Len Olea’s Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Filipino farmers’

Abducted Peasant Activist Found Detained in Camp Crame Without Charges

Posted by lenolea on July 4, 2009

MANILA — A peasant activist who was abducted in Taguig City on June 21 has been found after 10 days. His family located him inside the police headquaters in Camp Crame in Quezon City, detained without formal charges, a human-rights lawyer told Bulatlat.

Obito Marquez, 31, a peasant activist from Occidental Mindoro, was taken just outside his house at the Maharlika Village in Taguig City at around 10 p.m. on June 21 by four armed men in civilian clothes. According to witnesses, Marquez was forced inside a beige Toyota Innova. The other abductors rode a white Nissan Sentra sedan.

The next morning, Marquez’s wife discovered one of his slippers outside their home while looking for him. Only then did she realize that her husband was missing.

Marquez is just one of the recent cases of abductions of activists in the Philippines, where many activists have been abducted, tortured and killed by state security forces.

Marquez was one of the 72 activists from Southern Tagalog who were charged with murder in connection with a New People’s Army raid in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, a charge that the activists had denied.

In February this year, however, the case was dismissed on technical grounds.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said elements from the Philippine National Police in Southern Tagalog were responsible for Marquez’s abduction.

Members of Karapatan organized a quick reaction team to search for Marquez. On July 2, Marquez’s family and Karapatan staff saw Marquez’s name on the list of detainees at Camp Crame, the general headquarters of the PNP. They were, however, not allowed to see Marquez.

The next day, lawyer Rex Fernandez, legal counsel of Karapatan, went to Camp Crame to visit Marquez. Fernandez told Bulatlat that Marquez was tortured, blindfolded for four days and handcuffed.

“He said no warrant was shown to him when he was arrested. He was denied access to his family and to legal counsel. He was made to sign and thumb mark documents under duress,” Fernandez said.

The human-rights lawyer added that the authorities have not informed them of any pending case against Marquez.

Fernandez said Marquez was taken to two other places before he was brought to Camp Crame. “He was interrogated and was being made to admit that he is a member of the New People’s Army,” Fernandez said.

In an interview with Bulatlat, Ghay Portajada, secretary-general of Desaparecidos, said that while they were happy to see Marquez alive, they denounce the violation of Marquez’s rights.

Marquez’s father Ernesto called on the authorities to release his son. “He did not commit any crime. He just wants to help our fellow farmers,” Ernesto said.

In a statement, the KMP said the Arroyo government has “a huge blood debt to the peasantry” for implementing its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch) 1 and 2.

The counter-insurgency program, the KMP deemed, is characterized by extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and arrest and detention of members and leaders of people’s organizations.

Antonio Flores, convenor of Tanggol Magsasaka (Defend Peasants) and spokesman of the KMP, said 553 or more than half of the total victims of extrajudicial killings under the Arroyo regime were peasants. According to Karapatan, more than a thousand activists have been killed since 2001, still a thousand more were tortured and more than 200 have disappeared.

Flores cited the killing of Fermin Lorico of Kaugmaon (KMP Negros Oriental) who was killed on June 10 after attending an anti-charter change rally in Dumaguete; the killing of Eddie Gumanoy of Kasama-TK and Renato Pacaide of KMP Far Southern Mindanao Region, the enforced disappearance of Nilo Arado of KMP Panay and the continuing detention of Randall Echanis, KMP deputy secretary general for external affairs.

“This is the legacy of the Arroyo government, almost a decade of being in a dark age for human rights in the country. All democratic forces and groups and those concerned for human rights should work together to call for justice and force the Arroyo government to answer for her bloody and deadly rule over the people,” Flores said. (Bulatlat.com)


Posted in News and Features | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why CARPER Is Worse Than CARP

Posted by lenolea on June 14, 2009

Among other provisions, the CARPER bill mandates that private agricultural lands – the type that the Arroyos and the Cojuangcos own – can only be distributed if the original CARP managed to distribute 90 percent of its target. But CARP, despite the two decades it had, only distributed less than half of it. It’s an impossible provision that only underscores what progressive farmers have been saying all along – that CARPER is bogus.


MANILA – It seemed incongruous, the sight of farmers marching toward Mendiola, carrying placards and chanting angry words against the extension of a law that purports to emancipate them from the bondage of the land.

But to the farmers belonging to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), who marched in Manila last week but were met with water cannons from the police even before they could set foot on the historic bridge where many of them had died fighting for land reform, the passage on June 3 of House Resolution 4077 was as much a cause for indignation as the landlessness that prevails in the countryside.

HR 4077, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) bill, extends for another five years the 20-year-old Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

As far as the farmers are concerned, the CARPER bill, far from solving the problems of farmers, will be even worse than the original CARP.

In an interview with Bulatlat, Anakpawis Representative and KMP chairman Rafael Mariano said certain provisions in the CARPER bill will aggravate the farmers’ fundamental problem of landlessness and will only strengthen the land monopoly of a few.

“A Congress that represents the class interest of landlords and big local and foreign corporations can, unsurprisingly, railroad an ultimately anti-farmer legislation like the CARP extension bill,” Mariano said.

Under the bill, the landholdings of the Arroyos, the Cojuangcos and other landlords will remain untouched. He believes that, precisely for this reason, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued the marching orders to her allies in Congress to pass the bill. “She certified it as urgent,” Mariano said.

Three Phases

Lands covered by CARPER will be acquired and distributed in three phases.

Phase One will cover rice and corn lands, all idle lands or abandoned lands, all private lands voluntarily offered by the owners for agrarian reform, all lands foreclosed by government financial institutions, all lands acquired by the Presidential Commission on Good Government, and all other lands owned by government devoted to or suitable for agriculture.

Phase Two of the program will cover all alienable and disposable public agricultural lands; all arable public agricultural lands under agro-forest, pasture and agricultural leases already cultivated and planted to crops in accordance with Section 6 Article XIII of the Constitution; all public agricultural lands that are to be opened for new development and resettlement; all private agricultural lands in excess of 50 hectares.

Phase Three will cover all other private agricultural lands starting with large landholdings and then those with medium and small landholding.

Mariano said that under CARPER, private agricultural lands can only be covered by the law and distributed to farmers if 90 percent of all the land classified for distribution under the original CARP and Phase One and Phase Two of CARPER had been distributed. In other words, before CARPER can implement Phase Three, which is the most problematic phase, the original CARP must have distributed 90 percent of its target and, if it did not, CARPER’s Phase One and Phase Two must make up for the shortfall — within the period of five years.

This, Mariano said, is next to impossible and is the biggest defect of CARPER.

Mariano said that the original CARP failed — despite running for more than two decades — to achieve even half of its target, let alone 90 percent. “When will that happen?” Mariano asked. “In effect, no private agricultural lands will ever be distributed under the CARP extension.”

CARPER, he said, is designed to fail.

According to data from Mariano’s group, CARP managed to cover only 43 percent of all agricultural lands in the country in those 20 years. How can the CARPER, Mariano asked, improve that distribution to 90 percent in just five years? Mariano asked.

Based on the 2008 accomplishment report of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), which covers the implementation of two agrarian reform programs — Presidential Decree No. 27 of former President Marcos and the CARP — 3. 8 million hectares of land have been acquired and distributed by the DAR and another 2.4 million hectares distributed through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Of these, however, government data show that only 1.9 million hectares of private agricultural land has been distributed since 1988. And KMP said that 82 percent of these private agricultural land still have pending cases and that no actual or physical land distribution took place. Next page

Posted in News and Features | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dismantling of IALAG, Arroyo’s Shadowy Agency, ‘Just for Show’

Posted by lenolea on June 13, 2009

MANILA – Unless the Arroyo regime released all the individuals it has thrown to jail for politically motivated and fabricated charges, the abolition last month of the agency behind these cases will amount to nothing but a publicity stunt, according to lawyers and human-rights advocates.

If anything, they said, the abolition last May 15 of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), an agency created by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that has attained a shadowy character, only affirmed the allegation that the government used underhanded means to silence its critics.

Moreover, the abolition of IALAG was seen as a victory for human rights. Earlier in the week, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita announced that the dismantling of the agency was in response to the recommendation of Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings.

“It has been exposed that the IALAG has no purpose but to persecute progressive leaders and members of party-list groups and people’s organizations,” lawyer Jobert Pahilga of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) told Bulatlat in an interview. “It is in this sense that the abolition of the IALAG can be considered an ‘initial victory’ for human-rights advocates.”

Formed in January 2006 through Executive Order 493, the IALAG was mandated “to provide effective and efficient handling and coordination of the investigative and prosecutorial aspects of the fight against threats to national security” and “address specific offenses that constitute threats to national security including but not limited to cases of rebellion, sedition and related offenses.”

Human-rights groups said IALAG is responsible for the filing of trumped-up charges against activists, the fabrication of witnesses, the bending of judicial processes, and violations of due process. It has also been blamed by international and local human-rights groups for violating the rights of the Filipino people.

Human-rights advocates deemed that the abolition of the IALAG is only for show as the filing of trumped-up charges against activists as well as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other rights abuses continue.

International Pressure

Ermita, who is also the chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Committee, noted that the abolition of the IALAG was among the recommendations of Alston, who visited the country in February 2007 to investigate the spate of killings in the country.

“This will show that we are responsive to his [Alston’s] recommendations because he thinks that this IALAG is an instrument for violation of human rights of insurgents as well as those identified with the insurgents like the militant groups, which is not necessarily true. To remove such question, the President decided, ‘Okay, let’s just abolish IALAG’,” Ermita said during a briefing at the presidential palace.

In his follow-up report to the United Nations Human Rights Council dated April 29, Alston said that the central purpose of IALAG remains to prosecute and punish members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its purported front groups as enemies of the state, many of whom will not be reachable by legal processes.

Pahilga said the dismanting of IALAG was just for show. “Now that the cases of extrajudicial killings have been increasing again, they need to do something to protect their image.”

The IALAG is composed of the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Department of Justice, Department of National Defense, Department of Interior and Local Government, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation and other units tasked by national security adviser Norberto Gonzales, who heads the IALAG.

Pahilga, the deputy secretary-general for campaigns and advocacy of the NUPL, explained how the IALAG works: “The PNP and the AFP would gather so-called ‘evidence’ against the targets of the IALAG. The DOJ then would resolve whether or not to file a case. But the preliminary investigation is already tainted; there is no more impartiality because as members of the IALAG, these agencies must complement one another. They have been ordered by Arroyo to file fabricated charges.”

Pahilga said the IALAG is a component of the Arroyo government’s counter-insurgency program.

Dismantling IALAG

Posted in News and Features | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »