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2 Samar solons urge Ombudsman for speedy resolution on plunder against Gov. Tan

Below is a joint letter addressed to the new Ombudsman Hon. Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez by House Representatives Reynaldo S. Uy (1st district of Samar) and Catalino V. Figueroa (2nd district of Samar) dated December 5, 2005 and received by the Office of the Ombudsman December 8, 2005.


Republic of the Philippines
House of Representatives
Quezon City, Metro Manila

December 5, 2005

Office of the Ombudsman
Agham Road, Quezon City

Dear Ombudsman Gutierrez:

We, REYNALDO S. UY, M.D. and CATALINO V. FIGUEROA, Representatives of the First and Second District of the Province of Western Samar respectively, would like to express our sincerest congratulations for your appointment as the new Ombudsman.

We feel that Her Excellency has made the right choice in your person to be the prime graftbuster of our country.

Moreover, we would like to bring to your attention that our constituents in Samar are anxiously waiting the result of the preliminary investigation being performed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Governor Milagrosa T. Tan (C-A-05-0051-B and C-C-05-0049-B).

The case against Governor Tan was anchored on the adverse findings of the special Audit/Investigation conducted by the Commission on Audit. And it was filed by a church based organization called ISOG Han Samar Movement.

Hoping for the Office of Ombudsman to immediately resolve the preliminary investigation for plunder against Governor Milagrosa T. Tan.

Again, congratulations and God Bless!


Very truly yours,

(Sgd.) REP. REYNALDO S. UY, M.D.                                (Sgd.) REP. CATALINO V. FIGUEROA





Buananons condemn NPA ambush of military medics

The following is copy of the resolution passed by the Sangguniang Bayan of San Jose de Buan condemning the ambush perpetrated by the NPA to the 8th Infantry Division medical mission team.  (news)


Republic of the Philippines
Province of Western Samar
Municipality of San Jose de Buan



Hon. Bertino M. Orale - Municipal Vice Mayor / President Officer
Hon. Edgardo Tiopes, Sr. - S.B. Member
Hon. Noli S. Rebato - S.B. Member
Hon. Dominic P. Dapapac - S.B. Member
Hon. Alicia L. Rebato - S.B. Member
Hon. Salvador M. Lazarra  - S.B. Member
Hon. Alejandro M. Edusma - S.B. Member
Hon. Vivencio L. Ellantos - S.B. Member
Hon. Danilo M. Rebato - S.B. Member
Hon. Julito R. Plana - ABC President
Hon. Maryjean T. Edusma - SK Federation President



Resolution No. 3
Series of 2006


Whereas, the Sangguniang Bayan Members during their Regular Session this 18th day of January 2006, approved and agreed to make this resolution condemning the New People’s Army (NPA) in the ambush of the 8ID Medical Team along their way home from San Jose de Buan, Samar to Catbalogan, Samar.

Whereas, the Buananon’s and the Municipal Official of San Jose de Buan, Samar wanted to live peacefully, hence very grateful when the “Peace and Development Forum” was conducted by the military in the Municipality of San Jose de Buan.

Whereas, the Buananon’s actually are very supportive of the different programs and projects being implemented by the Military on the municipality.

Whereas, there is a very good and harmonious relationship between the Civilian and the Military on the said municipality and this can be manifested through the different programs and activities undertaken by both parties.

Now therefore, on the motion made by Hon. Vivencio L. Ellantos Committee Chairman on Peace and Order and duly seconded by the majority be it

Resolved: as it is hereby resolved to Condemn the New People;s Army (NPA) regarding the ambushed of the Military in the area of San Jose de Buan, Samar.

Resolved Finally: that copies of the resolution be forwarded to the 8ID Philippine Army Camp Lukban Maulong Catbalogan, Samar, 34th IB Erenas San Jorge, Samar, 34th IB Alpha Company San Jose de Buan Samar and file.


WE HERBY CERTIFY TO THE CORRECTNESS of the forgoing resolution which was duly approved by the Sangguniang Bayan Members during its Regular Session on the 18th day of January 2006.

SB Member
SB Member
SB Member
SB Member
SB Member
SB Member
SB Member
SB Member
SB Member
SB Member


Municipal Vice Mayor / President Officer
SB Secretary



Municipal Mayor





A Pastoral Letter condemning killings and opting for peace and development
(Pastoral Letter No. 1, Series of 2006)

By Most Rev. JOSE S. PALMA, DD
Bishop of Calbayog
January 31, 2006

"...the military went to San Jose the Buan to conduct a Forum for Peace and Development and culminated the event with a medical mission, and then to be reciprocated with bullets speak of malice beyond description."

Our human life is so precious a gift we can never thank the Giver enough. In wonder the Psalmist can only exclaim: “What is man that you should spare a thought for him; mortal man that you should care for him” (Ps 8:3). When we reflect even further, we realize that as Christians ours is not just human life but one which has been raised to the lofty dignity of the divine; we are sons and daughters of God!

Such is the reason why we glorify God for every gift of human life. And such is the reason why we congratulate couples who are generous instruments of new life. It is also for this reason that to uphold the dignity and sacredness of life, we condemn actions that destroy life in whatever stage, from its conception to natural death. When we think in particular of abortions, we unequivocally condemn such abominable crime.

It is with the same disgust that we condemn the dastardly ambushes last January 15 and 24 inflicted against our military men and women. The circumstances particularly of the Jan. 15 ambush that killed 4 soldiers of the 8ID make us believe that the perpetrators of the crime, alleged to be the NPAs, were certainly not pro-life nor pro-people. Considering that the military went to San Jose the Buan to conduct a Forum for Peace and Development and culminated the event with a medical mission, and then to be reciprocated with bullets speak of malice beyond description. This Pastoral Letter is the Calbayog Clergy’s unanimous voice denouncing the aggression and spiteful disdain of goodwill and humanitarian act.

But with our voices of denunciation come also our pleas for a change of mind and heart. We experience that deep down in our heart of hearts is a common desire for peace, development and a happy life. Deep in us we agree with Isaiah when he prays that people “shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (Is 2:4). We long for peace which is not the result of vanquishing the enemy but of each one realizing the senselessness of violence. That indeed violence breeds violence - and more blood spilled and more tears shed.

Our voices are finally exhortations to all men and women of goodwill to dream that someday Samar may become a zone of peace and development. Since we know that peace is both a gift and a task, as we try to build peace in our hearts, in our homes and small communities, let us draw close to the Prince of Peace and beg for such KAMURAYAW only He can give.





PHILIPPINES: Claim of Philippine government to improved law enforcement far from reality

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
January 18, 2006

"...more and more Filipinos are taking the law into their own hands."

In its 2005 Accomplishment Report released on its official website, the government of the Philippines claims to have worked "to improve the operational effectiveness of law enforcement agencies". Exactly what this means remains unclear, as the government backs its remarks only with a handful of vague statistics that say nothing of reality and the challenges the country faces in addressing the very deep institutional problems associated with building the rule of law there.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is aware that most serious criminal cases in the Philippines are inadequately investigated. In most cases perpetrators are not identified, usually due to the absence of witnesses and the lack of forensic and scientific investigation techniques. Despite the Act for Witness Protection, Security and Benefit (Republic Act 6981), witnesses to acts of murder and other grave crimes in the Philippines know full well that they risk the same fate if they dare to come forward with information. While this is especially the case in the unabated killings of human rights defenders and social activists, flagrant targeted killings of ordinary criminal suspects--such as petty criminals in Davao and Cebu--are also on the rise, sometimes with the public endorsement of local officials.

Letters to the AHRC repeatedly speak to the failure of police to obtain witnesses even in crimes where the victims are killed in busy marketplaces or houses occupied by the families of victims, and to the fact that this problem is recognized but not addressed by the authorities. For instance, in one letter from 2005 Marcelo Ele Jr., Police Director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, said that no witnesses had come forward in the killings of Ernesto Bang and Joel Reyes for fear of reprisal. This is despite the fact that Bang was shot at the front door to his house with his family inside, and Reyes was shot dead in a public a market. After Dario Oresca, a witness to the murder of Reyes was found, he too was killed. He had received no protection.

Even where a case is filed in court, prolonged delays cause greater and greater risks both to the witnesses and the case itself, an issue strongly adverted to in the chapter on the Philippines in the AHRC's recently-released State of Human Rights in Ten Asian Nations--2005 report. There is little evidence that the Action Program for Judicial Reform (APJR) adopted by the Supreme Court in December 2000, which includes in its mandate the speedy processing of cases, is making much headway, and it continues to lack adequate funding from the government.

As a consequence, more and more Filipinos are taking the law into their own hands. The loss of trust and confidence in the police and judiciary among victims seeking justice, and implied approval of murders by government officials demonstrate the country's deteriorating law and order and give little cause for surprise when people go outside the law to resolve disputes and seek vengeance.

All of this indicates the extent to which the government of the Philippines has disregarded its international obligations. In its concluding observations on the state's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of December 1, 2003, the U.N. Human Rights Committee urged that, "The State party should ensure that all allegations of torture are effectively and promptly investigated by an independent authority, that those found responsible are prosecuted." It further said that, "The State party should ensure that its legislation gives full effect to the rights recognized in the Covenant and that domestic law is harmonized".

Despite these clear recommendations, torture is not yet a crime in the Philippines, and there has been little effort to enact an enabling law that would make it so. Similarly, the various monitoring committees and quasi-judicial bodies established ostensibly to investigate human rights violations have few powers and are generally ineffective. As a result, the recognition given to international human rights standards in Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution has little significance. Although an integral part of the constitutional basis of the country, in the absence of measures for implementation it has been trivialized.

In January 2005 Executive Order 404 established a Monitoring Committee on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. Section 2 stipulates that the Committee will work closely with the national Commission on Human Rights to investigate and monitor human rights violations in compliance with international treaty obligations. While apparently a step towards human rights protection, there is little evidence of work by the committee so far. The general public of the Philippines remains in the dark about what the committee has done, despite it being required to "provide regular updates to concerned units and agencies of the Government, as well as civil society groups and other entities".

The making of grand claims about the improved effectiveness of law enforcement agencies will not impress anyone familiar with the real situation in the Philippines. In fact, the effect will only be to raise more doubts among the victims of crime and rights violations about the sincerity of the authorities in tackling the deep flaws in the country's policing and judicial system. Instead of pretending that things are getting better, the government of the Philippines would obtain far greater credibility by recognizing the gravity of this situation and taking determined steps to end the impunity that murderers and other serious criminals, particularly those in the police and other security forces, continue to enjoy.





HONG KONG SAR: Legitimate protests against threatened livelihoods and police responsibility to remain within legal parameters

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
December 22, 2005

The past two weeks saw Hong Kong become a theatre in which the conflict between free trade and human rights played out very visibly, with broadcast and other media conveying the interventions of all those involved in this conflict: namely, those inside the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial conference, and those outside on the streets.

The WTO ministerial conference itself reflected the conflict. The thorniest issue amongst the delegates was when the agricultural subsidies in the world's richest countries would end so that the world's poorest countries may have access to more affluent markets. While there is an overwhelming conclusion that the issue of poverty in developing countries--where the majority of the world's population lives—cannot be resolved without addressing this problem, the date for such a decision was postponed to 2013. As far as the WTO is concerned, the debate on human rights and free trade is therefore suspended until that time.

For those debaters who were on the streets, the WTO had little legitimacy to debate issues affecting their lives. These debaters comprised protesters from Hong Kong as well as many other countries, particularly neighboring Asian countries. Though small in number, those who gathered on the streets were determined to voice their arguments loudly and be noticed. The protesters included men and women, young and old, all of whom spent long hours braving the cold.

The sympathy of the Hong Kong people was clearly with those on the streets. Not only were there no complaints of the city being unduly disturbed by protesters, but the Hong Kong community took sympathetic note of the arguments made by the protesters against those conducting their discourse in comfort. This in itself indicates the legitimacy of the cause fought in the streets. It also indicates that the Hong Kong population has an interest in the issues raised; the concerns of ordinary people in this relatively affluent Asian city are perhaps not so different from those in other places. The tolerance demonstrated by the Hong Kong people showed a politically mature population, who are well informed and aware of the key debates taking place in the global community.

At times when great social debates are fought fiercely, the work of law enforcement agencies is made more difficult. The management of a law abiding citizenry in normal times may be much easier. The task faced by the Hong Kong police was therefore not an enviable one. It is at such times however, that law enforcement agencies are tested.

In the absence of a willing dialogue between WTO delegates and members of social movements, the protesters were merely expressing their right to speak and be heard by those making decisions affecting their lives. Under these circumstances, the police's job to maintain law and order is not easy and limited measures taken to control the situation and to ensure the protection of others, such as those participating in the WTO ministerial conference are understandable. All measures however, must be taken in accordance with the law. In particular, the use of force must be a proportionate response to the situation. The behavior of the Hong Kong police--particularly from the evening of December 17 to the morning of December 18--has raised many questions regarding principles of law enforcement. Was it legitimate to arrest over 900 persons when even according to police reports, only about 14 are considered to have violated Hong Kong law? Why were these persons kept in detention for such a lengthy period of time? It is the duty of the police to release persons in the shortest possible time after arrest. Concerns have been raised that the protesters--who had not violated any laws--were kept in detention to prevent them from participating in protests on the final day of the WTO meeting. This must be looked into by the authorities, as it constitutes a serious violation of the protesters' fundamental rights to assembly and expression. While all violence on the part of any of the demonstrators must be condemned, it must be stressed that even in responding to such violence, the police are under obligation to act within the law.

Other concerns raised by the protesters regarding police behavior--through the lodging of complaints--are as follows:

The police did not inform protesters the reason for their arrest or their rights as persons under arrest. After their arrest, persons were kept on the streets for several hours. During this time they had no one to make complaints to or to seek permission to attend to any personal matter, including going to the toilet. The weather during this time was cold and they were not given any blankets. Even after being taken to various police stations they were not clearly instructed about their situation and there was no facility for making complaints. The absence of interpreters made the situation much worse. For detainees of foreign nationalities, there was no notification that they had the right to contact their respective consulates. There were also no provisions for detainees to contact lawyers. While in some police stations there were displayed notices that persons are allowed to make telephone calls and even write emails, these facilities were never provided. Only two persons out of about 600 detainees questioned by some civil groups were allowed to call or email their families. Nor was there any attempt by the police to inform their families of their arrest. Even requests for drinking water and medical facilities were not heeded. Female detainees were body searched in the presence of male detainees. One female arrestee complained of being slapped when she resisted being handcuffed without being given any reason of arrest. Others complained that the contents of their bags were removed with force and intimidation. Several women also complained of having their hands tied when they used the toilets. In many places the cells were overcrowded, resulting in further problems relating to toilets, drinking water and other basic facilities. More complaints will likely come to the fore as the released protesters document their experiences. The stories being shared raise many fundamental questions regarding the legitimate behavior of law enforcement officers. There can be no excuse or justification for such behavior.

The Asian Human Rights Commission joins other organizations in calling for a thorough and independent inquiry by the Hong Kong SAR government and Legislative Council into the police actions against the WTO protesters on December 17-18. The authorities must take the large number of complaints into serious consideration and explain to the public their position on these complaints. The Hong Kong people must also urge for inquiries to take place.




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