The case of Evangeline Silva

Evangeline Silva is a 43 years old professional human rights activist. She is a farmer, who became a political activist during her school days. She is currently the elected national president of the farmworker organization “Pesante” and worked before for the local government as Barangay councilor, assigned to environment and land use from 2007 to 2013.

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REPORT: On Dangerous Ground from GLOBAL WITNESS

„The environment is emerging as a new battleground for human
rights. As demand for products like timber, minerals and palm oil
continues, governments, companies and criminal gangs are exploiting
land with little regard for the people who live on it.“

Below you find the link to the report:

https://www.globalwitness.org/en/reports/dangerous-ground/

 

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Davao City Mayor Duterte Leading Polls Two Days Before Philippines Elect New President

It’s Saturday May 7 2016 – two days before the Philippine presidential elections. The Philippines is a constitutional republic in which the president enjoys extensive powers. Elected for a single six year term, he or she is not only both head of state and head of government, but also appoints and presides over the cabinet. To become president no majority of votes is needed, but the candidate with the highest number of votes wins. For the coming term 5 candidates have entered the race: current vice-president Jejomar Binay, Mar Roxas, currently Secretary of Interior and Local Government, Senator Grace Poe, Senator and former ICC judge Miriam Defensor Santiago and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

In the run up to the elections especially the candidacy of Mayor Duterte has received a lot of attention. With his categorical and often provoking statements Duterte has polarized the Philippine public. There are his supporters who consider him one of their own having grown up in the gutter as he puts it himself and not being part of the political dynasties as the other presidential candidates. Duterte supporters applaud his will to rid the country of crime, drugs and corruption within 6 months and appreciate his tough stand on crime – “Kill them all”[1]. He is perceived to be an honest man, who stands by his word in contrast to the traditional politicians – TRAPOs – who are symbols of widespread corruption and the resignation over politics as usual.

Philippine presidential candidate and Davao city mayor Rodrigo 'Digong' Duterte gestures while delivering a speech during a May Day campaign rally in Manila, Philippines

Philippine presidential candidate and Davao city mayor Rodrigo ‚Digong‘ Duterte gestures while delivering a speech during a May Day campaign rally in Manila, Philippines May 1, 2016. REUTERS/Ezra Acayan

From a human rights point of view however, Duterte as president – if following through with his promises – would mean a drastic step back. To put it in his own words „it’s going to be bloody“[2]. Davao City, where he currently holds the position of mayor, is known for its death squads roaming the streets at night killing so called criminals – petty thieves, street children and drug addicts. When confronted with the claim of having ordered the death of 700 suspected criminals Duterte corrected the numbers to 1,700. If president, Duterte is promising the same kind of „safety“ for the whole of the Philippines. His way of fighting crime is by killing those suspected to be criminals – if necessary himself. In a radio interview in December 2015 Mayor Duterte openly admitted that he had killed three people himself before. When the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) announced its intention to investigate the EJKs in Davao City, his reaction was to threaten to close down the CHR, a constitutional body, when elected president. Most recently, he made jokes about pardoning himself for multiple murder during a speech at the Makati Business Club and simultaneously promised to sign “1,000 pardons a day” for security forces committing human rights violations such as extra judicial killings – “Pardon given to Rodrigo Duterte for the crime of multiple murder, signed Rodrigo Duterte”[3]. Rodrigo Duterte is a candidate with contempt for the concept of human rights and no respect for the democratic institutions limiting the powers of the president. Nevertheless he enjoys broad public support with the streets plastered with pro-Duterte posters. The polls currently see Duterte as the 16th president of the Philippines.

What could a Duterte presidency mean for human rights observation by IPON?

As Election Day is moving closer and polls are indicating Duterte as the leading candidate, human rights groups in the Philippines prepare for the worst. Also IPON has to consider its options in case of a Duterte presidency. The concept of human rights observation as IPON is practicing it in the Philippines is based on the premise that the state has certain obligations towards its citizens as laid down in international treaties and declarations such as the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The goal of human rights observation is to create a safer working environment for human rights defenders by addressing government bodies who are asked to act according to their duties under international law. In the worst case scenario of a dictatorship under Duterte or the renewed proclamation of martial law (as was done under Marcos in 1972) it is questionable whether this approach is still an efficient means of reducing violence against human rights defenders. Additionally, the safety of the observers itself has to be guaranteed as a top priority. With the uncertainty of elections IPON will have to reconsider its approach once election results are published.

It remains to say that May 9 will be an important day for the Philippines – it might be the day a confessed murderer and announced dictator gets elected into the highest office of the country.

 

 

 

[1] Inquirer (May 15, 2015). Duterte on Criminals: ‘Kill all of them’. Retrieved from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/691527/dutertes-secret-in-keeping-davao-city-phs-safest-kill-criminals, 05/06/2016.

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSSsafAMTpI

[3] Time (April 28, 2016). Philippine Presidential Forerunner Duterte Says He Will Pardon Himself for Mass Murderer. Retrieved from http://time.com/4310651/duterte-philippines-murder-pardon-himself/?xid=fbshare, 05/06/2016.

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Update 2016

Here a short update about our current work:

TFM: Right now we plan to work on a new case with TFM: Hacienda Dos Hermanos in Manapla. We visited the Area last November- together with Terry from TFM. Half of the hacienda already got redistributed and some of the farmers are Cloa holder but the owner of the hacienda shut off the only road to the plantation and requires that all motorized carts to pay a fee of 1500 PHP -this also applies to tricycles and Emergency Vehicles.We need to figure out now, if the road is private property or public area –which would make the blockade illegal.The DAR had agreed to make this survey in early December – until now nothing happened.On January 30th we will go to the Board Meeting of TFMand ask for updates on the current situation.

BANFFO: On January 14th we visited La Carlota to attend the hearing. It did not take place- when we inquired the reason, we were told by the lawyer of BANFFO that they decided for a settlement with the landowner.The terms of an agreement might include a certain amount of money, a percentage of the land of the Hacienda and to drop all court cases against BANFFO. This decision is not final yet. If they decide for this agreement, BANFFO will stop their CARP Request.On the 27th there will be a meeting with the USEC from the DAR, the lawyerOf BANFFO and the Administration of the Hacienda, where theyDiscuss this future agreement.

PM: We will meet PM this week and discuss our future strategy on the murder case of Panggo. The prosecutor just dismissed the case due to a lack of evidence. Furthermore we want to inquirer the current status.

 

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Press Release

Stop the Systematic Criminalization of Human Rights Defenders in the Philippines!

 

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10th December 2015, Berlin, Germany. Together with international organizations and German members of parliament, the International Peace Observers Network (IPON) expresses its concern about the soaring criminalization of human rights defenders (HRD) in the Philippines. Weiterlesen

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Team Negros meets HASAFAWA

PM`s Community Organizer Dino, the HASAFAWA President and IPON-Observer Hanno Mertin

PM`s Community Organizer, the HASAFAWA President and Members, IPON-Observer Hanno Mertin

Due to the request of the labor group PM (Partido Manggagawa), Team Negros met Human Rights Defenders of the farmer organization HASAFAWA (Hacienda Salud Farm Workers Association).The 136 hectare sized Hacienda, near the city of Isabela is planted with sugarcane.

The current landowner, who just inherited it from her late father, is assumed to live somewhere in Costa Rica. The Farmers never met her. It is unknown, if she even knows about her property in the Philippines.Anyhow, the farmers don’t have a problem with her but with the leaseholder, who holds the lease since 1994.

The farmers informed us about Human Rights Violations happening at the farm- it wasn’t the first time, we heard about HRV on the farm. Sadly, nearly one year ago, there had been a murder case most likely related to the actual cases(read more here: http://bit.ly/1R98k9V).

Partido Manggagawa, a labor group founded in 1999, mainly works as a support for farmers in their struggle to obtain their rights in agrarian or labor disputes. Their „dream is a world that gives due importance to the role of the working class and respects the dignity of labor. A social order where the working men and women of the world live together in peace, harmony and progress.“[1]The dispute with the current leaseholder started in September 2013 when the HASAFAWA members requested CARP coverage. One day, armed bodyguards, presumably associated with the leaseholder, told HASAFAWA members to stop making inquiries about the land title. Still the farmers kept up working for their goal.

This demand of the armed bodyguards was the beginning of a series of Human Rights Abuses. The farmers were directly forced by the leaseholder to sign blank papers, which would be filled out later to fit the interests of the leaseholder. Later on, the leaseholder, who was at the same time the employer of the farmers, send them, most likely illegally, a notice of cancellation. The dismissal has been denounced by the farmers and the case is currently in progress.

This wasn’t the end of the harassment against the farmers. Short after the dismissal, the armed security guards of the leaseholder were firing multiple gunshots in the air right next to the farmers houses while the leaseholder himself demanded from the farmers to give up their request for land. As the members of HASAFAWA still refused to cancel their request for a CARP-Title, the management of the farm offered them 500,000 PHP in total for all farmers as a settlement, which is clearly bribery. After they refused the money, the murder happened which is associated with men of the leaseholder. Then the incidents that brought PM to ask IPON to meet with the farmers of HASAFAWA occurred.

On several dates in May and September 2015 the houses of the Human Rights Defenders were demolished by personnel of the leaseholder of the farm. During these enforced destructions, the Human Rights Defenders of HASAFAWA demanded to see the official authorization documents, but got none by the personnel of the leaseholder. Without any legal authorization, the worker could show the owners, they destroyed in total 32 houses on the Hacienda, 30 of the Human Rights Defenders and 2 administrative buildings.

IPON is currently monitoring and observing the case. We already met with serveral puplic authorities to promote the case and to assure the proper handling of the case. We hope our work will lead to justice for the victims of the Human Rights Violations.

 


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TFM leader Alberto Joy Jaime dead

Today we commemorate Alberto Joy Jaime, president of TFM Negros, who recently died of cardiac arrest. Joy was a most dedicated member of TFM, a long-term and valuable mandate partner of IPON in Negros. In his 10 years as president of TFM North, Joy has been a vital member and driving force of the fight for human rights in Negros and for IPON a particularly generous contact partner. He will be missed greatly.11938186_10207542788273280_946060089_n

Joy was buried in a touching mass attended by hundreds of his supporters and friends on August 31. We are passing our condolences to his family and friends.

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