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[OPIRG-EVENTS] Urgent Action on Human Rights in the Philippines #10

Urgent Action on Human Rights in the Philippines #10

Dear friends,

It has been several months since we have contacted you.  Unfortunately our 
Human Rights watch on the Philippines continues to uncover ongoing and 
seemingly systematic human rights violations occurring in many areas of the 
Philippines.  This month we have been particularly swamped with Urgent 
Action requests that we are only now able to process.   I hope that you will 
assist us by writing a short note to any of the government officials listed 
below.  Your awareness of these issues and support can help to prevent 
future occurrences.


Douglas Booker
Co-ordinator Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines.

Urgent Action Case X: UA DATE: 23 October 2002

UA CASES - Physical Assault, Harassment, Strafing and Forced Evacuation

I.	VICTIMS -Toting Hermosa  (physical assault)
	In his 30's, married
	Resides in Sitio Kabunihan, Brgy. Baliang, Danao City, Cebu

	Osting Hopia  (physical assault)
	In his 30's, married
	Resides in Sitio Kabunihan, Brgy. Baliang, Danao City, Cebu

Diosdado Molina (harassment)
	44 years old, married
	Resides in Sitio Kabunihan, Brgy. Baliang, Danao City, Cebu
	A Security Guard from Trans Asia

Arsenio and Rufina Derecho (strafing)
	residents of Sitio Kabunihan, Brgy. Baliang, Danao City, Cebu

500 individuals belonging to 80 households (forced evacuation)
	residents of Sitio Kabunihan, Brgy. Baliang, Danao City, Cebu

II.	PLACE OF INCIDENT -	 Sitio Kabunihan (Purok 1), Brgy. Baliang, 
City, Cebu

III.	DATE OF INCIDENT - 	12 October 2002

IV.	PERPETRATORS - 	Lt. Ali Alejo, M/Sgt. Nick Vera Cruz, Sgt. Marong, 
CAFGUs  Roque Martel and Joey Tundag, and other elements belonging to three 
(3) nine (9)-man combat teams from Alpha and Bravo Coys of the 78th Infantry 
Battalion Philippine Army (IBPA) based in Brgy. Damolog, Sogod, Cebu.


On October 10, 2002, at around 1:00 am, residents of Sitio Kabunihan, sawtwo 
(2) army trucks filled with soldiers in full battle gear pass by on the way 
to neighboring Sitio San Roque, some 4 kms. away.

At around 6:00 am, soldiers were visible all over the barrio 
conductingpatrol and interrogating residents.  Two residents, namely, Osting 
Hopia and Toting Hermosa, were butt-struck and manhandled by soldiers 
bearing no name patches. The government troops accused them of being New 
People's Army (NPA) sympathizers. "Bakakon mo! Naa diay moy gipangtaguan nga 
NPA," (Liars! You've been harboring NPAs all along.), the soldiers charged.

At around 5:00 pm, barangay councilors in Sitio Kabunihan called for 
ageneral assembly at the local elementary school.  Councilor Gaudioso Molina 
explained that the military wanted the people "to vacate their homes in 
three days, so that they (military) could work in locating the rebels." 
Resident Elijiah Laureto was not surprised as he has heard the soldiers 
ordered the councilors to evacuate the residents.  Another resident Cherry 
Oroy Molina heard the military declare that those who would choose to stay 
will be treated as "hostile elements".   Many residents entertained that 
thought that they would really have to evacuate "for fear of the military 
men scouring the area" (according to Councilor Molina, SSD, 10/12/02).

Later that day, Hopia and Hermosa together with their families left the 
sitio.  Some 150 individuals were also forced to sleep at the local 
elementary school that night.

Evacuation intensified on October 11, 2002, after soldiers strafed the house 
of Arsenio Derecho at around 3:00 pm. Arsenio and his wife, Rufina were 
suspected of taking in NPA rebels.

It was also at that same time that Kabunihan residents heard an exchange of 
gunfire coming from Sitio San. Roque.  Residents would later learn of a 
firefight between government troops and NPA fighters in the said area.  At 
least one soldier was killed and another wounded in the encounter.  No 
casualty was reported on the NPA side. Nor were there any rebel arrested.

At about 5:00 pm, elements of the 78th IB called a meeting with the 
residents of Kabunihan wherein the troopers informed the people that they 
would conduct "clearing operations" in the barangay.   Their fear worsened 
when they witnessed their neighbor Preming Oliverio being slapped by a 
military man for failing to answer his query on the presence of the NPA. 
Preming was even asked to run while the military man cocked his gun. 
Diosdado "Dodong" Molina, a former CAFGU, reprimanded the military on their
actions but he merely drew an angry retort from a soldier who told him to 
shut up.

By the time the assembly was finished, residents were already packing their 
bags.  Most evacuees transferred to their relatives in other barangays. At 
least 500 evacuees left the sitio because they were afraid of "clearing 
operations" being conducted by government troops.

When the monitoring team from KARAPATAN and KALINAW arrived in the area at
3:00 pm, Sitio Kabunihan and Sitio San Isidro (a neighboring sitio belonging 
to another barangay) were both virtual "ghost towns." Only the soldiers from 
the 78th IB were the ghastly figures roaming around at a distance from the 
human rights team.   According to the interviewees the commanding officer 
who refused to give his name, forbade anyone to go to Sitio San Roque.

On the way out, the team saw at the barangay center, in Sitio Sto. 
Tomas,three bunkers with checkpoints, which were set up along the road, some 
20-30 meters away from each other. A total of at least 40 elements of the 
78th IB troopers are stationed in the said area.

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

1.	The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and 
team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local 
government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into the 
harassment, physical assault, strafing of homes and forced evacuation
of the residents of Sitio Kabunihan, Brgy. Baliang, Danao City, Cebu;
2.	The prosecution of the perpetrators of the crime physical assault, 
strafing, harassment by the elements of the 78th Infantry Battalion of the 
Philippine Army that forced the residents of Sitio Kabunihan to evacuate, as 
well as other atrocities committed by other troops of the Armed Forces of 
the Philippines;
3.	the immediate removal of Government Troops, particularly the 78th 
from Danao City and other parts of Cebu;
4.	The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory of 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to allthe 
major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of its 

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
Malacanang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph / kgma@yahoogroups.com

Hon. Eduardo R. Ermita
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
7F Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City, Philippines
Fax: (+632) 638 2216
Email: ere_papp@opapp.gov.ph

Hon. Angelo T. Reyes
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Camp Emilio Aguinaldo
E. de los Santos Avenue,
Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 912-9281
Fax: (+632) 911 6213

And in Canada

Hon. Bill Graham
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0G2

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the said government official 
to our address below.

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:

Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
2852 Grandeur Ave.
Ottawa, Ontario
Emails: ochrp@hotmail.com

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