Re: Increasing cases of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings
To: His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III
From: Mable Elmore; Dr. Nora Angeles; Leo Alejandria; Joe Barrett; Fr. Conrado Beloso; Jay Catalan; Gail Davidson; Susan Draper; Jim Edmondson; David B. Fairey; Rev. Expedito Farinas; Paul Faoro; Sharon MacGougan; Janette McIntosh; Santi Pelaez II; et al.
We, the undersigned, are extremely alarmed about the increasing cases of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings that continue unabated under your administration. To date, 54 cases of extrajudicial killings have happened since you became President in June 2010.
In your campaign, you capitalized on commitments to promote and protect human rights, and emphasized the importance of ending extrajudicial killings. But the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, abductions, and other human rights violations directed against those who are critical of the government walk freely and with impunity under your watch. The latest of these victims is Fr. Fausto Tentorio, an Italian Catholic missionary priest of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Mission (PIME), who was brutally killed on October 17, 2011 in North Cotabato, Mindanao. He had dedicated his life to upholding the rights of the indigenous people and to fighting big foreign and corporate mining in their lands.
It has been two years since the infamous Ampatuan Massacre in Maguindanao, Southern Philippines where 58 people were summarily killed, 32 of them journalists and 2 women lawyers. No one has been punished and the warlords continue to hold power in the area.
We strongly urge you, Mr. President, to investigate arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of and accessories to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and other human rights violations. These should include the high government officials, military and police officers who provided policy direction and political justification praised and promoted the notorious military and police officers implicated, provided systematic cover-up and gave all-out support to the government’s counterinsurgency operations. We also urge you to continue the prosecution of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her cohorts, not only for the crime of electoral sabotage, but also for other heinous crimes she committed against the Filipino people in planning and implementing Operation Plan Bantay Laya, which effectively gave a carte blanche to the more than one thousand extrajudicial killings under her administration. While the wheels of justice have started to turn, the government should now look into its continuous proceedings so the people get the justice they deserve.
We further urge you to:
1) Stop Operation Plan Bayanihan, which has declared all-out war against the people. Disband all militia forces like the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) and other paramilitary formations used to protect the interests of despotic landlords and transnational and other mining corporations that plunder our forests and destroy the environment.
2) Stop the military’s vilification campaign against unarmed and legal activists and progressive organizations, specifically linking them to the New People’s Army, making them vulnerable to intimidation, harassment and violence.
3) Take disciplinary action against military commanders whose scope of responsibility include areas where extrajudicial killings take place and against police superintendents who make no headway in investigating these killings and other gross human rights violations.
4) Stop the widespread practice of arresting, detaining and convicting leaders and members of legal progressive organizations for alleged criminal offenses based on fabricated charges and evidence. Release all political prisoners detained on false charges.
Mable Elmore, Member of the Legislative Assembly Kensington-Vancouver, British Columbia; Dr. Nora Angeles, Professor School of Community and Regional Planning; Leo Alejandria, Co-Chair Migrante BC-Temporary Foreign Workers Program Committee; Joe Barrett, Researcher BCYT-BCTC; BC and Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council; Fr. Conrado Beloso, Diocese of Nelson BC St. Edward-Winfield and Holy Spirit-Kelowna; Jay Catalan, Co-Founder/Manager the Network HUB; Gail Davidson, Executive Director Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC); Susan Draper, Regional Coordinator KAIROS’ BC-Yukon; Jim Edmondson, former President NDP-Kensington-Vancouver Constituency; David B. Fairey, Researcher Trade Union Research Bureau; Rev. Expedito Farinas, Minister St. Michael’s Anglican Church; Paul Faoro, President Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 15; Sharon MacGougan, Member –at-large Amnesty International-Richmond Chapter; Janette McIntosh, Coordinator KAIROS’ Metro Vancouver; Santi Pelaez II, Co-Chair Vancouver-Pride; Irwin Oostindie, Executive Director W2 Media and Arts Centre; Dr. Valerie Raoul, Professor Emeritus Women’s and Gender Studies Program; Martha Roberts, Founding Member Alliance for Peoples Health; Paco Tejero, Founding Member Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights; Glennys Verhaulst, Founding Member Victoria-Philippines Solidarity Group