Stop military harassment, intimidation and vilification of student and youth organizations

Students and youth organizations in the Philippines, some of whom are members of the ASA, have called for an urgent action appeal against they have experienced harassment, intimidation and vilification from the Philippine military.

Early this year, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has started deploying platoons of military personnel all over Metro Manila, the major urban center in the country, and have even entered universities and colleges to justify their military operations in the city.

In these school forums, the military has associated student and youth organizations like the League of Filipino Students, College Editors Guild of the Philippines and the National Union of Students of the Philippines as communist fronts. These allegations, however, were not very well-substantiated.

Such a McCarthyist approach has only led to the vilification and even legitimization of arrest, assault and even murder of their members.

Pls. help in this campaign.

 

 

Urgent Action Appeal

UA Title: Students and Youth Harassed by Military

UA Case: HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION AND VIOLATION OF BASIC STUDENTS’ RIGHTS and Academic Freedom

Place of Incident: Philippines

Date of Incident: February 20, 2007; March 5, 2007; July 19, 2007

VICTIMS: 1) Eleanor de Guzman, ANAKBAYAN (Youth of the Nation) National Chairperson; 2) Joanna Rose Adenit, GABRIELA Youth-Philippine Normal University (PNU) chairperson; 3) Ralph Malacad, Associate Editor in English, The Torch Publications (official PNU Student publication/newsletter); 4) Ali Tapar, Student Christian Movement-PNU chairperson; 5) Julie Ann Tapid, writer The Torch; 6) Joseph Ancajas, PNU Student Government member; 7) Joyce Caubat, ANAKBAYAN-PNU chairperson; 8) Alain Mark Zamora, chairperson LFS-Polytechnic University of the Philippines; 9) Rogelio Data Jr., chairperson Center for Nationalist Studies-PUP; 10) Reynante Czar, chairperson, ANAKBAYAN-PUP; 11) Jean Claire Tanilong, chairperson SCMP-PUP chapter and; 12) Carla A. Braceros SCMP-PUP vice-chairperson chapter.

Alleged Perpetrators: Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Civil-Military Operations (CMO) Battalion:

1. Col. Ricardo Visaya, Commanding Officer, Civil Military Operations (CMO) Battalion, Philippine Army (PA)

2. Capt. Orges, Operations Officer, CMO Battalion, PA

3. 2nd Lt. Brian Lim, Team Leader, Com B, CMO (PA)

4. Maj. Godfrey Obera, PA, C0y Comdr. “B” Coy

5. Salve Romel Lao, member CMO Battalion PA assigned at Barangay 592, Sta. Mesa Manila, Philippines

6. Chardene A. Lalapus, member CMO Batallion PA assigned at Barangay 592, Sta. Mesa Manila, Philippines

7. Lt. Col. Nick Q. Alarcio, the commandant of the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) of the University of Cordilleras, Baguio City, Philippines

Summary of Facts:

On July 11, 2007 the major daily newspapers in the Philippines reported the directive to redeploy 100 soldiers in key urban poor communities within Manila on July 10, after it was pulled out prior the May 14 national elections. The troops belong to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Civil-Military Operations (CMO) Battalion which were first deployed in 27 slum areas since November, 2006 ostensibly for “civic actions”.

The orders that came from AFP Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. also includes additional 160 soldiers for deployment on the succeeding weeks in 27 priority areas (barangays or villages) within Manila, primarily to conduct counter operations on alleged communist recruitment in Manila. Members of ANAKBAYAN (Youth of the Nation), a progressive youth group based in campuses and communities already reported the presence of military personnel in areas like Payatas and Commonwealth in Quezon City.

The deployment is fore-mostly illegal. The Philippine Constitution provides that only the President can call for such urban deployment, and only can be called out when there is real and imminent danger.

Several newspapers like The Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star and Manila Standard Today reported on their July 11 issue Col. Ricardo Visaya, CMO-Battalion commander saying, “This time more vigorous actions will be undertaken to educate the people about the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) deceptions. They will be taught how to counter the recruitment of the CPP”. Col. Visaya, himself admitted to the public, which the newspapers quoated, that the redeployment’s primary aim is counter-insurgency and to win the “hearts and minds” of the people through a “gunless” approach.

The newspapers mentioned above quoted Col. Visaya saying that aside from urban poor communities, the military targets secondary and tertiary schools and even pre-school and day-care centers purportedly to “educate the children why they should stay away from communism”.

On its first deployment in November, the soldiers were in full battle-gear, patrolling around the villages armed with M-16 armalite and conducting house-to-house visits. Residents were alarmed by the irregular deployment, and members of progressive groups in the communities reported harassment and threats from the military in their areas. It was exposed that the “civic actions” were used to justify the urban militarization which has resulted to threat, harassment and intimidation of members of progressive organizations and partylists groups like ANAKBAYAN, KADAMAY (an urban poor group), BAYAN MUNA (People First), GABRIELA and ANAKPAWIS (toiling people party list) who were singled out in community meetings held by the military, and continually harassed by the soldiers through direct threats.

These military activities were not limited inside urban poor communities as the military also started conducting fora in schools. The military’s conduct of operation in Manila was later exposed to be a part of the military’s counter-insurgency campaign, which includes students and youth among its targets.

On March 5, 2007, a forum was held by the office of Civil Military Operations Battalion of the Philippine Army from Fort Bonifacio Headquarters led by Capt. Orbes, operations officer of the CMO battalion, at the Philippine Normal University (PNU) in Taft avenue, Manila. Soldiers in full uniform and armed with M-16 armalites were seen roaming around the campus of the Philippine Normal University that day and were reported harassing and intimidating many student leaders by taking photos during the forum and video footage of the following victims: Eleanor de, Joanna Rose Adenit, Ralph Malacad , Ali Tapar, Julie Ann Tapid, Joseph Ancajas, and Joyce Caubat.

A week prior the said forum, a letter was received by the Office of Student Affairs and Services (OSASS-PNU) from the AFP- CMO Battalion CMO battalion (PA) commander Major Obera, which claimed that they will conduct the forum which will serve as a venue for “The awareness program about the infiltration of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New Peoples Army and the National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) in Metro Manila.” The letter further stated that “…nowadays, there are many of our youth who are being recruited by these front organizations supported by CPP/NPA/NDF…. there is an aggressive recruitment here in Metro Manila especially in the student sector…The purpose of this program is to let the youth, especially the students, become aware and inform them of these issues particularly on CPP/NPA infiltration. Through this awareness program we can prevent them from joining any organizations supported by the communist terrorists,”

One of the speakers in the said forum introduced himself as 2nd Lt. Bryan Lim, who is also the team leader of the military troops stationed at the village hall of Barangay 591 in Sta, Mesa, Manila near the Polytechnic Univesrsity of the Philippines. 2nd Lt. Lim claimed that he used to be an activist, a former political officer of the New Peoples Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP. He proceeded to vilify the various student organizations such as the Anakbayan (Youth of the Nation), League of Filipino students, College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines, National Union of Students of the Philippines and Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, which the speakers, through a power-point presentation, branded as “Communist terrorist fronts”.

The soldiers dissuaded the audience from joining these progressive youth groups which they maligned as “anti-family and anti-God”. These organizations are national groups with chapters nationwide and are active in the education rights advocacy and in the protest movement against the recent Commission on Higher Education (CHED) order that lifted the cap on tuition increase. These groups also spearheaded students and youth mobilizations against the alarming extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearance in the Philippines and hold the government and military accountable for it.

In another incident, on February 20, 2007, around 2:00 p.m., student leaders caught and arrested soldiers identified as Salve Romel Lao and Chardene A. Lalapus, who were not in military uniforms and taking pictures and video of the student activists during a protest action inside the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) main campus. The students brought the soldiers at the PUP main Security Office for identification and complaints of harassment.

The two soldiers both belong to the troops stationed at the barangay hall of Barangay 592, Sta. Mesa, about 10 meters away from the university. The unauthorized entry of the soldiers is a violation of the existing Memorandum of Agreement signed among the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines which prohibits entry of state security forces without prior permission to the university administration, especially when entry is unjustified. The memorandum also prohibits any form of interference of security forces with peaceful protest actions by PUP constituents within the university premises.

Among the student leaders of PUP who were harassed by the soldiers are Alain Mark Zamora , Rogelio Data Jr. , Reynante Czar , Jean Claire Tanilong and Carla A. Braceros who all spoke during the peaceful protest action.

On July 1, Lt. Col. Nick Q. Alarcio, the commandant of the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) of the University of Cordilleras, led a forum on the Anti-Terrorism Law at the Baguio City Athletic Bowl, where he also showed the “Knowing Thy Enemy”, a CD the military produced and which was exposed by the media in 2004, listing progressive and legal groups and tagging them as “enemies of the state” and fronts of the CPP-NPA. Included in the list are the Anakbayan, League of Filipino students, College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines, National Union of Students of the Philippines, KARATULA (Young Artists for Genuine Freedom) and the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines.

On July 19, in the news report by Dobbie de Guzman on TV Patrol Northern Luzon, which was aired by TV channel ABS-CBN’s, a military officer vilified the legal youth and student groups present in Baguio City, and calling them as fronts of the communists. He claimed that the CPP-NPA has a program for recruitment of young people in the legal groups, and eventually to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (a revolutionary umbrella of underground organizations), and the final rite as the “enlistment” to the CPP-NPA. 

The United Nations Special Rapportuer on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Prof. Philip Alston, in his report to the UN Human Rights Council on March 22 described the implication of this “vilification” campaign after his investigation visit in the Philippines (12-21 February 2007):

“…vilification”, “labeling”, or guilt by association… involves the characterization [by the government and military] of most groups on the left of the political spectrum as “front organizations” for armed groups whose aim is to destroy democracy. The result is that a wide range of groups – including human rights advocates, labour union organizers, journalists, teachers unions, women’s groups, indigenous organizations, religious groups, student groups, agrarian reform advocates, and others – are classified as “fronts” and then as “enemies of the State” that are accordingly considered to be legitimate targets.”

 

To date KARAPATAN or Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights, had documented that most student and youth victims of the extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearance are members of the groups the government lists as “communist fronts”. The vilification campaign incites violence against these groups and its members, thereby creating more atmosphere of impunity.

 

Please send letters, emails, fax messages calling for:

  1. Stop the vilification of youth and student organizations and other legal progressive groups, and stop other forms of harassment against them.
  2. Immediate pull-out of military troops in Metro Manila, Philippines and other urban areas.
  3. Withdrawal or stop the government’s counter-insurgency operation known as Oplan Bantay Laya or Operation Guarding Freedom which includes in its targets legal unarmed groups, civilians, and the youth.
  4. The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.

You may send your communications to:

1.T.H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

President of the Republic

Malacanang Palace ,

JP Laurel St., San Miguel

Manila Philippines

Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80

Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968

Cell#: (+ 63) 919 898 4622 / (+63) 917 839 8462

E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

2. Jesus D. Dureza

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
*Office of the Peace Process
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Mobile:
Fax:+63 (2) 635 9579

Email: osec@opapp.gov.ph

3. Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue
Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
osnd@philonline.com

4. Hon. Purificacion Valera Quisumbing

Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights

SAAC Bldg., UP Complex

Commonwealth Avenue

Diliman, Quezon City

Philippines

Fax: (+632) 929 0102

Email: drpvq@yahoo.com

5. Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez
Secretary, Department of Justice

Padre Faura St., Manila

Direct Line: (632) 521-8344 0r (632) 5213721
Trunkline: (632) 523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614
Email
sad@doj.gov.ph

6. Ms. Hina Jilani
Special Representative of the Secretary General for human rights defenders
Attn: Melinda Ching Simon
Room 1-040
C/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 93 88
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS)

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

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URGENT ACTION Prepared by:

TANGGULAN Youth Network for Human Rights

3rd flr, 879 National Council of Churches in the Philippines,

Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City

Philippines

Telephone: (+632) 9269760

Email: tanggulan.youth@gmail.com or tanggulanyouth@yahoo.com.

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