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Human rights volunteers harassed, arbitrarily arrested and detained in Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental, Philippines

UA No: 2011-03-05
(initial report)

UA Date :
20 March 2011

UA Case :
Threat/Harassment/Intimidation; Illegal arrest and Detention

Victim/s :
Christopher Solano, 18 years old
Althea Villagonzalo, 18years old
Whelgester Paglinawan, 21 years old
Manuel Bentillo, 51, member of Bayan Muna

all are volunteers of Karapatan – Central Visayas Human Rights Monitoring Team

Place of Incident :
Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental

Date of Incident :
17 March 2011

Alleged Perpetrator(s) :
Some members of the Alpha Company of the 79th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA)

Account of the Incident:

On March 17, 2011, the five-man HR Team of Karapatan-Central Visayas went to the village of Barangay Nagbinlod, municipality of Sta. Catalina in Negros Oriental, to document reported human rights abuses of the state security forces following an alleged clash between the military and the New People’s Army (NPA).

The HR Team was in Sta. Catalina since February 14, 2011, documenting human rights violations in the militarized communities of the municipality. On March 17, local farmers reported to the HR Team that Marvin Villegas, 18, a village resident, was shot by members of the 1st Scout Rangers Battalion while the youth was taking the family’s carabao to the fields. The HR Team and 11 farmers were assisting Villegas to get medical help, when they were all arrested by members of the Alpha Company of the 79th IBPA.

The victims were held in custody by the soldiers along the village road side of Bgy. Nagbinlod, and questioned by the military.

Nine of the local farmers were later released, while the rest were brought to the Sta. Catalina Municipal Police Station, and guarded by soldiers led by 1st Lt. Tagle. The soldiers accused the HR Team and Villegas as members of the NPA. Villegas, together with his mother, was later taken away by the soldiers, purportedly to Dumaguete City.

Until this writing, no charges were filed against the victims who are being accused by the soldiers as members of the NPA.

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

The immediate release of Christopher Solano, Althea Villagonzalo, Whelgester Paglinawan, and Manuel Bantillo from detention.

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 the incident and illegal arrest and detention of the human rights workers.

The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”

The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians

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.

The investigation of the shooting of Marvin Villegas as well as the illegal arrest and detention of the human rights defenders and filing of charges against the perpetrators.

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: [email protected] / [email protected]

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
[email protected]

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) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
Email: [email protected]

Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614
Email:  [email protected]

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: [email protected], [email protected]

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
[email protected]

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