Enact Genuine Agrarian
Reform Bill now!
A Position Paper for
the Visayas GARB On-site Hearing by Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha
Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB)
November 17, 2011
Land is life for the
Filipino farmers. But for twenty three years under the implementation
of the government’s land reform, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
Program (CARP) now with Extension and Reforms (CARPER), life has never
been fun for five out of ten palay farmers in the region who until now
do not own the land they till and are still bound by the tenancy
system. CARP failed to break the land monopoly in the country –
private land monopoly remains intact. Here in the region, from 1972
until 2008, more than 75% of the lands distributed under the land
program of the government came from public lands and less than 25%
came from the private lands. Moreover, for the past years, CARP acted
as an instrument for the legal maneuver of the landlord class in
acquiring larger portion of land legally-owned by the farmers. It fell
short of its vision as pronounced by then President Corazon Aquino
that the said land reform program will “reflect a true liberation of
the Filipino from the clutches of landlordism”.
With CARPER, there’s
no genuine land reform. Agrarian system became even more at a
rheumatic stage with the intensification of feudal and semi-feudal
system at the country-sides.
CARP implementation in
the region is very slow with only about 80% accomplishment since 1972.
Land distribution is also anomalous. Criminalization of agrarian cases
is also extensive. Below are some of the cases in contest.
Leyte Sab-a Basin Area
1. Cancellation of
CLOA from the 144 Farmer Beneficiaries of 429 hectares at the
tri-boundary of Tacloban, San Miguel and Alang-lang due to erroneous
recommendation of DENR. Farmers were driven out of their farmlands by
Associate Justice Vicente Veloso and DAR was not able to defend the
farmers. DAR promised to reinvestigate but investigation was biased.
Dialogues transpired between the FBs and DAR, DAR always promises to
investigate and revalidate the lands. But
DAR always fails to meet the farmers’ demands in favor of
Associate Justice Veloso. Now,
DAR is in the process of awarding the lands to “actual
tillers” (the goons of Justice Veloso because the original farmers
have been driven out).
2. “Illegal entry”
case filed against the farmer-beneficiaries of Brgy. San Agustin,
Palo, Leyte who were only planning to “balik-uma”
(re-cultivate/re-position) their land. Until now the legitimate CLOA
holders are not in position of their lands.
Agro-Industrial Estate (MAIC) case at
Farmers won the case
over 704 hectares vs MAIC in early 2000. 402 hectares were distributed
to the FBs but until now they don’t have the CLOA yet. But the 302
hectares were not properly distributed to the FBs. Farm allotted to
farmer leaders is very small (0.15 hectare) while others were not
List of beneficiaries
from DAR is also dubious.
Lands being sold to
“new owners” (businessmen and local politicians).
When asking for
updates on their case, farmers are tossed over between DAR Province
Corporation, Enriquez estate (Tacloban
Farmers developed the
area and planted the 48.97 hectare-farmland with vegetables, root
crops, rice/corn/coconut and banana.
City land use plan
classified the land as Non-agricultural area even if there are actual
land tillers. 5 hectares of the land were exempted from CARP even if
the land is agri-productive. The land was put under the Eastern
Visayas Regional Groth Center (EVRGC).
24 farmers were
subjected to as illegal occupants of a light industrial area (EVRGC).
Case is on going. Enriquez negotiated with the farmers to allot home
lots instead of farm lots to the farmers but the FBs did not accept.
At present, farmers
are not allowed in to farm and are being driven out. But the farmers
resist ejectment and area facing collectively the case against them.
Some 50 farmers
organized as a fisher folk cooperative were evicted from a fishpond
foreclosed by DBP, of which these farmers became beneficiaries under
With CARP, land use
conversion and crop conversion are also tolerated leaving lesser area
planted to rice and vegetable for local food consumption.
Almost 30% of the
total land area in the region is under mining application/operation.
Farm lands and some irrigated at that are under mining operation such
as in MacArthur, Leyte.
Farms planted to rice,
corn, root crops and vegetables are getting smaller while export crops
are becoming bigger. In 1985 before CARP, 43.26% are planted for
export, it increased to 50.62% in 1994 and 60% to 2002 while only 25%
are planted for rice and other food for consumption.
mango, jack fruit, dragon fruit, and pineapple are encouraged in
Agrarian Reform Communities such as in ARCs of Borongan in
With CARP, support
subsidy for agriculture and productivity is slightly felt or none at
all. With CARP, life indeed is not fun.
It is in these
insights that we, Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan
Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB), the broadest peasant alliance in the region
together with our provincial chapters Northern Samar Small Farmers
Association (NSSFA), Kahugpungan han mga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Samar
(KAPASS), Kapunungan han mga Parag-uma ha Western Samar (KAPAWA) and
Kapunuan han mga Parag-uma ha Leyte (KAGPAL) formally express our
strong opposition to CARPER. As an alternative we support and strongly
call for the enactment of GARB.
We advocate for the
enactment of GARB because it will distribute all potential
agricultural lands for free to deserving farmers/persons and will
complete the distribution and implementation in just five years. Thus,
it will break the decade-long problem on land monopoly from the
landlords and foreign-agro-business corporations and will ensure that
land re-concentration would not happen again. It will also provide for
the comprehensive and all-out productivity support through the
introduction of cooperative process of production.
We call for the
scrapping of CARPER. We uphold and support for the enactment of GARB,
HB 374 for the attainment of genuine land reform with the principles
of land to the tillers, land for the landless, land for productivity
and food security.
Stop the rants, lay
down the guns, women want peace
Press Statement of WE
Act 1325 (Women Engaged in Action on 1325)
November 11, 2011
We, members of Women
Engaged in Action on 1325 (United Nations Security Council Resolution
1325), a national network of women in human rights, women, and peace
organizations, express our unequivocal rejection of war and military
solution to the crisis arising from the October 18 tragedy in Al-barka,
civilians from affected communities in Basilan, Zamboanga Sibugay and
Lanao provinces are now scattered in various evacuation camps while
others seek refuge in homes of families and relatives who live away
from the conflict areas. Majority of the internally displaced persons
are women and children.
While We Act 1325
commends President Aquino for issuing a strict order on the primacy of
the peace process, and the MILF for staying the course of the peace
process, we ask the government and the MILF to:
1. Resume in earnest
formal negotiations on the substantive agenda;
2. Take into account
any violations of the ceasefire agreement and related mechanisms such
as the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) guidelines and make the
results of investigation available to the public;
3. Institute binding
and strict measures that will compel adherence or compliance to all
agreements forged between parties in conflict;
4. Respect the
civilian character of evacuation camps and other defined safe spaces;
5. Uphold the
government’s commitment to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (and
its succeeding resolutions) to ensure that women’s special needs in
situations of conflict are prioritized and appropriately addressed,
and their contributions valued and recognized;
6. Provide protection
from sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence,
especially in evacuation camps; and
7. Involve and engage
the participation of more women in formal and informal peace
negotiations or processes, as well as in relief and rehabilitation
services in affected areas.
As women, we are
alarmed that our voices and efforts for peace seem to be drowned by
the loud drums of war. We are dismayed by statements from
politicians, journalists, media and even some bishops that frame the
MILF as “the enemy” rather than a committed party to the peace
negotiations and even ceasefire agreement. They question the peace
policy and established processes of peacebuilding and
confidence-building based on government’s “six paths to peace”.
Unfortunately, they are playing to attitudes of machismo as well as
ethnic and religious discrimination that are still dominant in our
We ask you to stop
depicting the other as the enemy. Stop sowing hate. The costs of war
increase when anti-peace sentiments and malicious statements are
peddled this way. Hence, we appeal to all concerned to work instead in
diffusing tension by promoting communication and understanding between
parties in conflict.
War solves nothing.
Justice for all
victims of human rights violations! End the culture of impunity now!
Press Statement of the
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP Leyte Chapter)
We call on all freedom
loving Filipinos, especially those in the media, to now mark our
protest and cry for justice. The impunity with which human rights and
press freedom are violated has pushed us over the edge. The loud call
outside the newsroom and below the ivory tower of our profession
compels us to bring the texts of our pens and voices out to the
streets and join the people’s collective writing of a just history.
November 23, 2011 will
mark the second year of the notorious Maguindanao massacre. Free
expression groups and media organizations from around the world will
hold the first International Day to End Impunity on that same day. It
is a global call to demand justice for those that have been persecuted
for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Despite the passage of
two years, the grind of justice for the 58 civilians, including 32
journalists, remains snail-paced. Along with this are a series of
press freedom violations and unwanted killings against our colleagues.
The Philippines has been notorious for its poor record in solving the
killings of journalists. According to the Center for Media Freedom &
Responsibility, 121 journalists have been killed since 1986. Only
eight of these cases are solved. With this, we could only fittingly
respond with a ripple of dissent against this climate of impunity
prevalent in the Philippine system.
We in the National
Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) reiterate our call for
justice to the victims of the barbaric Maguindanao massacre. In time
for its second year anniversary, the NUJP reaffirms its commitment in
the fight against all forms of press freedom violations, human rights
abuses and the culture of impunity where perpetrators are not held
culpable for their crimes.
In Leyte alone, we
have been also alarmed with the stringed and systemic human rights
violations. We have witnessed the cases of Palo and the Kananga 3
massacres including all other forms of human rights violations
unaccounted for until now despite the glaring evidences pointing to no
less than alleged state officials or their supporters who are supposed
to protect the people. We attribute these unresolved cases of HRVs to
the thriving culture of impunity. Here, we believe that journalists
could play a big role in shattering this impunity....
In the upcoming days,
we will march together with human rights advocates, people’s
organizations, church workers, students and other sectors in the
clamor for justice and social transformation. We demand for the
passage of the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) which will guarantee
that the right to information and freedom of expression is observed.
We believe that it is only when people’s rights and civil liberties
are prioritized that a government fulfills its social contract with
Tirelessly, the NUJP
commits for a liberated media and a society where the inherent rights
of the people are genuinely respected. Value the sanctity of human
life and freedom.
End the culture of
leader turned popular senator coming to Tacloban Nov. 23
By CHITO DELA TORRE, email@example.com
Late last month, he
called for a Senate inquiry into alleged “operational and tactical
lapses” of the Armed Forces of the
in the recent bloody encounters with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF), which resulted to the death of 34 persons, including 29
soldiers. According to a press release from his office, he had noted
in particular the October 18 encounter in the village of Cambug in Al-Barka
town, Basilan, a known bailiwick of the MILF.
Troops from the Army’s
13th and 19th Special Forces Company were reportedly sent to the area
to verify reports that armed men headed by Dan Lakaw Asnawi were
holding kidnap victims. The military said that Asnawi’s group was
among the MILF rebels involved in the beheading of 14 Marines in
Ginanta village, also in Al-Barka, in 2007. “We also need to confirm
the reports that many of the soldier involved were allegedly
undergoing scuba diving training for the Special Forces when they were
hastily ordered to pursue – on behalf of the police – MILF Commander
Dan Laksaw Asnawi,” he was quoted as saying.
In the Philippine
Senate, he had filed 322 bills and resolutions and passed 21 of them.
During the May 14, 2007 mid-term elections, he campaigned for a
Senatorial seat, right from his prison cell to which he was sent for
leading a siege on July 27, 2003, for what came to be known more
popularly as the “Oakwood mutiny”, of the Oakwood Premier apartments
at the one-stop, self-sufficient Glorietta Mall (a 250,000-square
meter large shopping mall in Ayala Center, Makati City which opened in
1991). Then ranked only as a lieutenant senior grade, he won with
more than 11 million votes. He worked behind prison bars as senator,
until his release from detention which enabled him to be physically
present in Senate sessions and deliver his most important messages
before his fellow senators.
He turned 40 last
August 6. He is senator Antonio “Sonny” Fuentes Trillanes IV. Yes, I
voted for him, along with my family, relatives and friends in Leyte
and Samar who were then within walking or texting reach, and we are
proud he is one of our nation’s trusted leaders.
Could he have the
sincerity, mettle and wisdom to introduce to the Senate anything that
could significantly demystify the irrational, repeated (since before
the Marcosian Martial Law) and persistent, claim of government leaders
that the mountainous 9,000-hectare agrarian covered Settlement area in
Basey (bordered by or within the territories of 10 barrios – Balante,
Baloog, Bulao, Cancaiyas, Cogon, Dolongan, Mabini, Manlilinab, Old San
Agustin, and Villa Aurora) could not be developed just because it does
not pass continually changing requirements for developing a rural area
whose still immeasurable potentials just await to be explored and
Politicians had come
and go with the promise that at least roads would be built into the
once battlefield between government soldiers and rebels and often
favorite escape route of targets of hot pursuits, but nothing came out
of any such promise. Lately, the 8th Infantry Division of the
Philippine Army could have set up its own camp, leaving Camp Lukban at
Maulong, Catbalogan, nearby, but Catbalogan City’s invitation has
seemed more attractive, thus, the 8ID will instead march to that
offered 20-hectare (or so) land area and forget everything beneficial
that could otherwise result from camping near or within the Samar
Perhaps, this question
could get an assuring reply from Sen. Trillanes himself when he comes
to Tacloban highly urbanized city by November 23 this year. A close
friend who knows fully well how my heart aches for the Basey portion
of the 19,893-hectare agrarian Samar Settlement area has requested me
to personally meet Sonny and intimate to the senator my requests for
assistance for that undeveloped territory of Basey.
Senators, we all know,
have many laws in mind, and introduce them for enactment, but very,
very few become a law. Will Sonny’s upcoming proposed legislations
suffer the same fate? Perhaps, other than the normal and attendant
processes through which a bill becomes a law, senators and other
concerned sectors should already start firming up much better and much
more effective ways – not just strategies – to ensure the
metamorphosing of bills into laws. Without the policy direction and
transformation, proposed legislations will undergo the same state of
transmogrification, which is bad and ridiculous for an advancing
Sonny will have an
audience with leaders of non-government organizations and other
organizations. The venue is the University of the Philippines at
Tacloban. The Baktas Kabub’wason Rural Workers Association (Baktas)
and Consortium of Community Organizers of Basey (COrBa), both based in
Basey, Samar and addressing the deeper concerns of Basey and its
45,000 people wish very much to be able to see the young senator and
even hope that Sonny could make a side trip to Basey and start
extracting initial information about just why the town still lags
behind other towns that have already started developing their
hinterlands as potential investment come-ons.
Since Sen. Trillanes
is looked up to as a fightingest, independent-minded solon, Waray
voting constituents will of course not expect him to delve into the
political bickering and snafus in the local setting, such as the
impending recall elections for Samar governor. Well, as for this
focused issue, I received an unconfirmed tip that barangay chiefs in
the First District of Samar (that is, from vote-richest
City to erstwhile-Japanese-garrison coastal Tarangnan town are deluded
unto receiving at least P20,000 each for their own disposal and
submitting requests for barangay assistance from a lady politician at
the Catbalogan Capitol.
The weekly event is
interpreted by some as a ploy to reduce the voting power of the First
District in favor of sitting governor Sharee Ann Tan, but one close
quarter abnegates this. My tipster said that, weekly, at least one
per ten punong barangay leaves allegiance to the anti-Tans leaders.
I’m pretty sure that Sonny will not step in. That will be most
unlikely for him to dip his fingers into a too-much-local political
issue, even if the present problem now is where the Commission on
Elections will get its budget for the recall election in which all
western Samarnon voters will first have to be told whom to vote for
and then apprised of other electoral nuances before the Comelec
conducts the actual election.
The Waray people are
actually hoping and wishing hard that all incumbent senators visit
their cities and towns, and initiate experiencing travails in
exploring those places which no senator, no vice-president, and no
president of the Philippine republic has yet gone to. One visit can
spell out so many, but follow-ups and follow-throughs must ensue not
long after that visit. In the case of Samar, particularly Basey,
because no top-caliber government official ever dares to do a trek
into its interior mountainous areas, even only once during his or her
term, Basey remains more than 80 per cent undeveloped even if last
January, 2009 it gained the status as a “first class” town.
Apart from Basey,
other rural towns suffer the cost of the present norms of development.
Warays, however, do
not lose hope that one day soon, someone, somehow will be in the right
track. For the record, many Warays are conscientious to help, are in
fact already working on their own just to liberate their region from
the shackles of deep poverty. This is the biggest plus, an
encouraging opportunity that must be exploited. Any taker?
2 Filipina record
holders: 7 billionths, 6 billionth world children!!!
By CHITO DELA TORRE, firstname.lastname@example.org
predicted that the 7 billionth person would be born on October 31,
2011, with some of them saying the child would most likely come out in
India. Result: The 7 billionth child was born in Manila – a
2.5-kilogram (or 5.5 pounds) baby girl named Danica May Camacho – in
midnight of last Sunday, October 30, 2011, at Jose Fabella Memorial
Hospital, to mom Camille Dalura and Florante Camacho.
officials in the Philippines who were among television, radio and
newspaper journalists watching and witnessing the progress of the
event gave the 7 billionth child with a small cake. Among the
witnesses was the 1999 6 billionth child, also a Filipina now in grade
six at 12, Lorrize Mae Guevarra.
In many parts of the
world, authorities kept close to mothers who were expected to deliver
a child between October 30 and 31 of this year. Each country had
groups of people ready with their own celebratory birth-welcome
Before Danica May, our
world had 6 billion 999 million warm body population, if statistics
had not changed. When Danica arrived, our population clocked off at
exactly 7 billion. In the Philippines, our July 1, 2010 population
stood at 94,013,200, which placed our country as number 12 in the list
of most populated countries. China maintained its number one rank with
a population of 1,339,724,852 (19.22 per cent of the total world
population) as of
November 1, 2010. India had 1,210,193,422 last March 1 to place
second, while the United States of America had 312,533,000 only two
nights ago, seizing the third rank, followed by Indonesia (237,556,363
last May1, 2010). Of the 233 countries listed by the United Nations,
Niue and Tokelau
in New Zealand
each had a 1,000 population last July 1, 2011. Last October 1, 2011,
Spain, the most advanced country that colonized the Philippines 490 (4
centuries or 49 decades) years ago, fell far smaller than the
Philippines with an official population estimate of only 46,162,02,
less than one half of ours!
After Danica, as of 1
minute past October 31, 2011, the
etched its newest population record: 94,013,201 (on a territorial area
of 300,000 square kilometers), and planet Earth, 7,000,000,000!
In year 1 anno domini,
the world had only 300 million people. When Magellan circumnavigated
the world, the population was only a little over 500 million. After
the sporadic powder gun battles, in 1804, population clinched at 1
billion, and 123 years later (1927), it doubled, then 15 years after
World War II ended, it reached 3 billion (that was 1960), growing to 4
billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, and 6 billion in 1999. Manila,
which had 21,295,000 population to become the fifth largest urban area
in the world, chalked up a population of 21,295,000 on Danica’s natal
second – Tokyo-Yokohama in Japan was ranked no. 1 with a population of
36,690,000, followed by
in India, Seoul-Incheon in South Korea and Jakarta of Indonesia.
Vatican City, a city-state, ranked 193 with the smallest population of
only 800 on an area of only 1 square kilometer!!!
But, look, these
statistics could be contested, if any one will care to dispute UN’s.
We could argue that
the world’s population is still too far from reaching 7 billion.
Reason: there had been numerous human deaths between March and October
this year, from earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides, maelstroms,
cyclones, hurricanes, fires, wind and heat and wave surges, untreated
diseases and common ailments, civil wars and other bloody skirmishes.
Add to the unascertained number of actual deaths, human disappearances
in various circumstances.
Therefore, the 7
billion population claim is not accurate, and is utterly false. It
may not even be reached, for as long as each day 152,000 persons die.
Libya’s last recorded population before the rebels’ successful
takeover of government was 6,546,000 (on an area of 1,759,540 sq.
km). As of 2011, the world had 8 deaths per 1,000 population as
against 19 births per 1,000 population, while 55.3 million people die
yearly versus 131.4 million births per year. The expanded statistics
(Worldwide Missions, The Harvest Fields.Statistics 2011, citing its
own sources) says: 151,600 people die each day (vs 360,000 births per
day), 6,316 people die each hour or 105 die each minute or 2 each
second (vs 15,000 births per hour, 250 births per minute or 4 births
Speaking of more
deaths, in senseless bloodbaths, already 19 soldiers and 6 rebels died
in Basilan. This must have alarmed senator Chiz Escudero late last
week. The solon was prompted to remark that time has come for the
government to review the strength and recruitment process of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
should conduct an immediate and total review of its actual troop
strength versus its troop ceiling in the wake of the separate deadly
clashes between government troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) in Basilan and Zamboanga Sibuga, Senator Escudero said.
“While we commend the
gallantry and bravery of our troops for going head on in the battle
field, we bewail the fact that they were outnumbered and outsmarted in
a terrain most familiar to the enemies. Without adding anymore pain to
our troops, we now beg the question what is our military's optimal
force? Are we also filling in the yearly quota for military
recruitment?” Escudero said. The senator underscored the importance
of this assessment to maximize the strength and potential of the
troops in the frontline and readjust it to meet certain existing
standard operating procedures in terms of troop augmentation and
“We need to fill in
the yearly quota for recruits so that yearly our forces get stronger
and that our soldiers are not left out there like mice caught in a
mouse trap, outnumbered by its enemies. As the country's guardians of
democracy and Constitution, we need to give them enough physical,
material and arsenal support to keep and improve their morale and
efficiency,” Escudero stressed. He said that the AFP is in a better
position to know the situation in the battlefield need and should be
able to refine its protocols given the blatant and bold moves by rogue
elements against government troops, particularly in
“I urge the AFP and
also the PNP to aggressively go out there and fill the yearly quotas
for new recruits. Spend the budget intended for hiring new personnel.
Don't let the old system prevail again where the allocation for hiring
new personnel is scrimped on so that the amount can be converted into
savings and diverted to line the pockets of some unscrupulous
individuals. This has already cost so many lives and has orphaned
thousands of wives and children,” Escudero said.
November 2 (a Wednesday), we should act as one in urging Congress to
enact a law making ALL SOULS DAY a non-working regular holiday. This
is the only day in the Philippines when we honor the dead, and
collectively search for the eternal peace of the resting souls of our
departed loved ones.
Today, only ALL SAINTS
DAY (Nov. 1) is a regular non-working holiday, although we don’t all
venerate souls of saints and instead mark the day for our dead
relatives and friends. The proposed law should also ban all forms of
commerce (including any type of stores and stalls) in all cemeteries
and roads within 10 meters radius from roads entering or cutting
across public and private cemeteries.
My stand against NPA’s
criminal act in Surigao
By JOSE L. MANGUBAT, email@example.com
The terrorist attacks
by members of the New Peoples Army in Surigao del Norte significantly
affect the country’s economy. Leaving almost nothing to the mining
firms and thousands of its workers, the Philippine government would
have difficulty in regaining this loss. Moreover, the said atrocity
poses fear on the part of would-be investors to our country. And this
means bonus agony to poor Filipinos whom the communists claimed as
beneficiaries of their revolutionary actions. Is this their promised
justice and fairness for the poor Juan dela Cruz?
anti-mining claims of the NPA over burning those mining equipment is a
foolish reason to justify their concern on environmental protection.
It only reveals their barbaric stance in resolving issues though
authorities recently consider the legality of the mining firms whose
equipments were drastically torched by rebels.
Where is justice in
it? The CPP-NPA-NDF must now prove that they are for the masses. If
not by feeding the thousands of families who will soon experience
extreme hunger, at least a hand to the employees who will be loosing
their job soon.
Where are now those
progressive groups who will investigate this terrorist activity of the
New Peoples Army? Will the group of KMU, KARAPATAN and their like
surface out their counter actions against this criminal gesture of the
NPA? Or this is just another NPA tactic to agitate the people to
strike against our lenient Philippine government? And their catchword
when they shout and march on the streets will be: Job for the dying
revealed that the communist attack was disciplinary in nature to the
mining firms for allegedly not supporting the revolutionary actions
staged by the CPP-NPA-NDF against the government. According to the
military, the reason of the attack is not the communist’s fake stand
for environmental protection but plainly extortion since mining firms
refused to hand out what the rebels call as revolutionary tax. Indeed,
communists are not just bandits but also false tax collectors.
This dilemma should not
happen again and again or the country totally looses its chance to
regain from its economic downfall. The communist will do the same
lawless activity to over turn the government and many more will suffer
for their anti peace and development agenda. They said they do not
want the mining firms to destroy the natural resources although the
said mining firms had been operating in the area for some years. But
what they have destroyed is not actually the mining firms but families
of the people working in it. And what would be of those employees who
feared to loose their living?
The road towards
our country’s future and the dream of our democratic government will
remain unfulfilled because of this CPP-NPA-NDF. It is not just mining
firms whom they are going to destroy but several other vital
installations which are vulnerable to them. Even our own lives and of
our families are at stake with their existence. The only thing we can
do now is to stop them from advancing their self interests of turning
our country into a lair of inhumane and godless communist society.
Perversion of habeas
corpus writ indicates breakdown in justice system
A Statement by the
Asian Human Rights Commission
October 18, 2011
The Asian Human Rights
Commission (AHRC) is disappointed by a local court’s unnecessarily
delay in concluding the habeas corpus writ of torture victim Abdul
Khan Ajid. The purpose of the writ was to question the legality of
Ajid's detention in the place of the real accused, Kanneh Malikil,
member of the Abu Sayaff Group (ASG), an illegal armed group involved
in kidnap-for-ransom activities. In essence, the court delay serves to
justify Ajid’s arbitrary detention.
Ajid is presently
detained at the provincial jail in
City, and is now on self-help treatment for the injuries he suffered
due to brutal torture, following limited medical treatment from a
local hospital. Ajid was submerged in a drum filled with water, and
the neck of a bottle was inserted into his anus and set on fire by
soldiers in Basilan, Mindanao, after his arrest on July 23, 2011 (for
further details please see AHRC-UAC-157-2011).
Details of the habeas corpus petition
On July 27 at 11:05am,
Ajid's wife, Noraisa Imban Induh, filed a habeas corpus petition on
behalf of her husband with "prayer for the production of the warrant
of arrest"i at the Regional Trial Court (RTC), 9th Judicial Region in
Isabela, Basilan. At
3pm of the same day, the soldiers produced her husband in court
in compliance with the order of Judge Leo T. Principe of RTC, Branch
I. After Ajid was forcibly taken from his home on July 23, his wife
and family next saw him on that day in court.
Rather than ruling on
whether Ajid's custody and subsequent detention in place of the real
accused had legal grounds, Judge Principe issued a remand order for
Ajid's detention. Moreover, the judge did not dismiss or resolve the
writ petition promptly; he instead scheduled court hearings, as if it
were a criminal trial. The remand order made Ajid's detention appear
de facto as legal. Since July 23, Ajid has been detained with no
criminal charges and arrest orders under his name.
Since the petition was
filed on July 27, the hearing was postponed on numerous occasions for
reasons like "lack of material time"ii, "the respondent's counsel is
out of town"iii and the respondent could not produce one of his
witnesses who was "still in engaged in combat operations in the
mountains"iv. Finally, when the hearing was scheduled to be heard, the
respondents did not appear because they "will no longer present their
witnesses", thus postponing the hearing again.
Charges against Kanneh Malikil, not Abdul Khan Ajid
In justifying their
illegal arrest and detention of Ajid, the soldiers invoked that Ajid
and Kanneh Malikil are the same person. However, it was only Malikil's
name that appeared in Criminal Cases 3608-1162, 3611-1165, 3537-1129,
3674-1187, filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Basilan, Branch 2 in 2004, for charges of "Kidnapping and serious
illegal detention with Ransom defined and Penalized under Article 267
of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, as Amended by R.A.
In a petition for
amendment dated April 22, 2004 Prosecutors Domingo Kinazo and Ricardo
Cabaron included Maliki’s name as the person "identified and
positively pointed to by the complaining victims and material
witnesses for the prosecution" as "among the captors and responsible
in the kidnapping and taking of the victims as their hostages". Ajid's
name however, cannot be found.
Any authentic arrest
orders should have been procedurally served by the police, not the
soldiers. Similarly, it is the police who should have taken custody of
any persons as ordered by the court. Soldiers have no police powers
and no legal authority to serve arrest orders. Furthermore,
RTC Branch 2, which has the original jurisdiction to the
criminal cases, should be issuing any arrest and remand orders, not
RTC Branch 1.
Court's perversion of writ petition
It can thus be seen
that from the very beginning, Ajid has been deprived of due process –
first, by soldiers usurping police powers in arresting persons in
place of the real accused, and second, by a court that is meant to
hear only the merit of a habeas corpus petition, issuing a remand
order for the victim's detention in place of the court with
jurisdiction over the criminal cases.
Ajid's wife and NGOs supporting her petition requested the court and
the provincial jail where Ajid is presently detained for a copy of
Judge Principe's remand order, both institutions refused. Neither
institution offered any explanation for the refusal. Furthermore, no
transcripts of writ petition hearings are made promptly available to
petitioners. This is despite the existence of Rule 102 (d) of the
Rules of Court: "a copy of the commitment or cause of detention of
such person" is required to be given to habeas corpus petitioners. In
essence, the inability of the court system to produce arrest orders
and transcripts of the hearing has meant a tolerance of Ajid’s
Ajid's quest in
prosecuting the soldiers involved in torturing him under the
Anti-Torture Act of 2009 has been undermined by the military
establishment’s protective stance towards the responsible soldiers. At
the time of writing, apart from the administrative charges made by the
military’s own internal disciplining mechanism, no criminal charges
have been filed against the soldiers.
According to legal
principles, the habeas corpus petition should have focused entirely on
the legality of Ajid's detention, not on his guilt or innocence. The
petition requires urgency since it "is the only legal remedy for
obtaining his release, in order to avoid his detention for an
unreasonable period of time". Therefore, the habeas corpus petition is
a proceeding based on the right to adequate remedy, not a criminal
trial. The soldiers' deliberate attempts to delay the proceedings left
the family vulnerable to bribery attempts by the respondents, through
military agents who relayed their intention to settle the case out of
Ajid’s sister Haniba,
in July 2011, was offered the amount of P500,000 pesos (USD11,600) as
well as the cost of Ajid’s hospital expenses, by a person she
personally knew to be attached to the military, in exchange for an
"out of court settlement". Haniba was fortunately strong enough to
refuse any financial offers in exchange for withdrawing their
complaint. This is understandably not the case with many victims and
their families however.
This case is an
indication of the mockery being made of the habeas corpus petition by
the court and the military establishment. An individual alleging
serious violations of his constitutional rights was seeking legal
remedy by way of a habeas corpus petition. The court's inability and
failure to promptly conclude this petition not only denied the victim
any sort of adequate remedy, but implicates a tolerance for such
illegality and rights violation. This is shocking and disappointing,
and bodes ill for justice in the Philippines.