Court says Palparan knew of abductions

The Court of Appeals has directly linked retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan to the abduction of civilians suspected of being insurgents, saying that he at least knew about the arrest and detention by his men of the Manalo brothers.

The court’s second division said this showed Palparan’s "command policy" of encouraging the arrest of civilians without due process and sufficient basis.
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Broadcast journalist murdered in Davao

A radio broadcaster who had denounced alleged corruption in the building of the “People’s Park” in this city and government malfeasance will not be spending Christmas Tuesday with his four children.

An assassin riding tandem on a motorcycle with an accomplice gunned down Ferdie Lintuan at 9:30 a.m. Monday as the 51-year-old journalist was driving his Volkswagen, police said.
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Arroyo slammed for slays

CLAD in black shirts with their faces covered by black veils, female relatives of the victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances held roses as they marched Monday in Manila to mark Human Rights Day.

"The families of the victims continue to mourn because they remain deprived of justice," said Renato Reyes, spokesperson of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).

The women in black led some 1,500 activists in calling on the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to stop the extrajudicial killings.

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2 Missing UP Students Tortured, Raped inside Military Camp

One year and five months after their abduction, a witness testified that he had actually seen and talked to Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, the two scholars of the University of the Philippines (UP) who were abducted allegedly by soldiers on June 26, 2006 while doing research in a farming community in Barangay (village) San Miguel, Hagonoy, Bulacan. Farmer Manuel Merino was abducted together with the two.

The witness, Raymund Manalo, also confirmed what had been feared all along - that the UP students were raped by their abductors.
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AFP units in Panay responsible for assassination attempt on our nominee – Bayan Muna

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño condemned the latest assassination attempt against a high-ranking official of our party in Western Visayas .

“Ms. Hope Hervilla, our Bayan Muna Panay regional officer and 10th nominee in the last partylist elections, narrowly escaped a crack team of assassins that had blocked off all the exits of her house in Iloilo yesterday, November 26. Only the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) units in the island are the primary suspects, having the motive, means and evil designs to harm Hervilla, a respected political leader in the province,” Rep. Casiño said.

According to a short report from Bayan Muna Panay, Hervilla was only able to get out of her house when security escorts provided by Iloilo Congressman Niel Tupas Jr. and Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas came over. The assassins’ vehicles were blocking all exit points.

Hervilla has been extended protection by the provincial government since yesterday.

“She has earned the ire of the military in the island of late due to her strong advocacy in searching for Luisa Posa-Dominado and Nilo Arado, the two militant leaders in April 2007,” Casiño said.

Hervilla has blamed the attempted murder and abduction of Luisa Posa-Dominado, Ely Garachico and Nilo Arado on the military.

“We advise the military, specifically the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division, Philippine Army officials MGen Jovenal Narcise, Col. Renato David, Lt. Col. David Tan and Capt. Lowen Gil Marquez, not to come up with the usual profound denials. If Hervilla meets any harm, we shall hold them and the AFP top leadership responsible,” Casiño said. #

News Release –November 27, 2007
For Reference: Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, 0920-9035683
For more information: Vince Borneo, Media Officer, 0927-7968198

US aid tied to RP action on killings

US Senate has served notice it wants the Arroyo administration to prosecute human rights violators, including soldiers, before it approves additional military aid.

Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo Monday said he had thanked the US Senate for approving an increase in regular military funding to the Philippines from $11 million to $30 million.

But in the first significant international backlash over the wave of killings of left-wing activists blamed on Philippine security forces, the US Senate also set conditions for the release of an additional $2 million in military assistance.
Two million??? They're only withholding two million? There's still 30 million that's still being given unconditionlly!

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UN report: RP strategy to blame for spate of killings

A United Nations official has blamed the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency strategy, and a distorted criminal justice system, for the continuing spate of extrajudicial killings in the country. In a 21-page report to the UN General Assembly on Friday, Professor Philip Alston, the Commission of Human Rights’ Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions stuck to his findings earlier this year that leftist leaders in some parts of the Philippines were “systematically hunted down.”
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Relatives remember 800 victims of political slays

Relatives of more than 800 victims of extrajudicial killings in the country grieve for their loved ones and cry for justice as the nation commemorates the days of the departed. Some 160 of the victims were from Southern Tagalog.
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Where is Jonas Burgos?

Anakpawis member killed in Leyte

A man fatally shot a left-wing activist in a central Philippine city on Tuesday in an attack that coincided with a Manila conference called by the Supreme Court to find ways of halting a wave of killings of government critics.Charlie Solayao, a fish vendor who was an active member of a left-wing political party, was walking with his wife toward a coastal area in Tacloban city when a man alighted from a motorcycle driven by a companion and shot him twice

Read the rest of the article on the International Herald Tribune

Law experts urge Arroyo to end slays

A high-powered judicial summit ended Tuesday with calls for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to order a stop to political killings and for the adoption of new laws that would empower investigators to search state and private premises for victims of forced disappearances.Experts who attended the two-day summit also proposed giving more prosecutory powers to the Commission on Human Rights which was perceived to be a “more trustworthy” arm of the government than the Department of Justice.

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Palace document shows gov’t plan to neutralize Left

The wave of extrajudicial killings, which the Supreme Court-initiated summit on Monday seeks to end, may have begun after the Arroyo administration allegedly launched a campaign to “neutralize” the Communist Party of the Philippines by curbing the expansion of the party-list group Bayan Muna.

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Bayan calls for public disclosure of "Operation Bluetooth"

A week after GMA-7 news revealed the existence of what appeared to be Palace directives on extrajudicial killings of activists, the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan called on the Arroyo government to make a full public disclosure of the controversial "Operation Bluetooth" and other similar issuances that may have come from top cabinet and military officials.

The news clip from GMA network's website appears to show a systematic government policy on dealing with legal leftist groups, observed Bayan. The government approach includes the "neutralization" of certain personalities within the legal organizations.

Read the rest of the article on Davao Today.

Statement by Edith T. Burgos on the disappearance of her son, Jonas Joseph T. Burgos

I am the mother of Jonas Joseph T. Burgos. Jonas is a farmer; he manages our farm in Bulacan. He is a member of a peasant organization in Bulacan, Alyansang Magbubukid ng Bulacan. Jonas has been a desapercido since two months ago.

My son Jonas, according to witnesses, was forcibly taken by a group of 6 males and 1 female while he was having lunch at the Hapag Kainan Restaurant in Ever Gotesco Mall, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, on April 28, 2007 at about 1.30 p.m. As he was being forcibly taken, he was shouting “Aktibista lang po ako!”

I realized that Jonas could be missing when he did not come home that night of April 28th.

The following morning, I received a text message from Jonas which states: “Pasensiya na ligo lang ako”; this was followed by another text: “Sige bukas pag-usapan natin”. I tried calling his phone but could not get an answer until it could no longer be reached.

On April 30th, I called for a press conference and announced that Jonas has been missing since April 28th.

As a result of that press conference, I received information that a security guard at the Ever Gotesco Mall saw Jonas forced by persons who identified themselves to be “PULIS” into a vehicle with plate number TAB 194.

That plate number TAB 194 was traced to a vehicle registered in the name of Mauro Mudlong. Mr. Mudlong and his vehicle were apprehended on June 24, 2006 by PFC Jose Villena and CPL Castro Bugalon of the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (56th IB) based in Barangay San Mateo, Norzagaray Bulacan for violation of Section 68 of PD 705 or “Transporting of Timber Without a Permit” (filed with the Prosecutor of Bulacan at Malolos; IS No. 06-09-4287). Said vehicle with plate no. TAB 194 and its cargo were taken to the headquarters of the 56th IB at Norzagaray Bulacan. Lt. Col. Noel S. Clement was the commanding officer of the 56th IB at the time the vehicle with plate no. TAB 194 was apprehended and taken to the 56th IB headquarters.

Police investigators reported that they took the statements of 5 Army officers: Lt. Col. Noel S. Clement, at present the commanding officer of the Security and Escort Battalion based in Fort Bonifacio; Lt. Col. Melquiades L. Feliciano, commanding officer 56th IB who succeeded Lt. Col. Clement in January but reportedly relieved in May (his present assignment is unknown); Lt. Col. Edison Caga, commanding officer 69th IB stationed in Pampanga who was assigned to secure the 56th IB headquarters when it went for training in November 2006; CPL Castro Bugalon and PFC Jose Villena III both assigned at the 56th IB.

Media reported that Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. has ordered the Army Provost Marshal and the Inspector General to investigate the involvement of the above named 5 army officers in the forced disappearance of Jonas.

On May 21, 2007, my lawyer wrote to Gen. Esperon to request for a copy of the “report of the Provost Marshal and the Inspector General on the involvement of the 56th Infantry Battalion on [Jonas’] disappearance”. When Gen. Esperon was not responding after a week, we sent him another letter on May 29, 2007.

I met with Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on May 29th to seek his help in finding Jonas or any information he can provide about what has happened to him. Secretary Ermita responded by arranging that I meet with General Esperon on June 6, 2007 at 10 a.m. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called me up on June 2nd to express her concern about Jonas and reminded me that I go see Gen. Esperon.

My lawyer together with my brother, Jimmy Tronqued (I had vertigo attack and could not leave the house) went to Gen. Esperon’s office at the appointed time, June 6, 2007 at 10 a.m. However, they were met by 2 officers, LTC. Jose and LTC Lucero, and not by Gen. Esperon, who, according to the 2 officers, had left for another meeting. My lawyer asked the 2 officers about our request for a copy of the report of the Provost Marshal but the 2 officers had no idea about such request.

On June 21st, my lawyer received a letter from the Judge Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Nemesio I. Dabal, writing for Gen. Esperon. The letter said that we could not be given copies of the report of the Provost Marshal and the Inspector General because of two restraints: a) it is “a classified matter, the unauthorized disclosure of which, while not endangering national security, may cause unwarranted injury to an individual. Under pertinent rules, this category of classified matter expressly includes investigation and document of a personal and disciplinary nature which we are bound to secure for administrative purposes and further to safeguard the identity of personnel being investigated for an anomaly prior to the filing of appropriate charges”; b) the “restraint is a necessary measure in order not to preempt the final outcome of the case being investigated through the premature disclosure of an initial investigation result which is taking its course under the military justice system. This is with a view to further elevation of the matter to an appropriate body for proper disposition, including its possible referral with a view to trial by court martial against erring personnel involved, if circumstances warrant”.

In other words, Gen. Esperon turned down my request because he was concerned that my reading of the report of the Provost Marshal and Inspector General “may” cause some unwarranted injury to someone (whom he has not named) and because he does not want that the “initial investigation result” to preempt or be presumed to be the final outcome of the case being investigated.

Based on the evidence so far gathered: a) the testimony of the witness security guard that he saw Jonas forced into the vehicle with plate no. TAB 194; b) plate no. TAB 194 has been traced to be in the custody of the 56th IB since June 2006, I accuse the Army of having forcibly abducted my son Jonas on April 28, 2007 at the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City. I strongly suspect that either or both of its former commanding officers, Lt. Col. Clement and Lt. Col. Feliciano participated in the enforced disappearance of Jonas.

The conduct of Gen. Esperon tells me that the Army is hiding from me information of vital investigative value in the Jonas case. First, he refused to see me and my representatives despite the fact that Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita had arranged the meeting and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo encouraged me to see him. And then he turns down my request for a copy of the report of the Provost Marshal and the Inspector General.

Gen. Esperon’s conduct or rather, misconduct, only reinforces my belief that the Army abducted Jonas and Gen. Esperon is covering up for the Army.

I am the mother of a desaparecido, the victim of enforced disappearance by unidentified persons who was taken into a vehicle with plate no. TAB 194 traced to the 56th Infantry Battalion whose 2 previous commanding officers, Lt. Col. Melquiades L. Feliciano and Lt. Col. Noel S. Clement were, among others, the subject of the investigation of the Provost Marshal and the Inspector General. I have all the right to know what the Provost Marshal and the Inspector General have found out in the investigation of these two former commanding officers of the 56th IB. My right to know vital information about my son, and even more important, my son’s well-being has primacy over the perceived injury that may suffer or the perceived preemption of the final outcome of the investigation, assuming that it is still on-going (according to media reports the Provost Marshal and the Inspector General has concluded their investigations and submitted them to Gen. Esperon). Certainly, the perceived injury to certain parties by a “premature” disclosure of the report can never be as substantial as the very real risk of serious harm, or even death, that may befall my son with every delay in the efforts to find him.

The excuse of Gen. Esperon in turning down my legitimate request is unacceptable to me. I need to find Jonas and the report that Gen. Esperon is withholding from me I know will help me find him.

I repeat, I accuse the Army of the crime of kidnapping my son Jonas on April 28, 2007 at the Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City. I strongly suspect that either or both of the former commanding officers of the 56th IB, Lt. Col. Clement and Lt. Col. Feliciano are participants in that crime. And the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, is covering up the crime committed against Jonas.

Judge cites commanders criminally liable for slays

The doctrine of command responsibility may be used in cases involving extrajudicial killings, a Manila Regional Trial Court judge said Tuesday.Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr. of Manila RTC Branch 26 said the doctrine was still “new” to the courts but that the judiciary was now exploring its use in order to hold military commanders and police officers “criminally liable” for their subordinates’ actions.

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Another radio broadcaster killed in Nueva Ecija

A broadcaster from a government-run radio station was killed by a group of unidentified men in Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija yesterday morning, reports reaching Camp Crame in Quezon City said.

Read the rest of the article on Manila Bulletin Online

Another general breaks silence on murders

A third general of the Armed Forces has come forward to confirm that killings of political activists were discussed “openly” in a top-level military conference about two years ago.Speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, the general said he was present when two other generals discussed the military’s course of action in the midst of the communist threat in key areas in Luzon.

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Generals bare plot to kill militant activists

Accused coup plotter-turned-senator Antonio Trillanes IV is not alone in his plan to resurrect the "Hello Garci" controversy and take the Arroyo administration to task for the unabated extrajudicial killings.A group of top military officials critical of President Macapagal-Arroyo has vowed to load the detained senator-elect with "ammunition" on these two issues once he begins work in the 14th Congress next month

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Poll fraud whistleblower killed

A public school official who exposed alleged electoral fraud in Pagalungan, Maguindanao, was gunned down Saturday night at an Islamic school in the municipality by unidentified men, police said Sunday.The fatality was identified as Musa Dimasidsing, Maguindanao Schools District Supervisor.

Read the rest of the article on GMANews.TV

Canada-based NGO to bring ‘Tagaytay 5’ case to int’l courts

A Canada-based international nongovernment organization will elevate the case of five farmers accused of being communist guerrillas to the international courts if justice is not served to them as soon as possible, an official of the group said.

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Bayan Muna: Coordinator was tortured

During the three days he was missing, a coordinator of Bayan Muna party-list in the Southern Mindanao region allegedly underwent torture at the hands of the military. This was the claim of Bayan Muna, which said it is now conducting its own investigation into the abduction of Gilbert Rey Cardiño, whom police said had "surfaced" last Friday. Read the rest of the article from GMA News.

How to sign a petition protesting the killings

Several online petitions have been made.

How to send a letter of appeal

What to write

Every case is different. Some entries on this site have sample letters that you can use. See all those entries by clicking here. Feel free to modify or add to the sample letter!

Who to send it to

Again, every case is different, but generally, the people below should definitely receive a copy!

1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 /+63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Mr. Benigno Aquino III
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 /+63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

3. Ms. Leila De Lima
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188

4. Deputy Director General Jesus A. Verzosa
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
Fax: +63 2724 8763
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763

5. Mr. Alberto Agra
Acting Secretary
Department of Justice (DoJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
Fax: +63 2 521 1614

Gunmen abduct officer of leftist political party

Unidentified gunmen abducted a regional officer of a leftist political party Wednesday in the southern Philippines, police said. Gilbert Rey Cardeno, regional coordinator of the Bayan Muna (Nation First) party, was on his way home when he was kidnapped in Koronadal City in South Cotabato province, 1,020 kilometres south of Manila. Read the rest of the article on

Account of Pastor Berlin Guerrero of his abduction and torture by the military

Statement of Pastor Guerrero

What does it take a government to have the nerve to abduct, torture, and terrorize my family on the basis of an old inciting to sedition case and a baseless murder charge?

Far more absurd is the accusation that I am the Secretary of the CPP Provincial committee in Cavite . This lie that they tried to extract from me by means of physical, mental and psychological torture and projecting me in public as a "hand-gun and grenade carrying rebel."

I am a Pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and never participated in any killings, illegal or unlawful activities, or any common crime.

My family and I have just taken a tricycle from the local church which I have served for two consecutive years (June 2006-2007) where we just celebrated UCCP's and the local church's 59th and 72nd anniversaries respectively (On May 27, at around 5:30 pm, a white van cut the tricycle's path and military-looking men quickly alighted to grab me; despite my plea that they show me the warrant they said they had. I was man-handled and forcefully shoved inside the van, put a handcuff on my hands behind me, covered my head with a cloth and packing tape, was beaten, punched and kicked repeatedly.

They brought me to a place I didn't know. Here, still handcuffed, men would take turn interrogating and beating my head with their fists and blunt objects. (Like a 1,000 ml mineral bottle and other objects). All throughout, layers of plastic bags covered my head. My torturers would tighten the bag until I could no longer breathe. I passed out two times and urinated in my pants.

They made me shake my head for about an hour and beat me whenever I stopped they said they would do these things to my family if I did not cooperate. I was forced to give names and addresses of my whole family, officers of church and conferences, name of my administrator at Union Theological Seminary where I am studying theology, leaders of progressive labour and peasant organizations in Southern Tagalog.

They opened my computer by forcing me to give the password, got my e-mail password. They erased all of my church, school and personal files and replace it with documents that belong to the so-called underground left.

After about twelve hours, they put me back on the van still handcuffed and blindfolded. They threatened to kill me, burn me or bury me. They continued to beat me and make new names for me. They got my sim card.

They called me Pastor-Impostor. And lectured me on the "evils" of communism and how the church, legal people's organizations are "used" to create trouble by criticizing the government.

When the van stopped, it took an hour before they led me down, made me sit down and lie down. After an hour, they removed my blindfold. Here I learned I was in Imus, Cavite specifically at Camp Pantaleon Garcia, Cavite Provincial Police Office (PPO).

Later on in the afternoon, that was the only time I saw the warrants of arrest and to what unit of the PNP I was turned over to by my abductors.

Now that I have the time to collect my thoughts and view my situation inside what police offices "call a subhuman" cell, let me make a preliminary analysis of my unfinished ordeal.

(1) The unit which abducted me is an organized AFP unit which operates covertly or below the law. It is composed of elements coming from different units of AFP's Intelligence Community. As a counter-insurgency unit, it uses ex-NPAs. They are lawless enforcers.

(2) Making use of court cases which involves suspected personalities of the left, no matter how weak, these cases may be served and used to make the arrest legitimate. In my case, I am implicated in a Murder Case in 1990. Case files show that I do not have a direct or indirect link to the crime.

(3) To bring me to the court by means of the arrest warrants is secondary. Their primary objective is to extract information from me by means of torture.

(4) It is also meant to terrorize my family, my relatives, friends, church members and practically everyone I know and who know me. It creates a thinking that this repeated attack on a person's right, which may end in incarceration or death, can happen to anybody.

I am outraged by their branding me as a "Pastor-Impostor" because it is an affront to the sacred office I have sworn to serve God Almighty who knows every heart and mind.

Finally, I hold the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo government responsible for the abduction and torture I have suffered and the subhuman captivity I am forced to accept. The GMA Administration should listen to the repeated cries of the people to stop violation of human rights and the political killings.

They may have put in jail, but my spirit is free and firm because God is with us always.

United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Inside the Camp Pantaleon Garcia
Cavite Provincial Police Office
Imus, Cavite
May 30, 2007

Protestant clergyman tortured by police

Rev Berlin Guerrero, who was reported to have been abucted by the military on Sunday, was found yesterday, apparently tortured after police arrested him. Guerrero’s Church has condemned the abduction saying that it is probably part of a wider police crackdown against those who are fighting for the rights of workers and the poor. Read more from Asia News.

According to Death by Democracy sources, "he has a large contusion on his face and abrasions on his arms. [The interrogators] put a plastic bag over his head and used suffocation tactics."

Military behind killing of 16- and 20-year old Pollwatchers in Bicol – Kabataan Party-list

Witnesses and evidences gathered by human rights and people’sorganizations point to the military as the perpetrators in theabduction and killing of two Kabataan (Youth) Party-list poll watcherslast May 15. Read more from

Activist pastor abducted in front of Laguna church after Sunday service

Suspected soldiers abducted an activist pastor just outside a local United Church of Christ of the Philippines chapel in Binan, Laguna where he participated in a Sunday worship service.

UCCP Pastor Berlin Guerrero, who is based at the Union Theological Seminary in Cavite and is active in the ecumenical movement, has yet to be surfaced by his abductors as of press time.

Read more from Bayan Muna.

Two leftist poll watchers found dead in Philippines

Two members of a leftist political party in the Philippines were found dead after they were abducted while monitoring the counting of votes in mid-term elections in an eastern province, police and colleagues said Friday.

The deaths brought to 142 the number of election-related killings in the country since January.



At around 9:30 PM, April 12, 2007, Ma. Luisa Posa-Dominado of SELDA-Panay, Jose Ely “Liboy” Garachico of KARAPATAN, and Nilo Arado of BAYAN- Panay and ANAKPAWIS were on their way to Iloilo City from Antique when they were ambushed at Brgy. Cabanbanan, Oton, Iloilo, Philippines. Their vehicle, a Mitsubishi L200 pick-up, was overtaken by two vans. Two armed men got off from one of the vans, shot the driver, Liboy Garachico, who was then grabbed and thrown to the street. Read more from Arkibong Bayan.

Sign the petition to save Luisa and Nilo!

Statement of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum: Vestiges of Martial Law

The Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF), the fellowship of bishops from the United Church of Christ (UCCP), United Methodist (UMC), Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP), Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) and the Roman Catholic Churches in the Philippines lament the deployment of elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in urban areas in the country. It is another nail hammered on the flailing limbs of freedom in this country.

There is no justification for their presence in these areas at this time. The AFP is called to defend this country from aggression and armed rebellion. The police force should suffice for preserving the peace in our communities. No country claiming to be democratic alows its soldiers to roam around communities in full battle gear. No country claiming to be free allows its soldiers to engage in partisan politics. Even civic functions which military officials claim soldiers perform in these communities are best left in the hands of other government agencies and other non-government organizations.

There is reason to believe that the deployment of troops in urban areas is directed at suppressing the support of the communities to principled and progressive party list groups. and this is being carried out through intimidation and harassment. This is the antithesis of the principle of inviting all to be involved in the political process rather than open rebellion. It smacks of covetousness where those who wield power are evidently after their own political survival and thus twist the definition of democracy to suit their ends. It further shows that under the current state of affairs, the military despite its denial continue to hold its sway over civilian rule. These are vestiges of martial law, a state President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wanted to impose were it not for the vigilance of the citizenry.

The diversity of political opinions and political leanings and the respect thereto is the essence of a matured political system. A matured political system ensures the enjoyment of political rights. This is part of human dignity which the state is bound to nurture.

The EBF thus calls on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to order the immediate withdrawal of the soldiers from these urban areas. At the same time, we urge the people to remain focused in the preservation of whatever freedom we have gained - to live neither in fear nor under the barrel of the gun. Let us not be deceived into thinking that peace comes through the exercise of military might. Peace in our country comes when the roots of poverty and all those that breed unrest are addressed properly. Let us not lose sight of the hope that God has given us through the resurrection of our Lord - that the lowly shall achieve full liberation one day, both as a result of the burning desire to be free from all that bind them in misery and God's loving and abiding evidence.



Press Release by Ilocos Human Rights Advocates on the Arrest of Pastor Jun Bunoan

From the
Ilocos Human Rights Advocates (IHRA-KARAPATAN)

#16 Gomez St. Brgy. 4, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur 2700

Vigan City – The Ilocos Human Rights Advocates (IHRA-KARAPATAN) vehemently condemns the fascist Arroyo regime for persecuting political dissenters and peace advocates as manifested in the false charges against United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Pastor Jun Bunoan who was arrested and detained last April 21, 2007 in Baguio City.

IHRA believes these moves of GMA aim to dispel peace advocates from exposing her fascist character.

LastApril 21, at around 5:30 pm, UCCP Pastor Francisco "Jun" Bunoan, 45years old, and a resident of Aringay, La Union, was arrested byOperatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Intelligence Group-Cordillera while waiting for a ride together with his brother.Supt. James Bucayo and his team apprehended after confirming his identity and immediately brought him to Camp Dangwa where he stayeduntil April 22.

The arrest was made under the virtue of a Warrant of Arrest issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Abra fortheir alleged involvement in murder of Fr. Conrado Balweg in December31, 1999. On April 23, Pastor Jun was brought to the Abra Provincial Jail, and his arraignment is scheduled sometime in May.

Pastor Jun Bunoan was one of the 14 names that were accused of killing Fr. Balweg on December 31, 1999 despite the admission of the Agustin Begnalen Command (ABC) of the New People's Army (NPA) of the killing.

Others include the late Romy Sanchez ofBAYAN-Ilocos, Rev. Noel and Emelyn Dacuycuy of Ilocos Human Rights Advocates (IHRA), Avelino Dacanay and Nomer Kuan of Solidarity ofPeasants Against Exploitation (STOP Exploitation-KMP) and Lorna Rivera-Baba of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) who suffered from severe torture from the military in 2000. However, their cases were dismissed after proving their innocence.

As a faithful servant of God and as a peace advocate, Pastor Jun Bunoan served as achurch worker of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)in the Ilocos Region. In line with his continuous service to the people, he is previously working at the North Luzon Jurisdiction (NLJ)under Bishop Mario Inong as a Researcher for Ilocos, Baguio, Tarlac andManila.

IHRA believes that Pastor Jun's arrest and detention is part of the OPLANBANTAY LAYA 2, the continuation of the futile OPLAN BANTAY LAYA 1. Said National Policy is aimed at annihilating the revolutionary movement by targetting the "legal fronts" of the Communist Party of the Philippines(CPP) for "neutralization" either by persecuting political dissentersor through spate of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance.

PastorJun is the third victim of criminalization of political offenses this year. Earlier two (2) peasants were falsely charged with Homicide and Murder respectively.

Amidst worsening human rights violations, the government of the republic of the Philippines (GRP) should be pressured to respect, defend and protect human rights at all cost.

Send your petitions and communications to call for the immediate release of PASTOR JUN BUNOAN and to scrap the case filed against him [to the following authorities].

Hon. Anita Chauhan
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights Region I
Pagdalagan, San Fernando City, La Union
Tel. No. (072)-700-3607

H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
Malacanang Palace,
JP Laurel St. , San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
Cell#: (+ 63) 919 898 4622 / (+63) 917 839 8462
E-mail: /

Office of the Peace Process
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Mobile :
Fax:+63 (2) 635 9579

The Secretary for National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue
Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213

Hon. Purificacion Valera Quisumbing
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City
Fax: (+632) 929 0102

Where’s the son of Joe Burgos?

Believing that her son may have been abducted, the wife of the late press freedom icon Joe Burgos Monday appealed for the release of 36-year-old Jonas Joseph Burgos.

Jonas has been missing with two companions since Saturday, according to Edith Burgos.

“We are asking anybody who may have seen him, or could be holding him, to please set him free,” Edith said in a press conference in Quezon City.

Edith declined to say who might be behind the possible abduction of her son, who has been actively involved in agri-technology training of peasant organizations.

But the Families of Desaparecidos for Justice issued a statement raising the possibility that the military was involved.

“This is a brazen act which only state security forces will have the motive and gall to carry out,” said Desaparecidos spokesperson Ghay Portajada.

Read more from the Inquirer.

Bullets and libel suits

Press Statement

18 April 2007

The Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom (AZCPF) strongly condemns the recent attacks on media people and journalists. The assassins want to prevent the media from bringing to the public the true state of the nation and the criminal activities being committed by those in power.*Carmelo Palacios, 41, a field reporter of Radyo ng Bayan, was found dead in Sta. Rosa town, Nueva Ecija, April 18. He is the 51st journalist to be killed under the Arroyo administration's increasingly blood-drenched watch, and the third this year.

A day after, Delfin Mallari Jr., correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the host of a local radio program and editor of the local paper Ang Dyaryo Natin, was shot and wounded in an ambush in Lucena City.

In Cebu City, Leo Lastimosa, station manager of the local ABS-CBN radio, was slapped with a libel suit by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia because of his exposes on alleged scams committed during the preparations for the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations there.

The continuing attacks on media people and journalists can only be linked to the unabated attacks on militants and activists that are clearly politically-motivated.

Several prestigious international bodies, including the recent Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) have already pointed to the armed elements of the Arroyo regime as being responsible for these attacks, and have held the regime accountable for these crimes.

The Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom joins the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines and other media organizations in defending press freedom. Bullets and libel suits will not stop the good men and women of the media from their commitment to bring the truth to the people.


Human rights activist wounded in ambush, companions abducted

An officer of a human rights organization was wounded in an ambush while his two companions were abducted by still unidentified men in a town near here Thursday night in what is seen as the first attack on political activists on Panay Island. Read more from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Nobel Laureate Supports 2nd Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal Session on RP

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Most Rev. Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, is one of the several supporters of the 2nd Session on the Philippines of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) – where the Arroyo regime, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank (IMF-WB), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and multinational corporations are facing charges for gross violations of civil and political rights, economic plunder and ecological destruction, and transgression of the Filipino peoples’ sovereignty. Read more from

An Ecumenical Report on Human Rights in the Philippines and a Call to Action

An ecumenical report and a call to action documenting human rights violations in the Philippines will be launched today in Geneva (Palais des Nations, Room XXVII, 14:00), within the framework of the current session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Submitting the report - entitled "Let the stones cry out!" - is an ecumenical delegation from the Philippines whose participation in the Human Rights Council's meeting is being sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

The report "distills the collective cry for justice of thousands of Filipinos - including more than 800 victims of extra-judicial executions from the year 2001 to the present - who have suffered the brunt of violations of human rights under the Philippine government's counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism strategies".

It presents information on the violations and evidence of the complicity of government security forces, and discusses the historical, social, economic and political context in which the violations are committed, including a "culture of impunity".

An associated call to action is addressed to the UN Human Rights Council as well as to church and religious bodies in the international community and Philippines churches.

The launch of the report and a panel discussion with the members of the delegation is scheduled for 14:00 on 19 March at the Palais des Nations (Room XXVII).

The ecumenical delegation presenting the report includes representatives of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), the Philippines Ecumenical Bishops' Forum, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the Moro Christian People's Alliance as well as the US-based United Methodist Church.

The delegation will meet with the staff of the German mission to the UN, and will attempt to make oral interventions during the plenary sessions of the Human Rights Council on such topics as disappearances and Indigenous issues. It will also meet with staff of the WCC, LWF and other ecumenical organizations at the Ecumenical Centre.

Read the report on the WCC website.

Canada urges arrests, convictions in killings

Canada wants “to see arrests, prosecutions, and convictions” of the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings that continue to claim the lives of activists and journalists in the country.

Adding to the international pressure being brought to bear o the Arroyo government over the killings, Steven Rheault-Kihara, counselor for political and economic relations and public affairs of Canada's embassy in the Philippines, also expressed “great concern” that a witness who testified before United Nations special rapporteur Philip Alston was killed over the weekend. Read more from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Witness in UN human rights probe shot dead in Misamis

A member of the party-list group Bayan Muna was shot dead in front of her family in Sitio Nabuolan, Barangay Guinalaban in Salay town in Misamis Oriental on Saturday afternoon. The victim, Siche Bustamante-Gandinao, 56, was also a member of the farmers group Misamis Oriental Farmers Association (Mofa).

Gandinao was one of the witnesses who shared their experiences and knowledge of extrajudicial killings in the country during the visit of Phillip Alston, United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial and summary executions.

Read more the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Bayan Muna-Morong coordinator shot dead in Morong, Bataan, Philippines

At around 7:30 in the morning of March 2, 2007, Felisa Timog Ocampo was walking in front of her sister’s store when two men suddenly approached and shot her on the forehead. The gunmen waited for awhile making sure that the victim was already dead before leaving the scene. They threatened those who rushed to the scene not make any move. The assailants fled by in a car with two other men inside escorted with two men on board a motorcycle. Read an account of the incident from Stop the Killings in the Philippines.

Militant union leader killed in Digos

On March 2 Renato Torrecampo Pacaide was walking with his stepdaughter Michelle and her one-month old baby when motorcycle-riding gunmen pumped bullets into his head and body. Michelle and the baby were unharmed but Renato died on the spot. Renato, a 53-year old member of the UCCP Kiblawan, Davao del Sur (Mindanao) and provincial coordinator of Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Party. Read more from Sun Star Network.

Related articles on Pacaide's murder:
World Day of Prayer Reveals Anguish in the Philippines

Bayan Muna member is murder victim no. 838

A masked man shot dead yet another leftist in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato, just a day after a Bayan Muna member was killed in Misamis Oriental. The toll is now 838 murdered leftists, according to the human rights group Karapatan. Read more from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Another Anakpawis Leader Killed

Renato Torrecampo Pacaide, 53, secretary general of Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Davao del Sur (NAMADS or Unity of Peasants in Davao del Sur) and coordinator of Anakpawis-Davao del Sur, was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding men at 10:45 a.m. of March 2 in Digos, Davao del Sur. The latest political killing was reported by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines). NAMADS is a local chapter of KMP. Read more from

Church group calls for end to US aid to Philippine military

Church-based group critical of the Arroyo administration dared the US government Wednesday to help stop the extra-judicial killings in the country by suspending all forms of support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Read more from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Philippines: All parties must act on political killings ahead of elections


The release of the Melo Commission report, together with the initial findings of the UN expert on extrajudicial executions, should give the impetus to the government and all political parties and groups to act decisively to end the political killings in the run up to legislative and local elections in May.

"The body of evidence is now so compelling that it can no longer be ignored: there is substantial confirmation of the pattern of political killings in the Philippines," said Natalie Hill, Deputy Asia Pacific Director for Amnesty International.

"The election period will be fraught with its own tensions. It is essential that the manifestos of all political parties commit to working strenuously to put an end to the ongoing killings and so minimise the risk of a further escalation of violence during the polls."

Responding to the Melo Commission report, the government has announced a six-point action plan, the implementation of which will be crucial to ending the killings. It includes the establishment of special courts to speed along the trials of suspected perpetrators. A lack of accountability for such political killings remains a critical challenge: to date there has not been one conviction, despite the hundreds of killings, primarily of legal leftist activists, over the past six years.

One major obstacle to stopping the cycle of political executions is the lack of effective witness protection. Witnesses are afraid to come forward to report killings because of threats and intimidation. The government must ensure effective witness protection for all those involved in court proceedings, including victims and their relatives.

"As the Philippines enters the period of Lent, all political parties and civil society groups need to reflect on the numerous human lives that have been lost and resolve to end these killings. Those responsible for or complicit in the killings, particularly military elements identified by the Melo Commission and the UN expert, must fully support the remedial measures implemented by the government and cooperate with investigators," said Natalie Hill.

Philip Alston, the UN expert on extrajudicial executions, stated in his initial findings that: "The AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] remains in a state of almost total denial of its need to respond effectively and authentically to the significant number of killings which have been convincingly attributed to them." He made a point of speaking to all sides, including leftist parties, during his investigation.

"We should remember that most of the victims were not even members of armed groups, even though they may have sympathised with their ideology. It is a matter of importance for everyone in the Philippines that individuals should be able to affiliate with the political party or group of their choice and not be subject to politically motivated violence as a result."

For further information see Amnesty International Report “Philippines: Political Killings, Human Rights and the Peace Process” :

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President may be liable -- Melo Report

President Macapagal-Arroyo may be held accountable under international law if the political killings remain unresolved and unabated under her watch, according to the Melo Commission. In its 86-page report, the commission led by former Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo warned that the government could not “sit idly by and refuse to act. Read more from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Journalists worldwide demand solution to RP media killings

Media groups from around the world on Friday wore black and wrote letters demanding that the Arroyo government seriously address the murders of Filipino journalists and end the “culture of impunity” they say has allowed the killings to escalate. Read more.

Professor Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Manila, 21 February 2007

I have spent the past ten days in the Philippines at the invitation of the Government in order to inquire into the phenomenon of extrajudicial executions. I am very grateful to the Government for the unqualified cooperation extended to me. During my stay here I have met with virtually all of the relevant senior officials of Government. They include the President, the Executive Secretary, the National Security Adviser, the Secretaries for Defence, Justice, DILG and the Peace Process. I have also met with a significant number of members of Congress on different sides of the political spectrum, the Chief Justice, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Chair of the Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman, the members of both sides of the Joint Monitoring Committee, and representatives of the MNLF and MILF. Of particular relevance to my specific concerns, I also met with Task Force Usig, and with the Melo Commission, and I have received the complete dossier compiled by TF Usig, as well as the report of the Melo Commission, the and the responses to its findings by the AFP and by retired Maj-Gen Palparan. I have also visited Baguio and Davao and met with the regional Human Rights Commission offices, local PNP and AFP commanders, and the Mayor of Davao, among others.

Equally importantly, roughly half of my time here was devoted to meetings with representatives of civil society, in Manila, Baguio, and Davao. Through their extremely valuable contributions in the form of documentation and detailed testimony I have learned a great deal.

Let me begin by acknowledging several important elements. The first is that the Government's invitation to visit reflects a clear recognition of the gravity of the problem, a willingness to permit outside scrutiny, and a very welcome preparedness to engage on this issue. The assurances that I received from the President, in particular, were very encouraging. Second, I note that my visit takes place within the context of a counter-insurgency operation which takes place on a range of fronts, and I do not in any way underestimate the resulting challenges facing for the Government and the AFP. Third, I wish to clarify that my formal role is to report to the UN Human Rights Council and to the Government on the situation I have found. I consider that the very fact of my visit has already begun the process of acting as a catalyst to deeper reflection on these issues both within the national and international settings. Finally, I must emphasise that the present statement is only designed to give a general indication of some, but by no means all, of the issues to be addressed, and the recommendations put forward, in my final report. I expect that will be available sometime within the next three months.

Sources of information

The first major challenge for my mission was to obtain detailed and well supported information. I have been surprised by both the amount and the quality of information provided to me. Most key Government agencies are organized and systematic in much of their data collection and classification. Similarly, Philippines civil society organizations are generally sophisticated and professional. I sought, and obtained, meetings across the entire political spectrum. I leave the Philippines with a wealth of information to be processed in the preparation of my final report.

But the question has still been posed as to whether the information provided to me by either all, or at least certain, local NGO groups can be considered reliable. The word 'propaganda' was used by many of my interlocutors. What I took them to mean was that the overriding goal of the relevant groups in raising EJE questions was to gain political advantage in the context of a broader battle for public opinion and power, and that the HR dimensions were secondary at best. Some went further to suggest that many of the cases were fabricated, or at least trumped up, to look more serious than they are.

I consider it essential to respond to these concerns immediately. First, there is inevitably a propaganda element in such allegations. The aim is to win public sympathy and to discredit other actors. But the existence of a propaganda dimension does not, in itself, destroy the credibility of the information and allegations. I would insist, instead, on the need to apply several tests relating to credibility. First, is it only NGOs from one part of the political spectrum who are making these allegations? The answer is clearly 'no'. Human rights groups in the Philippines range across the entire spectrum in terms of their political sympathies, but I met no groups who challenged the basic fact that large numbers of extrajudicial executions are taking place, even if they disagreed on precise figures. Second, how compelling is the actual information presented? I found there was considerable variation ranging from submissions which were entirely credible and contextually aware all the way down to some which struck me as superficial and dubious. But the great majority are closer to the top of that spectrum than to the bottom. Third, has the information proved credible under 'cross-examination'. My colleagues and I heard a large number of cases in depth and we probed the stories presented to us in order to ascertain their accuracy and the broader context.

As a result, I believe that I have gathered a huge amount of data and certainly much more than has been made available to any one of the major national inquiries.

Extent of my focus

My focus goes well beyond that adopted by either TF Usig or the Melo Commission, both of which are concerned essentially with political and media killings. Those specific killings are, in many ways, a symptom of a much more extensive problem and we should not permit our focus to be limited artificially. The TF Usig/Melo scope of inquiry is inappropriate for me for several reasons:

(a) The approach is essentially reactive. It is not based on an original assessment of what is going on in the country at large, but rather on what a limited range of CSOs report. As a result, the focus then is often shifted (unhelpfully) to the orientation of the CSO, the quality of the documentation in particular cases, etc.;

(b) Many killings are not reported, or not pursued, and for good reason; and

(c) A significant proportion of acknowledged cases of 'disappearances' involve individuals who have been killed but who are not reflected in the figures.

How many have been killed? The numbers game is especially unproductive, although a source of endless fascination. Is it 25, 100, or 800? I don't have a figure. But I am certain that the number is high enough to be distressing. Even more importantly, numbers are not what count. The impact of even a limited number of killings of the type alleged is corrosive in many ways. It intimidates vast numbers of civil society actors, it sends a message of vulnerability to all but the most well connected, and it severely undermines the political discourse which is central to a resolution of the problems confronting this country.

Permit me to make a brief comment on the term 'unexplained killings', which is used by officials and which I consider to be inapt and misleading. It may be appropriate in the context of a judicial process but human rights inquiries are more broad-ranging and one does not have to wait for a court to secure a conviction before one can conclude that human rights violations are occurring. The term 'extrajudicial killings' which has a long pedigree is far more accurate and should be used.


It may help to specify the types of killing which are of particular concern in the Philippines: • Killings by military and police, and by the NPA or other groups, in course of counter-insurgency. To the extent that such killings take place in conformity with the rules of international humanitarian law they fall outside my mandate. • Killings not in the course of any armed engagement but in pursuit of a specific counter-insurgency operation in the field.
• Killings, whether attributed to the military, the police, or private actors, of activists associated with leftist groups and usually deemed or assumed to be covertly assisting CPP-NPA-NDF. Private actors include hired thugs in the pay of politicians, landowners, corporate interests, and others. • Vigilante, or death squad, killings • Killings of journalists and other media persons. • 'Ordinary' murders facilitated by the sense of impunity that exists.

Response by the Government

The response of Government to the crisis of extrajudicial executions varies dramatically. There has been a welcome acknowledgement of the seriousness of the problem at the very top. At the executive level the messages have been very mixed and often unsatisfactory. And at the operational level, the allegations have too often been met with a response of incredulity, mixed with offence.

Explanations proffered

When I have sought explanations of the killings I have received a range of answers.

(i) The allegations are essentially propaganda. I have addressed this dimension already.

(ii) The allegations are fabricated. Much importance was attached to two persons who had been listed as killed, but who were presented to me alive. Two errors, in circumstances which might partly explain the mistakes, do very little to discredit the vast number of remaining allegations.

(iii) The theory that the 'correct, accurate, and truthful' reason for the recent rise in killings lies in purges committed by the CPP/NPA. This theory was relentlessly pushed by the AFP and many of my Government interlocutors. But we must distinguish the number of 1,227 cited by the military from the limited number of cases in which the CPP/NPA have acknowledged, indeed boasted, of killings. While such cases have certainly occurred, even those most concerned about them, such as members of Akbayan, have suggested to me that they could not amount to even 10% of the total killings. The evidence offered by the military in support of this theory is especially unconvincing. Human rights organizations have documented very few such cases. The AFP relies instead on figures and trends relating to the purges of the late 1980s, and on an alleged CPP/NPA document captured in May 2006 describing Operation Bushfire. In the absence of much stronger supporting evidence this particular document bears all the hallmarks of a fabrication and cannot be taken as evidence of anything other than disinformation.

(iv) Some killings may have been attributable to the AFP, but they were committed by rogue elements. There is little doubt that some such killings have been committed. The AFP needs to give us precise details and to indicate what investigations and prosecutions have been undertaken in response. But, in any event, the rogue elephant theory does not explain or even address the central questions with which we are concerned.

Some major challenges for the future

(a) Acknowledgement by the AFP The AFP remains in a state of almost total denial (as its official response to the Melo Report amply demonstrates) of its need to respond effectively and authentically to the significant number of killings which have been convincingly attributed to them. The President needs to persuade the military that its reputation and effectiveness will be considerably enhanced, rather than undermined, by acknowledging the facts and taking genuine steps to investigate. When the Chief of the AFP contents himself with telephoning Maj-Gen Palparan three times in order to satisfy himself that the persistent and extensive allegations against the General were entirely unfounded, rather than launching a thorough internal investigation, it is clear that there is still a very long way to go.

(b) Moving beyond the Melo Commission It is not for me to evaluate the Melo Report. That is for the people of the Philippines to do. The President showed good faith in responding to allegations by setting up an independent commission. But the political and other capital that should have followed is being slowly but surely drained away by the refusal to publish the report. The justifications given are unconvincing. The report was never intended to be preliminary or interim. The need to get 'leftists' to testify is no reason to withhold a report which in some ways at least vindicates their claims. And extending a Commission whose composition has never succeeded in winning full cooperation seems unlikely to cure the problems still perceived by those groups. Immediate release of the report is an essential first step.

(c) The need to restore accountability The focus on TF Usig and Melo is insufficient. The enduring and much larger challenge is to restore the various accountability mechanisms that the Philippines Constitution and Congress have put in place over the years, too many of which have been systematically drained of their force in recent years. I will go into detail in my final report, but suffice it to note for present purposes that Executive Order 464, and its replacement, Memorandum Circular 108, undermine significantly the capacity of Congress to hold the executive to account in any meaningful way.

(d) Witness protection The vital flaw which undermines the utility of much of the judicial system is the problem of virtual impunity that prevails. This, in turn, is built upon the rampant problem of witness vulnerability. The present message is that if you want to preserve your life expectancy, don't act as a witness in a criminal prosecution for killing. Witnesses are systematically intimidated and harassed. In a relatively poor society, in which there is heavy dependence on community and very limited real geographical mobility, witnesses are uniquely vulnerable when the forces accused of killings are all too often those, or are linked to those, who are charged with ensuring their security. The WPP is impressive &emdash; on paper. In practice, however, it is deeply flawed and would seem only to be truly effective in a very limited number of cases. The result, as one expert suggested to me, is that 8 out of 10 strong cases, or 80% fail to move from the initial investigation to the actual prosecution stage.

(e) Acceptance of the need to provide legitimate political space for leftist groups At the national level, there has been a definitive abandonment of President Ramos' strategy of reconciliation. This might be termed the Sinn Fein strategy. It involves the creation of an opening &emdash; the party-list system &emdash; for leftist groups to enter the democratic political system, while at the same time acknowledging that some of those groups remain very sympathetic to the armed struggle being waged by illegal groups (the IRA in the Irish case, or the NPA in the Philippines case). The goal is to provide an incentive for such groups to enter mainstream politics and to see that path as their best option.

Neither the party-list system nor the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Act has been reversed by Congress. But, the executive branch, openly and enthusiastically aided by the military, has worked resolutely to circumvent the spirit of these legislative decisions by trying to impede the work of the party-list groups and to put in question their right to operate freely. The idea is not to destroy the NPA but to eliminate organizations that support many of its goals and do not actively disown its means. While non-violent in conception, there are cases in which it has, certainly at the local level, spilled over into decisions to extrajudicially execute those who cannot be reached by legal process.

(f) Re-evaluate problematic aspects of counter-insurgency strategy The increase in extrajudicial executions in recent years is attributable, at least in part, to a shift in counterinsurgency strategy that occurred in some areas, reflecting the considerable regional variation in the strategies employed, especially with respect to the civilian population. In some areas, an appeal to hearts-and-minds is combined with an attempt to vilify left-leaning organizations and to intimidate leaders of such organizations. In some instances, such intimidation escalates into extrajudicial execution. This is a grave and serious problem and one which I intend to examine in detail in my final report.


The Philippines remains an example to all of us in terms of the peaceful ending of martial law by the People's Revolution, and the adoption of a Constitution reflecting a powerful commitment to ensure respect for human rights. The various measures ordered by the President in response to Melo constitute important first steps, but there is a huge amount that remains to be done.

Another journalist shot dead

A gunman wearing a baseball cap shot Hernani Pastolero twice in the back of the head, killing the editor of the weekly Lightning Courier as he sipped coffee in front of his house in Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan, at 6:20 a.m. Monday, police reported. Pstolero, 64, was the first journalist killed this year, the 50th since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became President in 2001 and the 110th since the Philippines regained democracy with the ouster of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. Read more from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

RP human rights situation ‘tragic’ -- UN rapporteur

United Nations special rapporteur Philip Alston described as "tragic" the cases of human rights violations presented to him during his visit to the Philippines. I had a very rough time just listening to the…stories," Alston told families of victims of human rights violations, activists, and indigenous people in the Cordillera on Friday. Read more from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Arroyo orders Melo report released, but media won’t have access to document

The European Union and the United Nations’ special rapporteur may expect to receive on Monday copies of the Melo Commission’s report on the extrajudicial killings, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said yesterday. The disclosure came on the same day that police and the human rights group Karapatan announced the killing of leftist student leader Farley Alcantara II in Camarines Norte on Thursday. Alcantara was shot dead by a lone gunman who managed to get away.

Read more from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Student activist murdered in Camarines Norte

A member and former spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) in Camarines Norte was shot dead by an unidentified gunman Thursday night, just four meters away from the gate of his school. He was the first leftist student leader to be killed in the country this year and the fourth in the Bicol region since 2001, said Vince Kasilihan, staff of Karapatan-Bicol. Read more from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

UN Rep Says Killings Hurting Arroyo’s Credibility Abroad

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples last week warned that the Arroyo government’s inability to stop extra-judicial killings in the Philippines is undermining its international standing. Read more from

Melo panel: 'Palparan liable for political killings'

By virtue of "command responsibility," retired major general Jovito Palparan and other military commanders should be "held responsible" for the extrajudicial killings that took place in their areas of assignment while they were on active duty. Read more from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

BAYAN-EV Spokesperson Survives Assassination Attempt

Reprinted from

The Spokesperson of the regional chapter of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in Eastern Visayas survived an assassination attempt yesterday, Jan. 27.

At around 8:15 p.m., Flor "Pong" Acbo, 54, was shot by unidentified assassins right in front of the BAYAN-EV office in Philippine Homes & Housing Corporation (PHHC) in Tacloban, city capital of Leyte province. The motorcycle-riding assassins, however, missed their target and instead hit a bystander on the leg.

In an interview, Acbo told Bulatlat the incident has failed to douse his conviction. "I condemn the cowardly attempt on my life. This just shows how effective my work in exposing anomalies in government as well the abuses being perpetrated by the military. Instead of being cowed, this would strengthen my conviction to fight for the rights of the oppressed," he said.

The police have yet to complete their investigation.

4 activists killed in Bicol

UNIDENTIFIED men shot and killed two members of the militant party-list group Bayan Muna in Sorsogon province, while two others were found dead in Ligao City in neighboring Albay province on Tuesday. Read more from the Inquirer.

Samar Prof Shot Dead in Front of Students

Prof. Jose Ma. Cui, a history and communication arts professor at the University of Eastern Philippines (UEP), was shot dead by four bonnet clad and motorcycle riding men while conducting mid-term examinations for his class inside the Engineering Bldg. of the UEP in Catbalogan, Northern Samar around 3:35 - 3:45 p.m. today, Jan. 19. He sustained a gunshot wound on the forehead and another on the chest. He died on the spot.

Cui was also former secretary general of the human rights group Katungod-Eastern Visayas, the regional chapter of the human rights alliance Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples’ Rights) and founding member of the partylist group Bayan Muna in Northern Samar.

Read more from

Another Bayan Muna leader shot dead

Rodolfo "Ompong" Alvarado, the Bayan Muna provincial coordinator in Albay [...] was shot dead inside his car on Dec. 31 in Ligao City. [...] Alvarado has the 122nd member of Bayan Muna and the 818th victim of political killings since President Macapagal-Arroyo reseumed office in 2001, according to [the] Bayan Muna national deputy secretary general. [...] Alvarado had seved as the regional coordinator of "Tabang Bicol", a relief effort spearheaded by the part-list group in the aftermath of supertyphoon "Reming". Read more from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.