AN UPDATED URGENT APPEAL
October 19, 2006
This May Concern:
On November 21, 2006, we
will be remembering the first year anniversary of what is now
popularly called as the "Palo Massacre" wherein peasants through a
"tiklos" (collective farming) reclaimed a land (balik-uma)
taken from them by a local landlord, were fired upon by elements of
the 19th Infantry Battalion based in Kananga, Leyte under the command
of then Major Lope Dagoy. (He was promoted to a rank higher thereafter
for the mass killing).
Nine (9) lives were lost
including the infant borne by Alma Bartoline who was then 7 months old
pregnant when the fateful incident happened. Many were also wounded
while a total of nine (9) individuals were arrested and put behind
There was a widespread
public outrage over the incident, not only from the local community
but also from the national and international front. Many responded by
sending solidarity statements as well as material and financial
support to the victims.
For that, we express our
gratitude and appreciation for the valuable help. The money received
was used for the hospitalization expenses of the wounded, burial
expenses of the deceased, paralegal expenses of the detained and other
related expenditures. Such did not only make our work notch easier to
support the victims but it also boosted the morale of the unjustly
detained, the bereaved families who lost their loved ones and the
whole peasant community who was shocked and terrorized by the
military's unwarranted and undemocratic action.
Allow us to give you some
updates on the Palo case.
a. Criminalization to
Justify the En Masse Deaths and Consequent Military Abuses.
Criminal charges were
filed against the peasants who survived the massacre. They are now
facing cases in two (2) different courts, a case of "illegal
possession of low-powered firearms" is lodged at the Municipal Trial
Court (MTC) in Palo, Leyte while another case of "illegal possession
of high-powered firearms" together with "illegal assembly" are
docketed at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Tacloban City.
At the MTC, the
prosecution panel has just wrapped up the presentation of their
witnesses and evidences and it is now the turn of our defense
lawyers to present witnesses and evidences to prove the innocence of
We are very glad that the
Legal Aid Program of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
Leyte Chapter braved to handle the defense and has even pledged to
initiate the filing of counter-charges against the military men
involved. Pro bono lawyers of the IBP are representing the poor
farmers in court despite the threats they receive from military
b. Case Dismissal.
Last October 3, 2006, the
presiding judge of the RTC dismissed the case of "illegal possession
of high-powered firearms" filed against the accused. The IBP lawyers
filed a parallel motion at the MTC also to dismiss the case of
"illegal possession of low-powered firearms" citing the same
grounds. Moreover, the accused alleged that the said firearms were
just "planted" by the government troopers on the incident site as
they did not possess or own them. The hearing for the motion is set
on the 23rd and/or on the 27th of October 2006.
c. Temporary Liberty and
Death in Detention.
With regards the charged
peasants, two (2) were already released on bail. Despite the high
amount of bail bond, they have been prioritized to have temporary
liberty because of the death threats they received inside the
detention center, at Kauswagan Provincial Jail.
Meanwhile Joselito Tobe, a
member of Concerned Citizens for Justice and Peace and BAYAN MUNA
Party-list died in detention. The Kauswagan Provincial Jail
authorities alleged that he suffered a stroke. But the aggrieved
parties are taking it with a grain of salt considering that the two
(2) weeks prior to his death; he informed us that he and co-detainee
Arniel Dizon were receiving death threats. Tobe's colleagues are
crying justice for a possibility of a foul play.
d. Inefficacy of the
Government's Land Reform Program.
This was the real issue
that led the farmers to organize themselves and claim the land that
rightfully belonged to them. Indeed, it was a struggle of members of
the San Agustin Farmers Beneficiaries Cooperative (SAFaBenCo) who
were given with Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) by the
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). To assert their proof of
ownership, they were supported by like-minded people and peasant
organizations from other municipalities.
Few days after the
massacre, an official from the DAR National Office went to the area
to make their investigation. Then on December 23, 2005, SAFaBenCo
received a letter from DAR saying that the land is actually theirs
confirming their CLOAs. The DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB) issued a
decision on December 6, 2005 affirming their previous decision of
the DAR Adjudicator which states, "that the plaintiffs-appellees
(members of SAFaBenCo) being prior possessor and cultivator of the
lands should be immediately reinstated and be maintained in peaceful
possession and cultivation having been identified already as
farmer-beneficiaries of the land in question".
Now, we are working out
the issuing of "writ of execution" for the decision to be made final
and land finally turned over to the rightful owners.
In this context, the fight
for justice is not over yet.
We had strongly faced some
unfortunate events with the untimely demise of Mr. Joselito Tobe and
the exorbitant bail money needed. But there were also some battles
won. To top it all, the victims' resolve to attain justice has not
wavered. One such move is the filing of counter-charges against the
real culprits – the ones who actually used the guns and the same
people who peppered them with bullets and grenades - bonnet-clad
elements of the 19th Infantry Battalion headed by Lt. Col. Lope Dagoy
and 1Lt. Luel Adrian Benedicto.
Again, we are knocking at
your generous hearts for help. We need your help in the realization of
our filing of the counter-charges against the military men responsible
for the unlawful and undemocratic attack. Lawyers from the IBP
informed to prepare money that will be used in the filing (expenses
for the necessary filing fees; mobility of witnesses to and from the
courts, lawyers and paralegals; procurement of papers; and
documentation expenses) and sustaining the case. It is in that regard
we are asking for assistance again.
We do hope that with your continued support, we will finally give
justice for the victims of the Palo Massacre.
In case you need additional information on the case and other data
with regards the Palo case, feel free to contact us.
For your perusal, we are
also attaching our original Urgent Appeal we released last November 2005.
Thank you and God Bless!
For the Tabang Palo
JOHANN HEIN B. ARPON
+ + + + + +
+ + + + +
Palo is an endeavor of the different sectoral organizations,
non-government organizations and people's organization under
KATUNGOD-SB-KARAPATAN who are now looking
after the victims of this incident to ask the involvement of the
general public to extend help to the victims.
For your donations, you may contact us at the address and telephone
The Tabang Palo
P.O. Box 204, Tacloban Central Post Office, Tacloban City, 6500 Leyte
Mobile Phone: 09218134588(Johann)
Tel. # (053) 321-7690
Has Life Become Too Serious?
By SARAH LAKE
October 14, 2006
Is it only me, or does it
seem as though things have just become far more serious and
complicated than they used to be?
The world is moving at a
very fast pace and it can almost seem as though life is running you,
rather than you running life.
Time goes by so quickly, and
the days and weeks can appear to blend one into the next and before
you know it another year has gone by and you’ve only just kept up! But
is there something you can do to change this state of affairs?
After all, how can it be
that with all the technology and advancements that are supposed to
'save us time' and make life easier and less stressful, many of us
never seem to have the 'time' to stop and go after our goals and
dreams, or even to spend much quality time with our friends and loved
Think about this for a
moment – it makes no sense! We live in a world were virtually
everything we had to do manually in the past can now be done by a
machine; you would think this would then free us up to spend our time
doing the things we like to do and having fun – but does it?
Generally we seem to work
harder and longer hours to stay abreast with the financial demands of
surviving in the modern world. Because of this the ‘living of life’
can sometimes take a back seat in order to make room for time spent
‘earning a living’ – take a good look around you; it seems to me
that we are all too busy working to be doing any ‘living’!
When and how did it get so
Hold on to Your Dreams
What, after all, is the
point to it all? If our days are filled with work and stress and
worry, how much room is there for loving, and giving; for laughter and
tears, and enjoying the company of others; the exchanging of ideas,
and discovery of new things; of achievements and disappointments,
successes and failures; the fun and excitement and anticipation of
reaching for the sky, and dreaming your dreams and making them become
Where has all that
‘feeling’ and enjoyment of life gone?
Some people have argued that
as one grows older life must inevitably become more serious, and
“one must be more careful” and “not take the risks that one may
have taken in one’s youth” – that this is “how life is” and
how it must be – basically that ‘life changes you’. But is that
really the case?
Contrary to some trains of
thought having fun does not need to mean ‘being irresponsible’, and to
be ‘responsible’ it does not necessarily require that you become
Do people really change in
that way as they grow older, or is it circumstances in life that seem
to require a different response and they just stop dreaming their
dreams, which then get lost along the way?
Could it be that you still
have all those same burning desires, still want them and consider them
to be valuable, but that you have ‘pushed them down’ or adapted them
to ‘fit in’ with the world around you?
There’s an easy way to find
the answer to that question.
First of all you need to
remind yourself of those things that you have dreamt of achieving in
your life. The things that you felt were important, that you wanted to
do or experience or change in the world.
You may have wanted to be a
teacher, a builder, a doctor, an explorer, an engineer, or the best
parent to your children that you could be. You may have wanted to be a
painter, a pianist, a ballet dancer, a lion tamer, an actor, a
policeman, or a train driver.
You may have dreamed of
going on safari, driving across America, going around the world in
eighty days, or sailing the seven seas while taking in the seven
wonders of the world. Or you wanted to go to the moon, fancied a trip
in a time machine, or aboard the Star Ship Enterprise.
Maybe you wanted to win an
Oscar, or a Nobel prize, develop an important cure, become a
missionary, discover a species of animal hitherto unknown, break the
land speed record, or find a secret island and search for buried
Perhaps you wanted to have a
house with a white picket fence, a Ferrari, a massive diamond ring, a
yacht, a pet tiger, your own football team, or a magic wand that you
could use to make wishes come true, and make everything in the world
Whatever your desires the
options are as varied as they are limitless – this world is your
oyster - so go on, have some fun and see for yourself how much
you can dream!
Take a moment to write down
those things that come to mind. Don’t worry if they seem unrealistic
or appear impossible or vague or don’t fit in with your lifestyle now;
just write down your thoughts in as much detail as you can, and add
why you’d like to be or do or have the things on your list.
Now, to find out the answer
to the earlier question, ask yourself this:
still like to achieve these things that I listed down, if I were free
to do so?”
If the answer is “Yes”
then you have answered the question – and proven the critics wrong!
You are still the
same person who felt those things; you do still want to live life to
the full - it’s not your dreams that have changed, it’s the way you
react to the world around you that is different, and because of this
your dreams have been clouded or forced into the background – but they
are still there!
The business of ‘living’
seems to have become exactly that – a business – it’s become hard
work, and the day to day of it all can sometimes make us settle for
less than we originally hoped for.
But just think of the times
that you have achieved a goal, something that you set out to do, when
you overcame all obstacles and made it happen; remember how good it
made you feel?
Well, that achievement
started with a desire, a dream, and a stated goal that you decided you
would like, and you set out to achieve it. Nobody gave it to you - it
was your power of thought and determination that got you there. Sure,
you may have had some help along the way, but it all started out with
you deciding to do it and then going for it.
It’s never too late to get
back into the habit of reaching for your goals - you don’t need money,
or power or position or circumstance to be able to have dreams and
aspirations, it only takes imagination – and just remember this;
before you can turn your dreams into reality you must know what they
are; to picture them in your mind and keep fresh!
Hold on to your dreams
– they are yours to create as you will; don’t let them get forgotten –
keep them alive – you never know where they might lead!
Justice for Bishop Ramento
A Statement by the Hong Kong
Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the
October 6, 2006
"The country's extrajudicial killings are not a secret. What do the
police have to fear?"
Bishop Alberto Ramento, a
leader of his church, a key figure of the ecumenical movement in the
Philippines, an advocate for the poor, a worker for justice, a
promoter of peace such a man was suddenly awakened at about 4:00 a.m.
in his room in the convent in Tarlac City and brutally stabbed to
death on October 3. Why was a bishop of the Iglesia Filipina
Independiente (IFI), or Philippine Independent Church a man of God and
the people killed so violently?
The initial explanation of
the police is robbery and homicide. Why though would robbers go to the
second floor of a convent to rob a bishop who had lived simply all his
life and who had been a champion of the poor? What valuables would
such a man possess? To steal goods from a 69-year-old man in his
sleep, why would he have to be stabbed seven times?
The explanation of the
churches and human rights groups in the Philippines and around the
world is that Bishop Ramento's violent death rather fits the pattern
of hundreds of others in the Philippines over the past few years,
i.e., another extrajudicial killing. The common denominator of the
death of these priests and church workers, journalists, lawyers,
peasants, workers and students is that they have upheld the rights of
the poor, the majority of the population in the Philippines, and
consequently, they have been critics of the policies of the Philippine
government and the actions of the country's vested economic interests.
Like many of the other victims, Bishop Ramento had also received death
threats prior to being killed.
Why then did the police not
reach the same conclusion as well? The country's extrajudicial
killings are not a secret. What do the police have to fear? Who are
they trying to protect? Are the police not implicating themselves or
the military in Bishop Ramento's death by claiming it was a robbery
Thus, the Hong Kong Campaign
for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (HKCAHRPP),
a local coalition of concerned human rights, migrant and student
organizations and individuals, joins others in the Philippines and
throughout the world in condemning the violent death of Bishop Ramento
and calls for an immediate and independent investigation into his
killing. This case is an opportunity for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
to honor her pledge in September to invite a delegation from Europe to
monitor the Philippine government's response to the country's
extrajudicial killings. The European monitors should play a proactive
role in the process to ensure that a proper and impartial
investigation is conducted.
Bishop Ramento was a church
leader who sought to give witness to his faith by seeking justice for
the poor. Like the Christ he followed, he was crucified by the
powerful forces of his time for his words and deeds. President Arroyo
though cannot wash her hands and deny her responsibility for ensuring
that his case ends with justice. Bishop Ramento's death is an
opportunity for President Arroyo to prove to all Filipinos and the
international community that she truly wants to solve the scourge of
extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
The Killings Must Stop
Statement of European Church
and Civil Society Organisations
October 6, 2006
"We also condemn the violence and killings of the armed opposition
We are concerned about the
upsurge of politically motivated killings and the constant
deterioration of the human rights situation in the Philippines in
recent years. Amnesty International informs that at least 51 political
killings took place in the first half of 2006, compared to the 66
killings recorded in the whole of 2005. Since March 2006 we received
an increasing number of reports on political killings – at times on a
daily basis. We are particularly worried about the killings
representing a pattern to target a broad range of critical and
non-violent people involved in local or national politics.
We recognise the
government’s initiative to increase efforts towards investigations
into a number of assassinations. We stress the need to sustain these
efforts, to investigate all political killings and to prosecute the
perpetrators and their accomplices and to give justice to the victims
and their families in order to prevent further escalation and
grievance. We support civil society initiatives and efforts to press
for investigations of political killings and human rights abuses. We
also condemn the violence and killings of the armed opposition groups.
Their doings should however not be used as a justification for human
rights violations and killings committed by paramilitary forces and
the government. The use of paramilitary forces in the Philippine
government’s all-out war against the New People’s Army (NPA) and other
armed left groups as well as the spread of armed paramilitaries is
particularly worrying. The decision of the Communist Party of the
Philippines’ (CPP) leadership to set up armed partisan forces
counterattacking operatives and masterminds of the killings does also
cause great concern. We believe that these developments will lead to
further deterioration of the human rights situation, severely
threatening those engaged in non-violent, critical and investigative
forms of civil and political activism.
We call on all government
departments concerned, especially the Department of Justice (DoJ) and
the Philippine National Police (PNP), to investigate all killings with
a political background, prosecute the perpetrators and their
accomplices and to deliver justice to the victims and their families.
We call for the implementation of Republic Act 6981, providing witness
protection, security and protection for activists facing
We call for an independent
investigation into the Department of Defense and the Armed Forces of
the Philippines to investigate allegations concerning the use of
political assassination as a counter-insurgency strategy.
We call on both the
government and the CPP to continue serious peace negotiations and to
respect human rights.
We call on the armed
opposition groups to refrain from the use of political killings.
We call our own governments
and the United Nations (UN) to pay attention to these alarming
developments and to urge the Philippine government to end the killings
and guarantee justice for all victims.
A government serious
to put an end to graft and corruption
By RODRIGO S. VICTORIA
September 26, 2006
"...graft and corruption is associated in the context of Philippine
setting as a fact of life or to some who harbor ill feelings in their
native land considered the same as a way of life."
No matter what people
critical to the Arroyo administration might say on the campaign of the
government to stamp out graft and corruption and whatever criticisms
from both domestic insights and foreign views there may be, we can
clearly see that the government is laying down all its cards on the
table in order for the Filipino people and the rest of the world to
look at a country painstakingly fighting an age-old social ill that
took place not only in our country but also plaguing and worse in
other countries of the world.
It cannot be denied
and seems abhorrent to admit as what most people think in society that
graft and corruption is associated in the context of Philippine
setting as a fact of life or to some who harbor ill feelings in their
native land considered the same as a way of life.
negative attitude and foreign observers’ bad outlook on the earnest,
honest and best efforts exerted by the government to carve down,
stamp-out and eliminate graft and corruption in the country, have made
the Arroyo administration stronger and determined in its lonely but
steady fight against it.
steadily implementing anti-corruption measures like putting
anti-corruption programs in every department and agency, intensified
lifestyle checks, less signatures to get papers moving and cut red
tape and a strong team up among the Ombudsman, the Commission on Audit
and the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission and surely supervising all
these things to achieve and attain a graft and corrupt-free
Big fishes and not
small ones are now investigated, some suspended and dismissed from
government service and a considerable number of people occupying big
positions in the government are now under tight watch and surveillance
because of their unexplained and hidden wealth, are but just a few of
the relentless campaign and drive of the government to weed out
undesirables licking and prostituting the financial coffer of the
It is but true that
stamping-out graft and corruption is a gargantuan task to do that even
the harshest critic of the administration openly admits it to be and
these critics might also share the same belief that eliminating graft
and corruption could not happen overnight.
Although we entrusted
the long and arduous fight of graft and corruption to the government
yet we have to inculcate in our sound mind that we should not leave it
alone to the government rather the best thing we can do is to rally
behind the efforts of the government to track down, be vigilant and be
responsible enough as a watchful citizen in scrutinizing and even to
the extent of having an eye in every inch of government transactions
so that graft and corruption will not thrive in the country.
The very least we can
do is to have faith in our government leaders’ effort in the big fight
against graft and corruption in the country.