Thursday, August 18, 2005

Samar solon to endorse impeachment raps over rights abuses

Monday, August 15, 2005
Samar solon to endorse impeachment raps over rights abuses
A member of Congress today vowed to join the endorsers of the impeachment complaint against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo if a notorious general is not removed as Samar military commander within the week.

At the same time, a partylist solon said that its about time to hold Arroyo accountable for barbarities committed against civilians and civilian populations as shown by the goings-on in Samar.

"I will sign the endorsement for Pres. Arroyo's impeachment if Brig. Gen. Jovito Palparan is not removed from Samar in one week," declared Samar second district solon Rep. Catalino Figueroa during a dialogue with the Eastern Visayas delegation of the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) 2005.

Figueroa decried the President's seeming tolerance of the atrocities, saying that the "HRVs in Samar is enough basis for GMA's impeachment".

The violent repression of activists, including murders, massacres and promotion of notorious human rights violators, is among the criminal acts pinned on Arroyo in the impeachment complaint.

Figueroa hosted more than 100 foreign and local ISM delegates to dinner last night in his residence in Catbalogan. The delegation, composed of international experts and human rights advocates, chose Samar as one of the ISM key sites because of the alarming degree of human rights violations (HRVs) that occurred when Palparan was deployed in the Eastern Visayas region in February 2005.

Regional human rights organization Katungod-SB documented 22 cases of extra-judicial killings form February 10 to May 12 alone. Other documented cases include 36 victims of strafing, bombing and indiscriminate firing; 13 victims of torture; 16 victims of physical assault and arbitrary arrest; and 17 individuals arbitrarily detained.

Nearly a thousand individuals have been forcibly evacuated in 21 communities in the towns of Calbiga, Tarangan, Motiong, Jiabong, Catbalogan and Paranas.

The ISM is being conducted six months after Palparan announced that he will stop all political rallies in Samar.

Major Gen. Palparan has been consistently associated with the political killings and HRVs against civilians even before he was deployed to Samar. Similar HRVs were documented in the island of Mindoro in the Southern Tagalog region when Palparan was deployed there, prompting human rights activists to dub Palparan as "butcher of Mindoro".

According to Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, who led the ISM delegation to Samar, the degree of international concern was a breakthrough for the human rights movement in the Philippines.

"GMA will be made accountable for the atrocities of the AFP as its Commander-in-Chief," Casiño declared.

"Human rights as an issue of a President's accountability has come of age. This will be made clear by the ISM, which will forward the evidence of massive human rights violations to the impeachment committee in Congress," Casiño said.

Casiño added that the "issue of human rights gives the impeachment complaint a new dimension and a higher level of legitimacy because it is non-partisan and non-political. The ISM also brings international concern to the issue of the President's impeachment based on charges of human rights violations, among other violations."

Samar solon to endorse impeachment raps over rights abuses

Monday, August 15, 2005
Samar solon to endorse impeachment raps over rights abuses
A member of Congress today vowed to join the endorsers of the impeachment complaint against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo if a notorious general is not removed as Samar military commander within the week.

At the same time, a partylist solon said that its about time to hold Arroyo accountable for barbarities committed against civilians and civilian populations as shown by the goings-on in Samar.

"I will sign the endorsement for Pres. Arroyo's impeachment if Brig. Gen. Jovito Palparan is not removed from Samar in one week," declared Samar second district solon Rep. Catalino Figueroa during a dialogue with the Eastern Visayas delegation of the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) 2005.

Figueroa decried the President's seeming tolerance of the atrocities, saying that the "HRVs in Samar is enough basis for GMA's impeachment".

The violent repression of activists, including murders, massacres and promotion of notorious human rights violators, is among the criminal acts pinned on Arroyo in the impeachment complaint.

Figueroa hosted more than 100 foreign and local ISM delegates to dinner last night in his residence in Catbalogan. The delegation, composed of international experts and human rights advocates, chose Samar as one of the ISM key sites because of the alarming degree of human rights violations (HRVs) that occurred when Palparan was deployed in the Eastern Visayas region in February 2005.

Regional human rights organization Katungod-SB documented 22 cases of extra-judicial killings form February 10 to May 12 alone. Other documented cases include 36 victims of strafing, bombing and indiscriminate firing; 13 victims of torture; 16 victims of physical assault and arbitrary arrest; and 17 individuals arbitrarily detained.

Nearly a thousand individuals have been forcibly evacuated in 21 communities in the towns of Calbiga, Tarangan, Motiong, Jiabong, Catbalogan and Paranas.

The ISM is being conducted six months after Palparan announced that he will stop all political rallies in Samar.

Major Gen. Palparan has been consistently associated with the political killings and HRVs against civilians even before he was deployed to Samar. Similar HRVs were documented in the island of Mindoro in the Southern Tagalog region when Palparan was deployed there, prompting human rights activists to dub Palparan as "butcher of Mindoro".

According to Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, who led the ISM delegation to Samar, the degree of international concern was a breakthrough for the human rights movement in the Philippines.

"GMA will be made accountable for the atrocities of the AFP as its Commander-in-Chief," Casiño declared.

"Human rights as an issue of a President's accountability has come of age. This will be made clear by the ISM, which will forward the evidence of massive human rights violations to the impeachment committee in Congress," Casiño said.

Casiño added that the "issue of human rights gives the impeachment complaint a new dimension and a higher level of legitimacy because it is non-partisan and non-political. The ISM also brings international concern to the issue of the President's impeachment based on charges of human rights violations, among other violations."

Deployment of More troops to Samar

Asia Security Monitor No. 134, August 8, 2005
American Foreign Policy Council, Washington, DC

The Tamil Tigers tackle public diplomacy;
Toward maritime security in the Malacca Strait

Editor: Ilan Berman
Associate Editor: Lisa Marie Shanks




July 26:

The supreme leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar, has called upon his followers to intensify their jihad against foreign troops in Afghanistan, according to the Xinhua news agency. In an audiocassette addressed to loyalists of Afghanistan’s ousted Islamist regime, Omar urged Taliban fighters to “[p]ut aside differences” and take up arms. “Westerners by invading our country imposed war on us and it is our responsibility to resist the occupiers,” the fugitive cleric said in his recorded message. “Our situation is improving day by day and the victory will embrace us.” In his communiqué, Omar also disclosed that 14-member military councils have been established in each of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces to look after the Taliban’s military affairs.


August 1:

Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers are trying a new tactic in their long-running struggle against the government in Colombo: media outreach. The BBC reports that members of the radical guerrilla movement have indicated the group is planning to launch its own television station in an effort to reach viewers throughout Asia. A spokesman for the Tigers has said that the National Television of Tamileelam (NTT) would help to counter “false propaganda” disseminated by Sri Lanka’s state-run media. The new news outlet will broadcast two hours of news, commentary, and Tamil history daily, as well as providing other featurettes designed to keep Asian viewers informed about developments in the group’s ongoing conflict with the government.


August 2:

Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore have agreed to begin air patrols over the Strait of Malacca in an effort curb piracy and increase maritime security, Reuters reports. Under the new plan, the three nations will gain “eyes in the sky” along the strategically-vital waterway, which links the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. “We have to act now,” Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister (and Defense Minister) Najib Razak has told reporters. “We have to prevent something more serious, more sinister from happening.”

Though still in its fledgling stages, the new security regime is already looking toward the future. “We need more resources to ensure the level of security of the Strait of Malacca,” Najib has confirmed. And there appears to be no shortage of takers; according to the Associated Press, China has already offered its assistance in beefing up Strait security.


August 3:

The Philippine military has announced plans to expand its fight against communist rebels active in the east and center of the Southeast Asian state. The Associated Press reports that Manila will deploy approximately 500 special forces troops to bolster the 3,500 soldiers already fighting New People’s Army guerrillas in the Samar region. “The objective is to protect the localities and project to the people that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is a better and superior force against the New People’s Army,” Major-General Jovito Palparan, the Samar region’s military commander, has told reporters.


Copyright © 2005, American Foreign Policy Council.
All Rights Reserved.

A Town Of War Refugees

A Town Of War Refugees
WCC Asks For Troop Pullout In Eastern Visayas



Reposted from www.bulatlat.com


August 7-14, 2005


A sleepy town in Samar is currently at the receiving end of intensified offensive military operations, driving more than 2,000 people, including women and children, from their homes and sources of livelihood. So alarming have the forced evacuations become that the World Council of Churches has asked the military to pull out from the region.

BY MAUREEN JAPZON
Bulatlat

TACLOBAN CITY – The town of Basey in Samar, located 40 kms from this city, is known for its banig (sleeping mat) made from a plant called tikog. If reporters were to visit this place however they will likely call Basey as the town of war refugees.

Col. Joel Cabides, brigade commander of the 801st Brigade of the Philippine Army under Brig. Gen. Jovito Palparan, recently admitted that there are ongoing military operations in Basey which explains the bombings and intermittent firing of automatic rifles. Helicopters also roam the area as soldiers and other men in dark clothes and bonnets armed with M-16s conduct patrols.

According to Diana Ragub, information officer of Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB, a local people’s organization), more than 2,000 people including children from 365 families had taken refuge at the Basey municipal gymnasium from July 20 to 24 after fleeing their farms and homes due to military operations.

The internal refugees came from Basey’s five interior barangays (villages): Cogon (76 families), Bulao (115 families), New San Agustin (30 families), Cancaiyas (133 families) and Villa Aurora (11 families).

Basey Mayor Vicente Labuac gave emergency food to the refugees. An Waray Party list and the Leyte Center for Development Incorporated (LCDE) held a medical mission and gave relief goods despite the military’s reported attempts to prevent them from doing so.

Police Regional Director Dionesio Benito Coloma, who also heads the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC), called the displacement of peasants due to military operations as a “man-made calamity.” He said that the RDCC will launch its own relief mission “if the situation worsens.”

Following a series of meetings with local officials and the military, the farmers were allowed to return to their villages. Local executives arranged the transportation of the refugees back to their areas.

Paquito Nacino, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) regional director ordered an investigation into the mass evacuation in Basey.

Mass evacuation as a trend

Mass evacuation has become the trend in Eastern Visayas since Feb. 10 when Palparan took over as commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division, replacing Maj. Gen. Glenn Rabonza. Upon assuming the post, Palparan told local reporters that insurgency in Eastern Visayas will be over in six months (i.e., August 2005).

Consequently, bodies of unidentified people – apparently victims of extra-judicial executions - were found in different places. Only a few of the bodies were identified and claimed by relatives. According to KATUNGOD-SB, the number of human rights violations during the same period increased to 457 cases, or about three cases per day.

International concern

Alarmed by the events in the region, an international Pastoral Ecumenical Delegation Visit was held in Eastern Visayas from July 14-21. Heading the visit was a delegation from the Europe-based World Council of Churches (WCC), the umbrella organization of 347 churches throughout the world.

In a statement signed by Clement John, spokesperson of Eastern Visayas team of the WCC, the delegates stressed, “The ecumenical church movement stands firmly that violence and war against the citizenry only perpetuates more violence and does not provide resolution for the conflict.”

The WCC also urged a troop pullout: “We pray that the people’s fear will be alleviated through de-militarization, that extra-judicial killings and interrogation, intimidation and harassment will cease, and that the people of Eastern Visayas will enjoy genuine freedom and peace, based on justice.” Bulatlat

ISM: Int’l Group Says Human Rights Abuses ‘Horrendous’

Int’l Group Says Human Rights Abuses ‘Horrendous’



First posted 11:46pm (Mla time) Aug 17, 2005


Reposted from the Inquirer News Service

TACLOBAN CITY—“Horrendous.” This was how members of the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) described the cases of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by the military on civilians in Eastern Visayas.

Canon Barry Naylor, an Anglican priest from the United Kingdom, said they were appalled by the high number of human rights violations in the region, mostly in Samar province.

“Some of the evidence that we have gathered have indicated that the military is indeed behind these human rights violations…which are truly horrendous and it’s no wonder that people are actually driven to seek other means of redress to their problem if they are going to face such brutality apparently coming from the hands of the military,” Naylor told the Inquirer.

These pieces of evidence were photos and documented reports supplied to the group by six human rights organizations in the country, including Bayan Muna and Karapatan.

These groups had asked international human rights organizations and advocates to visit the country and investigate alleged cases of human rights violations.

The 18-member ISM arrived in Eastern Visayas last Sunday. They are from the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, The Netherlands, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and China.

They divided into two groups. One group went to Villareal and Catbalogan towns in Samar. The other went to Calbiga and Basey, also in Samar.

They were expected to wrap up their investigation on Wednesday and present their findings before what they described as an “International People’s Tribunal” on Friday in Quezon City.

In Oriental Mindoro, members of Bayan Southern Tagalog and their foreign visitors from the ISM were tagged communist sympathizers.

The group was at Gloria town when streamers suddenly turned up accusing the group of accompanying New People’s Army members.

Arman Albarillo, head of Bayan-Southern Tagalog, in a fax message said the group was alarmed when they saw streamers bearing “slanderous accusations” against the ISM along the highway in Oriental Mindoro, Joey A. Gabieta, PDI Visayas Bureau Romulo O. Ponte, PDI Southern Luzon Bureau