Aquino’s ‘superbody’ vs extrajudicial killing mere PR scheme – group

RIGHTS groups and advocates, led by Karapatan and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) met with protest the first meeting of Noynoy Aquino’s “high-level inter-agency superbody” against extrajudicial killings and other rights abuses.

“The victims and their loved ones have had enough of these extraneous superbodies that are mere publicity schemes but does not solve human rights violations,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, “What’s worse is that this body may even attempt to conceal the continuing atrocities, especially in the rural areas.”

Karapatan pointed out that the “superbody,” like other inter-agency task forces under the Arroyo government, is inessential in solving cases of extrajudicial killing (EJK) and other human rights violations.

As of November 30, 2012, the rights group has documented a total of 132 victims of EJK and 12 victims of enforced disappearance under the Noynoy Aquino government.

Palabay added that the body will not deter rights violations perpetrated by state security agents, especially by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as long as the Aquino government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan is still being implemented.

“The wave of illegal arrests and detention of a total of 29 civilians, all accused as members of New People’s Army, in December 2012 and January this year, is a reason for alarm,” Palabay said.

The most recent case of illegal arrest is that of Virgilio Corpuz, 61, Cagayan Valley regional coordinator for Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) on January 4, 2013. Corpuz was arrested at his home in Santiago City, Isabela by members of the PNP Regional Mobile Group who accused the victim as being “Harold Castillo.”

Castillo is charged with 17 other individuals, including ACT Teachers Partylist coordinator Rene Boy Abiva for their alleged involvement in an NPA ambush in Tinoc, Ifugao in April 25, 2012.

“We believe that incidents of illegal arrest, extrajudicial killing and other rights violations against innocent civilians and activists will escalate as the mid-term elections draws near. The Aquino government and the military are likewise hell-bent in reaching the 2013 deadline set under Oplan Bayanihan, the counter-insurgency program that victimizes civilians,” explained Palabay.

“If this government is truly sincere in rendering justice for the victims of rights violations, the mandated agencies and the courts should do what they should be doing — properly and effectively investigate these incidents, and to jail and prosecute the violators,” Palabay concluded.

Incidents of illegal arrest in December 2012:

1. Union organizers and staff of Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano. The two, who were arrested on December 3, are implicated in the ambush of soldiers by the NPA in April 29, 2012. This fabricated charges filed in Labo, Camarines Norte, also implicates Bayan-NCR leaders Roy Velez and Amelita Gamara.

2. Lay church worker Anecita Rojo, 48, was arrested and forcibly dragged from the Parish convent in Bago City, Negros Occidental by members of PNP Regional Intelligence Unit on December 7. She was brought to Bago City Police Station where she was shown a warrant of arrest for murder charges issued by Branch 60 Cadiz City Regional Trial Court. Rojo was later brough to Cadiz City. During the two-hour trip to Cadiz, the police interrogated Rojo about her daughter, as well as her son-in-law Christian Tuayon.

Tuayon is the Secretary General of Bayan-Negros who was arrested, and was later released on bail, on April 2012 for robbery-in-band charges, also filed at Branch 60 Cadiz City RTC. Both Rojo and Tuayon are implicated in alleged NPA ambuscades (or activities?) in Negros. Rojo remains in detention at Cadiz City-BJMP.

3. In Isabela, Negros Occidental, nineteen, including three minors, of the Tribu Bukidnon indigenous people were illegally arrested on December 13. Members of the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Phil. Army barged in their village and accused the farmers of keeping NPA members. The farmers were threatened and hauled off to the Isabela police station.

Eleven of them were released on December 15, while 8 farmers were charges with murder and multiple frustrated muder, and are currently detained at the La Carlota-BJMP jail. One of the victims is now showing psychological trauma due to alleged (beatings by the police).

4. In Mulanay, Quezon, farmers Dennis Ortiz, Eleceo Lopez and a 17-year-old boy,were arrested on December 21, while travelling by habal-habal. The three are accused as NPA members and charged with violation of Republic Act 8294, and are currently detained at the Quezon Provincial Jail. Also arrested were the drivers of the habal-habal, Alex Gerez and Ariel Bordahe who were released the following day.

4. On Christmas day, Oligario Sebas, 65, was arrested in Negros Oriental by joint AFP and PNP members. The arresting team insisted that Sebas is “Felimon Mendrez,” supposedly a top-ranking NPA cadre in Central Visayas, who is charged for rebellion.

The soldiers and police also barged into, and illegally searched his house. Despite his denials that he is Mendrez, the ailing and diabetic Sebas was brough to Manjuyod Police Station. Sebas is currently detained ay Bayawan City-BJMP.

5. Rene Boy Abiva, a 23-year old employee of the Department of Social Work and Development in Cagayan province and a coordinator of the ACT Teachers Partylist, was arrested on December 28 for charges of murder. He was arrested by units led by a certain Col. Julius Balana of the Regional Intelligence Division of the PNP and is currently detained at the Sto. Domingo PNP station at Tuguegarao City.

Upon inquiry of his wife on the supposed charges against him, his arresting officers said that he is being arrested for his supposed involvement in the April 2012 NPA ambush of at least 12 soldiers under the 86th Infantry Battalion of the Phil. Army. The said unit has been reportedly carrying out rights violations in the course of their military operations in the communities in Tinoc, Ifugao.

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