Posted: July 17, 2006
JUSTICE FOR RAFAEL MARKUS BANGIT! JUSTICE TO ALL VICTIMS OF STATE TERRORISM!
ACTION ALERT & UPDATES:
CPA UPDATE AND REQUEST FOR SUPPORT:
It is with outrage and anguish that we inform you of the killing of one of our most devoted and committed leaders, Rafael Markus Bangit. He was gunned down by hooded men on June 8, 2006 in Isabela, while in transit to Baguio from his home province, Kalinga.
Markus was working with us at the CPA regional office here in Baguio, and he is a big loss to us not only as a colleague but a good friend and confidante. Attached is the fact sheet regarding the killing, along with our press release.
Others of our leaders continue to be under surveillance, even those not included in the military hitlist that we exposed last February. The surveillance starts with close monitoring of the subject in his or her places of work and residence. This is followed by the tailing of the subject along the routes to the places he or she frequents. Then men wearing caps and sunglasses, and riding motorcycles or vans, case the vicinity of the subject’s home, farm, or office. The men then walk around the neighborhood, trying to get people to confirm the identity of the subject, using a photo of him or her. Those who are under intense surveillance include Pastor Vergel Aniceto, Ignacio Pangket, Leonida Tundage, Geannette Galvez, Art Malecdan in addition to those in the hitlist, namely Joan Carling, Windel Bolinget, Manny Loste, Julian Gayumba, Jose Cawiding and Xavier Akien.
We are taking precaution, but nothing is secure; we remain defenseless.
After government received the barrage of letters of concern that followed our February exposure of the hitlist, the local police conducted their own investigation on the threats to CPA leaders. But they have not yet furnished us a copy of their report. After the police approached us for interviews, the overt surveillance of the office and city-based leaders let up. But the surveillance of leaders based in the countryside stepped up. Also, some of the surveillance shifted to leaders whose names had not appeared on the hitlist, as in the case of Markus Bangit.
The Civilian Intelligence and Detection Group, as requested by the National Police, is now conducting an investigation into the killing of Markus. But we do not believe that the investigation will seriously be pursued.
Rafael Markus Bangit is already the 682nd victim of political killing since 2001, and the 99th for this year, according to the documentation of KARAPATAN (Philippine Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights). Those who have been killed include church workers (mostly pastors of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and priests of the Iglesia Filipina Independente), government employees, and local government officials who had been fighting for justice on behalf of their people or active in raising legitimate issues against the government. Likewise, more than 140 activists have been abducted and remain missing.
In addition, 42 journalists have been killed since 2001 – five of them since January, according to the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP).
Because of mounting pressure on the Philippine government – including a strong statement from Amnesty International and an expression of concern from the US Senate and the US Embassy – the President in May this year ordered an investigation of the extrajudicial killings and called for a stop to these.
The killers, however, persist with impunity. The military is making excuses and justifications without any credibility, and only pays lip service to the need for investigations and for solutions to cases of human rights violations.
We believe the plan to kill activists is still ruthlessly being pursued by the military, with a mindset to meet their target and time-frame, no matter what the political costs. The military has, in fact, set a quota for particular regions known to have strong mass movements, one of which is the Cordillera. Their militarist target is to decisively cripple the mass movement, even if legitimate and legal, by silencing vocal and influential leaders, and terrorizing the members of people’s organizations and left political parties. By their own evaluation, the mass movement has reached the level at which its growth has become irreversible unless immediately undermined.
Arrest and detention can no longer work because courts have been dismissing the cases filed by the police and the military against the activists for lack of legal merit and/or due to violation of legal procedure. It is then not surprising that in spite of the growing international pressure and national attention, extra judicial killings and threats continue. The investigations being ordered by the President are really just a farce. It is, after all, in the President’s best interests if the mass movement that has become very critical of her is weakened.
It is thus critical at this stage to heighten the political pressure on the Philippine government from all corners of the world, and demand accountability and respect for the sanctity of life and for human rights. The Philippine government is now part of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNCHR), and it would be important to expose its record of gross human rights violations and demand that political killings be stopped and justice be given the victims.
It is in this context that we again request your support by writing letters to concerned government officials here and drawing international attention to the worsening political killings and human rights violations in the Philippines. With sustained and broadening international attention, we hope lives will be saved, and the human rights situation will improve.
The names and addresses of concerned government officials are provided below, and a sample letter is attached. Letters sent directly to Philippine government officials and to officials of the United Nations, will have more impact, as will the issuance of public statements via the mass media. We shall also be circulating a sign-on letter to those who cannot make their own letter but are willing to express their concern.
Thanks again for your invaluable solidarity and support.