Re: Concepion Jayme-Brizuela, Beverly Musni and Romeo T. Capulong
To: H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic of teh Philippines
From: Luningning Alcuitas-Imperial, LRWC Philippine monitor
As an organization of lawyers in Canada defending human rights, we strongly protest the following three recent incidents of threat, harassment and intimidation of three Filipino lawyers:
1. On or about June 23, 2006, ATTY. CONCEPION JAYME-BRIZUELA of Kidapawan, North Cotabato, Mindanao received SMS messages saying she will be the next to be killed after a couple was recently murdered in cold blood in the same area. Atty. Jayme-Brizuela is a member of the Executive Committee and Treasurer of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM).
2. On June, 27, 2006, ATTY. BEVERLY MUSNI and her daughter of Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao were followed by men on board a motorcycle. Atty. Musni is a labor arbitrator of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). She has also been arbitrarily and unjustly labeled in the Philippine military’s “Order of Battle.” She is also head of the Secretariat of UPLM.
3. On June 25, 2006, Judge Romeo T. Capulong and his wife were subjected to a specific harassment and assassination attempt in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija. Judge Capulong was fortunately able to escape this attempt, but he believes that it is related to his role as counsel for the farm workers, employees and victims of the November 2004 massacre and killings in Hacienda Luisita, Inc., Tarlac.
These are alarming incidents, given that they follow the pattern identified by Amnesty International in its 2006 report as employed in the increased political killings, which now number 686, under your regime. We are also deeply concerned that 11 lawyers and 4 judges have been killed since 2004.
We remind you that your government is a signatory to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL). The CAHRIHL was a landmark agreement binding your government to respect and enforce international human rights standards, which includes the protection of those who document and investigate human rights abuses. The above three lawyers are individuals whom you have an absolute obligation to protect as human rights defenders.
Under Article 6 of the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Atty. Jayme-Brizuela, Atty. Musni and Judge Capulong and their family members are entitled to a right to life and they cannot be arbitrarily deprived of their lives. The Philippines signed the ICCPR in 1966 and ratified it in 1987. The Philippines has also signed the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR meaning that your government’s actions may be the subject of a complaint and investigation by the Human Rights Committee set up under the ICCPR.
We urge you to immediately take the following steps to redress the situation of Atty. Jayme-Brizuela, Atty. Musni and Judge Capulong and their family members:
1. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, churches, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the harassment of Atty. Jayme-Brizuela, Atty. Musni and Judge Capulong and their family members.
2. The arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of the crime/s of threat/harassment/intimidation.
3. The immediate and proper indemnification of the victims.