investigation of the killing of Mr Auxilio; no penal or disciplinary sanctions have been imposed, as the Bien Unido Police Station was still in the process of obtaining sufficient evidence against the suspect.


Philippines: Death in Custody Manuel Merino
Violation alleged: Death due to attacks or killings by security forces
Subject(s) of appeal: 1 male (human rights defender)
Character of reply: Cooperative but incomplete response
Observations of the Special Rapporteur
The Special Rapporteur appreciates the preliminary information provided by the Government of the Philippines and would appreciate receiving an update on the status of this investigation.
Allegation letter dated 21 February 2008 sent with the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences and 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 Ms Sherlyn Cadapan, Ms Karen Empeño and Mr Manuel Merino. Ms Sherlyn Cadapan is a community organiser with the youth group Anakbayan and works in a voluntary capacity for Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (Alliance of Peasants in Bulacan – AMB), an organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of peasant rights based in Central Luzon. Ms Karen Empeño is a member of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and Mr Manuel Merino was a local peasant and a member of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan. All three individuals were the subject of an urgent appeal sent by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders on 5 October 2007, following their kidnapping on 26 June 2006.
According to new allegations received:
Ms Sherlyn Cadapan and Ms Karen Empeño are currently in detention at the Camp Tecson barracks in San Miguel, Bulacan. Ms Cadapan, in addition to being forced to do the laundry for the camp every day, was sexually assaulted by soldiers named Mickey, Billy, and Donald. Donald, a.k.a. Master Sgt. Donald Caigas, is a suspect in the killing of human rights defender and community leader, Eddie Gumanoy, in April 2003, and is believed to be identifiable by the tatoo “24th IB” on his shoulder.
Previously Mr Manuel Merino, Ms Sherlyn Cadapan and Ms Karen Empeño had been held at the 24th Infantry Batallion (IB) camp in Limay, Bataan, where Ms Sherlyn Cadapan was tied to a bench while her feet were raised and soldiers poured water over her and electrocuted her. When Ms Sherlyn Cadapan admitted that Ms Karen Empeño had helped her to write a letter to her mother-in-law, the latter was taken outside by soldiers and witnesses report hearing her cries. The following day, the witnesses heard the soldiers recount that they had raped her with wooden sticks.
Ms Sherlyn Cadapan and Ms Karen Empeño were not seen again after June 2007. On 21 November 2007, Ms Sherlyn Cadapan's mother-in-law, Ms Adoracion Paulino, testified to receiving death threats from soldiers visiting her home and interrogating her.
Mr Manuel Merino was killed, reportedly following the order issued by Retired Major General Jovito that Mr. Merino be burned to death.
In view of the above allegations, grave concern is expressed for the physical and psychological integrity of Ms Sherlyn Cadapan and Ms Karen Empeño. Furthermore, concern is expressed that the kidnapping and detention of Ms Sherlyn Cadapan, Ms Karen Empeño, and Mr Manuel Merino may have been directly related to their activities in defense of human rights.
While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we would like to refer Your Excellency's Government to the fundamental principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Articles 3 and 6 of these instruments, respectively, 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.
We would also like to bring to your Government’s attention that your Government has a duty to investigate, prosecute, and punish all violations of the right to life. Principles 9 to 19of the Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, Economic and Social Council resolution 1989/65 of 24 May 1989 ("Prevention and Investigation Principles")oblige Governments to conduct a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of all suspected cases of extra-legal, arbitrary or summary executions, to make public the results of these inquiries and to ensure that persons identified by the investigation as having participated in such executions in any territory under their jurisdiction are brought to justice. Families of the deceased should be informed of information relevant to the investigation, and the findings of the investigation should be made public (Prevention and Investigation Principles, Principles 16 and 17).
We should also like to appeal to your Excellency’s Government to seek clarification of the circumstances regarding the above allegations of rape and other abuses by military officers. We would like to stress that each Government has the obligation to protect the right to physical and mental integrity of all persons. This right is set forth inter alia in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. We would further like to draw your Government’s attention to paragraph 1 of Resolution 2005/39 of the Commission on Human Rights which, “Condemns all forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever and can thus never be justified, and calls upon all Governments to implement fully the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Furthermore, we recall Article 4 (b) of the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, which stipulates that States should pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating violence against women and, to this end, should refrain from engaging in violence against women. We would further like to bring to Your Excellency’s attention Article 4 (c & d) of the same Declaration, which notes the responsibility of States to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons.
We would further 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 to the attention of your Excellency’s Government the following provisions of the Declaration, and in particular to 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 the event that your investigations support or suggest the above allegations to be correct, we urge your Government to take all necessary measures to guarantee that the rights and freedoms of Ms Sherlyn Cadapan and Ms Karen Empeño are respected and accountability of any person guilty of the alleged violations is ensured. We also request that your Government adopt effective measures to prevent the recurrence of these acts.
In view of the urgency of the matter, we would appreciate a response on the initial steps taken by your Excellency’s Government to safeguard the rights of Ms Sherlyn Cadapan and Ms Karen Empeño in compliance with the above international instruments.
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, when relevant to the case under consideration:
1. Are the facts alleged in the above summary of the case accurate?
2. Have complaints been lodged?
3. Please provide information concerning the legal grounds for the arrest and detention of Ms Sherlyn Cadapan and Ms Karen Empeño, and how these measures are compatible with international norms and standards as stated, inter alia, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on human rights defenders.
4. Please provide the details, and where available the results, of any investigation and judicial or other inquiries carried out in relation to the aforementioned reports of ill-treatment and torture of Ms Sherlyn Cadapan and Ms Karen Empeño, and the death of Mr Manuel Merino, and how they are compatible with international norms and standards as stated, inter alia, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on human rights defenders. If no inquiries have taken place, or if they have been inconclusive, please explain why.


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