Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. VII, No. 11      April 22- 28, 2007      Quezon City, Philippines

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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

Abducted Urban Poor Leader Files Criminal,
Administrative Charges vs. Military Captors

When 63-year-old urban poor leader Lourdes “Nay Ude” Rubrico was abducted by armed men on April 3, she had prepared herself to die.  For one week she was illegally detained, interrogated and threatened by some 20 men in an air force camp in Batangas province, yet she lived and was released by her captors.  On April 20, she filed criminal and administrative charges against her abductors and captors, whom she identified as military officers and men.

BY DEE AYROSO
Bulatlat

STILL STRONG AND DETERMINED: A doctor checks 62-year-old urban poor leader Lourdes "Nay Ude" Rubrico a week after she was released by abductors

A woman urban poor leader who survived abduction has filed criminal and administrative charges at the Ombudsman against military officers and men, whom she said forcibly took her, interrogated and detained her illegally for one week in an air force camp in Batangas province.

Lourdes “Nay Ude” Rubrico, 63, chair of Ugnayan ng Maralita sa Gawa at Adhika (Urban Poor Association for Action and Aspiration, UMAGA Federation) said she was kept incommunicado after her abduction on April 3, and was released only April 10 after she signed a paper agreeing to become a military “asset”.

“Kung hindi ko gagawin iyon, mabubulok ako doon” (If I didn’t sign, I would be made to rot there), she said.  It was the only way she could go home, and now she wants to get back at those who violated her rights, she said.

On April 20, Nay Ude was accompanied by her children when she filed complaints at the Ombudsman in Quezon City against her abductors and captors whom she named as Capt. Angelo Cuaresma, Ruben Alfaro, Jimmy Santana, a certain Jonathan of the Philippine Air Force intelligence, and Major Darwin Sy of the Philippine Army whose vehicle was used in her abduction.  Cuaresma belonged to the 301st Air Intelligence and Security Squadron based in Fernando Air Base in Lipa City, Batangas where Nay Ude was detained for seven days.

 The criminal charges she filed against the men were warrantless arrests, illegal detention, and coercion.  She also filed an administrative case of abuse of public authority.

Saying that her abductors failed to break her spirit, Nay Ude said she is determined to fight back.  “Ipagpapatuloy ko ang paglaban. Habang buhay na lang ba tayo di kikibo?  Paano naman ang iba na dinukot at di pa nakikita?” (I will continue the fight.  Are we going to be silenced forever?  How about the others who were also abducted and still remain missing?)

Interrogation

It was April 3, Holy Tuesday when Nay Ude was abducted from a Holy Week gathering of her group outside a house in Megahouse, Sta. Cruz 1 village, Dasmariñas town, Cavite province.  The abductors woke her from her nap and introduced themselves as agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

While she resisted, Nay Ude was dragged into a waiting brown van with plate number XRR 428, where she saw Jimmy Santana, a military intelligence who frequents the Dasmariñas municipal hall.  She was then blindfolded and taken for a four-hour ride.  Nay Ude said she was brought to an air-conditioned office where she could hear planes landing and taking off.  She later managed to snitch a document from a desk in that office, which was a mission order with the heading “Confidential, 301st Air Intelligence and Security Squadron, PAF Field Station, Fernando Air Base.”  The plate number of the vehicle was traced to Major Darwin Sy of the Phil.Army.

In that office for seven days, some 20 men took turns interrogating her, repeatedly asking about her connection with the underground left, and about certain names and their whereabouts.  In protest, she refused to eat anything and subsisted only on water.

She said most of the men seem to be young, although their faces were covered with handkerchiefs. They addressed her as “Nay Ude”, and most of them could not stand up against her reasoning.  And when her captors were brusque, she would shout back at them.

“Aminin mo na, NPA ka” (Admit it, you are with the New People’s Army) Nay Ude recalled how one of her captors insisted.

“Tingnan n’yo nga ako, matanda na ako, kaya ko pa bang humawak ng baril!” (Look at me, I am already old.  Do you think I’m still capable of holding a gun?), she answered back.  

She recalled that her interrogators reasoned out that no organization would last long without the support of the communists.

“Bakit pa kami nagtitiyagang nagbabayad ng buwis? Di sana pumunta na lang kami sa bundok! Para saan pa ang SEC registration? Dapat sana alisin na lang yun kung komunista pala.  At sabi sa batas, sa Bill of Rights, magbuo ng organisasyon, may kalayaan tayong magsalita… Kami ba lumabag sa batas?” (If we are rebels, why do we bother to pay taxes? We could have just gone to the mountains.  Is the SEC registration useless?  They should just discard that if they knew we were communists.  And the law provides, in the Bill of Rights, that we could form organizations, that we have freedom of speech.  What law have we broken?) she said.

During her interrogation, Nay Ude repeatedly explained to her interrogators that UMAGA Federation increases in membership because it organizes informal settlers to fight for their right to shelter.  “Kami ang hinahanap ng tao kasi nakakatulong kami sa mga dinedemolish para magkaroon ng matitirhan, makahanap ng mapagbabahayan.  Nagbabayad naman kami (People look for us because we help those who get demolished to find homes. And we pay for our home lots),she said. 

UMAGA Federation is a member of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap or Kadamay.  Nay Ude’s group has eight affiliate organizations in different towns in Cavite, and nearby cities in Metro Manila. 

Nay Ude said that when her interrogators ran out of questions and reasons, they would be silent and leave the room, to be replaced by the next batch of interrogators.  Although she was not tortured, Nay Ude got headaches, and an asthma attack which made her captors panic.  They immediately brought her medicine and pleaded with her to eat.  Nay Ude said she still refused to eat, and sarcastically asked for poison. 

Release

On the third day, Nay Ude said she went wild and screamed at her captors.  The men then blindfolded her, took her outside and started digging.  To this she cried and scorned her captors.  “Wala ba kayong mga puso?  Bakit ninyo ako ginaganito? (Have you no hearts?  Why are you doing this to me?)

From the start, Nay Ude said she had prepared herself to death.  She told her captors to just make sure that they leave her body by the roadside, for her family and friends to find.  The men brought her back inside.

After that, Jimmy Santana asked her to sign a piece of paper which says she agrees to be an “asset.”  Nay Ude said Santana offered money and “a good life” but she refused, saying she doesn’t need anything because she was already old.

On April 10, Santana again asked Nay Ude to sign the agreement, threatening that he could no longer ensure that she will live if she did not sign.  Realizing it was her only way out, Nay Ude signed it, after which the men congratulated her and shook her hand.  Santana gave her a SIM card which she was supposed to use to report to him when to capture a certain Yolly and Leny.

At 8:30 pm April 10, her captors blindfolded her and brought her to a vehicle, which dropped her off at SM Pala-Pala, Cavite.

Under threat

Nay Ude said she and her family had left their compound in Dasmariñas for fear of a military reprisal. She said Santana threatened to find her if she did not comply with the agreement. 

While she recovers from her ordeal, Nay Ude is assured that her group members are carrying on with the tasks.  Members of the UMAGA Federation have set up a picket at the Megahouse because of threats of a demolition from their rival group, Barangay Alternative Community Leaders (BACAL).  BACAL was organized under the office of the Provincial Governor and collects P5,000 from the urban poor families promising that they will be given housing units in Megahouse.

 This week, Janice Gomez, the witness to her abduction was warned by BACAL that her house was to be demolished by the police. Nay Ude, however said that Janice’s house stands on the area which government had already agreed to award to residents.

Proof

The organization Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos) said that Nay Ude’s testimony is proof that the state employs enforced disappearance as a means to weaken its perceived “enemies.” 

Ghay Portajada, Desaparecidos spokesperson said: “Victims are abducted, tortured, and interrogated by military forces, who use government vehicles, and hide victims in military camps, headquarters, and government offices.  This has been attested to by those who were abducted and surfaced either in prison, or were sent home after being coerced into becoming assets of the military.”

She said Nay Ude’s ordeal shows the pattern used by state forces, in which a victim was abducted, brought to a safehouse or headquarters where they tried to extract information from her at the same time break her through interrogation.  This is followed by converting her to their side, offering money in exchange for the capture of another leader or organizer.

Portajada cited the recent case of two leaders who were abducted in Cebu City on April 12.  Preciosa Daño, a Bayan Muna coordinator and Kabataan partylist coordinator Beethoven Avila were abducted by elements of the Military Intelligence Group, who beat them up and tried to force them to admit involvement in the underground left.  The two were turned over by their abductors to the Philippine National Police when their groups started picketing the Cebu Central Command headquarters.

Portajada also cited Oscar Leuterio, a former security guard who was abducted by the military and kept incommunicado for five months at the Fort Magsaysay, and was allowed to go home after he promised to work for them.

“And as the military gets the crime done, it is the Philippine National Police which tries to cover it up with its so-called investigation.  It may be recalled that after Nay Ude’s abduction, the PNP came out with a statement that she was involved in a land scam in Cavite,” said Portajada. 

Nay Ude’s daughter, Joy, 25, said that they were suspicious that the PNP were also involved.  On April 6, Capt. Arsenio Gomez of PNP Cavite tried to take her and the two witnesses, Janice Gomez and Rizalina Ramirez to Siniguelasan, a remote village where there was a cartographer.  When her older brother asked why they couldn’t do it in the office, the police officer told him not to ask questions.  Fortunately, Joy had texted members of the Federation who were able to follow them and return them home. 

Portajada said that abduction victims who escaped, were surfaced in prison, or were allowed to go home are few; many remain missing.  Desaparecidos call is to open military camps, detachments and safehouses to random searches by the families of the disappeared.

“We hail Nay Ude for her shining courage as she fights back and moves to get justice served against those who violated her rights.  She risks everything, her family, but she knows she has to continue to fight.” Bulatlat

 

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