PHILIPPINES: Extra-judicial Killings; violence against the activists; collapse of rule of law

Monday 12 February 2007 by LRAN

PETITION - PETITION - PETITION - PETITION
STOP EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS IN THE PHILIPPINES
http://www.pinoyhr.net/
AHRC 2006 Human Rights Report on the Philippines
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the killing of a farmer, who is a member of Task Force Mapalad (TFM) seeking land reform in Hacienda Velez-Malaga. He was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on 25 January 2007. We call for your urgent intervention into this case to ensure that a speedy, fair and thorough investigation is conducted to provide redress to the victim’s family.

CASE DETAILS:

At around 2:00am on 25 January 2007, Pepito Santillan, a 62 year-old farmer, was shot dead in front of his house in Hacienda Velez-Malaga, Barangay Robles, La Castellana, Philippines. It is reported that at around 1:00am, unidentified armed men who claimed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA), threw an empty bottle into his house. Pepito Santillan was shot dead when he went out to check out what was going on. He was the 6th Task Force Mapalad (TFM) member killed in Negros Occidental since 2001, besides many those killed in other agrarian reform groups.

To briefly explain the background of the incident, the land beneficiaries of Hacienda Velez-Malaga and the landlord Cuenca family have been fighting for land ownership for the past 11 years. In 2002, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) awarded 144 hectares of land to the farmers, who then received certificates of land ownership
award (CLOA), through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The property is part of the 446 hectares of sugarcane estate owned by the influential Cuenca family that was subjected to CARP coverage. However, Cuenca family opposed the DAR’s decision and refused to give their land to the farmers.

The case was then brought to court. In 2004, the Supreme Court upheld the DAR’s ruling that the farmers have the right to reside at Hacienda in Barangay Robles, La Castellana in Negros Occidental. Subsequently in September 2006, the Secretary of DAR, Nasser Pangandaman, reportedly issued an order for the farmer beneficiaries to occupy the 114 hectares of land owned by Roberto Cuenca. However, despite the
Supreme Court’s ruling and the DAR’s order, the secretary of DAR himself has postponed the schedule of entry of the farmers to the said land so far.

One day before the incident (24 January 2007), TFM members finally installed agrarian reform beneficiaries on its own, in conformity with the ruling of the Supreme Court and DAR. Pepito Santillan was one of farmer-beneficiaries of Hacienda Velez-Malaga listed by the TFM. Fighting was subsequently broke out between the farmers and the security guards of the land in the evening. Two TFM members Fernando Santillan (nephew of Pepito Santillan) and Rey Cortejo, as well as
Enrique Maliksi, chief security guard of the Hacienda, and Renato Mata, a farm worker of Cuenca, were severely injured in the fighting.

The killing of Pepito Santillan took place only a few hours after this incident.

The Agrarian Reform in the Philippines has been in travail since the start of the implementation of the CARP in 1988 under the Agrarian Reform Law. Although the DAR has been tried to redistribute the lands subjected to CARP coverage, some landowners have refused to turn over their estates, which has resulted in land disputes. These land disputes also have caused lots of violence and killings.

According to an NGO report on Agrarian Reform and Human Rights released in June 2006, 34 peasant leaders were killed due to their campaign for CARP implementation in the agrarian reform area from 1998 to May 2006 (30 killings since 2003), and a total of 2,318 persons are victims of killings, frustrated killings and harassments.

The AHRC also has issued a number of Urgent Appeals regarding the deaths of farmers. (For further information about the cases after June 2006, please see these, UA-399-2006, UA-350-2006, UA-223-2006)

It is reported that the landlords were involved in most of the incidents. Regardless that whether the alleged perpetrators are the landlords or the police and New People’s Army, the incidents have not been investigated thoroughly and impartially, and no action has taken against the perpetrators, which leads further killings related to the
agrarian reform.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please immediately write to the relevant authorities listed below, expressing your serious concern about this case. Please urge them to conduct an immediate and proper investigation into the case, identify and arrest the alleged perpetrators and ensure adequate compensation and assistance to the victim’s family.

To support this appeal, please click:
http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/support.php?ua=ua-047-2007

Sample letter:

Dear __________,

PHILIPPINES: Killing of a farmer seeking land reform

Name of victim: Mr. Pepito Santillan, aged 62, the farmer and the member of Task Force Mapalad (TFM), residing in Hacienda Velez-Malaga, Barangay Robles, La Castellana, Philippines Alleged perpetrators: Unidentified armed men Date of incident: At 2:00am on 25 January 2007 Place of incident: Victim’s home in Hacienda Velez-Malaga, Barangay Robles, La Castellana, Philippines

I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the killing of Pepito Santillan, a 62-year-old farmer who in Hacienda Velez-Malaga, Barangay Robles, La Castellana, Philippines on 25 January 2007. He was a member of Task Force Mapalad (TFM) working for land reform in Hacienda region. He was the 6th Task Force Mapalad (TFM) member killed in Negros Occidental since 2001, besides many others killed in other agrarian reform groups.

According to the information I have received, the victim was killed by unidentified armed men who claimed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA), at around 2:00am on 25 January 2007.

The land beneficiaries of Hacienda Velez-Malaga and landlord Cuenca family have been fighting for land ownership for the past 11 years. In 2002, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) awarded 144 hectares of land to the farmers, who then received certificates of land ownership award (CLOA), through the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The property is part of the 446 hectares of sugarcane estate which owned by the influential Cuenca family that was subjected
to CARP coverage. However, Cuenca family opposed the DAR’s decision and refused to give the land to the farmers.

In 2004, the Supreme Court upheld the DAR’s ruling that the farmers have the right to reside at Hacienda in Barangay Robles, La Castellana in Negros Occidental. However, the court ruling has not been implemented to date.

I am also informed that on 24 January 2007, the day before the incident, TFM members finally installed agrarian reform beneficiaries on its own, in conformity with the ruling of the Supreme Court and DAR. The victim was one of farmer-beneficiaries of Hacienda
Velez-Malaga listed by the TFM. Fighting was subsequently broke out between the farmers and the security guards of the land in the evening. Two TFM members and two security guards of the land were allegedly injured in the fighting. The killing of the victim took place only a few hours after the incident.

I am well aware that dozens of peasant leaders have been killed while conducting campaigns to implement the CARP for their land rights.

According to an NGO report on Agrarian Reform and Human Rights released in June 2006, 34 peasant leaders were killed because of their campaign for CARP implementation in the agrarian reform area from 1998 to May 2006 (30 killings since 2003), and a total of 2,318 persons are victims of killings, frustrated killings and harassments.

I am concerned that few of these cases have been properly investigated so far, while alleged perpetrators are still at large.

I am also disappointed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), which has not taken any genuine action to effectively implement CARP.

Due to the government’s inaction and lack of will to implement CARP, many of landowners has been refusing to turn over their commercial lands to the farmer beneficiaries. This is against the government’s policy, and has subsequently created serious violence and killings against farmers seeking for their rights.

I therefore strongly urge you to take immediately an action to ensure that an immediate and proper investigation is conducted into this case, so that the perpetrators can be identified and brought to justice without delay. Adequate financial and social assistance should be provided to the victim’s family. I also request you to intervene into the Hacienda Velez-Malaga land issue, and ensure that the lawful land rights of the farmers are exercised in accordance of the Supreme Court’s ruling without further delay. The Government of Philippines should take immediate and genuine action to enforce CARP and stop continuous violence against the farmers seeking for their
rights.

I trust that you will take appropriate action in the case.

Yours truly,


PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTER TO:

1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Ms. Purificacion Quisumbing
Commissioner Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Email: drpvq@yahoo.com

3. Director General Oscar Calderon
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
Fax: +63 2724 8763
Email: bluetree73@gmail.com

4. Mr. Raul Gonzalez
Secretary Department of Justice
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614

5. Datu Nasser C. Pangandaman, Al Hadj
Secretary Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)
Eliptical Road, Diliman
Quezon City 1104, Metro Manila
PHILIPPINES
Tel: +63 2 929 3460 / 930 0380
Fax: +63 2 929 3088

6. Mrs. Esperanza I. Cabral
Secretary Department of Social Welfare and Development
3/F DSWD Building, Batasang Pambansa Complex,
Constitution Hills
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Tel: +63 2 931 7916 / 931 8068
Fax: +63 2 931 8191
Email: eicabral@dswd.gov.ph

7. Mr. Ronaldo V. Puno
Secretary Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
A. Francisco Gold Condominium II
EDSA cor. Mapagmahal St., Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Voice: +63 2 925 0330 / 31
Fax: +63 2 925 0332
Email: rvpuno@dilg.gov.ph

8. Mr. Philip Alston
Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary, or Arbitrary
Executions
Atten: Lydie Ventre
Room 3-016
OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9155
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (general)

9. Ms. Hina Jilani
Special Representative of the Secretary General for human rights
defenders
Attn: Melinda Ching Simon
Room 1-040
OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 93 88
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE HUMAN RIGHTS
DEFENDERS)

10. Mr. Jean Zeigler
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
c/o Mr. Carlos Villan Duran
Room 4-066, OHCHR, Palais Wilson,
Rue des Paquis 52, Geneva
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9300
Fax: +41 22 9179010 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR RIGHT TO FOOD)

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission ahrchk@ahrchk.org

http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/support.php?ua=ua-047-2007


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