Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume III, Number 43 November 30 - December 6, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Bulatlat.com Special Report ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Rights Violations in the Philippines:
Gabriela Llesis would be 10 months old by Dec. 19. She would also be 10 months
in prison by then. Baby Gabriela has a hole in her heart and a mass growing on
her liver. Yet she and her mother Zenaida, charged by the government as a New
People’s Army guerrilla, continue to be incarcerated because of
government’s intolerance of defiance. Baby Gabriela represents the thousands
of innocent victims of human rights violations under the Macapagal-Arroyo
government, which would rather make those who view society differently pay than
when the Macapagal-Arroyo government commemorates the 54th year of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Dec. 10 this year, it would be that
of a puppet moving its lips, without the sentiment or passion to protect the
people, human rights activists say.
the administration pays lip service to the promotion of human rights, its policy
of terrorism is primarily directed against militant organizations and
individuals who it believes are colluding with, sympathizing and/or supporting
the NPA which has been waging an armed revolution since 1969.
remote areas of Cagayan, a province north of Manila, military and paramilitary
forces would barge into houses in remote villages in the middle of the night and
ask, “Sino’ng myembro ng
Bayan Muna dito?”
(Who are members of Bayan Muna here?)
Muna (People First) is a progressive political group known to be critical of the
government. Its members are branded as leftists or, worse, terrorists by
is a regular fare throughout the country. Members of legal organizations are
hunted down, arrested, tortured or even killed. Some have been abducted and are
missing to this day.
Macapagal-Arroyo government shows its intolerance of organizations which argue
for fundamental changes. Since
2001, 38 Bayan Muna leaders and organizers have been killed, some in such brutal
manners obviously meant to drive home a point.
of government policies or have decided to get the opposition’s side of the story are either berated in public, such as in the case of GMA 7’s Tina Panganiban Perez who interviewed Sen. Gregorio Honasan, or permanently silenced, such as radio commentator Jun Pala who raved against Davao’s death squads. This year, six media practitioners have been killed bringing to 13 the total number of journalists killed under Macapagal-Arroyo.
and children have not been spared either.
a recent report from Cagayan Valley, two female youths tagged as members of the
NPA are being held by the 52nd and 53rd Infantry Battalion
under the command of a Col. Rosete of the 502nd Brigade. Joana Marie
Anacan, 19, and Jasmin Abaoag, 20, together with three others were captured by
the said unit after an alleged encounter between the NPA and the soldiers on
Nov. 10 in Maddela, Quirino, a Karapatan report said.
was reportedly hit on her hips and, despite her wound, is languishing in a
military hospital in the province while Jasmin was held in solitary confinement
for three days before she was allowed to receive visitors.
the Macapagal-Arroyo administration has kept 13 women in detention, two of whom
were arrested with their children in February of this year. Another gave birth
while in jail. All are still incarcerated with their infants.
women political detainees have reportedly been raped by their military captors.
administration also accounts for 19 cases of massacre affecting 81 individuals.
Victims are mostly civilians and to escape liability, incidents of
massacre are often dismissed by the military as “legitimate military
such incident claimed the lives of an unarmed peasant family in April of this
year. Two toddlers aged three and
one, and their pregnant mother were killed in a massacre right in their own home
by military intelligence groups and special forces units.
involuntary disappearances persist. Most victims are political activists,
community organizers, dissenters and suspected members or sympathizers of rebel
as the worst form of human rights violation, the number of involuntary
disappearance and abduction cases has alarmingly increased, with a total of 43
cases recorded under the Macapagal-Arroyo presidency, involving 58 individuals.
number brings to 1,624 the long list of desaparecidos in the Philippines
since the Marcos dictatorship.
of the most prominent cases occurred when the president declared a “state of
lawlessness” in key cities of Mindanao and several persons belonging to Muslim
communities have “disappeared” after being tagged as culprits in the Sasa
warf bombing in Davao City.
April 5, Abdullah Ala, 47, was reportedly abducted by armed and masked men while
buying a welding rod at a hardware in the village. The police had denied a
hand in the abduction of Abdullah. But after his kidnapping, five more men, all
of them Muslims, were abducted in much the same way. None of them has
less than three years of the Macapagal-Arroyo government, there are 98
documented cases of torture affecting 150 individuals.
pain and inhuman treatment by their military captors have caused the death of
four community organizers of Anak ng Bayan (Children of the People), of the
activist youth organization and political party. The four were abducted and
killed on Sept. 23, in Compostela Valley in Southern Minanao.
Karapatan report reads, “Official medical investigation showed their bodies to
have bruises all over, their faces covered with masking tape with their tongues
sticking out, their eyes wide open and their necks with deep rope marks.”
accounts say the 18-year old girl was raped before she was killed.
there are 330 documented political prisoners in the Philippines. Most of them
are poor peasants suspected of being members or supporters of the NPA.
of them are minors, five of whom are 12 years old and below when arrested. Jason
Pegoria, a native of Leyte (a province in the eastern part of the Visayas
region) was only 12 when picked up on allegations that he was a member of the
arrested because on their political beliefs, most of the detainees are charged
with or convicted of criminal offenses. This
criminal charges further violate the rights of the prisoners as they are
publicly branded as murderers or thieves.
22 political prisoners docketed in various jails in the country have been
ordered for release by Arroyo but are still in jail to this day.
counter insurgency and anti-terrorism campaigns of the government have resulted
in massive displacement of entire families and communities, particularly in
Mindanao, affecting Lumads, Moros and Christians alike.
large-scale deployment of military troops in Southern Tagalog has also caused
thousands to flee their homes. In Oriental Mindoro alone, where the displacement
of 30 families and 167 individuals has been recorded, nine AFP battalions are
from regional centers of Karapatan shows that there are 137 cases of forced
evacuation affecting a whopping 111,605 individuals; 103 cases of destruction of
properties and 135 cases of divestment of properties.
places of worship of Muslims in Mindanao have become open targets by the
military. To date, there are two
cases of desecration of the place of worship hurting three individuals.
urban centers, there have been rampant violent demolitions of urban poor
communities including stalls of street vendors.
The Metro Manila Development Authority, chaired by Bayani Fernando, is
tasked to do the demolition jobs. In
one incident, a member of this agency who is supposed to be unarmed killed a
date, there are three cases of demolition affecting 70 families consisting of
Secretary General Marie Hilao-Enriquez has described the human rights situation
veteran activist since the martial law years, Hilao-Enriquez said the situation
today is “reminiscent of the Marcos fascist rule where human rights violations
were rampant and openly done.”
is more bothersome, she said, was that “nobody in the military or the police
force is held accountable for the violations.
Worse, the violators are being cuddled by the president.”
was referring to Col. Jovito Palparan who, after being implicated in the
killings of activists in Mindoro Oriental, was promoted to one -star general and
now heads the 2nd Infantry Division in Rizal.
a battalion commander in Leyte was given a scholarship grant in the United
States after being implicated in the massacre of a peasant family in the said
province. Despite the incident,
Arroyo sent Lt. Col. Oscar Lactao to the Command Staff Course scholarship grant
in Fort Leavenworth.
do not expect the government to publicly announce the policy on state
terrorism,” Hilao-Enriquez told Bulatlat.com. “Even during the time
of the dictatorship, Marcos denied all accusations of human rights violations or
any policy consenting that matter. But the number of victims and the manner in
which they were killed, tortured or disappeared have proven that Marcos had no
respect for human rights.”
more disturbing, she said, is the fact that the Macapagal-Arroyo government was
catapulted to power by an Edsa uprising. For her to so easily turn her back to
her promises at the start of her administration illustrates the kind of
presidency she had implemented and the kind she would continue to implement
beyond 2004. Bulatlat.com
*Statistics and data compiled by Karapatan and the Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace