creates special teams to probe human rights violations
November 26, 2012
President Benigno S. Aquino III has ordered the creation of special
teams to investigate human rights abuses by state and non-state forces
and ensure a focused probe and speedy resolution of all unsolved and
new cases, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Monday.
Ochoa said the special teams
would form part of the inter-agency committee (IAC), which the
President established under Administrative Order (AO) No. 35 he signed
on November 22, that will exclusively handle cases of extra-legal
killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other forms of human
“This presidential directive
reinforces the Aquino administration’s resolve to uphold and protect
the rights of the people,” Ochoa said. “We believe that the creation
of this high-level committee will be a more effective mechanism in
handling and monitoring cases of human rights violations,” Ochoa
According to Ochoa, AO 35
takes effect immediately and replaces AO No. 211 issued in 2007 that
created the Task Force Against Political Violence. The presidential
directive directs the task force to turn over all documents, data,
reports, supplies, resources and its remaining budget to the IAC.
“The President envisions the
administrative order to harmonize and standardize the government’s
policies and action plan for resolving human rights abuses. This way
we can have a focused investigation and speedy resolution of all the
cases,” Ochoa added.
One of the first tasks of
the IAC is to organize special teams and a technical working group to
carry out the immediate inventory of all alleged human rights
violations committed by state and non-state forces; monitor the
development of cases which are pending in courts or under
investigation, and conduct an investigation into unsolved and new
cases, as well as prosecute the perpetrators.
Under AO 35, the secretary
of the Department of Justice (DoJ) serves as chairperson of the IAC,
which members include the head of the Presidential Human Rights
Committee (PHRC), the secretaries of the Departments of the Interior
and Local Government (DILG) and the National Defense (DND), the
presidential advisers of the Peace Process (OPAPP) and Political
Affairs (OPAPA), chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP), the Philippine National police chief and the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) director.
The chairperson of the
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Ombudsman sit as observers
and resource persons in the IAC.
The IAC is required to
submit to the President every six months a progress report, a detailed
inventory of pending human rights abuse cases, and accomplishment and
recommendations, among others.
The President has asked all
other government agencies and local government units to give their
full support and cooperation to the IAC to make sure that the AO 35’s
objectives and the committee’s mandate are achieved.
The initial budget
requirement of the committee will be taken from the current
appropriation of the agencies comprising the IAC and subsequent
funding will be incorporated in their respective regular budgets.
DPWH to paint steel
bridges in orange to conform to international safety standards
By Philippine Information
Agency (PIA 8)
November 25, 2012
PALO, Leyte –
Very soon, all the steel bridges in Eastern Visayas will be painted
with orange to conform to International Safety Standards.
This was learned from
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Eastern Visayas
Regional Director Rolando Asis who said that the painting of steel
bridges with orange will start before the end of 2012.
DPWH Regional Director
Rolando Asis said the region has more than six linear kilometers of
steel bridges that will be painted with orange as directed by
Secretary Rogelio Singson through Department Order Number 74 issued
“The use of this color will
identify bridges constructed by our office, increase bridge visibility
and will protect the bridge from the danger of rust from moisture,”
Director Asis said.
commonly referred as safety orange, is also used in engineering
particularly in warning signs for road construction sites, the
regional director explained.
Painting workmanship on
metal surfaces would be in accordance with the DPWH Standard
Specifications for Public Works Structures, in consonance with the
policy direction of the department to improve the quality of
This project will be funded
through maintenance budget for bridges allocated for the region’s
district engineering offices.
The Regional Office earlier
reported that 40 bridges in the region were identified either for
replacement or strengthening, to withstand seismic activities, with
the central government allotting P453.76 million for the project.
Majority or P353.44 million
budget will be allocated for strengthening of existing bridges, P93.31
million for replacement of temporary bridges, and P7 million for
completion of ongoing construction.
The region has 863 bridges
with a total length 33.845 kilometers, with 33.16 kilometers
classified as permanent (829 bridges) and .67 kilometers categorized
as temporary (34 bridges).
Director Asis informed most
of the bridges are situated along primary roads with few built in
The agency targets to pave
main highways by 2014 and secondary roads by 2016, which include
rehabilitation of bridges.
Asia Pacific human
rights activists to Aquino: Stop the killings!
November 25, 2012
QUEZON CITY –
Over forty human rights activists from Australia, New Zealand, Hongkong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the
Philippines gathered today in a conference on the human rights
situation in the Philippines at the University of the Philippines
Hotel in Quezon City, to reiterate their call for Phil. Pres. Benigno
Aquino III to stop the killings and to pull out his government’s
military troops in rural and urban poor communities.
Victims and kin of victims
of human rights violations joined with the Asia Pacific human rights
and peace activists in the said conference. Among those who recounted
their experiences were Connie Empeno, mother of disappeared UP student
Karen; Genasque Enriquez, an anti-mining Lumad leader from Mindanao
who is being threatened with trumped up charges of murder and multiple
frustrated murder by the military; Bae Adelfa Belayong, widow of slain
Datu Mampaagi Belayong who was a staunch anti-mining advocate.
According to Karapatan
Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples’ Rights in the Philippines,
there had been documented cases of 114 victims of extrajudicial
killings, 12 victims of enforced disappearances, 70 cases of torture,
447 illegal arrests and 29,613 victims of forced evacuation during the
past two years of the Aquino government. Among the recent cases
documented by Karapatan is the massacre of anti-mining activist Juvy
Capion and her two sons in Tampakan, South Cotabato; the beheading of
village councilor and peasant activist Ely Oguis in Guinobatan, Albay;
and the labeling and harassment of Karapatan workers Jose Luis Blanco
and Judde Baggo.
The conference aims to
establish the – Asia Pacific Coordinating Committee for Human Rights
in the Philippines, a regional network that will campaign for human
rights issues in the country from national up to regional and
Pastor Joram Calimutan,
coordinator of the Asia Pacific Coordinating Committee for Human
Rights in the Philippines (APCCHRP), said the formation of the network
will consolidate the efforts of Asia Pacific activists to strengthen
and amplify the advocacy for human rights issues in the Philippines,
particularly the issues of extrajudicial killings, enforced
disappearances, torture, illegal arrests and detention.
“We have vigorously
campaigned against the terror rule of Phil. Pres. Gloria Arroyo, when
killings, disappearances and arrests especially against activists and
leaders of progressive organizations in the Philippines. It is very
disturbing to know that, despite Pres. Aquino’s promise to render
justice for the victims and his government’s respect human rights,
killings of farmers, indigenous peoples and the urban poor have
continued,” Cameron Walker, Auckland Philippine Solidarity.
Peter Brock, Australia
Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines, criticized
Aquino’s disregard of indigenous people’s rights in favor of foreign
mining companies such as the Australian company SMI-Xstrata.
“Not only has Aquino
furthered the plunder of ancestral lands and resources through
Executive Order 79, but he has likewise secured these exploitative
industries’ interests by deploying paramilitaries and additional
troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to kill anti-mining IPs
and to silence opposition,” Brock said.
The Asia Pacific activists
particularly scored Aquino on his “deafening silence” on the massacre
of anti-mining Lumad leader Juvy Capion and her two sons in Tampakan,
South Cotabato last October 8, 2012.
“His silence bears the
imprint of consent for these violations. Not only has he condoned
impunity, he has likewise perpetuated it by not delivering justice for
any of the 114 victims of extrajudicial killings under his
administration,” Yi-Hsiang, Taiwan Committee for Philippine Concerns
The APCCHRP called on Aquino
to prove his claims before the international community that he has
done something on the human rights situation in the country by putting
a stop to the killings and by pulling out and disbanding military and
paramilitary troops in rural communities.
DPWH inaugurates 3
bridges worth P30M in North Samar
By Philippine Information
Agency (PIA 8)
November 25, 2012
ALLEN, Northern Samar
– The Department of Public Works and Highways recently conducted
the simultaneous inauguration of the three concrete bridges in
Barangays Lipata and Cabacungan in Allen, Northern Samar.
The three bridges, two in
Barangay Lipata and one in Barangay Cabacungan had a project cost of
P30 million, or P10 million each, DPWH Northern Samar First District
Engineering Office chief, DE Sandy Pua informed.
The inauguration of the
three bridges which are located nine kilometers away from the town
proper, ended the suffering of the village people who for years have
been transporting their farm and marine products through bridges made
only out of coco-logs.
The three bridges are a big
boost to the town of Allen’s tourism promotions being one tourism
potential as attested by the Department of Tourism, DE Pua, further
It was learned that the
construction work for the three bridges started on February 6 of this
year and was completed in eight months.
The inauguration was
attended by Congressman Raul Daza of the First District of Northern
Samar who said the construction of the bridges was made possible
through the concerted efforts of the people concerned.
He disclosed that a new set
of medical equipment will soon be received by the Allen District
Hospital as part of his health programs in tandem with the leadership
of Gov. Paul Daza particularly, for the benefit of the less-fortunate
people of the Balicuatro area who could hardly afford further medical
attention in Manila and other cities because of exorbitant fees.
He also assured the DPWH
personnel that he will not stop finding ways in sourcing-out funds for
infrastructure development in his district.
Meanwhile, DE Pua informed
that by early next year, another P9.7 million has been bidden out for
the construction of the Barangay Kalarayan bridge this town; P29
million for Allen-Barangay Bonifacio road concreting; and an
allocation of P67 million for school buildings, health centers, among
others, in the first district in this province.
Revenue Region No. 14 regional director Diosdado Mendoza (left)
welcome guests, visitors and participants to the “Greening the
Environment”, a tree planting activity of the bureau during its
opening program at the BIR multi-purpose bldg., Candahug, Palo,
Leyte, November 16. Also in photo are PIA 8 regional director
Olive Tiu, DENR regional executive director Manolito Ragub and
Presidential Assistant for Climate Change secretary Elisea Gozun.
(VINO R. CUAYZON)
lifestyle change for Climate Change resilience
By Philippine Information
Agency (PIA 8)
November 25, 2012
TACLOBAN CITY –
Saying that the country is already experiencing the adverse effects of
global warming and climate change, Presidential Assistant for Climate
Change, the Honorable Elisea Gozun, enjoined the public to go into
mitigation and adaptation activities.
Secretary Gozun made the
pronouncement as the speaker in the recently held Climate Change Forum
and Greening the Environment activity initiated by the Bureau of
Internal Revenue in Eastern Visayas. The Presidential Assistant for
Climate Change who happens to be a former Environment Secretary
underscored that humans are contributory to the release of greenhouse
gases which is the cause of climate change.
Thus, she called on the
public to think of ways on how to realign their day to day activities
making sure that they do not become greenhouse producers.
The former DENR Secretary
said that there are many ways to mitigate the adverse effects of
Climate Change. She enumerated the green acts for the environment,
among which are conserving energy and water; improving energy
efficiency; shift to alternative, renewable fuel (no fossil fuel);
improving/supporting mass transport system; encouraging more walking
and biking (non-motorized transit); controlling urban sprawl – more
compact, multiple use development; composting, recycling and reusing
(Ecological Solid Waste Management); stopping the burning of wastes or
Secretary Gozun is actually
proposing a lifestyle change to address Climate Change. After all, the
governance of Climate Change rests not only in the hands of government
officials but in the hands of every consumer.
This is the reason why the
Presidential Assistant for Climate Change cited Director Diosdao
Mendoza and the entire BIR Eastern Visayas family for spearheading the
“There is a need to bring
down the discussion of Climate Change down to each and every citizen,
the consumers,” Secretary Gozun said. The real people in power are the
bands of action oriented people who have the capacity to brainwash
their circle of influence to make better lifestyle changes, she added.
Reducing the use of body
mists or body sprays, or hair sprays can help mitigate the adverse
effects of Climate Change, the Secretary told the college students who
were present during the Forum.
She said the mere turning
off of the faucet while brushing ones teeth, can conserve the precious
water which is also in danger because of Climate Change effects. Guzon
called on the public to put water in a glass when toothbrushing to
The mere act of taking out
plugs of appliances not in use saves 10-20% of energy consumption, she
Turning off lights which are
not being used. Electric companies charge double for energy
consumption during peak times, unknown to many consumers.
Painting the ceiling or
roofing in a light color makes it absorb less heat, therefore, keeping
the space cooler.
The Secretary pointed out
that even the construction of houses and buildings must made with
Climate Change in mind. Today, the stilt house and the green house are
the in things again.
There is a wealth of ways
people can reduce the carbon footprint while cutting down on costs,
it’s just that the information is not always as available to a lot of
the masses¸ Secretary Gozun said.
the Philippines to act on illegal fishing
November 23, 2012
Greenpeace International is calling for immediate legal action against
a Filipino ship that was previously engaging in an illegal transfer of
fish on the high seas a week ago.
The Filipino reefer, Sal 19,
was found illegally transferring fish to Heng Xing 1, a
Cambodian-flagged reefer, along with two Indonesian purse seine
vessels KM Starcki 10 and KM Starcki 11 on the high seas. The Sal19 is
not authorised to operate in the area and is therefore not allowed to
fish or transfer fish at sea according to the rules of the relevant
management organization, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries
Due to a major loophole in
legislation for international waters, the four vessels engaged in the
large-scale illegal transshipment evaded arrest last week. Today, Greenpeace’s ship MY Esperanza encountered the Sal 19 in Palau’s
waters, and discovered its vessel name and call sign had been erased
from all visible parts of the ship, making it unidentifiable.
According to WCPFC rules,
the Philippines is under legal obligation to take immediate steps to
investigate and take appropriate enforcement action against this
vessel. According to the Captain of the Sal 19, the vessel is expected
to arrive in the Philippines port of General Santos on 28th November,
just three days before the upcoming WCPFC meeting in Manila.
“Violations by fishing
vessels such as Sal 19 show the difficulty in enforcing rules and
justify calls by Pacific Island nations to close Pacific Commons high
seas pockets from all fishing. Pirate fishing not only undermines
ocean management and conservation efforts, it is an embarrassment and
a diplomatic headache for their home countries. The Philippine
government must clean up its messy tuna industry and become a
responsible player in the fishing industry,” said Mark Dia, Regional
Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
joined Palau’s marine enforcement official in boarding the vessel for
inspection, and collected video and photo evidence showing a series of
violations, including the absence of a vessel monitoring system,
records and logbook. When asked by Greenpeace, the captain of Sal 19
admitted to participating in the illegal transshipment. However, due
to the existing loopholes in international law, Palau’s enforcement
authority on board MY Esperanza could not take any further legal
"Illegal activities are
rampant in international waters around the world, where laws and
enforcement are at their weakest. To stop this, Greenpeace is calling
for the closure of the Pacific Commons and a more comprehensive and
legally binding global enforcement system for our oceans," said Farah
Obaidullah, Oceans Campaigner from Greenpeace International.
Greenpeace is campaigning
for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s
oceans, including in four high seas areas known as the Pacific
Commons, and for these to be declared off limits to fishing.
The environmental group is
also seeking a ban on the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) in
purse seine fisheries and a 50% reduction in the catch of bigeye tuna.
These measures are important
to keep valuable fish stocks at sustainable levels and will be
reviewed at the upcoming meeting of the Western and Central Pacific
Fisheries Commission in Manila from 2-7 December.
impunity – Karapatan
November 23, 2012
QUEZON CITY –
Today’s commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity not
only highlights the Aquino government’s failure to end impunity but
more so, how the government perpetuates impunity.
Since 2009, the backhoe
symbolized the Ampatuan massacre where 58 people, including 32
journalists, were felled. Three years after, the backhoe remains a
sordid reminder of one of the most palpable illustration of the
impunity in the Philippines. Three years after, the backhoe now
stands, too, for present-day impunity of the destructive and
foreign-owned mining corporations, with Pres. Noynoy Aquino as their
gracious host and whose entry into the lands of the indigenous peoples
and peasants caused a string of serious human rights violations, and
As the court hearings for
the Ampatuan massacre dawdles, cases of extrajudicial killings and
massacres continue, and needless to say, with impunity.
There is the Kananga 3
massacre where botanist Leonard Co and two others were killed; the
Mancera massacre in Labo, Camarines Norte that killed Benjamin Mancera,
54, and his two sons, Michael, 10, and Richard, aged seven; and
recently, the Capion massacre. Those who were killed in these
massacres are among the 114 documented cases of extrajudicial killing
under the Aquino presidency.
The killings have even
become more gruesome: Genesis Ambason, a Banwaon tribal leader in
Agusan del Sur, was shot and tortured to death by CAFGU and elements
of the 26th IB. His teeth were all gone and his head shrunk due to
heavy beatings; Ely Oguis in Albay was shot and beheaded.
The killings, especially in
Mindanao, were a product of the collusion among those in the
bureaucracy, the Armed Forces and its paramilitary groups, in the
service of big business interests. The victims were indigenous
peoples, peasants and environmental activists who are part of the
people’s collective action against the plunder of the country’s
The massacre of a Blaan
family, the Capions, Juvy Capion and her two sons, by the 27th IB
underscores this unholy partnership. But there are more.
As of September 30, 2012,
Karapatan documented at least 66 peasant and 15 indigenous people who
are victims of extrajudicial killing under the Aquino administration.
Majority, if not all, of the victims campaigned against the incursion
of big mining companies and other so-called development projects by
the government. The victims, with other members of their communities,
stood for their right to their land. To them, these corporations and
militarization only mean economic dislocation and their displacement.
The members of the military
and its adjunct paramilitary groups involved in these violations
remain unpunished, at best, contained in military barracks as in the
case of 27th IB who were involved in the Capion massacre. The Butcher
Palparan, for one, remains free almost a year after a warrant of
arrest was issued against him; Alde Salusad, also with a standing
warrant, continues to sow terror in the community of Jimmy Liguyon,
eight months after Salusad killed him. Salusad even hostaged a woman
and her children to force those who left their community to return.
The case of Palparan and his
ilk of generals can be likened to that of the Ampatuan massacre’s
chief warlord-suspects – their hands are drenched with the blood of
people they killed yet they are given the luxury of prolonged court
proceedings, to wear down the prosecution, and invigorated political
power through elections. Impunity, Philippine-style, seems to appear
also in the forms of Palparan’s partylist Bantay, which was allowed to
run in the 2013 elections, and the 74 Ampatuans who will be running in
the 2013 elections, at least 10 of them are under Aquino’s Liberal
The statements and actions
of the president and commander in chief Noynoy Aquino has only
emboldened the perpetrators to commit such acts, with impunity: the
signing of EO 79 to further mineral exploitation under the Mining Act
of 1995; the continuing implementation of Executive Order 546 and the
creation of additional units of paramilitary groups such as the SCAA
to protect mining corporations; and dismissing human rights violations
as mere propaganda, among others.
Karapatan stands with
journalists, indigenous peoples, peasants, workers, the urban poor,
women, students, church workers, lawyers, artists and all who aspire
for justice, realization of human rights, genuine democracy and
freedom in demanding from the Aquino government to stop the killings
and to end impunity.
PRO8 files raps vs.
2 drug suspects in Northern Samar
By RPCRD, Police Regional
November 22, 2012
CAMP SEC. KANGLEON, Palo,
Leyte – The police in Northern Samar filed anti-drug charges against
two persons arrested on Sunday evening who were found in possession of
illegal drugs and paraphernalia.
“Cases for illegal drugs and
paraphernalia possession were filed by our men against the two men
whom they arrested in a hotel room in Catarman,” Police Chief
Superintendent Elmer Ragadio Soria said.
The cases, docketed under
NPS number VIII-11-INQ-12K-00038 for violation of sections 13 and 14,
Article II of Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, were forwarded against the suspects at
the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor in Catarman, Northern Samar on
November 20, 2012.
Soria identified the
suspects as a certain Andrew Engo y Panzo, 35, married, an overseas
Filipino worker and Severino Mongas y Estuaria alias Benny, 34,
married, vendor, residents of University Homes, Brgy. UEP-Zone 3 and
Purok 5, Brgy.Baybay, all in Catarman, Northern Samar, respectively.
According to reports
reaching PRO8, the suspects were collared by police operatives of the
Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) in Northern
Samar led by Police Senior Inspector Joseph Imperial inside room 311
of the Riverview Hotel at Brgy. Sampaguita at around 9:50 o’ clock in
the evening of November 18.
Recovered by the police from
the suspect were one big heat-sealed sachet containing suspected “shabu”,
cash amounting to P8,870.00, 3 units NOKIA mobile phones, 3 lighters
marked LCC, one match containing cigarette butt, 2 plastic bottles of
mineral water, 3 aluminum foils, an improvised totter, aluminum
needle, 2 crumpled aluminum foils, small sachet containing suspected
“shabu” residue, a plastic trashcan containing 2 empty small
cellophane with suspected “shabu” and 10 pieces P100.00 bill used as
Inventory of the evidences
was witnessed by Brgy. Kagawads Judith Mendador and Edmund Ruiz and
Mr. Boy Besarino of DYSM - Aksyon Radio. Confiscated items were
turned-over to the Northern Samar Provincial Crime Laboratory Office
“They would be spending the
rest of their lives in jail if the court finds them guilty as
charged,” the police regional chief added.
Soria informed that
according to the law, any person found possessing any dangerous drug
during a party, or at a social gathering or meeting, or in the
proximate company of at least two persons, shall suffer the maximum
penalty of life imprisonment as provided for in Sections 11 and 13,
Article II of RA 9165 regardless of the quantity and purity of such
“Meanwhile, a penalty of
imprisonment ranging from 6 months and one day to 4 years and a fine
ranging from P10,000.00 to P50,000.00 shall be imposed upon any person
who shall possess or have under his control drug paraphernalia in the
proximate company of at least 2 persons,” Soria added, citing
provisions in Sections 12 and 14, Article II of the dangerous drugs
The suspects availed of the
15-day waiver pursuant to Article 125 of the Revised Penal Court for
preliminary investigation of the cases and are presently detained at
the local police detention cell for custody