Re: Marissa Dumanjug-Palo
To: President H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
From: Luningning Alcuitas-Imperial, member of LRWC
As an organization of lawyers in Canada defending human rights, we strongly protest the May 31, 2006 incident of threat, harassment and intimidation of Ms. Marissa Dumanjug-Palo. She reports that four unidentified men on two motorcycles followed her as she rode in a taxi on that day. This is an alarming incident, given that it follows the pattern identified by Amnesty International in its 2006 report as employed in the increased political killings under your regime.
As head of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)-Nominated Section of the Joint Secretariat of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC), Ms. Dumanjug-Palo’s must be protected by your government from harassment, threats and intimidation by any state agents. The JMC was itself set up under 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 include the protection of those who document and investigate human rights abuses. Ms. Dumanjug-Palo is one of those individuals whom you have an absolute obligation to protect as a human rights defender.
Under Article 6 of the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Ms. Dumanjug-Palo is entitled to a right to life and she cannot be arbitrarily deprived of her life. 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 Ms. Dumanjug-Palo:
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 Ms. Marissa Dumanjug-Palo.
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.