Tag Archives: extrajudicial killings (EJKs)

SENTRO Statement in Support of the CBCP Pastoral Letter

File photo / Bullit Marquez

The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) welcomes the Pastoral Letter released by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) last January 30, 2017, entitled “For I find no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies (Ez. 18:32)”. In these times of confusion, fear, state-led intimidation, and a seven-month Reign of Terror, the statement of our respected Bishops is just about the right kind of disturbing voice in the wilderness our lost compatriots need right now.

We nod in agreement when the CBCP states: “The deep root of the drug problem and criminality is the poverty of the majority, the destruction of the family and corruption in society. The step we have to take is to overcome poverty, especially through the giving of permanent work and sufficient wages to workers (underscoring ours).”

We have to confront the socio-economic and cultural factors that create this malady – including the lack of sources of income, the job insecurity, the loneliness and predatorial culture that individualistic capitalism engenders, the unreformed, syndicated and corrupt police and law enforcement.

We, as militant workers from all sectors of our society, are ourselves men and women with families, who are as adamant in protecting our own children from the dangers of the drug trade. And yet we ourselves know, from our mutual experiences in our communities, that shunning, shaming and cutting off both drug victims and drug trade elements from a second chance at reform and turning around their lives save no one in the end. We ourselves know, from our long, bitter struggle for justice and reparation in our sectors, that no solution is garnered unless a mutual acknowledgment of the dignity of our counterparts in litigation and negotiation is achieved. At the same time, we as well are aware of protecting the quality of life of our members and our allies—and are very, very wary of anyone who would dare foist easy solutions to us in the face of complex problems, at the cost of our principles and dearly-held freedoms.

We in the workers’ movement, coming as we are from all social and religious slants, see the value of transformative justice, as well as rehabilitating even our criminal elements.

With this statement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference Philippines stands with an awakening larger majority of our Filipino people. They are now aware of the dangers of the government’s Death Policies — Oplan Tokhang, the bills reimposing the death penalty and lowering the age of criminality – that threaten to or have destroyed our institutions, granting us a “reign of peace” that is more the peace of the grave, cramped as they are with the skulls and bones of thousands of innocent and untried victims.

We in SENTRO therefore reiterate: the Death Policies of the Duterte regime must be stopped.

As much as we workers do not always share the political views of many of our religious groups, we nevertheless loudly proclaim our conviction with them right now: a civilization built on peace, justice and love.

Investigate the Killings, Stop the Impunity

IDefendiDEFEND (In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement) condemns in the strongest terms the killing of former union president of R&E Taxi Edilberto Miralles , who was gunned down in front of the National Labor and Relations Commission (NLRC) office in Quezon City before noon on September 23.

The group called for the Commission on Human Rights to step in and investigate the death of Miralles along with other extra-judicial killings whose perpetrators have yet to be brought to justice.

The death of Miralles comes after that of Orlando Abangan, another labor leader from Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) from Talisay, Cebu, who was gunned down by a lone gunman last September 17. Climate justice and anti-coal advocate Gloria Capitan was similarly gunned down by unknown assailants last July 1, the first day President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office.

iDEFEND asserts that a pervasive culture of impunity emboldens perpetrators of so-called vigilante-style killings, and has now claimed the lives not only of innocent citizens, children and bystanders but political activists and human rights defenders. The spike in vigilante killings could only boomerang on the PNP and the AFP as their inaction in this instance may be viewed as tacit approval of such crimes.

At the start of September, four farmers were shot dead by unidentified men in a farm located inside Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija. Emerenciana Mercado-de la Cruz, Violeta Mercado-de Leon, Eligio Barbado and Gaudencio Bagalay were all members of the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid na Nagkakaisa, tilling part of the disputed 3,100 hectares of land inside Fort Magsaysay. Several others were wounded.

On September 7, farmworker leader Ariel Diaz was shot to death by three men in Delfin Albano town, Isabela. Diaz is the chairperson of the Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon ti Isabela and was the head of the the provincial chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

On September 20, farmer-leader Arnel Figueroa, 44, was killed at the Yulo King Ranch in Coron, Palawan, while he was talking with a personnel of the Forest Management Bureau (FMB). The perpetrator was identified as Dan Nelson Mayo, a security guard on duty at the Department of Agriculture -Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI). Figueroa was the chairperson of Pesante-Palawan and their members are CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) petitioners. Figueroa and his companions were peacefully cultivating the land at the time of the incident. According to reports, Mayo sought refuge in a nearby PNP facility and even attempted to flee the scene of the crime.

On July 1, Gloria Capitan, anti-coal communinty leader of Kilusan Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya-Bataan, was shot in Lucanin, Mariveles, Bataan. At the time of her death she was leading petitioners seeking the closure of the open coal storage and stockpile in their community.

iDEFEND appeals to the concerned agencies to address these cases in a speedy manner and points out that the climate of violence and killings has distorted the people’s collective sense of right and wrong.

“Environmental activists, labour organisers, and farmers are defenders of human rights. They are important partners for change in the country and are at the frontline of the work for sustainable development goals. iDEFEND demands that the perpetrators be brought to justice.

“It is the duty of state security forces to immediately investigate, apprehend and litigate the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. If not, then the suspicion in people’s minds that state security forces are in collusion with private armed groups in perpetuating these killings will remain.”

“Development and peace go together, and this is why the United Nations sees as central to the achievement of sustainable development the drastic reduction of all forms of violence, the promotion of the rule of law, and equal access to justice for all. Their loss is the loss of our nation’s future in peace and security. This lack of accountability and impunity must be addressed and justice must be served,” iDEFEND spokesperson Ellecer Carlossaid.

Justice for Ka Orlando Abangan! Justice for all victims of extra judicial killings!


Orlando “Ka Lando” Abangan

The Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) strongly condemns the assassination of Orlando “Ka Lando” Abangan. SENTRO calls for a swift and thorough investigation of this cowardly act, and to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators and their masterminds.

Ka Lando, 35 years old, was assassinated a few meters outside his home last 17th of September 2016 at around 7:00am. Witnesses said that a lone assassin waited for him, pumped seven bullets into his body, and drove away on a motorcycle.

Initial investigations to the motivation of his killing points to Ka Lando’s vocal criticism against the ongoing war on drugs and the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the community.

Ka Lando has spent half his life organizing the downtrodden under the banner of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM). Recently, Ka Lando helped SENTRO organize a union in the power industry as well as the urban poor in Cebu.

Ka Lando was also involved in helping organize an organization of persons with disabilities (PWDs) that advanced the rights of PWDs for social protection and social services.

SENTRO also calls on the Duterte administration to stop the terrible wave of extra judicial killings that has plagued the country. The war of drugs has promoted a culture that is blind to human rights. Clearly, it is now taking its toll on human rights defenders. It has to stop immediately.

SENTRO commiserates with the families and friends of Ka Lando. His long history of service and militancy in the face of impunity is admirable. His death, unfortunately, is another nail in the coffin against the struggle to uphold human rights.

Justice for Ka Lando Abangan!
Justice for all victims of extra judicial killings and their families!
Stop the killings!