Department of Environment and Natural Resources condemns killings of forest workers

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

The Philippine Inquirer reports: "Environment Secretary Ramon Paje recently expressed concern over the number of forest workers, whether volunteers or employed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), threatened, harassed and killed in the line of duty... The latest fatality was Rolando Sinday, a forest ranger in Surigao del Sur who was gunned down by masked motorcycle-riding men while on his way home last month." Read the rest of the article.

Fact-finding team suggests Filipino ethnobiologist was shot and killed by the military

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

ABS CBN reports: "It was the military who shot and killed renowned plant taxonomist and ethnobiologist Leonard Co and his 2 companions, an independent fact-finding mission claimed on Wednesday. The mission, which is composed of members of the academe and cause-oriented group, presented its findings after conducting an investigation in the jungles of Kananga, Leyte, where Leonard and his team were slain on November 15. Mission head Giovanni Tapang of the scientists' group Agham said bullet trajectories at the site suggests that the gunshots all came from one direction. Evidence also suggests that Co and his group were the main targets of the gunmen, he added."

Update (2011-04-25): A website campaigning for justice for Leonard Co has been up and running for some time now. Please visit and learn more about what has been happening on this front.

Samahan ng Magbubukid ng Batangas member Rene Rodriguez shot by 2 masked men riding a motorcycle

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

Samahan ng Magbubukid ng Batangas member Rene Rodriguez was shot by 2 masked men riding a motorcycle. Rodriguez was found dead at Brgy. Caybunga, Balayan, Batangas with 3 gunshot wounds on his head and chest. He is a peasant activist who fought for land reform and against land grabbing in Batangas. BAYAN-ST believes the killing is politically motivated and is still part of the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya, now adopted by the Aquino administration. Batangas is one of the provinces in the region with massive deployment of military troops both in rural and urban areas.

Read the rest on the Southern Tagalog Exposure site.

Union president Carlo “Caloy” Rodriguez gunned down in Calamba

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

The Southern Tagalog Exposure site writes: Carlo “Caloy” Rodriguez, president of the Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Manggawa ng Calamba Water District, was gunned down by motorcycle riding men while he was on his way home from work at about 5:30pm today. He suffered 4 gunshot wounds – one to his neck, two to his back and one to his arm. Caloy, 41 years old, worked as a meter reader for the Calamba Water District. He was a long time union leader and a member of the militant public sector oragnization COURAGE (Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees).

Cultural workers harassed by jail officers in Morong 43 visit.

From a forwarded email:

A group of cultural workers and artists set to give arts workshop to political detainees in Camp Bagong Diwa cry foul over the treament they received from jail officers. Last October 2, 2010, eight memebrs of the artist organization ARTISTS' ARREST went to said detention facility to conduct visual arts and poetry writing workshops for political detainees like the Morong 43 as part of the program "Sining Mula Sa Karsel" (Art from Prison).

Upon request of jail officers, the group, accompanied by representatives of human rights group DEFEND-ST (Committee to Defend Victims of Political Persecution in Southern Tagalog), immediately submitted themselves for inspection and presented the letter of request for said activity approved by the NCR regional director of the Bureau of Jail Management of Penology which has authority over Camp Bagong Diwa. They were, however, immediately disappointed when a jail officer who did not identify himself told them the activity can’t push through. Asked for the reason, the jail officer simply told them that the activity was not properly coordinated to them.

Dianne Mariano of DEFEND-ST argued that that they have done all the procedural requirements and that the jail officer's reason was unacceptable. “They can’t just tell us that they don’t know abut this activity and send us home because we have diligently fulfilled all requirements and we have official permission,” Mariano said in Filipino. At this point, the jail officers had also started taking pictures of individual members of the group and interrogated them. The jail officers repeatedly asked them about their personal circumstances. The jail officer also took their IDs and had it scanned.

After 5 hours of negotiation, the group was finally let to proceed. However, only the visual arts workshop was allowed to be conducted within a period of one hour and not 5 hours as originally approved in the request. Furthermore, only male members of the Morong 43 were allowed to join the workshop. During the session, a person who identified himself as Jorge Joseph continuously took pictures of the group.

For the poetry workshop, the jail officers instructed the group to simply give the materials to female members of Morong 43. But upon inspection of the materials, the deputy warden ordered its confiscation, saying the handouts are “subversive.” The deputy warden in particular identified a poem by University of the Philippine professor and literary artist Gelacio Guillermo entitled Kokak. Written in Kapampangan, the poem contains the names of a progressive party list representative and that of Gloria Arroyo.

The group later found out that the jail officer who harassed them was Deputy Jail Warden Mutya.

The group will return to Camp Bagong Diwa on October 7,2010 to conduct the workshop with the female members of Morong 43. Teta Tulay of ARTISTS' ARREST expressed her concern over the possible indication and ramification of this incident. “If they can harass innocent civilians when they visit, I can only imagine how much more harassment they can inflict on the detainees,” Tulay said.

According to Tulay, Sining mula sa Karsel aims to provide alternative venues of expression to people like members of the Morong 43 whose basic civil liberties had been hijacked by the state. They said that through activities like this, the detainees are able to assert and partially reclaim their civil and political rights.

Casiano Abing, a Bayan Muna member, killed in Eastern Samar

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

"An unidentified gunman shot dead an activist and court sheriff in Balangiga town in Eastern Samar province, in what seems to be another extra-judicial killing under the Aquino administration," writes GMA News.

Open letter to Benigno Aquino III by Chandu Claver

Elementary school teacher and ACT Teachers member Mark Francisco killed

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

"Mark Francisco, 27, who teaches at the San Isidro Elementary School in Palanas, Masbate, was on his way home last Friday with four companions aboard motorcycles when they were fired upon in Sitio (sub-village) Umawas, Barangay (village) Malibas by two armed men wearing ski masks and camouflage uniforms," reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Head of farmers' collective, Pascual Guevarra, murdered in Nueva Ecija

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

"A lone gunman shot dead on Friday a leader of a farmers’ group allied with the local Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (Arba) and Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa 3100 (Almana 3100)," reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Bayan Muna provincial coordinator Fernando Baldomero killed

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

"Two unidentified gunmen shot dead the provincial coordinator in Aklan of the party-list group Bayan Muna in front of his house in the capital town of Kalibo in Aklan early Monday," reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Baldomero is the first documented case of a political killing since the election of Noynoy Aquino. Related links:

Ampatuan massacre witness Suweb Upam killed

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

"Suweb Upam, who had earlier claimed to be one of the actual “shooters” during the mass murder in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, had been killed in the province on June 14, after he had left the law firm’s custody," reports Dateline.

Human rights lawyer Ernesto Salunat gunned down

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

"A human rights lawyer and campaign manager of the Liberal Party in Nueva Vizcaya province was shot dead by two men in front of a court house, a few steps from the police station, in Solano town on Tuesday morning," reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Newspaper reporter Nestor Dedolido is third journalist killed this week

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

"Gunmen shot and killed a 50-year-old newspaper reporter in the southern Philippines at the weekend, the third journalist slain in a week," reports the AFP via Yahoo! News. The story has also been picked up by MSN News.

UAA: Human rights activist Benjamin Bayles assasinated

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

Benjamin Bayles was a member of the human rights organizations Karapatan and September 21 Movement, as well as of the Bayan Muna party-list. He was shot on June 14, 2010, by hooded gunmen believed to be members of the Philippine army. Dateline Philippines reported on it. Bayles' killing follows closely after the deaths of two journalists less than 48 hours before his.

URGENT ACTION ALERT: What can you do?

Ilocos Norte radio commentator Joselito Agustin murdered

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

"Barely 24 hours after a radio commentator was shot dead in Mindanao, another radioman died after being shot in Ilocos Norte Tuesday night," reports GMA News. The Committee to Protect Journalists has also written about this killing.

Radio journalist Desidario Camangyan shot

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

Radio journalist Desidario Camangyan was shot on June 14, 2010. Read the coverage by the UK Telegraph and MSN news on his murder, which also point out that 32 journalists were killed in 2009, and 75 since 2001.

The DUKOT Campaign

DUKOT (Desaparecidos), a film about the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines,  was taken on a Canada-wide film tour. It was shown in Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver. Here are some related Web resources about the film:

UAA: Soldiers torture a man held incommunicado for six days

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

On February 26, 2010, Abdulbayan Guiamblang was passing from his farm through the detachment of the 38th Infantry Battalion, Philippine army in Barangay (village) Solon, Sultan Mastura, province of Maguindanao. He usually passes through this detachment to tend his farm that is adjacent to the village where he lives. But on this occasion a soldier guarding the detachment had stopped him. Without explaining to him why he was being held, the soldier took him to a nearby community center (Purok house) in the village. Soon after they arrived, soldiers cuffed his hands behind his back. They wrapped his legs around with adhesive tape and blindfolded him, using the same tape. Later he felt himself being loaded into a truck. He realized that it was a military 6x6 truck that drove him for about 20 minutes to an unknown place. Here, he was interrogated and severely tortured. Read the rest of the story and sign the urgent action petition on the Asian Human Rights Commission website.

URGENT ACTION ALERT: What can you do?

UAA: Three mining activists in Zambales forcibly disappeared

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

On 9 March 2010 at 9pm five unknown persons armed with pistols reportedly entered the house of the Landingin family in Sitio Matalvis, Barangay (village) Inhobol, Masinloc, while the entire community was in darkness due to an electricity blackout. The perpetrators forcibly took the victims, Ronron Landingin, Jinky Garcia and Daryl Fortuna, to a waiting car. Read the rest of the account Asian Human Rights Commission site.

URGENT ACTION ALERT: What can you do?

Filipino Dies in US Army Camp in Marawi: Officials Rule Suicide; Kin Insist Murder

On Jan. 30, Gregan Cardeño went home happy that he had finally found a job. He had just signed a contract with a security agency that posted him as an interpreter for the American troops in Cotabato City. A few days later, he ended up in Marawi where, inside a US barracks, he supposedly hanged himself. His family, however, is convinced that he had been murdered, probably even abused. Read the rest on

UAA: Union leader slain in Sta. Rosa

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

A union leader was gunned down in Sta. Rosa City on Wednesday, raising the number of slain labor activists in the Calabarzon region to nine under the term of outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Eduard Panganiban, 27, was catching a ride to work when motorcycle-riding gunmen shot him in Barangay Caingin at past 5 p.m., according to Hermie Marasigan, chair of the labor group Pagkakaisa ng Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik). Read the rest of the story on
Other links:

URGENT ACTION ALERT: What can you do?

Bayan Muna Member Killed in Panabo

View Death by Democracy in a larger map

Over a week after the May 10 polls, another activist was killed by still unidentified gunmen in Panabo City. Jim Galez, a member of the regional secretariat of party-list group Bayan Muna, was driving his motorcycle on the road to Barangay Little Panay in Panabo City on Wednesday, May 19, when fired upon by still unidentified gunmen. Read the rest of the story on

KABATAAN Partylist 3rd nominee harassed in Catbalogan, Samar, Philippines

On April 16, 2010, Atty. Katrina Castillo’s mother received an envelope addressed to her daughter with a note that says, “To: Atty. Katrina “Kat-kat” Castillo, second nominee (sic) Kabataan Partylist” from a certain Ronaldo I. Picardal of Brgy. Tizon, Tarangnan, Samar.
The envelope contained a black ribbon and a printed note that says:

It seems that you are not truthful and serious in serving the public. We found out that you continue your alliance with the enemies of democracy, progress and peace - the CPP-NPA-NDF and its partylists. Your alliance with them is an admission that you are one of them who adhere to the nonsense communism. WITH THIS LETTER IS A BLACK RIBBON THAT WILL REMIND YOU THAT YOUR LIFE, AS WELL AS YOUR FAMILY, IS ONLY A PRIVILEGE. IF DEATH BECOMES YOU, MAY YOU REST IN PEACE. For the Filipino people, country, and democracy.
It can be remembered that the harassment of Atty. Castillo began when she became a lawyer in 2007 and served as the concurrent secretary general and legal counsel of KATUNGOD Sinirangang Bisayas. She was informed by her clients (political detainees who are mostly farmers illegally arrested and detained for allegedly being part of the underground movement) that military intelligence agents visited them in prison to solicit information about her. These intelligence agents also tried to intimidate her by making their presence felt during hearings of Atty. Castillo’s cases. Read the rest of the urgent action alert from the Karapatan website.

UAA: 43 health workers illegally arrested in military raid in Rizal province, Philippines

43 health workers that provide primary health care in the poorest areas of the Philippines were illegally arrested, detained, and tortured. For more information about this incident, see my links on, including news items from the Philippine Daily Inquirer (1), ABS-CBN (2, 3, and 4), the New York Times (5), and Bulatlat (6 and 7). Their case has caught international attention.

URGENT ACTION ALERT: What can you do?

UNESCO, AIJC condemn Maguindanao killings

This is a repost from the contents of the website of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication:

The UNESCO National Commission-Communication Committee and Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication expressed outrage over the brutal killing of journalists and civilians in Maguindanao in southern Philippines last November 23.

In condemning the horrific murders, UNESCO and AIJC called for speedy justice for the victims and for the resolute enforcement of the rule of law and protection of human rights.

The massacre brings to the fore the significance of the ongoing multidisciplinary study on the “Culture of Impunity in the Killing of Filipino Journalists” being conducted by AIJC with UNESCO support.

UNESCO NatCom and AIJC called on all sectors to be vigilant in safeguarding our democratic system by making those in power accountable for violations against universal freedoms and assaults on persons.

Citing the UN definition of impunity as “the impossibility of bringing the perpetrators of violations to account,” Dr. Florangel Rosario-Braid, NatCom communication committee chair and AIJC president emeritus, said that government should be able to protect its citizens and journalists in particular against becoming targets of impunity.

BBC: "Philippines: World's most deadly place for reporters"

The world's most dangerous place for journalists is not Afghanistan, Iraq, or Somalia. It's the Philippines. Alastair Leithead reports for the BBC world service. (If you can't see the media player below, click here.)