Suspect in Jose Doton Case
Quest for Justice Continues
Today, we welcome the decision of Judge Ulysses
Butuyan of the Regional Trial Court Branch 51 of Tayug, Pangasinan
in the case of the People of the Philippines versus Joel Flores
charged with the murder of Jose Doton - a staunch oppositionist
against the San Roque Multi-purpose Dam Project. In the said decision,
Joel Flores was sentenced to 41 years of imprisonment for the murder
of Jose Doton and 10 years of imprisonment for the frustrated murder
of Diosdado 'Cancio' Doton. The court also ordered the suspect to
pay the heirs of the Doton family PHP 500,000 and P200,000.00 for
Diosdado Doton as damages. This is a first for the more nine hundred
cases of extrajudicial killings in the country.
Jose Doton or Apo Jose as he was fondly called was
killed last May 16, 2006 in San Nicholas, Pangasinan by motorcycle-riding
assassins about 200 meters from his home. His brother, Cancio Doton
who was with him at that time, was seriously wounded during the
Joel Flores, strongly believed to be a n agent of
the State, was arrested in mid-2006 due to the courage and persistence
of the Doton family and members of different people's organizations
in seeking justice for Apo Jose's death.
Prior to the killing, Jose Doton received death
threats, was subjected to a vilification campaign and surveillance
in the same pattern as other victims of extrajudicial killings under
Pres. Arroyo's Operation Plan Bantay Laya (Freedom Watch). He was
tagged as a communist sympathizer and a terrorist and was also harassed
with statements that he was listed in the Armed Forces of the Philippines
Order of Battle.
We commend Judge Butuyan for deciding on the merits
of the case and lawyer Atty. Alfie Bince of the Pangasinan Integrated
Bar of the Philippines who prosecuted the case for the Doton family.
Very instrumental in the quest for justice is the unwavering persistence
of the Doton family and the continuing campaign for justice by different
people's organizations like HUSTISYA, Tignayan dagiti Mannalon a
Mangwayawaya ti Agno (TIMMAWA) or Peasant Movement to Free the Agno,
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan - Pangasinan (New Patriotic Alliance
- Pangasinan Chapter), Cordillera People's Alliance, and Cordillera
Human Rights Alliance.
At the international level, various groups have
raised their concern on the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
Wayawaya (Freedom) - a human rights advocates group for the Philippines
based in Japan has helped in bringing international attention to
the case. Due to the work of Wayawaya, Amnesty International and
Friends of the Earth in Japan and the local campaign here, the Japanese
government and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)
have made the solving of the Doton case as a precondition to the
release of the remaining Official Development Aid for the San Roque
Multi-purpose Dam Project to the Philippine government.
While we consider the conviction as a ray of hope
in our quest for justice for victims of human rights violations,
more work has to be done to fully deliver justice for Apo Jose's
death. The mastermind and the companions of Flores who carried out
the killing still have to be identified, arrested and brought to
justice. Further, Operation Plan Bantay Laya - the policy behind
the extrajudicial killings is still in place and the extrajudicial
killings of activists and other human rights violations still continue.
The sincere addressing of the extrajudicial killings must not end
with the conviction or prosecution of a single suspect. The violations
must immediately be stopped, those in command must be held accountable
and the policies behind the disrespect of human rights completely
Atty. Reynaldo Cortes
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance
HUSTISYA - Northern Luzon