Insights and opinions from our contributors on the current issues happening in the region

insight 68


more articles...

RH is unreasonably expensive!

A stranger's thoughts of a place in her country

Laudable efforts of Kaisampalad Inc.

Basey Water District finally audited by LWUA

A blatant display of animosity from the South Wing

Human rights in crisis

A call for transparency and vigilance

Special election for Samar 2nd District may be called to choose a new House Representative

Indifference to disaster

The face of hunger





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.

Margarita Agro-Industrial Estate (MAIC) case at San Isidro, Leyte

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 given.

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 and MARO.

CALI Realty Corporation, Enriquez estate (Tacloban City)

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.

Carigara, Leyte

Some 50 farmers organized as a fisher folk cooperative were evicted from a fishpond foreclosed by DBP, of which these farmers became beneficiaries under CARP.

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.

Jathropa, cassava, mango, jack fruit, dragon fruit, and pineapple are encouraged in Agrarian Reform Communities such as in ARCs of Borongan in Eastern Samar.

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, Basilan.

Roughly 30,000 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 society.

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)
November 10, 2011

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 the people.

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 impunity! Now!!!





Ex-Oakwood mutiny leader turned popular senator coming to Tacloban Nov. 23

November 8, 2011

Late last month, he called for a Senate inquiry into alleged “operational and tactical lapses” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines 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 begun seriously?

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 Settlement Project.

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 government.

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 Calbayog 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!!!

November 2, 2011

Population experts 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.

United Nations 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 packages.

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 Philippines 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 Delhi 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 per second).

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 recruitment.

“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 Mindanao.

“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.

Finally, today, 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

October 22, 2011

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?

Lawless! The 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 Filipinos!

Reports recently 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 Isabela 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. 7659".

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.

Additionally, when 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 detention.

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 court.

Bribery attempt

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.



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