Philippines: JUVY MAGSINO, Human Rights Lawyer; LEIMA FORTU, Volunteer | Letter

JUVY MAGSINO – Human Rights Lawyer, Chairperson of Mindoro for Justice and Peace, Vice Mayor of Naujan, Mindoro Oriental

LEIMA FORTU – Volunteer at Mindoro for Justice and Peace, Acting Secretary General of the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (KARAPATAN) – Mindoro Oriental

At approximately 11:00 p.m. on February 13, 2004 Mrs. Magsino and Mrs. Fortu were followed by alleged members of the 204th Infantry Brigade of the Philippines Army (IBPA) as the drove to pick up a computer from a friend in Pinagsabangan. Reportedly, two men on a motorcycle without license plates sprayed Mrs. Magsino’s vehicle with bullets, killing Mrs. Magsino and Mrs. Fortu. Mrs. Magsino received three shots to her head, as well as shots to her chest, shoulder and neck, while Mrs. Fortu was wounded in her head, chest, shoulder and knee.

Juvy Magsino was a human rights lawyer, Vice Mayor of Naujan Mindoro, Oriental and was running for the position of Mayor. Leima Fortu was a teacher and acting Secretary General of the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (KARAPATAN) Mindoro Oriental. Both women were involved in the organization, Mindoro for Justice and Peace: Juvy Magsino as Chairperson and Leima Fortu and a volunteer.

Prior to this attack, Mrs. Magsino had reported she had received two death threats informing her she would not live past February 15, 2004. Mrs. Magsino was an outspoken critic of the increased militarization of Mindoro Oriental and had spoken out against Brigadeer General Jovito Palparan Jr., who is alleged to have been involved in the April 2003 extrajudicial executions of KARAPATAN- Southern Tagalog Secretary General Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy.

LRWC is deeply troubled by this horrific act of violence against two defenders of human rights, especially in light of allegations the assailants were members of a government agency. LRWC took immediate action to contact the President of the Philippines upon being informed of this brutal attack, and have asked her to fully investigate this incident and prosecute those involved.


Lt. General Edgardo E. Batenga, Undersecretary for Armed Forces Operations wrote by letter dated March 11, 2004 to say that an investigation ordered by President Arroyo is ongoing. His letter also contains assurances that the Department of National Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines provides human rights education to its troops and promotes adherence to international humanitarian laws.


Letter written February 18, 2004 by Steven M. Kelliher. Gail Davidson is corresponding with the Philippine National Police, the Department of the Interior and Local government of the Philippines and the Philippines Human Rights Commission. No satisfactory information about an investigation has been received as of June 2004.