Thursday, June 30, 2005

Palparan's Blood Debts from Inq7.net

BLOOD DEBTS

Inquirer News Service (Philippines)

The case of Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, commander of the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan, Samar, and, according to rights advocates, party-list representatives and bereaved families, responsible for warrantless arrests and searches as well as for killings and disappearances in Eastern Visayas, demands more attention than is being given. That he has been named to important posts despite a consistently questionable record in human rights invites speculation; that Malaca񡮧 has endorsed his promotion to higher rank indicates that the administration does not put much weight on unanswered questions.

There has to be a reason the man has been termed "Executioner of Samar" or, before then, "Butcher of Mindoro." What is clear is that rights advocates and party-list representatives have filed administrative and criminal charges against him for alleged human rights violations committed when he was commander of the 204th Infantry Brigade in Mindoro Oriental. His term there from 2002 to 2004 was marked by the unsolved killing of a number of activists. Despite this, he was promoted from brigadier general to his present rank, for which he is awaiting confirmation by the Commission on Appointments.

From accounts, Eastern Visayas, the seventh poorest region nationwide, has now become Palparan's "theater." He took on the command of the 8th ID in February, and has since asked for about 300 more troops to complement the 6,000 soldiers and militiamen in the region. A little more than a week later, hundreds of frightened residents of upland villages in Calbiga, Samar, were forced to flee their homes because of "special operations" of armed men believed to be members of the military.

Palparan has been frank in stating his mission: to wipe out the communist insurgency in Eastern Visayas within six months to a year. But at least two Western Samar lawmakers, Rep. Reynaldo Uy and Rep. Catalino Figueroa, are on record as saying that since Palparan became 8th ID commander, the human rights situation in the province had taken a turn for the worse. They told a hearing at the House on Wednesday of the disappearance of civilians, of armed men raiding civilians' homes in the dead of night.

On Tuesday at a hearing of the Commission on Appointments, Alex Lagunsad of the rights group Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas was specific: 199 cases of killing, frustrated killing, disappearance, harassment, torture, physical assault, arbitrary arrest and detention of civilians, rights advocates and party-list lawmakers have been recorded since the general's reassignment.

All these -- all of Palparan's "unpaid blood debts to farmers and the struggling masses as a whole," according to the farmers group Sagupa-Eastern Visayas -- should give the Commission on Appointments pause as it deliberates on Palparan's confirmation. The man may have emphasized the absence of proof of his personal participation in the cases cited by the two Western Samar lawmakers, but Figueroa was correct to say that command responsibility was what should apply.

And it goes without saying that in any case, whether it involves the "jueteng" illegal numbers game or the murder of a human rights lawyer on some deserted highway, the absence of proof does not automatically mean innocence.

Asian rights group sought to probe army linkage in Philippines killings

Asian rights group sought to probe army linkage in Philippines killings
by Maurice Malanes



Alarmed by killings of church human rights workers in the Philippines, senior clerics have called on the help of an independent human rights group to pressure President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's government to probe the alleged involvement of the country's military in the slayings.

"We urge your immediate intervention [to ask] the [Philippine] government to initiate urgent measures to address the phenomenon of unrestrained killings of political and human rights activists," the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission has appealed on its Web site.

The commission's members include lawyers, academics and church leaders and it cited the 12 May killing of a Protestant pastor in San Isidro, on the island of Leyte, which belongs to the region of Eastern Visayas in central Philippines.

Three unidentified armed men shot Rev. Edison Lapuz, a human rights activist who is a minister of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, while he was attending burial rites of his father-in-law on 12 May. The shooting also injured Alfredo Malinao, a village official, who died later at a nearby district hospital.

Lapuz was a member of a group called the Promotion of Church People's Response chaired by the Rev. Allan Jose Arcebuche, a Roman Catholic priest, and another group called Bayan Muna (Nation First), which has protested at US involvement in Philippine economic and political affairs.

Arcebuche in a report to the Asian Human Rights Commission, said his group suspects the killings and harassment of activists may be linked to the 8th infantry division under Major General Jovito Palparan, based in the Eastern Visayas. But Palparan has denied any military involvement in the killing of Lapuz and other human rights workers in the region.

Palparan had earlier said the Promotion of Church People's Response and Bayan Muna were fronts for the clandestine Communist Party of the Philippines, which the military perceives as a major threat to national security.

Arcebuche said his group had demanded Palparan be investigated.

Calbayog bishop slams Samar militarization

Calbayog bishop slams Samar militarization
Provincial News



Bishop Jose S. Palma of Calbayog on Sunday slammed what he called the "fear not known since Martial Law" that has been reportedly gripping Samar because of alleged human rights violations by the military.

In a pastoral letter, copies of which were sent by email, Palma urged the government to "re-evaluate the policy or strategy adopted" by the military in its counterinsurgency campaign on the eastern Visayas island, adding that "unjust and inhuman means do not justify the end."

The bishop also questioned the influx of mining operations that he said had to do with the military’s operations. "How can one explain that despite the Presidential Decree defining Samar Island a natural park just the other year, there is recently a swarming of mining applications in the province?" Palma said.

The bishop noted that since early this year human rights advocates and activists, including church people and leaders of party list group Bayan Muna in Eastern Visayas have been killed or wounded in assaults blamed on the military, particularly on Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, 8th Infantry Division commander.

Palparan, who earned notoriety for a similar situation in Mindoro when he headed Army troops there, vowed to rid the region of leftist rebels and activists.

A number of activists have been reported missing after being abducted, reports said.

Recent news reports from the region said residents of villages fled massive military operations invariably marked by human rights violations.

Palma said: "Since February, numerous reports of human rights violations are attributed to the military in the course of their operations. Abductions, illegal detentions and salvaging become an everyday story. Intensified military operations in many barangays compounded by arrogant military actuations in forcibly occupying chapels and other buildings as their detachments heightened fear such that there has been an upsurge of internal refugees particularly from the town of Calbiga."

While not disputing Palparan’s mission to "quash the (New People’s Army)" and condemning rebel ambuscades of government troops, Palma said: "We likewise raise our voices in protest of the...retaliation inflicted by the military against the civilians on mere suspicions that they are sympathizers of the NPA."

Samar Reps. Cata Figueroa and Ining Uy earlier confirmed the worsening human rights situation on the island, saying that not even local government executives had been spared from being labeled as rebel sympathizers.

Palma urged the military to "help dispel the atmosphere of fear and restore the climate of trust by acting within the limits of the law."

"We want to believe that you are the protector of the people," he said. "We want to feel secure when you are around." He also urged Samareños and local government units to assist refugees fleeing from the military "with anything we can share: food, medicine, clothing accommodation...all in the name of being one big family."

The bishop pledged that his diocese would "do our utmost best to protect and defend the rights, especially the lives of the people, as well as the God-given natural resources of Samar which spells the Life for the Samarnons of tomorrow."

"By airing our appeal we have only the good of Samarenos in mind," Palma said. "We wish our people to farm with no threat to life and property. We want our people to live and move around with no curtailments to their human, constitutional, legal and religious rights. We want our people to enjoy the protection of the law."

Clear and Present Danger among Environmental Activists

Clear and Present Danger among Environmental Activists

Kalikasan-PNE Press Statement

April 15, 2005

This April 22, people will celebrate Earth Day. Sadly, environmental activists who work for the protection of the environment and the rights of ordinary people are facing clear and present danger.

Recent incidents show how leaders of indigenous peoples, environmental activists and church people actively opposing large-scale transnational mining projects under the government's mining liberalization program have come under threat of extinction. In February and March, three environmental activists were killed and one critically wounded.

Last March 9, Romy Sanchez, a convenor of MASAKBAYAN, (Makabayang Samahan para sa Bayan at Kalikasan) and the Northern Luzon regional coordinator of Bayan Muna Partylist, was gunned down by an unidentified assassin in broad daylight in Baguio City. He was also an active member of STARM or the Save the Abra River Movement.

MASAKBAYAN and STARM actively campaigned for the protection of the Abra River and opposed the destruction and plunder by Lepanto Mining Corporation in Benguet province. Days before his assassination, Mr. Sanchez attended a Cordillera regional conference on mining issues. Also last January 2005, Mr Sanchez participated in the National Campaign Consultation on Anti-Mining TNCs organized by Kalikasan-PNE.

On February 19, 2005, two Aeta leaders of Central Luzon Aeta Association (CLAA), Joel Pelayo and Rodel Abraham, were assassinated in Balanga, Bataan. The two Aetas and the CLAA have staunchly opposed the land grabbing and mining operations of Dizon Mining Corporation in their communities. The said mining corporation has an 11,000-hectare mining concession in the Zambales, Bataan and Pampanga tri-boundary.

On February 18, an attempt was made on the lives of Fr. Allan Caparro of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and his wife in Abuyog, Leyte. Both were critically wounded by their assailants.

Fr. Caparro is a well-known anti-mining activist in Samar and the vice-chairman of the Promotion of Church People's Response-Eastern Visayas. Samar is one of the priority mining areas identified by the government. In 2004, Samarenos together with church people and the provincial governments of Eastern, Western and Northern Samar have blocked the entry of new mining TNCs in their provinces.

The military was suspected to be the perpetrators of these incidents. In Eastern Visayas, militant activists have accused Major General Jovito Palparan, commander of the army's 8th Infantry Division based in the region, as the one responsible for the attempted murder of Fr. Caparro.

Gen. Palparan, known to militant groups as the "Butcher of Mindoro," was held responsible for the earlier spate of killings in Mindoro where he served as commanding officer of the 204th Infantry Brigade and Deputy Commander of the 2nd Infantry Division. The killings followed the successful campaign to put a 25-year moratorium on mining operations in the province. Most of those killed actively campaigned against the operation of Mindex-Crew Minerals, a Canadian transnational mining corporation.

In Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte and Aroroy, Masbate, elements from 44th IB and 51st IB of Philippine Army are serving as security forces of Toronto Ventures Inc. and Filminera Mining Corporation, respectively. The Philippine Army and the local CAFGUs were the ones responsible for the forceful displacement of indigenous people, peasants and small scale miners in these areas.

It is alarming that these incidents happen in spite of the assurance of the government that human rights will be respected and due consultation with the people will be made before the entry of mining companies to their communities will be allowed.

It is more disturbing that these assassinations come after the assurance by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Angelo Reyes to foreign mining investors that the AFP and the PNP will be mobilized to protect their investments and operations in the country during the International Conference on Mining Investment last February 3.

We strongly condemn these violent attacks and the culpability of the Arroyo government. The government, AFP and PNP are culpable because of their failure to protect the people, persecute the perpetrators and bring justice to victims

While the perpetrators of these killings and harassments desire to quell the people's strong opposition to mining liberalization, the legitimate fight to defend the people's rights and national patrimony can not be cowed. These killings further expose the anti-people mining program of the current administration and justify the correctness and legitimacy of the people's opposition.

Latest Victim: Activist Pastor Shot Dead in Leyte

Promotion of Church People's Response

Latest Victim: Activist Pastor Shot Dead in Leyte

May 13, 2005

For failure to stop series of killing of activists and journalists, Arroyo should step down! This was the assertion of the Promotion of Church People's Response (PCPR) as church people expressed grief and outrage over escalating attacks against activist church workers, lawyers, journalists, leaders and members of cause- oriented groups under the Arroyo administration.

REV. EDISON LAPUZ was shot to death in the evening of May 12 after attending the funeral of his father-in-law in San Isidro, Leyte. He was a Conference Minister of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), an active member of the Promotion of Church People's Response (PCPR), KARAPATAN and Bayan Muna in Eastern Visayas who issued strong statements against the killings and harassment of activists in the region. In fact, Rev. Lapuz was the main convenor of JUSTICE FOR ATTY. FEDILITO DACUT ALLIANCE in Eastern Visayas. Atty. Dacut was a human rights lawyer and Bayan Muna coordinator who was shot to death last March 14.

"Rev. Lapuz was consistent in supporting human rights victims and their families. We deeply mourn his death and we reiterate our demand for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to immediately order the military to stop the killing of activists in Eastern Visayas and anywhere. We condemn GMA's consistent silence on the wave of killings of activists. Her silence is a strong indication that these brutal killings have the full blessings of Malacañang," Rev. Fr. Allan Jose Arcebuche, OFM, PCPR Chairperson stated.

At the height of his involvement in the regional campaign against human rights abuses and atrocities perpetrated by the military under General Jovito Palparan, Rev. Lapuz was eliminated by those who consider his kind as enemies of the state.

"We strongly suspect that those behind the brutal killings of Atty. Dacut and Rev. Lapuz are the same. Who else would have the guts to kill respected lawyers and church workers but the armed agents of the state under notorious human rights violators like Gen. Palparan? Palparan and all those involved in the killings, abduction and harassment of activists must be thoroughly investigated, arrested and punished," PCPR demanded.

PCPR will hold an indignation rally today from 6:00 am - 8:00 am at Welcome Rotonda then will join a multi-sectoral rally from 2:00 pm in Mendiola. Conscious that he was being monitored by the military, Rev. Lapuz recently confided to PCPR national officers that he and other activist church people in Leyte and Samar were being harassed by the military.

His name was reportedly included in the military's Order of Battle and his photo was displayed in the camp of the Regional Mobile Group. Last February 18, Fr. Allan Caparro, an activist IFI priest barely survived an assassination attempt.

Just last week Leo Davis, another UCCP member was killed by suspected military agents.

Contact PCPR National: 4107623 / 09213474039 PCPR Eastern Visayas: 09108518961

Stop All Foreign Aid to the Philipine Military

Stop All Foreign Aid to the Philipine Military

End the Repression and Killings of Filipino Activist!
We are seriously alarmed by the unabated killings of political activists all over the Philippines. From January to May 2005, a total of 31 leaders and members of progressive party list groups, people’s organizations, and human rights groups including lawyers and church people have been murdered. Meanwhile, since the start of the year, six political activists have been abducted and have involuntarily disappeared.

We are disturbed by reports that the repression and killings have been allegedly committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and their armed civilian groups, and are being promoted by the Arroyo government. The Philippine Aidwatch Network thus joins the growing number of organizations in the Philippines and abroad in condemning in the strongest possible terms the repression and killings of Filipino activists.

In the context of the US-sponsored war against terrorism, foreign aid is being used as a tool for the militarist pacification of rebel groups and their perceived supporters as well as the legal people’s movement. The Philippine Aidwatch Network thus appeals to all foreign aid donors, particularly the US, to stop the flow of aid money and other forms of assistance directly or indirectly being used by all units of the AFP. Further, all AFP officers, soldiers, and civilian militia implicated in the human rights abuses should also be investigated by a credible body and must be made to answer for their crimes.

Arroyo’s silence

While the violation of human rights of political activists perpetrated by the military has been going on for many years, the attack on the Filipino people’s movement has become most vicious – even worse than the Marcos martial law regime – since President Gloria Arroyo declared all-out support to the US-led global war against terrorism. That Arroyo has never issued any public statement condemning the murder of activists only implies that the national government has an undeclared policy of killing leaders and members of legitimate people’s groups in the name of the war against terrorism.

We are appalled that Arroyo even has the audacity to remark that the insurgency movement is driving away the tourists in the Eastern Visayas, in effect endorsing the counter-insurgency campaign in the region of notorious human rights abuser Major General Jovito Palparan. While Arroyo is concerned about the tourist industry in the region, she is conspicuously silent about the fact that Eastern Visayas is now a hot spot for human rights violations where 199 cases of killing, frustrated killing, disappearance, harassment, torture, physical assault, arbitrary arrest and detention of civilians, human rights advocates, and party list lawmakers have been recorded since Palparan took over. It was also Palparan who made the province of Mindoro Oriental a laboratory for new counter-insurgency tactics that resulted in numerous human rights violations, including murder, of civilians.

Terrorizing the people

The main target of the anti-terror efforts of Arroyo is no longer the Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao, which was used before to justify government’s close cooperation with Washington on its campaign against terrorists. As what Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz said, the biggest internal security threat in the country remains to be the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA). The US tagged the CPP-NPA, which operates nationwide, as a terrorist organization that gave the Arroyo government and the AFP the green light to do whatever it takes to end the more than three-decade insurgency of the Maoist groups.

But the intensified campaign of the military against the CPP-NPA has resulted in the gross violation of human rights of leaders and members of legal organizations as well as ordinary civilians. The military justifies the repression and killings with its worn out propaganda that these groups are communist fronts or are infiltrated by the communists. Even the media and the Church were not spared by the communist witch hunt of the AFP. Thus, the war against terror has now become a systematic campaign to terrorize the people whom government believes are supporters and sympathizers of the CPP-NPA.

Increased military assistance

Cruz projects that government can wipe out the communist insurgency in 6 to 10 years and his optimism rests on the modernization of the AFP and its increased fighting capability through foreign military aid primarily from the US. Indeed, Washington has been pouring millions of dollars in military assistance to the AFP since 9/11 purportedly to improve its capacity to combat terrorism and protect the national security.

Between 2000 and 2003, American military loans and grants for the Philippines grew by an astonishing 1,776 percent. The Philippines is no. 1 in Asia and fourth worldwide as the largest beneficiary of US military assistance, according to Arroyo. This year, the Bush administration is allocating even higher military assistance for the Philippines. US Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for the Philippines will almost double from $30 million in 2004 to $55 million in 2005. Overall, the Bush administration is asking the US Congress to increase US military assistance to the Philippines from $65 million last year to $80 million this year primarily for Philippine marine capabilities upgrade and for counter-terrorism requirements.

Development aid for pacification

But equally alarming is the trend where development assistance is increasingly being used as a means for pacification. While the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has been doing this in Mindanao even before 9/11, the direction is to replicate such efforts in other areas of conflict in the Philippines or more concretely, in the strongholds of the CPP-NPA. Last year, the USAID has revised its strategic plan for the Philippines as a result of the findings of a Conflict Vulnerability Assessment conducted on May-July 2003. Covering the period 1 October 2004 – 30 September 2009, USAID’s strategic goal for its new strategy is ‘enhanced security and accelerated progress towards sustainable, equitable growth through improved governance, capacities, and economic opportunities.’ The new strategic objective will supersede the previous Mindanao-specific USAID strategy and aims to ‘address conflict more comprehensively and with a broader geographic focus, particularly on areas outside Mindanao where poverty and social injustice can help to create fertile ground for organized violence and terrorism.’

We are concerned that increased US military aid and US development assistance focusing in conflict areas may only be used by the AFP to intensify its attack not only against the Maoist rebels but against unarmed civilians including the leaders and members of legal people’s organizations. While development aid may be used for livelihood projects, infrastructure, or social services, we fear that the AFP will only use such projects to gather intelligence or launch special operations in communities that they believe are NPA bases.

The AFP has already been doing this such as its participation in the World Bank-funded $100-million Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) project in which AFP’s Sala’am (Peace) soldiers help provide ‘psycho-social and medico-civic services’ in communities where the Moro rebels are strong. The Sala’am soldiers, according to the AFP itself, is similar to the special operations teams (SOTs) that the military deployed in NPA strongholds in the 1980s.

Trends show that the military has been increasingly using this ploy against rebel groups and their perceived allies. Palparan, for example, is actively deploying his units to build or rehabilitate infrastructure projects and provide ‘social work’ in NPA strongholds in Eastern Visayas as part of his counter-insurgency campaign. This does not only distort the meaning of development aid and ultimately defeat its purpose, but may also aggravate the worsening situation of human rights in the country.

Peace with social justice

We demand the US and all foreign donors that provide military aid to the AFP or that tie development assistance to the counter-insurgency campaign of the AFP to suspend such programs and projects in the light of the alleged military-perpetrated killings of Filipino activists. If donors genuinely intend to utilize their resources to help build lasting peace and stability in the Philippines, then it is imperative for them to take a strong stance against the human rights abuses supposedly committed by the military. By terrorizing the people who are critical of the government and are perceived supporters of the insurgency movement, the Philippine government, the AFP and aid donors (through the military and development aid that they provide to the AFP) are wrongly trying to shortcut the road to sustainable peace and progress.

There can never be lasting peace without social justice. For donors, this does not only mean that there should be more development aid than military aid. More importantly, it means allowing the people to determine what kind of assistance, programs, or projects they truly need. This means empowering the people in implementing these initiatives to address their poverty instead of allowing the AFP to use such programs and projects for their military campaign.


Stop all foreign aid to the Philippine military!

End the repression and killings of Filipino activists!

Justice to all the victims of political repression!

Relieve and prosecute all military officers, soldiers, and civilian militia accused of human rights abuses!



PHILIPPINE AIDWATCH NETWORK
Member of Reality of Aid network

Head, International Department
Ibon Foundation, Inc.
3/F SCC Bldg., 4427 Interior Old Sta. Mesa
1008 Manila, Philippines
Tel No. +632-7141831, 7130910
Fax No. +632-7160108
Email intlsec@ibon.org
URL: www.ibon.org

A cry for justice

A cry for justice

Nestled within the comfort of his rank in the military, Major General Jovito Palparan has long been implementing an open policy of pulverizing progressive organizations by liquidating its leaders and members. He justified in all righteousness that political activists are "bad eggs" or "rotten apples" that must be eliminated. Arguing with an obvious disdain for civil and basic human rights, he defends this lawless act as a patriotic service to the country.

Such perverse and fascist thinking and practice of a high ranking military official is a red light that signals danger not only to political activists but to all civil libertarians, peace advocates, truth crusaders in the media and all patriotic Filipinos who remain vigilant and refuse to succumb to the culture of violence perpetrated by the state and its armed forces.

Now as M/Gen. Palparan faces the criminal charges leveled against him, the judicial court is challenged to deliver the long overdue justice, to all the victims who suffered death and torment in the hands of his mercenaries in the 204th brigade. This band of army was known among the people as without mercy nor remorse in using their high-powered rifles to intimidate, harass or kill anybody who assert his/her rights, executing 29 leaders and members of progressive organizations. Their dead bodies all bore signs of torture and their faces were mutilated.

Waves of displacement due to heightened troop deployment have driven away Mindoro folks and Mangyan indigenous peoples. At the sight of any man in fatigue with their aimed rifles or at the echoing of boots, the Mangyans would cower, and flee as far away as possible into the depths of the mountains where the military would not reach them, causing them sometimes to starve or suffer psychological trauma. Many Mangyans are unable to set foot until now on their birth lands for fear of the military.

Such is the terror sown by the then Colonel Palparan and the 204th Brigade in the hearts of the Mangyans and local Mindoro folks. It is condemnable and unjust that this same fate is being borne by the people of Eastern Visayas where the palaces’ favorite general now launches his anti-progressive movement crusade.

Promising to crush the legal mass movement within six months to one year and having labeled members of the legal mass movement as ‘enemies of state," martial-law rules in Eastern Visayas at the behest of M/Gen. Palparan. Having brazenly announced the necessity of plucking out legal mass leaders one by one, Palparan was indeed true to his word. To date, 11 leaders of militant organizations including lawyers and church leaders have been ‘eliminated like rotten apples," from the time Palparan set foot in E. Visayas.

Lawmakers and credible politicians like former Senate President Jovito Salonga himself, have long decried this injustice and clamored for the stop to M. Gen Palparan’s vicious campaign. Two notable congressmen from Eastern Visayas described M. Gen. Palparan as without a soul, and persistently called for his recall. Amid the snowball of protests against him, Palparan’s resolve did not cower, instead trumpets his immunity saying that he is accountable solely to his commander in chief".

The Arroyo administration’s sheer silence regarding Palparan’s case raises questions about the presidency’s own culpability in these calculated and well-coordinated crimes. Why has the president not supported the public outcry the stop to this killing frenzy, but showered Palparan instead with promotions and liberty to continue his perverted policy of "peace and democracy"? How many more people’s martyrs does the Malacañang need before it takes action and bring Palparan’s lawless rule to an end?

The people are crying out for justice for every blood shed, for every soul snuffed out. Let justice claim its long overdue bounty and make the general pay for his crimes. – MAY VARGAS, tabakphils@yahoo.com

Prophets May Be Killed: On the Assassination of Rev. Lapuz

Prophets May Be Killed
But the Prophetic Voice Can Never Be Silenced

"Greater love has no one than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13)

The perpetrators may think they can silence the prophetic voice simply by killing the prophets. They may think they are doing the Philippines good. The reverse is the truth: they are doing a great disservice to our beloved country and its citizens.


The Rev. Edison Lapuz, Conference Minister of the North Eastern Leyte Conference (NELCON) and a member of the National Council of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) is the latest victim of a dastardly and systematic elimination of people who are perceived as "enemies of the State." Ever since the coming out of a military-produced black propaganda material entitled "Know the Enemy," there have been unsolved, open killings and brutal murders undertaken against personalities affiliated or connected to those groups identified as "enemies." Such is the situation that even the Commission on Human Rights of the Republic of the Philippines is alarmed at the reported more than 50 victims of ambushes and systematic killings so far this year alone. In the last two months, 6 UCCP members in Leyte and Samar have been ambushed and/or assassinated.


The Rev. Edison Lapuz is the latest victim of irresponsible name-calling and labelling in an organized attempt to "cleanse and purge" the Church of so-called "leftists" or those of "progressive" persuasion.


As a pastor assigned to the rural communities, the Rev. Lapuz had been exposed to the struggle of peasants and fisher-folks to obtain land in Northern Leyte. His pastoral vocation brought him close to the issues and efforts of the marginalized. He consistently sought for the Church to be a living witness to the Gospel as it confronts the harsh reality of people's suffering and actively worked with the ecumenical community. Believing in the possibility of enhancing the democratic space, Edison Lapuz became Eastern Visayas Coordinator for Bayan Muna, a post he held before he became Conference Minister of NELCON. Like many who gave the parliamentary and electoral struggle a chance, the Rev. Lapuz found out too late that democracy is only good for some - and people who propose alternatives become targets of those who are resisting having the political and economic monopoly broken.


As Conference Minister, Edison Lapuz was pastorally responsible for expressing the Church's alarm and concern over the recent shooting of one UCCP member and the killing of another in his conference. The Rev. Lapuz unflinchingly maintained his firm commitment to stand for justice and righteousness; he set aside the death threats he was receiving as an attendant risk to the prophetic call. Indeed, his ultimate gift to the people and for his beloved country, deeply felt as intrinsic to his call as a pastor, echoes the words of Jesus:

"Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."



As General Secretary, spokesperson of the Church, I address the following:

1. To the perpetrators of the dastardly act of assassination and murder, and those who are behind them:

You do not have the last say. We firmly believe that the God of justice - the God of the prophets, will vindicate the death of the Rev. Edison Lapuz and the many others whose lives you have snuffed out.

You may think you have done the country good by eliminating with extreme prejudice its perceived "enemies"- but for every life you unjustly take, many more will rise after them to cry out against the injustice until "two and two and fifty make a million" to see the day of genuine freedom come.

You may think you have done the country a service, but all you have done is push the Philippines down further into the abyss of lawlessness, into the dark pit of the disregard for the rule of law, into the quagmire of intolerant totalitarianism.
By eliminating the perceived "enemies of the State" this way, you are, in fact, escalating the cycle and level of violence, leaving the people more and more limited options in seeking redress of wrongs.

2. To President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo:

As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, yours is a solemn duty to ensure that the soldiers under your authority act as guardians of peace, democracy and freedom. The series of violence and killings in Eastern Visayas Region reveal no less than ineptitude, if not tolerance, on the part of the military who are supposed to be the defenders of our people.

We call upon our President as such, to act swiftly by:

a. Pulling-out Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan; and
b. Conducting an impartial investigation that the truth may come out and justice may be served to whom justice is due.

3. To those in the fellowship of the Church who had been making sweeping and unsubstantiated allegations against the leadership of the Church:

Behold the unfortunate consequence of name-calling and labeling which has put the lives of your brothers and sisters at stake and in danger. Upholding the Scripturally-based prophetic tradition is what we must commit to do fearlessly together.

4. To the general membership of the Church:

May we uphold in our prayers the bereaved family of our brother Edison. He left behind Emma M. Lapuz, his wife and two children: Edem Harmonay, (12 years) and Demy Freedom (6 years).

The life of our brother Edison shed for the marginalized poor of the land and his commitment to the living out of the Church's ministry with the least of Christ's brothers and sisters remain to strengthen and encourage us to work for the well-being of the marginalized. Let us honor this commitment and pledge to continue to raise a prophetic voice, to do a socially transformative witness and ministry, to advocate for a society that is truly democratic and free, where diversity is respected, where freedom of belief and expression is upheld.

May we be faithful until the end . . . when God's reign of love, justice and peace come to us at last!


Bishop Elmer M. Bolocon
General Secretary
May 16, 2005

A statement from UCC and DOC leaders on the assassination of the Rev. Edison Lapuz

A statement from UCC and DOC leaders on the assassination of the Rev. Edison Lapuz, Conference Minister of the United Church of Christ in the PhilippinesAs leaders of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) we join in expressing outrage and sorrow over the assassination of the Rev. Edison Lapuz, conference minister of the Northeastern Leyte Conference of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, along with Mr. Alfredo Malinao. These deaths continue a pattern of harassment and intimidation of progressive church and social leaders whose prophetic voices have been committed to justice for the poor and marginalized. In response to this killing, we express our profound sorrow to the families of Edison Lapuz and Alfredo Malinao, to the pastors and members of the Northeastern Leyte Conference, and to our brother in Christ, Bishop Elmer M. Boloncon, General Secretary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines; call on the government of the Philippines to aggressively investigate and bring to prosecution the perpetrators of these crimes and to ensure the rights of its citizens to speak and act freely in support of the poor and the marginalized in society; express our solidarity with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and with its leaders, including Bishop Boloncon, as they seek to be a prophetic witness to peace and justice in the Philippines; ask the members of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to pray for our partners in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines as they seek to be courageous in their ministries among the poor; affirm the efforts of the East Asia and Pacific Office of Common Global Ministries to closely monitor the human rights situation in the Philippines and provide support to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines as they provide a pastoral and prophetic ministry in the Philippines on behalf of the church throughout the world.John H. ThomasGeneral Minister and PresidentUnited Church of ChristChristopher HobgoodGeneral Minister and PresidentChristian Church (Disciples of Christ)Bennie E. Whiten Jr. and David VargasCo-Executives, Common Global MinistriesUnited Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

On the Assassination of Rev. Edison Lapuz

Rev. Edison Lapuz, Conference Minister of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines And Human Rights Campaigner, Assassinated
Christians in the Philipines and across the world are mouring the death of The Rev. Edison Lapuz, conference minister of the Northeastern Leyte Conference of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. Rev. Lapuz, a crusader for human rights, was assassinated on May 12th. There has been speculation the military was involved in carrying out the assassination. Just before Rev. Lapuz was killed the military issued a statement calling Lapuz’s human rights group, Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas, a communist front organization. The United Church of Christ in the US and the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) have jointly released a statement condemning the killing.

As leaders of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) we join in expressing outrage and sorrow over the assassination of the Rev. Edison Lapuz, conference minister of the Northeastern Leyte Conference of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, along with Mr. Alfredo Malinao. These deaths continue a pattern of harassment and intimidation of progressive church and social leaders whose prophetic voices have been committed to justice for the poor and marginalized.

Maj. General Palparan “ admits” he is behind pol slays of activists

Monday, 16 May 2005
Maj. General Palparan “ admits” he is behind pol slays of activists
Maj. General Palparan “ admits” he is behind
the spate of political killings in Samar, Leyte--- militant groups

Leaders of the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and the peasant activist group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said on Monday that Maj. General Jovito Palparan had admitted that he was behind the spate of political killings of activists in Samar and Leyte provinces.

“ The search is over as to who is the mastermind behind the killings of political activists in Samar and Leyte provinces . Maj. General Jovito Palparan, Malacañang’s favorite military general had already admitted to the public as part of his own crowning glory as the new Butcher of Eastern Visayas”, KMP and Pamalakaya said in joint statement.

KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella said the pronouncement of Palparan during a public meeting in Tacloban City that military would be abducting one peasant activist every month from so-called NPA infested areas is a “ material basis” to file murder and other criminal charges against the general tagged as the “ Butcher of Mindoro”.

“ We will just organize the materials and evidence that would pin down Palparan as the orchestrator of the left and right political assassinations of peasant activists and progressive elements in Eastern Visayas. The filing of criminal charges will take place within the soonest time as possible”, Marbella said.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the admission by Gen. Palparan of his leadership in the mass murder of peasant activists, progressives and critics of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the military establishment in the region also confirmed a policy statement known as ‘take no prisoner policy” carried out by Malacañang and the military intended to assassinate, kill and intimidate critics of the Macapagal-Arroyo clique.

Citing an interview conducted by Bantay Jasmin, a radio station based in Tacloban City, Hicap said the controversial military officer almost admitted categorically his “ starring role” in the mass abduction, forced disappearances and summary executions of political activists in Samar and Leyte provinces.

When further asked by the radio program host about the abduction of peasant activists in Samar and Leyte, Palparan had this to say: “ Pasensya na kayo sa paisa-isang kinukuha at ninunyutralisa natin sa mga baryo. Kailangan nating gawin iyon dahil kung hindi inaalis ang paisa-isang bulok na mansanas ay mabubulok lahat.” ( I’m sorry if we have to seize and neutralize these rotten apples one-by-one. If we don’t, it is these bad apples that will spoil the whole brunch).

Pamalakaya’s Hicap also said Maj. General Palparan confirmed his role in the series of abductions of political activists identified with militant party list groups and cause-oriented organizations in Catbalogan, Northern Samar.

Maj. Gen. Palparan said “ Yung masasamang tao na nawawala, mabuti naman na mawala sila. These are the bad eggs. Gumagawa sila ng kagaguhan. They are the ones killing people. If you don’t do anything, patuloy silang gagawa ng masama. Ngayon kinuha ang mga ito, tinatanong-tanong, galit kayo. ( It is a good thing that those bad elements are missing. They are the bad eggs. They do bad things. They are the ones killing people. If you don’t do anything, they will just go on doing bad things. Now that they’ve been seized you question why. You are angry).

“ Maj. Gen. Palparan has become the epitome of state terror courtesy of President Macapagal-Arroyo and the rabid anti-militant and anti-people military officers within the inner circle of the ruling syndicate in Malacañang”, said Hicap in allusion to Palparan’s statements.

Likewise KMP’s Marbella scored Palparan for the military officer’s insulting and downgrading statement against farmers in Samar and Leyte provinces. The militant leader recalled that when Palparan was asked by Bantay Jasmin why the NPA is strong in Samar island, the controversial general lashed back and said ‘ dahil tamad ang mga tao rito at ayaw magtrabaho para pahusayin ang kabuhayan nila’ (It is because the people here are lazy and don’t want to work to improve their lives).

“ Kapal ng mukha. Hindi niya ba alam na ang kanin na kinakain niya at ng pamilya niya ay mula sa dugo at pawis ng mga magsasaka? Hindi niya ba alam na ang sweldo niya ay mula sa walang katapusang buwis na ibinabayad ng mga magsasaka? Hindi lamang siya arrogante, psychotic pa” ( Thick face. Does he know that the rice he and his family is eating come from blood and sweat of the farmers? Does he know that his salary come from the endless taxes paid by the farmers? He is not only arrogant, he is psychotic too”), Marbella lamented.

Palparan said he was more inspired everytime media referred him as the Butcher of Mindoro although he neither deny or admit that he was a butcher in real life. The controversial military officer also admitted that the Alsa Masa, a paramilitary group accused of killing mass activists in Mindoro Island between 2001 to 2004 was created when he was the commanding officer of the 204th IBPA in the island province as he recognized the death squad’s help in the counter-insurgency campaign of the government against the NPA. #

Peasants seek removal of military camp

Peasants seek removal of military camp
By: Danny Lagos

CATARMAN, Northern Samar – Some 200 peasants staged a rally in front of the Provincial Capitol here recently, seeking Gov. Raul Daza’s help in suspending the ongoing camp construction of the Charlie Company, 63 rd Infantry Battalion, in Barangay Hibubulyaw, Catubig, northern Samar.

The peasants came from 12 different hinterland barangays of Viate, Bulao, Magsaysay, Lopedico, Quezon, Catuugan, Roxas, Hipapian, Alagaon, San Francisco, Bonifacio and Hibubulyaw of the municipalities of Catubig and Las Navas.

Alexander Tan, spokesperson of the peasants group, when interviewed by ABS-CBN Catarman and Leyte Samar Daily Express, said that they came here to seek the help of the governor to stop the construction of the military camp in Hibubulyaw.

He added that they already had sad experiences because of the presence of military camps.

Tan said they are also condemning human rights violations involving civilians allegedly committed by the military in Northern Samar.

As thus developed, Governor Raul Daza immediately called foe a dialogue. Daza called up Col. Bernard de Luna, the 803 rd Brigade Commanding Officer, through his cellphone and instructed him to attend an emergency meeting with the protesters.

Daza then initiated the dialogue which was participated in by Col. De Luna; Major Pao Mama-o, battalion commander; Major Pastrano, company commander; and the representatives of the peasants group, namely Fr. Abel Echual, chairman of Katungod-Northern Samar; Professor Romeo Cui of the University of Eastern Philippines; Jonathan Callapses, secretary general of Bayan Muna; and Dindin Gallardo of Gabriela.

During the dialogue, the representatives of the peasants group reiterated their demands that no military camps be built in their barangay considering that there are two existing barracks in the area near Catubig town.

Col. De Luna countered that Col. Manuelito Usi, battalion commander of the 63 rd Infantry Brigade based in Catubig, should be consulted first because, according to him, Col. Usi has intelligence report that such area are infiltrated by the New People’s Army (NPA).

After two hours of dialogue, Gov. Daza suggested that the two groups to agree to a compromise.

Both parties agreed to a full back position of 200 to 300 meters away from original site and in the meantime suspend the construction of the military camp in Brgy. Hibubulyaw until a consultation has been held in affected barangays.

On the Assault to Fr. Allan Caparro, IFI by suspected military men

PROMOTION OF CHURCH PEOPLE'S RESPONSE Eastern Visayas
YKS Cmpd., Door C, Old Road Sagkahan, Tacloban City
Tel. # (053) 321-7733
Email address: pcpr_evbul2002@yaqhoo.com

Press Statement Reference: Rev. Fr. Butch Avelino
February 20, 2005 Council member, PCPR-EV

If there is any question of the alarming human rights situation in the
region, this has been vividly portrayed with the recent attempt on the
life of Fr. Allan Caparro, a clergy of the Iglesia Filipina
Independiente (IFI) and Vice-Chairperson of the PROMOTION OF CHURCH PEOPLE'S RESPONSE – Eastern Visayas (PCPR-EV), an ecumenical political organization of church people involved in promoting and advancing of the rights of the least of our brethren.

When church people them, imbued by their faith to live out their
preferential option for the poor become victims of malicious attacks,
the State's total disregard of democratic rights and dignity of men
and women is clearly exposed. More so when these attacks are
perpetrated by armed agents of the State.

The attack last February 18, 2005 around 6:30 in the evening at Brgy.
Tagabaca, Sitio Balingsasayaw, Abuyog, Leyte by three still
unidentified assailants on board a motorcycle using a .45 caliber
pistol wounded Fr. Allan and his wife, Aileen C. Caparro. From the
circumstances surrounding the attack, there is no other possible
motive other than to silence Fr. Allan because of his long and
consistent defense of the masses, especially the peasants in Northern
and Western Samar who have been continually harassed and attacked by
members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Lately, he has
been very vocal in his stance against mining operations that were
closely linked with rising militarization and massive displacement of
peasants from their land and communities.

It worthy to note that the manner of the attack was almost the same to
that of the still unsolved case of ANAKPAWIS-Eastern Visayas regional
coordinator Samuel Bandilla who was gunned down last October 15, 2004.
In both incidents, the victims were on board their single motorcycle
when another motorcycle approached them from behind and shot them
using .45 cal pistol then speed away. In Bandilla's case, it was
established that a certain Soledad who is a member of the military
intelligence group (MIG) was involved. There is reason to believe that
Fr. Allan's case is another handiwork of the military.

We, in PCPR join the people of the entire Eastern Visayas in
condemning this malicious and planned attack against our fellow human
rights advocate. On that note, we reiterate our position in condemning
the disposition of Col. Jovito Palparan as the new division commander
of the 8th Infantry Division because of his notorious record of human
rights violations especially when he was still assigned in Mindoro
Oriental. His name and presence is synonymous to heightened human
rights violations especially attacks on members of progressive legal
organizations.

Furthermore, we remain undaunted by this attempt to gag us in our firm
stand to be in solidarity with the poor. We have and will remain to
embrace in our commitment to "remove the chains of oppression and the
yoke of injustice; and let the oppressed go free." (Isaiah 58:6) and
persevere in the struggle for just and humane society. ###

Re: Attempted Extra-Judicial Killing of Fr. Allan Caparro and his
wife,Aileen C. Caparro.

NARRATIVE REPORT

Profile of the Victims:

1. Fr. Allan Caparro, 40 years old, married, a clergy of the Iglesia
Filipina Independiente (IFI); present assignment is in Brgy. Sabang,
Calbayog, Western Samar.

He was one of the founding members of Promotion of Church People's
Response-N. Samar (PCPR-NS) and was its first chairperson. During the
2nd PCPR-EV Regional Congress, with his new assignment in Calbayog, W.
Samar, he was elected to sit in the Regional Council as
Vice-Chairperson for the province of W. Samar.

2. Aileen C Caparro, 34 years old, married with 5 children and a
Bookkeeper of the Diocesan Council of the Biliran-Leyte-Samar (BILESA)
IFI Diocese.

Background of the Incident:

The Biliran-Leyte-Samar (BILLESA) Diocese of the Iglesia Filipina
Indepiendente (IFI) called for a clericus (clergy) and a Diocesan
Council Meeting last Feb. 16-18, 2005 at their cathedral in Padre
Burgos, So. Leyte. Fr. Allan Caparro together with his wife, who is
also a member of the Diocesan Council as their bookkeeper, attended
the said meetings. The meeting ended around 3:30 p.m. of February 18
and decided to spend the night at Julita, Leyte and visit their
children before leaving for Calbayog, W. Samar.

The Incident:

They left Padre Burgos around 4:00 p.m. on board their Kymco-brand
single motorcycle with Fr. Allan driving.

It was already past 5:00 p.m. when they arrived at Mahaplag, Leyte
where they decided to stop ad refuel at a gasoline station. It was
while they were filling up their tank that Aileen noticed these three
men near a colored red TMX-type single motorcycle within the gasoline
station. She was alarmed with the angry look of one of these three men
and called the attention and Fr. Allan.

After refueling, they were again on their way. And at around 6:30,
they were already at Brgy. Tagabaca, Abuyog, Leyte and was about to
navigate the circuitous road of Brgy. Balingsasayaw of the same
municipality when a shot was fired from motorcycle-riding gunman
behind them immediately hitting the right portion of Fr. Allan's back.
Immediately, Fr. Allan applied the brake on his motorcycle and then
three more shots was fired as the gunman's motorcycle overtook them on
his left side hitting Aileen on her stomach and another on his thigh.
The motorcycle of the gunman then sped off towards the direction of
the town of Dulag, Leyte. There were three on board the red TMX-like
motorcycle of the perpetrators.

Because there were no houses in the place of the incident, Fr. Allan
made a U-turn and tried to find a house where they can for help. He
was able to find help and they were brought to Abuyog District
Hospital and where first-aid was applied before they were ferried by
an ambulance and brought to St. Paul's Hospital in Tacloban City for
proper treatment.

At St. Paul's Hospital, Aileen had emergency operation because of the
bullet wound in her stomach that hit one of her kidneys. She is still
in ICU and is being monitored closely. After she stabilizes, she will
undergo another operation for her bullet wound in the thigh that hit
her pelvic. On the other hand, Fr. Allan's bullet wound almost hit his
spinal cord but was now declared out of danger.

It was established that a .45 caliber gun was used in the said attack.

Motive of the Attack

Though we still have to establish the identity of the perpetrators, it
is our belief that it was a planned and malicious attempt on the life
of Fr. Allan Caparro by agents of the State, particularly the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

His involvement in human rights advocacy, particularly in exposing and
opposing militarization because of numerous atrocities committed by
the military in Northern and Western Samar has earned him the ire of
the military.

Just recently, Fr. Allan together with other church denominations and
sectors have spearheaded an alliance formation in Calbayog, W. Samar
for the protection of environment against destruction like mining
operations in the island. These mining operations go hand in hand with
massive military operations with the purpose of securing the area and
containing the people's opposition.

Updates of the Investigation

The Abuyog PNP is yet to establish the identity of the perpetrators.
From their interview with Fr. Allan Caparro, they will be going back
to the area of the crime to find the bullet shells and wil be
interviewing also the gasoline boy at Mahaplag, Leyte for possible
identification of the men who were on board the red TMX-like
motorcycle.

IFI Obispo Maximo Tomas A. Millamena has asked the help of PNP
Director Gen. Edgardo Aglipay who in turn instructed Region VIII PNP
Director Gen. Dionisio Coloma to investigate the said incident.#

When prophets are persecuted

When prophets are persecuted

‘They shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up… into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.’ (Luke 21. 12)

Jesus had spoken these words to his disciples reminding them what hard things they should suffer for the sake of the gospel of the kingdom. He warned them of the sacrifices and sufferings they had to endure and the persecution they had to go through as the inevitable consequence of a life that is truthfully lived out for the people of God. Jesus encourages them to bear up under their trials notwithstanding the opposition that they had to meet in the hands of the enemies of the gospel of justice and peace.

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente has, once again, finds inspiration and consolation in these words of Jesus, most specially now where she suffers the violence of persecution. She paid dearly for proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom with the brutal killing of one of her priests. She grieves all the more that this act of violence happened in this holy season of lent.

Suspected military assassins ambushed Fr. William Tadena after saying mass in the morning of March 13. Fr. Tadena was a strong supporter of the striking workers in Hacienda Luisita and an outspoken critic of militarization in the province of Tarlac. He, and other three church workers, were aboard his vehicle when they were mercilessly riddled with bullets. Fr. Tadena died from gunshot wounds in the head and other parts of his body.

A month ago, suspected military assassins also ambushed Fr. Allan Caparro and his wife Aileen. They have been wounded but providentially escaped the slay attempt. Fr. Caparro is a strong advocate of human rights and has been exposing and opposing atrocities committed by the military in Northern and Western Samar.

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente strongly believes that these acts of terror were perpetrated to restrain her priests from supporting the poor in their struggle for life. This is not the first time that priests and bishops of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente had been subjected to threats and terror for seeking to incarnate the gospel of the kingdom amidst the situations of our people.

This includes the tagging of Bishop Emer Foja and Bishop Felixberto Calang as officers of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the inclusion of their name of in the military’s order of battle. The military had also maligned Bishop Rhee Timbang for expressing concern on the safety of an NPA guerrilla that had been captured by the military.

The military had likewise arrested and detained Fr. Noel Dacuycuy and Rev. Emelyn Gasco over the murder of Conrado Balweg of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA). A local court had indicted Fr. Jonash Joyohoy for denouncing the inhuman demolition of urban poor communities. The military had also tagged Fr. Marco Solayao as an NPA rebel for his unfaltering support to peasant’s struggle.

And even to this day, the murder of Fr. Narciso Pico, after almost fifteen years, remains an unsolved case.

We have likewise recently discovered that the military had launched a smear campaign aimed at presenting a number of our priests and bishops as communist rebels.

We are appalled at the way we are being persecuted when all that we do is to share our table to the hungry, give a glass of water to the thirsty, and share a caring hand to the poor. We are appalled at the way we are easily reputed as subversives when we raise our call to bring an end to the war in the country sides, protect the rights of every worker, demand for genuine land reform, uphold democratic rights and civil liberties, and assert our national sovereignty.

The assault on Fr. William Tadena and Fr. Allan Caparro show the true state of things in the country. The senseless killing and slay try on both of them is part of a systematic campaign to terrorize individuals and organizations sympathetic to the cause of the marginalized sectors of society. There is reason to believe that what befell to our two priests, as well as the countless unresolved murders on mass leaders and the blatant attacks on the democratic rights and civil liberties of our people, is not without the knowledge of the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The signs of the times lead us to believe that the situation could still get worse.

Amidst all these, even when our prophets are persecuted and our priests are put to death, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente will never waver in faith and will persist in proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom.

We pray for strength to withstand these acts of aggressions and assaults committed against our priests and bishops. We entrust ourselves to the Spirit to help us hold on to our hope in Jesus Christ and steadfastly proclaim the gospel of the kingdom even before the face of death.

Pro Deo et Patria,

+ MOST REVEREND TOMAS A. MILLAMENA, D.D.

Obispo Maximo

Defend Our Democratic Rights, Resist Martial Rule

Defend Our Democratic Rights, Resist Martial Rule

‘Christ has set us free. Stand firm and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery’. (Gal. 5.1)

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente condemns the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for maliciously naming her among the list of organizations and institutions to be in the ‘echelon of alliances with the Communist Party of the Philippines’ and are ‘enemies of the state’ that needed to be ‘neutralized’.

This comes not as a surprise after we discovered that the Armed Forces of the Philippines has also been showing a documentary film that presents a number of our bishops and priests as communist rebels.

This is clearly a part of the counter-insurgency program of the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to restrain our bishops, priests and church workers who support the legitimate struggle of the basic masses for social, economic and political reforms in the country.

This now makes us clearly see with our eyes who were the authors of the brutal killing and murder attempt on two of our priests, Fr. William Tadena and Fr. Allan Caparro.

The inclusion of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in the list of the ‘enemies of the state’ and the growing incidents of harassment of our bishops, priests and church workers demonstrate the worsening political repression and human rights violations in the Philippines.

We are deeply alarmed over the unfolding militarist posture of the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as characterized by her wanton disregard of the people’s democratic rights and civil liberties. We are now witnessing the aggressive emergence of a police state while an undeclared state of martial rule is being imposed upon the people of our country.

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente calls on the faithful and the people to denounce the escalation of political repression in the country, to remain vigilant against tyranny and terrorism of the state and the military, and to resist military rule over civilian authority in the strongest possible terms. We are also urging President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to respect our people’s democratic rights as citizens of the country.



+MOST REVEREND TOMAS A. MILLAMENA, D.D

Obispo Maximo

International Solidarity Mission: In Defense of a People Fighting Repression

International Solidarity Mission

In Defense of a People Fighting Repression

Philippines * August 2005

Background
US President George W. Bush's "war on terror" has given free rein to state terrorism in imperialist controlled and influenced countries, making human rights violations viciously rampant. The citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq are the most recent victims of the US war of aggression and have suffered atrocious human rights violations under US repressive policies and measures.

The Philippines has been declared by the US as the second front in its "war on terror." At the same time, in recognition of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's unflinching support to US wars of aggression, she was recently named as head of the anti-terror task force in Asia, and the Philippines was declared as a major "Non-NATO ally."

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) leads a government in crisis. The mandate of her administration is fraught with doubt as the May 2004 elections is tainted with massive fraud and use of government resources for electioneering. The country is in deep economic crisis as she continues to pursue the implementation of globalization's liberalization, deregulation and privatization policies.

Under her government, a culture of open terror pervades as she continues her fascist attacks against the marginalized citizens and legitimate people's organizations under her so-called "strong republic" and local version of US President Bush's war of terror.

Like its predecessors, the Arroyo regime committed human rights violations in its attempts to defeat the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front) and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), as part of its efforts to defend and promote the interests of foreign monopoly capitalists, the comprador bourgeoisie and big landlords, and while trying to suppress the ever growing legal democratic movement and the mounting opposition to Macapagal-Arroyo's rule .

In less than four years, the Arroyo regime has committed 3,560* cases of human rights violations victimizing 198,308* individuals, 18,977* families, 123* communities, and 1,016 households. There are 236 political detainees all over the country as of January 31, 2005. (* as of December 5, 2004.)

The November 16, 2004 killing of seven striking workers of Hacienda Luisita (HLI) in Tarlac, Central Luzon, when government soldiers fired at their picketline, signaled a new spate of killings and disappearances which has spread nationwide. Subsequently, Marcelino Beltran, key witness to the HLI massacre was killed on December 8.

In Mindanao, Madzrana Padiwan, 10 years old, and her brother, Almujayal, 7, witnessed the killing by government troops of their family members in their home in Kapuk Pungol, Maimbong, Sulu last February 1, 2005.

A bloody month of March 2005 is testimony to the terror rampage being perpetrated by the Philippine military and its hired death squads:

Mar. 1 Four members of GABRIELA, a national alliance of women's organizations, were unlawfully arrested and detained in Quezon province.

Mar. 3 Abelardo Ladera, who won in 2004 as number 2 city councilor under the banner of Bayan Muna (People First) Partylist, was shot dead in Tarlac City. Ladera had been supporting the HLI strikers.

Danny Macapagal, former provincial secretary general of BAYAN (New Patriotic Alliance) and BM provincial coordinator until 2004, was abducted by armed men in Nueva Ecija, Central Luzon. He has not been heard of since and has been listed among the disappeared.

Mar 7. Atty. Romeo Capulong, judge ad litem and prominent human rights lawyer, escaped an assassination attempt in his hometown in Nueva Ecija, Central Luzon. He likewise supports the HLI strikers.

Mer Dizon, illegally arrested and detained in the Zambales provincial jail.

Mar 8. Angelina Besunia, a peasant organizer, was arrested in Ozamis City, Western Mindanao and was missing for a week before the military presented her to the media. She is being accused of being a member of the New People's Army.

Mar 9. Romeo Sanchez, Bayan Muna Partylist Regional Coordinator and former Bayan Regional Secretary General and radio broadcaster in the Ilocos Region, was shot dead in Baguio City, Northern Luzon.

Mar 10. Ernesto Bang, provincial information officer of the AnakPawis Partylist of workers, peasants and urban poor, was killed in front of his residence in Camarines Sur, Bikol.

Mar 13. Father William Tadena, Philippine Independent Church priest, was shot dead on his way home from officiating a mass. He was another supporter of the HLI strikers.

Mar 14. Atty. Felidito Dacut, newly elected Board Member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP-Leyte), BM Partylist Eastern Visayas Regional Coordinator and a human rights lawyer, was killed a few meters from his office in Tacloban City, Leyte.

Mar 16. Joel Reyes, an organizer of the AnakPawis Partylist and a tricycle driver, was killed in Camarines Norte, Bikol.

25 Muslim detainees in Camp Bagong Diwa in the National Capital Region were killed in an alleged prison riot by members of the Abu Sayaf group. Majority of those killed were not members of the Abu Sayaf.

Mar 17. Victor "Ka Ben" Concepcion, Secretary General of AMC, a peasant organization, and municipal coordinator of the AnakPawis Partylist was killed in Angeles City, Central Luzon.

Mar 22. Atty. Charles Juloya, a human rights lawyer and Bayan Muna Partylist vice-mayoralty candidate in Aringay, La Union, Northern Philippines, was shot eight times while on his way to the wake of Romeo Sanchez who was killed on Mar 9. He is now in critical condition.

Rolly Cueva, an organizer of CLAA (Central Luzon Aeta Association) was killed in Zambales, Central Luzon.

Mar 24. Marlene Esperat, a journalist fighting corruption, was shot dead inside her house in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao.

No one is spared, whether leaders or volunteers of peasant, agricultural worker, indigenous peoples, women and other people's organizations, lawyers, priests, media people and local government officials. The threat is over the head of any dissenter.

In addition, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is pushing for the passage of an Anti-Terrorism Bill and the implementation of a National Identification System to further curtail civil liberties and tighten its control over the people.

Aside from being inutile in solving the various murders of journalists and broadcasters, Arroyo's government attempts to gag media by a regulation prohibiting, under threat of revocation of license and other sanctions, the interview of "terrorists," whereby the military defines who is a terrorist or not.

A mercy mission has just returned from Sulu, Mindanao to give assistance to the victims of massive displacement of Moro villagers, almost all of them Muslims, due to militarization by government troops and armed confrontation between them and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) forces after the massacre of a Moro couple.

These characterize the worsening human rights situation in the country. Such is also the face of the "strong republic" and the Philippine version of US President Bush's war of terror.

The frequency and gravity of how these human rights violations were done are unprecedented and it is for this reason that we enjoin peoples' movement activists, civil libertarians, human rights defenders, concerned parliamentarians and everyone working for the defense and promotion of human rights from different parts of the country and the world to look into these human rights violations. You can bear witness to the gravity of the effects of Bush's war of terror in this part of Asia and help stem the tide of the worsening human rights situation in our country through the International Solidarity Mission: In Defense of a People Fighting Repression to be held in the Philippines this year.

Concept
An International Solidarity Mission (ISM) will be organized to visit the Philippines in August 2005. The ISM will be divided into five teams, each of which will focus on an area where the grossest HR violations have been perpetrated in the past couple of years: Mindoro Island, Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, Samar in the Visayas, and Compostela Valley and Sulu in Mindanao.

Each team will present its findings in a media-public forum in the region visited. Then the teams will return to the National Capital Region (NCR) for a Peoples' Tribunal, after which a media briefing will be held. The ISM will end with a march to Mendiola to denounce the US-GMA regime for state terrorism.

Gross HRV cases in other areas in the region may be submitted to the ISM and victims/witnesses made available for interviews so they can also be included in the deliberations of the People's Tribunal.

Objectives
To bring to the attention of the international community the gravity of the HR violations and extent of state terrorism occurring in the Philippines under the US supported GMA government;
To muster international pressure on the GMA government to stop violating human rights and peoples' rights with impunity;
To gather international support to the victims/survivors of state terrorism; and
To contextualize the worsening HR situation in the Philippines within George Bush's war of terror.
Schedule
August 2005
13: Arrival of delegates and National-level Briefing
14: Trip to the Regions/Areas and Regional-level Briefing
15-16: ISM
17: Team report and media statement drafting; submission of draft reports and materials to the Drafting Committee thru the Natl Sec't so the consolidation and drafting of the national report can already be started; team evaluation and solidarity night
18: Press conference in the region and trip to the NCR; drafting of the national report and preparations for the People's Tribunal
19: Peoples' Tribunal; Press Conference or Media Forum; Media Interviews; March to Mendiola; Solidarity Dinner
20: Departure of foreign-based participants; evaluation by the ISM 2005 National Organizing Committee
ISM Convenors
International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS), Philippine Chapter
Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights)
PCPR (Promotion of Church People's Response)
Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance)
International Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL)
Bayan Muna (BM) PartyList

Details
1) Foreign-based participants to be invited

Trade union, peasant/farmer, women, indigenous, fisher, youth and other peoples' movement leaders; civil libertarians, human rights activists; lawyers, jurists, judges, justices and law students; academicians; artists, writers, journalists and broadcasters; scientists; medical and other professionals; religious leaders; members of Parliament and other national government officials who are known to be critical of anti-people policies in their countries; members and supporters of solidarity organizations; and other human rights defenders.

Since we would like our fact-finding mission to generate pressure, there should be at least 2-3 international or foreign personalities in each team, who wield extraordinary influence in their countries or field of expertise. Certainly, the judgment of these people will lend additional credence to the ISM and influence public opinion in their and other countries. This will help generate public pressure against the GMA regime and call on her to put a stop to the HRVs committed.

The opportunity lent by the presence of the foreign-based participants in the Philippines should be maximized in terms of having them share the situation in their countries and what they or their organizations/movements are doing to change it.

Members of Philippine mass organizations abroad and solidarity groups are enjoined to join the ISM and help attend to the foreign participants from their countries of residence. It is likewise suggested that they hold a forum when they get back to their countries of residence to share and project the results of the ISM.

Participating organizations at the national level will invite their international contacts to participate in the ISM. A list of names, contact addresses as well as email addresses of the international friends will be submitted to the Secretariat so invitations and other ISM materials can be sent them. The organization will sound out their international contacts and inform them in advance regarding the ISM and the invitation to follow.

2) Local Participants

National mass leaders and allies; Bayan Muna (BM), AnakPawis (AP) and Gabriela Women's Party (GWP) representatives and other legislators; and local government officials. The bigger number will come from regional and provincial mass leaders and allies.

The regional organizations joining the ISM, with assistance from the ISM National Secretariat, will provide the people to take care of such tasks as: documentation, affidavit-making, interviewing, interpreting, team report drafting; prop writing and media liaison; providing security and driving; medical assistance; clerical/logistical support.

3) Methodology

Structured and/or on-site interviews (as much as possible should be put into sworn statements or any form of writing) of:

Selected illustrative victims of torture, arbitrary detention, forcible evacuation and other HRVs
Selected material witnesses and families of those summarily executed, missing or disappeared, etc.
Selected labor, peasant, Moro, women and indigenous leaders in the affected areas
Selected HR defenders directly involved/knowledgeable in the area
Cooperative governmental bodies: Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Department of National Defense (DND), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP), local government units (LGUs), Senate, House of Representatives, etc.
Non-governmental bodies: HR and people's organizations, Joint Secretariat of the GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee
Ocular inspection and visit of selected areas covered by the ISM

Others that the ISM team members will deem necessary

Presentation of ISM Results
Results of the international solidarity mission will be presented to the public in media-public fora in the areas visited.

Then the ISM Teams will consolidate their reports and hold a Peoples' Tribunal in the NCR. The ISM and tribunal conclusions will be presented to the national and international media in a press conference or media forum right after the tribunal. Media interviews of foreign and national/regional personalities will also be arranged.

Press statements will be circulated to the wires, indy media network and various e-groups. Hopefully, there will be feature human interest articles that can be written based on the findings of the ISM.

A final report, in book and VCD form, will be published and distributed to the participating Philippine and foreign organizations, solidarity groups, relevant government agencies, international human rights organizations, embassies, the GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee, and submitted to the relevant United Nations agencies and special rapporteurs.

Organizational Matters
1) There will be 1-2 lead national organizations per ISM team. It will lead and coordinate conduct of the ISM with the other national organizations and the applicable regional and local organizations. The core of each ISM team will be composed of the lead national and regional organizations. Below is the initial list of lead organizations:

Mindoro Team: Karapatan National and its Southern Tagalog Chapter
Hacienda Lusita Team: KMU (May 1 Movement), KMP (Peasant Movement in the Philippines)
Samar Team: Bayan Muna
Compostela Valley Team: PCPR and InPeace
Moro Team: MCPA (Moro-Christian Peoples' Alliance) and InPeace People's Tribunal & March Bayan
2) A National Organizing Committee (NOC) will be composed of the ISM teams' lead organizations, regional lead organizations and heads of the secretariat and the committees. The NOC will do the general planning, overseeing and coordination of implementation and general evaluation of the ISM. It is the main decision-making body of the ISM. The Philippine Chapter of the International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS) will head the NOC and preside in its meetings.

A Team or Regional Organizing Committee will be formed by the team's core organizations. It may form its own Secretariat and relevant committees.

[Read ISM Invitation Letter]

Report: Soldiers detain priests, relief mission members

Report: Soldiers detain priests, relief mission members


By JAIME ESPINA, abs-cbnNEWS.com

BACOLOD CITY – Priests, nuns and Protestant pastors were among the more than 70 participants of a church-led relief mission detained by Army troops in Western Samar on Monday, a report from the human rights group Karapatan said.

Karapatan-Central Visayas identified those detained as Franciscan priest Calvin Bugho, Fr. Bob Caday of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Rev. Steve Berdin, Dr. Oliver Gimenez and lawyer Noemi Truya of the Cebu-based Inter-Faith Movement for Peace.

"Seventy other participants, including doctors, nurses, pastors and church and human rights volunteers from Bohol, Cebu, Leyte and Samar were also detained," said Dennis Abarrientos, Karapatan-CV secretary general.

The relief mission was conducted with the Diocese of Calbayog to help families displaced by ongoing military operations in the province.

Karapatan also reported that soldiers abducted a certain Bolontoy Mabag, barangay councilor of Antol, Calbiga, Western Samar, on Monday night.

Karapatan said Mabag's abduction and the detention of th mission members were part of the worsening human rights violations committed by government troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, chief of the 8th Infantry Division in Eastern Visayas.

The relief mission reportedly arrived at Paranas past 10 a.m. Monday and later left for Barangay Concepcion.

"They were not able to reach Concepcion," the Karapatan statement said. They were blocked by soldiers at Lawaan, five kilometers from the town center.

Abarrientos said a second 50-man team that was distributing relief goods to evacuees in Motiong town left for Paranas to look for their companions.

The second team will be accompanied by a police escort.

Solons press Samar general ouster

Solons press Samar general ouster


Pro-administration Samar congressmen have found the raging audiotape controversy as "bargaining chip" in pressing for the ouster of Major Gen. Jovito Palparan as chief of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Catbalogan, Samar.

Western Samar Reps. Catalino Figueroa and Reynaldo Uy on Wednesday night said they will withdraw support to President Arroyo on the issue of her alleged wiretapped conversations if Palparan is not shipped out of Samar.

The audiotape allegedly revealed a plot by Malacañan to rig the 2004 election.

Palparan has been the subject of ouster calls by civic and religious groups led by bishops after being blamed for the increasing cases of human rights violations in Samar province, which have resulted in the deaths of a number of Waraynons.

Ugop Waraynon, a newly-organized coalition working for the ouster of Palparan, estimated that Samar has been experiencing 10 terror incidents a week and at least five executions per month while many cases remained unreported. Since Palparan's assumption as 8th Infantry commander, a total of 199 human rights cases have been reported.

Among the prominent victims of Palparan's alleged terror were lawyer Felidito Dacut of Bayan-Muna Eastern Visayas, Rev. Edison Lapuz of the Promotion of Church People's Response and peasant leader Alfredo Malinao.

Dacut, a human rights lawyer, was killed in Tacloban City on March 14 while Lapuz and Malinao were gunned down May 12 in San Isidro, Leyte.

Alden Ambida, a Bayan-Muna Samar coordinator, survived an assassination attempt in Borongan, Eastern Samar on April 9. Ambida sustained four gunshot wounds to the body. Just recently, another Bayan-Muna coordinator in Samar survived an assassination attempt from a motorcycle-riding gunman.

Ugoy Waraynon is directly linking Palparan to the killings, abductions and attempted assassinations as part of his self-styled counterinsurgency campaign.

Figueroa has sent two letters to the President asking for the transfer of Palparan for the atrocities he allegedly committed in Samar. The request has remained unheeded. Apart from the "Dear Madam President" letters, Figueroa also delivered a stinging privileged speech denouncing Palparan's "acts of terror" in Samar.

"I've learned that Palparan and me were both products of the ROTC of UE (University of the East). But when Waraynons are being butchered left and right, I don't care if he's a fellow ROTC or not," he said.

He added: "Wala nang atrasan ito (There's no turning back)."

Figueroa likewise warned Malacañan against just reassigning Palparan to another infantry division.

He stressed Palparan should also be prosecuted for his involvement in the killings of Waraynons.

Uy said Palparan should be booted out the Armed Forces, fearing that many people and communities would continue to be terrorized if he's merely moved to another assignment.

Palparan first became controversial for his counterinsurgency campaign in Mindoro Island, where he was previously assigned. Human rights activists and militant groups members were also killed and abducted in Mindoro.

"Marami pang pahihirapan si Palparan. Hindi makatao ang kanyang mga gawain (Many people will continue to suffer under Palparan. His ways are not humane)," Uy said.

Uy said Samareños would be forced to join the growing calls for the President's resignation over charges of corruption and election fraud if their demand is not heeded.

"We might as well demand R.I.P. GMA!R.I.P. Palparan!" he said. R.I.P. stands for the remove, investigate and prosecute.

He said it would not be long that all Samar congressmen like Reps. Harlin Abayon (Northern Samar), Marcelino Libanan (Eastern Samar) and Romualdo Vicencio (Northern Samar) and other local officials will join the anti-Palparan movement.

AN WARAY Rep. Florencio "Bem" Noel, who was also present during Ugop Waraynon's launching, said the movement should also focus on having the President removed since "no Gloria means no Palparan." Noel also co-authored the resolution asking President Arroyo to transfer Palparan.

In a recent House hearing called on the issue, Palparan said the accusations that he personally approved killings and other human rights violations were "highly malicious," "unfounded and unproven."

"How can I think of killing a person ... whom I was not fully knowledgeable of?" he asked referring to those killed whose deaths were being linked to him.

Palparan said around 50 to 60 percent of the population in Samar sympathized with the communist New People's Army (NPA), adding that the deaths that happened under his watch were "small sacrifices."

He insisted that the number of local officials and civilians killed before he was assigned to Samar was greater than the number of civilians killed under his command, and that some of the latter were either "directly linked to the armed group [CPP-NPA]" or "fighting [the] government."

The major general said the NPA had gathered a "vast intelligence network," which had supposedly infiltrated local government units and even the military.

Palparan said that 19 soldiers have so far been suspected of being in cahoots with the rebels and that of these, 17 had been transferred, one discharged and another is being investigated.

He added that he would not do anything to worsen his already bad reputation as "Berdugo ng Mindoro," referring to his alleged dismal human rights record in that province.

Palparan said he is ready to face any charges as long as it is filed in the right venue.

"If there are facts, submit [them] to [the] proper forum," he said. -- Dennis A. Gadil/abs-cbnNEWS.com

katungod-sb opposition to the confirmation of palparan

Republic of the Philippines )
City of Quezon ) S. S.


Sworn Opposition to the Confirmation
of Gen. JOVITO PALPARAN
and his Continued Deployment to Eastern Visayas


I, ALEX GARCIA LAGUNZAD, of legal age, Filipino, secretary-general of human rights group KATUNGOD-SINIRANGAN BISAYAS, and council member of KARAPATAN National Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, with mailing address at P.O. Box 204, Tacloban Central Post Office, Tacloban City, 6500 Leyte, and as concerned human rights and peace advocates, acting for and in behalf of the victims, friends and relatives of victims of human rights violations (HRVs) in Eastern Visayas, under oath, depose and state that:


HAVING BEEN AWARE of the numerous cases of human rights violations which have been attributed to the different units of the 204th Brigade of the Philippine Army and CAFGU under Col. Jovito Palparan Jr.’s command, and having talked to victims, documented cases of abuses attributed to various units of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army which he presently commands, I therefore urge the distinguished members of the COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS to reject his promotion as Major General and thereby obstructing his subsequent deployment to Eastern Visayas as commanding general of 8th ID of the Philippine Army.


HAVING KNOWN Brig. Gen. Palparan’s record of human rights violations, which he consistently committed with impunity even before his stint as commanding officer of the 204th Brigade and now as head of the 8th ID PA, I believe that this honorable body of the Congress should not allow itself to become an instrument, wittingly or unwittingly, in condoning the crimes against the people that this military officer has been accused of in various forums previously and recently.


EXERTING BEST EFFORTS in our quest for justice and genuine and lasting peace, I call on every conscientious member of the Commission on Appointments to listen to the cries of orphaned children and families of 27 individuals killed since May 2001 when Col. Palparan started his stint as commander of the AFP forces in Mindoro Oriental and the 22 individuals who have been killed/summarily executed when he arrived in Eastern Visayas as chief of the 8th ID PA.

I believe our organization has the biggest reason to oppose his confirmation as two (2) of our officers had been summarily executed during his term in office, following the same ‘modus operandi’ in silencing leaders and members of progressive and cause-oriented organizations in our region.

Atty. Felidito C. Dacut, our chief legal consultant was shot cold-bloodedly while on board in a multi-cab traveling along Real Street in Tacloban City last March 14, 2005 by motorcycle-riding men suspected to be elements of the military. (Attached is the fact-sheet labeled as Annex “A” for ready reference).

On the 12th day of May 2005, Rev. Edison C. Lapuz, our regional chairperson of KATUNGOD-Sinirangan Bisayas was executed at his hometown in San Isidro, Leyte. There are witnesses who could attest to direct and circumstantial evidences linking military men as perpetrators of his untimely demise. (Attached is a news article citing the incident labeled as Annex “B” for ready reference).


CONSCIOUS that the Samareños/Leyteños, especially the farmers, have been terrorized and have not lived peacefully under his watch, we take note of the strong clamor to hold Col. Palparan accountable for the continuing and persistent charges and allegations of summary execution, torture and other systematic and worst forms of human rights violations.

A “climate of fear” is being created by the manner of operations troopers of the 8th ID PA in their Operation Plan (Oplan) Kalinaw Visayas and Reengineered Special Operation Teams (RSOTs). As a result, peasants flee their communities and livelihood activities are hampered. (News clips are attached as Annexes “C” and “D” for ready references. Annex “C1” is a partial report compiled by our documentation committee and is attached to paint the real picture of the region with regards to reported atrocities).

We have recently documented the following number of violations (as described in existing human rights standards both locally and internationally) of military men under his command, which bring the human rights situation in Eastern Visayas to an alarming and grim state.

Type of Violation No. of Reported Cases Number of Victims and Affected
Individuals Families Communities Organi-zations
Killing, Summary Execution 22 22
Frustrated and Attempted Killings 4 6
Enforced Disappearance 10 18 1
Harassment by Strafing, Bombing, Indiscriminate Firing 10 36 5 8 8
Torture 9 13
Physical Assault 11 16
Arbitrary and Unwarranted Arrest 26 36 3
Arbitrary Detention 11 17 3
Illegal Search and Seizure 2 2 1
Use of Civilians as Guide to Mil Opns 3 4 1
Forced and/or Fake Surrender 10 11 2 2
Threats and Verbal Assault 56 66 14 4
Forcible Evacuation and Displacement 12 979 237 21
Violation of Domicile 4 3 1
Desecration of the Place of Worship 1 1
Destruction of Properties (arson) 4 5
Endangering Civilians (Use of Schools, Chapels while on Operations) 4 773 194 9
TOTAL 199 1997 454 58 13

These data gathered from the day he assumed office, February 10, 2005 to May 7, 2005, bring the rate of more than 2 cases per day or 199 cases in just barely three months (86 days).

Compared to Maj. Gen Rabonza’s record last year which peg reported violations at 94 for the whole year, the rate of commission of violations was pegged at 23 every quarter. Thus, we can say that the record of violations under Palparan’s term is escalating at the rate eight times (8x) higher than the previous year. This is being complemented by reports from the regional office of the Philippine National Police (PNP) journals.


ASSERTING the fact that Col. Palparan is publicly known as a notorious and unrepentant human rights violator, this military official reportedly started a string of human rights violations more than a decade ago, as a lieutenant colonel in Tarlac, Pangasinan and Zambales in the late ‘80s to the ‘90s. His decades-old record of notoriety as the commanding officer of the 24th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army shows wanton human rights abuses. (Attached is a listing of allegations of human rights abuses pointing culpability to then Col. Palparan labeled as Annex “D1”).

CONVINCED that Gen. Palparan is getting away with persistent charges of murder, illegal arrests, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances and wanton violations of our people’s rights, instead of rewarding him with a general’s star, this human rights violator should be relieved and made to account for his criminal deeds.

His drastic and fascist policies are contained in general declarations as “clearing out Eastern Visayas of anti-government rallies”, “clearing out Bayan Muna and NGOs as they are either NPA recruiters or sympathizers”, “end political activities and organizing efforts of NGOs” within six months to one year in Eastern Visayas, thereby pre-empting a “climate of terror” in our region. (Attached is a transcription of his pronouncements labeled as Annexes “E” and “F”).

He even confirmed of the existence of a “death list” or the so-called OB list targeting about thirty-six (36) leaders and members of legitimate organizations in our region as they are persistently tagged by him, as “front” organizations of the CPP-NPA-NDF in a media forum in Tacloban City.

I fear that Col. Palparan's promotion and continued deployment to Eastern Visayas will signal further that human rights violators among the state’s military and police forces enjoy impunity, that the freedom from prosecution and punishment for crimes related to human rights violations, goes on even after the martial rule of the dreaded Marcos dictatorship had ended.


COMMITTED that in filing this opposition, it is our intention to oblige the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to uphold at all times its constitutional mandate to defend and protect the Filipino people. In this regard, its officers and troops must have the highest respect for and commitment to uphold human rights especially the individual’s right to life and liberty and the people’s civil and political rights.

Through this opposition, we, Waraynons, Samareños/Leyteños expect that the Honorable members of the Committee on Appointments will uphold the democratic and constitutional guarantee that “civilian authority is supreme over military power”.

From his assumption as 8th ID PA chief, the military had been harassing local government officials – board members in Samar Island, mayors, municipal councilors, barangay officials. Reports have been mounting at a daily rate. (A letter addressed to Cong. Figueroa of Samar from Vice-Mayor Mutia of Calbiga, Samar is hereto attached as Annex “G” for ready reference).

I, as a concerned human rights and peace advocate, and in behalf victims of various forms of human rights violations and their friends and relatives, along with the people of our region, declare the firm and steadfast opposition of KATUNGOD-Sinirangan Bisayas to the confirmation of his promotion to a higher rank and the subsequent deployment of Gen. JOVITO PALPARAN to Eastern Visayas, thereby obstructing him to continually assume to the topmost position in the 8th ID PA.

I implore the guiding mandate of this Honorable Commission, particularly its standing Committees, pursuant to the letters and spirit of the 1987 Constitution, to "act expeditiously but judiciously, promptly but with circumspection."

As shown by Col. Palparan's blemished record, notoriety and irresponsible pronouncements, as a military official he has miserably fallen short of a judicious norm that military officers, before they can be even considered for promotion, must be free of any charges involving violations of human rights. (Attached is a record of allegations of HRVs charged to his command in Mindoro as Annex “H”).

I, furthermore, believe that Congress will become an instrument to condone human rights abuses in the country should it confirm the promotion of Gen. Jovito S. Palparan, Jr. Let your action in not confirming Palparan’s promotion echo the victims and witnesses’ plight/quest for justice and indemnification.

With God as my witness, I hereunto affix my signature this 23rd day of May 2005 at Quezon City, Philippines, exhibiting CTC No. CCI2005 04392550 issued at Quezon City on May 23, 2005.




ALEX GARCIA LAGUNZAD
Oppositor


SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me, the undersigned Notary Public this 23rd day of May 2005, at Quezon City, Philippines.









NOTARY PUBLIC
Doc. No. ______
Page No. ______
Book No. ______
Series of 2005.