Human Rights Watch is a weekly collation of human rights news stories gathered from different sources by UPLB Perspective. This initiative was launched in response to the sweeping number of human rights violations (HRVs) among various sectors across the country.
As the nation cries for justice at the sight of Police Master Sergeant Hensie Zinampan murdering 52-year-old Lilibeth Valdez on video last May 31, farmers, activists, and many others are continuously haunted by state-perpetuated violence and murder sprees.
In one case, UPLB alumnus Kemuel Ian “KI” Cometa, after being reported missing for nearly two weeks now, was confirmed alive and in the custody of authorities. Meanwhile, the residents of Sitio Ibayo in Nasugbu, Batangas were yet again threatened with forced evictions and demolitions.
From illegal arrests to even more killings, here are all of the other HRVs that have been reported this week.
Rustico Tan prior to his death. Photo from Anakbayan Laguna.
May 28, 2021 – Pilar, Camotes Island, Cebu and Brgy. Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo
Two peace consultants murdered separately by authorities. The first was farmer and ex-priest Rustico L. Tan, who was shot dead in his home in Pilar, Camotes Island, while he was sleeping on his hammock around 8 PM. He served as the Chief Peace Negotiator for Cebu Province for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) until 1987.
On November 2017, Tan was arrested on 14 counts of murder and detained at the Bohol District Jail in Tagbilaran City. Two years later in October, he was released after his case was dismissed by the Tagbilaran City Regional Trial Court Branch 47.
He was again arrested in December 2019 on charges of murder filed at the Bacolod City Regional Trial Court Branch 46 in Negros Occidental. He was released on recognizance from Bacolod City Jail after three months. The latest hearing for the case was on May 27, 2021, a day before he was killed.
The second was fellow NDFP peace consultant Reynaldo Bocala in Brgy. Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo, who was killed alongside companion Willy Arguelles, after elements of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) raided their place.
A report from ANINAW Productions revealed that Bocala had a Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) ID, with JASIG referring to an agreement between NDFP and the national government that supposedly kept peace negotiators safe.
May 30, 2021 – Purok 2, Brgy. 1, Pio Duran, Albay
Lakas ng Maliliit na Mangingisda sa Bicol (LAMBAT) Chairperson Elwin Mangampo was arrested by elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and CIDG, Defend Bicol Stop The Attacks Network says.
The organization added thay the arrest happened after the CIDG planted guns and explosives at Mangampo’s home in Purok 2, Brgy. 1, Pio Duran, Albay. As of press time, he is detained in CIDG Ligao. Progressive group Anakbayan says that a search warrant, signed by Ligao City, Albao RTC Branch 11 Judge Edwin Ma-alat, was used to raid his home.
Mangampo, also a barangay councilor, led dialogues to uphold the rights of fisherfolk amidst the pandemic. According to Defend Bicol Stop The Attacks Network, Mangampo has long been a victim of harassment and red-tagging.
June 1 and 2, 2021 – Brgy. Macalamcam, Rosario, Batangas
Human rights alliance Karapatan Timog Katagalugan (TK) revealed last June 1 that a man named Gilbert Orr was reported missing after an alleged armed encounter that took place last May 27.
According to witnesses, Orr was seen wounded while on his way to a nearby barangay. There are suspicions that Orr was abducted by the military.
Several days since his disappearance, there is still no sight of Orr anywhere.
Only a day after Karapatan-TK released the initial update on Orr’s whereabouts, the alliance revealed last June 2 that farmer and carpenter Rolando “Lando” Obal was illegally arrested by elements of PNP Rosario and remains detained in Rosario Municipal Police Station.
They added that Lando was allegedly involved in an encounter with PNP Rosario last May 26, and is facing the trumped-up charges of “Frustrated Homicide” and “Illegal Possession of Firearms” after authorities reportedly planted firearms and explosives.
According to Karapatan-TK, PNP Rosario prohibited Lando from communicating with his family while detained.
June 4, 2021 – Capas, Tarlac
Farmers from Capas, Tarlac were forcefully being evicted from their land by Tarlac Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan. Photos from Twitter user Aaron Estabillo, a relative of one of the owners of the disputed land, showed farmers being water-bombed and warded-off allegedly by Catacutan’s men. [P]
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