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Political prosecution continues: Bicol youth leader shot dead, Davao youth leader abducted

Anakbayan condemns the brutal killing of a student activist leader in Bicol and the illegal abduction and warrantless interrogation of a youth activist leader in Davao City this weekend.

Cris Hugo, a National Council Member and regional coordinator of the League of Filipino Students in Bicol, was shot dead around 10:30pm yesterday in Legazpi City by unidentified armed men.

Raunil Mortejo, Anakbayan-Davao City chairperson, was abducted last Friday night, March 17, at Juna, Matina near the BAYAN office in Davao by suspected elements of the Isafp. Witnesses said he was boarded into a blue green URVAN van with a covered plate number.

Mortejo was released an hour later. According to his account, he was interrogated and harrassed for almost an hour. He was unhurt but was visibly traumatized by the illegal abduction.

“In this administration’s desperation to quell growing protests, it is now harassing and attacking harmless and respectable personalities. We hold the Arroyo administration criminally and politically liable for the killing of Hugo and the continuous attacks against our youth leaders. This regime is a monster, it dares and does not think twice to shed the blood of young patriotic leaders whose only ‘faults’ are that they continue to be steadfast and vigilant in upholding civil liberties and calling for social change despite continuous tyranny and repression perpetuated by the Arroyo administration,’ said Eleanor de Guzman, Anakbayan national chairperson.

Meanwhile, Anakbayan also expressed strongest condemnation against the baseless and false accusations against one of its local leaders and seven other militant leaders in Davao City.

Lorie Ann Cascaro, Anakbayan’s National Council member and Vice-Chairperson for Mindanao, was charged with seven others after being implicated as conspirators in inciting to sedition and rebellion cases filed against Bayan Muna Rep. Joel Virador.

De Guzman added that while leftist leaders and organizations are seemingly the primary targets of the government’s crackdown, ordinary civilians remain the most vulnerable.

“Anyone is vulnerable to warrantless arrests, political prosecution and, yes, even extrajudicial killings by the Arroyo regime. It can range from Arroyo’s most ardent political foes to the most unsuspecting ordinary bystander. Who, then, is the real enemy of the state?” she said.

The militant youth groups Anakbayan and LFS held a candle lighting protest later today to denounce the killing and continuous political prosecution against activist leaders and organizations.

Visit the official Anakbayan website, www.anakbayan.cjb.net

Reference:
Sarah Katrina Maramag
Media Officer, 09193486790

Filipino-Americans Take to the Streets Calling for End to US Militarization in Iraq and Philippines on 3rd Anniversary of War; Demand Ouster of US-Subservient Arroyo Regime

Filipino-Americans and allies took charge in five U.S. cities yesterday, March 18, to express their condemnation of the U.S. subservient Arroyo regime in the Philippines and to demand total and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops and military aid in the Philippines, Iraq, Korea and beyond. March 18-19, marked as international global days of action in several countries, signifies the official 3rd Anniversary of the U.S. war in Iraq.

“The current U.S. military occupation of Iraq is akin to the century-long history of U.S. military occupation of the Philippines. We know all too well from what the Philippines is now, under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is what the U.S. is molding Iraq to become–a puppet government and neo-colony of the United States,” stated BAYAN-USA chair Kawal Ulanday.

“In the Philippines, there is currently an insidious war being waged, wherein the U.S. government no longer has to wage open combat against the Filipinos themselves, but instead funds it loyal puppet government under Arroyo and the Philippine military to wage a bloody war against its own people, all in the name of a war against terror. But what is really martial law resurrected,” Ulanday continued.

In New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu, Filipino-Americans, led by BAYAN-USA, marched with their Anti-Arroyo allies to expose the U.S. puppet government’s usage of billions in U.S. military aid to launch rampant killing sprees against people’s leaders critical of the Arroyo administration, conduct warrantless arrests, and intensify political persecution of dissident voices.

The U.S. chapter of BAYAN, an alliance of organizations in the Philippines, [also known as BAYAN-USA] raised dozens of their signature red-and-blue flags in nearly all four corners of the U.S. The high visibility of the BAYAN flags amongst the sea of anti-war protesters in the U.S. was a colorful act of defiance against the Arroyo administration who is currently targeting the said alliance’s members in the Philippines through killings and political harassment.

In San Francisco, BAYAN-USA, along with member organizations League of Filipino Students and the women’s group Babae helmed an anti-war/anti-Arroyo contingent nearly 500-strong. In Seattle, BAYAN-USA flags waved side by side with that of member organization Anakbayan, as well as Philippine-U.S. Solidarity Organization (PUSO). In Los Angeles, BAYAN-USA member organizations Habi Arts and Anakbayan provided cultural performances on the street depicting the Philippine struggle under Arroyo and even served Adobong Palaban (militant adobo) a well-known Filipino dish, to hungry protesters. In Honolulu, BAYAN-USA flags were raised by youth members of Anakbayan. While in New York, a BAYAN-USA representative co-chaired the main anti-war program and march from Times Square to the United Nations building, as BAYAN-USA, Migrante International, Anakbayan, and the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines contingent unfurled a gigantic banner declaring “US Troops Out of the Philippines!”

“We proudly declare who we are and wave the flags that so many of our leaders and members have died for in the Philippines because this flag is so ingrained in the Filipino people’s historical struggle against tyranny under many U.S. puppet regimes beginning with Marcos 25 years ago. Like Marcos before her, the U.S.-funded Arroyo regime is practicing the same fascist strikes against the people to quell resistance. That is why our march is also for the over 4200 victims of human rights violations including killings of BAYAN leaders under the Arroyo regime alone,” Ulanday explained.

The alliance lambasted the Arroyo administration for jailing progressive Philippine Congressman Crispin Beltran and demanded for his release. They also lambasted Arroyo for continuing to threaten Beltran’s fellow five outspoken Anti-Arroyo Congress people– House Representatives Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Teodoro Casino, Joel Virador, and Rafael Mariano–with arrest by having military parked outside the Batasan Congressional complex in Quezon City. The “Batasan 5” as they have come to be known have remained trapped in the Batasan complex for several weeks.

BAYAN-USA also vehemently condemned the political harassment of their own national leaders BAYAN chair Carol P. Araullo, BAYAN secretary-general Renato Reyes, and of BAYAN international relations officer Rita Baua, who have been included in the recently expanded list of so-called “destabilizers” being targeted by Philippine National Police under Arroyo’s watch.

“These are the workings of a U.S. puppet administration so desperate to cling to power it has totally and completely lost all sense of moral and political decency, and turned 100% against the people. BAYAN-USA’s march in 5 U.S. cities on the 3rd Anniversary of the Iraqi war is not only in solidarity with the people with Iraq, but a call to oust the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime.”

References:
Kawal Ulanday, Chair, BAYAN-USA, email: chair @ bayanusa.org
Berna Ellorin, Media Officer, BAYAN-USA, email: mc @ bayanusa.org

BAYAN-USA statement on 3-year anniversary of Iraq War: End U.S. War and Terror in Iraq and the Philippines

On the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, BAYAN-USA (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-USA) stands in worldwide solidarity with the broad coalition of anti-imperialist and anti-war forces to emphatically demand, End U.S. War and Terror in Iraq and the Philippines!

The Filipino people know first-hand the trauma of American invasion and occupation following the Philippine-American war from 1898-1902. On a visit to the Philippines, President Bush compared the so-called U.S. “liberation” of Iraq to the “liberation” of the Philippines over a century ago.

We know that liberation really means occupation and exploitation, and we call for an end to the military occupation of countries from Iraq to Afghanistan to the Philippines, the alleged “second front of the War on Terror” where over 5,500 U.S. troops are currently training in war exercises in Mindanao where six Moros (Muslims) have been recently killed. We call for the end to Balikatan war exercises and the Visiting Forces Agreement which are aimed at reestablishing permanent U.S. military presence in the Philippines.

The legacy of the American invasion of the Philippines a century ago remains fully intact, as the Bush administration has provided direct military and political support to Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s puppet regime as she and her.

On February 24 of this year, president Arroyo issued Proclamation 1017, which imposed a defacto martial law under the guise of a “State of Emergency” in which progressive Filipino organizations and individuals have been targeted and subject to unconstitutional arrest, detainment, and even assassination. The latest killings involving a BAYAN and Hacienda Luisita Union leader just days ago.

Just as we opposed the U.S.-Marcos regime over twenty years ago, progressive Filipinos say no again to martial law, in the Philippines and anywhere people’s rights are endangered. We demand the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her U.S.-supported regime, and the establishment of a transitional council that truly serves the Filipino people and addresses our right to sovereignty, agrarian reform, jobs and fair wages.

Amidst the hostile political climate both here in the U.S. and in the Philippines, we demand the guaranteed safety of the “list of 51” persons who are currently being targeted by the US-GMA regime. We will steadfastly continue to defend Filipino progressives, in the Philippines and abroad. We demand a stop to the unwarranted arrest of progressive parliamentarians, the release of all post-1017 political detainees, including the Batasan Five and Anakpawis representative Crispin Beltran.

In the words of “Ka Bel,” “If helping the poor is a crime, and fighting for freedom is rebellion, then I plead guilty as charged.” We echo Beltran’s sentiments as we continue to struggle for genuine national democracy and just and lasting peace in the Philippines, Iraq and worldwide.

OUST THE US-ARROYO REGIME!
STOP POLITICAL REPRESSION IN THE PHILIPPINES!
NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW!
FREE CONGRESSMAN CRISPIN BELTRAN!
UPHOLD RIGHTS OF THE BATASAN 5!
ESTABLISH TRANSITION COUNCIL!
US TROOPS OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES, IRAQ, & EVERYWHERE!

Contact: Kawal Ulanday: chair@bayanusa.org
Berna Ellorin: mc@bayanusa.org

Beltran files raps vs GMA before UN rights body

by Gerry Baldo and Mel Cabigting
www.tribune.net.ph

Lawyers representing Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran yesterday lodged a complaint against President Arroyo before the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) charging her with illegal arrest and arbitrary detention of the party-list congressman.

The complaint, filed by Committee for the Defense of Lawyers (Codal) spokesman lawyer Neri Javier Colmenares in behalf of Beltran, was received by Marcus Schmidt, head of the Petitions Unit of the! UNHRC, who transmitted it right away to Pierre del Prado of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Geneva, Switzerland.

Colmenares told the media that the filing of the case against Mrs. Arroyo and her administration was done based on her violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international human rights laws.

In the complaint, Codal said the Arroyo government’s arrest of Beltran is illegal because it was done on the basis of his political beliefs which goes against the administration and that the warrant used in having him arrested was based on a case that was filed against him by the administration of then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1985 but was dismissed in 1986, when the late strongman was overthrown in a popular uprising. The case slapped against Beltran, a former “street parliamentarian” and now real member of Congress, was said to have been among the several politically motivated cases filed by the Marcos administration against its dissenters during his term, especially during martial law.

“By using that same case to have Beltran arrested, Mrs. Arroyo is in essence had him imprisoned for his political beliefs and not for any criminal act committed by him. This is strictly prohibited under international laws,” Colmenares stated.

Beltran, who was arrested by elements of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group last Feb. 25, just hours after Mrs. Arroyo declared a state of national emergency over a reported uncovered coup d’etat against her government, remains in police custody despite the absence of any judicial order for his detention.

The complaint that was lodged by Codal also stated that despite a release order having issued by a Quezon City Regional Trial Court judge last March 13, the police still refuses to free him.

Colmenares said that under the law, no p! erson could be detained merely because a case, or “information of a charge” had been filed against him or her. He maintained a warrant or an Order of Commitment issued by a court must first be obtained by the authorities to make such detention legal.

Codal, in the complaint, also called on the UN to express concern over the “arbitrary arrest” and the continuing detention of Beltran and the threat of warrantless arrests reportedly poised to be conducted by the Arroyo government against other personalities who are critical of it.

It also urged the UN to immediately send a special rapporteur to investigate the case of Beltran and subsequently submit a report to the international body to verify the charges Codal raised against the Arroyo administration before it.

The lawyer’s group also filed with the UNHCR a complaint against Malacañang for the alleged summary execution by the military of activist and human rights worker Eden Marcell! ana and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy in 2003, and also of activist Edilberto Napoles and human rights worker and journalist Benjaline Hernandez in 2002.

The Codal lawyers, in a statement, said they are seriously concerned over the clear shunning of the Arroyo government of judicial procedures in conducting arrests and for its raiding the office of The Daily Tribune, its threatening to take control of media entities and its violent dispersal of rallies, especially those being held against it.

The lawyers’ group said it hopes the UN would move to force the Arroyo government to follow legal and constitutional processes in dealing with opposition forces.

Meanwhile, aside from the Codal, a militant human rights organization yesterday also filed human rights violations cases against the Arroyo administration to the UNHRC which is headquartered in New York. Karapatan (Rights) secretary general Marie Hilao-Enriquez said her grou! p filed the cases based on the optional protocol provided under the ICCPR and which bore the charges against the government on the same summary execution of Marcellana, Gumanoy, Napoles and Hernandez as well as for the attempted killing of another activist, Ruel Landicho.

In a statement, Enriquez said the cases “represent the prevalent practice of extra-judicial, summary execution of activists, human rights workers, peasant and union leaders, journalists and priests by suspected security agents of the Arroyo government.” UNHRC Special Rapporteur Rafael Rivas Posada has granted Enriquez and Edre Olalia, the lawyer handling the four cases, an audience with her on March 16 at 5:30 p.m. (US time) at the UN headquarters in New York.

The UNHRC also stated its “concern at reports of intimidation and threats of retaliation impeding the right to an effective remedy for persons whose rights and freedoms have been violated.”

Karapatan also said it plans to file its own case against the Arroyo government for arbitrary detention of Beltran as well as a motion for the UN to support their call for his release.

While in a meeting with Posada, Filipino-American activists in New York, led by Bayan-USA, will hold a vigil outside the UN building in New York to air support for Karapatan’s filing of the case against the Arroyo administration and to call attention to the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines.

In 2003, the UNHRC, in its Concluding Observations on the Philippine human rights situation, expressed concern about “the (Philippine government’s) lack of appropriate measures to investigate crimes allegedly committed by state security forces and agents, in particular those committed against human rights defenders, journalists…and (its) lack of measures taken to prosecute and punish the perpetrators.”