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    Call for justice for victims of human rights violation in the Bicol Region

    APPEAL FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION

    Dear friends,

    Please join us in our call for justice for victims of human rights violations in the provinces of Sorsogon and Albay in the Bicol region.

    Farmer-leader identifies gunman

    Every day, 42-year-old Edgardo Lopes delivered bread from their village bakery to different sari-sari (retail) stores in Barangay Mayon, Daraga town, Albay. Delivering bread augments his family’s income aside from coconut farming.

    At past 5:00 a.m. of July 11, 2014, as was his morning routine, Lopes delivered bread around the village on his motorcycle. He went to one of his regular customers, a sari-sari (retail) store in Purok 2, Mayon village, but he left when the store was still closed.

    Before Lopes drove his motorcycle away, an unidentified man onboard another motorcycle stopped near him. The man suddenly shot Lopes six times with a .45 caliber gun before speeding off.

    A couple from the neighboring house witnessed the shooting. As soon as the gunman left, the neighbors rushed to the injured Lopes and shouted for help.

    Lopes, though weak, was able to tell the neighbor, “Kilala ko. Army.” (I know the gunman. Army.). He also pleaded to be taken immediately to the hospital.

    The store owner brought Lopes to the nearest hospital. At around 8:00 a.m. Lopes succumbed to his injuries and was declared dead by the doctors.

    Edgardo Lopes is chapter president of Bicol Coconut Planters Association, Inc. (BCPAI) in Albay province, an affiliate of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines).

    Family strafed in their home by military personnel

    On May 23, 2014, at past 5:00 a.m Cynthia Garduque was making breakfast while her husband, Elias, was outside their house feeding chickens. Elias was carrying Eddie, his one year and seven months old son. Their daughter, “Edna” was in her cradle.

    A volley of gunfire suddenly rang in the air. Cynthia immediately hid under the sink for cover. When the gunfire subsided, uniformed men from the 31st  Infantry Battalion and the 5th  Scout Ranger Company of the Philippine Army entered the Garduque house and pulled out Cynthia from under the sink. Outside their house, Cynthia saw her husband’s lifeless body, and their son bloodied but still alive.

    Eddie’s thigh was shattered by bullets, while Cynthia sustained minor injuries near her shoulder and right feet.

    While the soldiers gave Eddie first aid, Cynthia was interrogated.  Relatives, village officials and neighbors attempted to help the Garduques but were prevented by the soldiers. It was only in the afternoon of that day that Cynthia and young Eddie were taken to the hospital.

    The Philippine Army reported that they were conducting combat operations against suspected New People’s Army near the Garduque’s residence. Accusing Cynthia and her husband Elias as NPA members, she is charged with illegal possession of explosives.

    Cynthia Garduque is currently detained at the Sorsogon City District Jail with her son Eddie.

    We call on friends and human rights advocates to send letters of concern calling for:

    1. Justice for the extrajudicial killing of Edgardo Lopes and Elias Garduque, and the frustrated killing of Cynthia Garduque and their child Eddie.
    2. The immediate release of Cynthia Garduque; and the dropping of the fabricated charges against her.
    3. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into these incidents of human rights violations; and, to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators.
    4. The end to the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan, the BS Aquino government’s counterinsurgency program, that victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians.
    5. The Philippine Government to observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major Human Rights instruments that it is a party and signatory to.

    You may send your communications to the following agencies through mail, e-mail or fax:

    H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
    President of the Republic
    Malacañang Palace,
    JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
    Manila, Philippines
    Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
    Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
    E-mail: op@president.gov.ph

    Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
    Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
    Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
    7th Floor Agustin Building I
    Emerald Avenue
    Pasig City 1605
    Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
    Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
    stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph

    Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
    Secretary, Department of National Defense
    Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
    E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
    Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
    Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
    Email: osnd@philonline.com, dnd.opla@gmail.com

    Atty. Leila De Lima
    Secretary, Department of Justice
    Padre Faura St., Manila
    Direct Line 521-1908
    Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.211/214
    Fax: (+632) 523-9548
    Email:  lmdelima@doj.gov.ph,
    lmdelima.doj@gmail.com,
    lmdelima.doj2@gmail.com

    Hon.  Loretta Ann P. Rosales
    Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
    SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
    Commonwealth Avenue
    Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
    Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
    Fax: (+632) 929 0102
    Email:   chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com, lorettann@gmail.com

    Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

    URGENT ACTION Prepared by:

    KARAPATAN
    Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
    2nd Floor Erythrina Building
    #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets
    Central District Diliman, Quezon City
    PHILIPPINES 1101   
    Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
    Email: karapatan@karapatan.org | urgentaction@karapatan.org
    Web: http://www.karapatan.org

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