Re: Juvy M. Magsino, lawyer; Leima Fortu, teacher
To: Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., Phillipine National Police
From: Gail Davidson, Executive director of LRWC
LRWC is concerned by the February 13th 2004 murders of Juvy M. Magsino and Leima Fortu 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 her murder, 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.
We have written previously to H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic and to Lt General Edgardo E. Barenga, Undersecretary for Armed Forces Operations.
Lt General Edgardo E. Barenga has indicated that you can provide us with details requested below.
Please provide LRWC with details of the investigations of these matters that are underway.
We note that the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders reports, as facts critical to the murder investigation, that Juvy Magsino had:
- reported receiving received death threats in February 2004 and
- criticized Col. Jovito Palparan, who is reported to be suspected of involvement in the murders of human rights defenders Eddie Gumanoy and Eden Marcellana. Marcellana and Gumanoy were murdered after they had accused the Colonel of human rights violations.
We are therefore requesting particulars of the investigations of the death threats and the possible involvement of Col. Jovita Palparan.
The Republic of the Philippines, as a member of the United Nations (since October 24, 1945) and as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights–ICCPR (ratified October 23, 1986) is legally bound to protect the lives and advocacy rights of human rights defenders and to ensure prompt and effective remedies for violations against them.
Courts around the world, including the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights have established that the ICCPR obliges states to respond to such murders by conducting effective investigations that lead to the identification of those responsible.
LRWC therefore trusts that the Republic of the Philippines will further its legal duty to proper and exhaustively investigate these two murders and the death threats previously made against Juvy Magsino and bring the perpetrators to justice.
We look forward to receiving details of the investigations from your office. A copy of this letter is being sent to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.