AB Human Rights Annual Report
January-December 21, 2019
This summary was culled from Ang Bayan’s (AB) reportage of human rights violations (HRV) perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the US-Duterte regime’s death squads across the country from January to December 21, 2019.
This year, AB monitored an average of at least 79 human rights violations per day or a total of 28,828 victims for the entire year. On average, two activists were killed and six others were arrested weekly. At least five were also threatened, harassed or intimidated every day. Violations have escalated with the implementation of Executive Order 70 and Memorandum Order 32 which have been used to militarize the civilian bureaucracy and institutionalize Duterte’s counterinsurgency program.
AB reports indicate that state agents perpetrated at least 89 politically-motivated extrajudicial killings (EJKs) this year. The Negros Island, a region marked by intense land conflicts, remains the deadliest place in the country for activists. Last year, at least 34 civilians were killed in the region, majority of whom were peasants and human rights defenders. The victims include 14 peasants who were simultaneously killed in Negros Oriental on March 30 under the guise of Oplan Sauron. Twenty-three activists were also killed in the Bicol region.
This year, Randy Felix Malayao who served as a consultant to the peace negotiations of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) was killed, earning wide condemnation from the revolutionary movement and the people. He wast shot twice while asleep in a bus on pitstop in Nueva Vizcaya last January 30.
There were also at least 49 victims of frustrated killings and seven victims of torture. Eight activists were also abducted during the said period.
Attacks on communities and forcible evacuation
Seventeen incidents of indiscriminate bombing and/or strafing, and 117 incidents of military occupation and attacks on communities were monitored by AB this year. These resulted in the evacuation of 26,115 individuals. The said tally is conservative as reports were very scarce, especially in Mindanao, due to widespread military harassment and operations.
Seven incidents of bombing and/or strafing were recorded in Caraga region, and four in Eastern Visayas. Additionally, 31 cases of militarization and attacks on communities were recorded in Bicol, 30 in Caraga, and 22 in Negros. As in the previous year, a massive evacuation of Moro residents (more than 16,000) was recorded in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). There were also 3,322 evacuees in Eastern Samar and approximately 2,000 in Negros.
Among the most brutal attacks was perpetrated by the AFP Central Command’s Joint Task Force STORM in Las Navas, Northern Samar on October 26. The said unit dropped two 227-kilo bombs from FA-50 jets in Barangay Caputoan just a kilometer away from the barangay center. The airstrike destroyed the farmlands of 13 families and terrorized residents in nearby communities.
Arrest and detention
AB reports also indicate that at least 271 activists were arrested and detained this year. There were at least 100 victims of arrest and detention in Manila, and 62 each in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Southern Tagalog.
The victims include 57 activists who were illegally arrested by police and military elements in the evening of October 31 until the next day at their offices in Bacolod and Escalante City. Arresting operatives planted firearms and explosives in the said offices as evidences to justify the mass arrest. Two other activists were also arrested in Metro Manila on the same day. Interestingly, the warrants of arrest against the victims were all issued by Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert.
Two NDFP peace consultants, Esterlita Suaybaguio and Jaime “Ka Diego” Padilla were also arrested this year in violation of the Joint Agreement on Immunity and Security Guarantees (JASIG).
Threat, harassment and intimidation
AB was able to record at least 1,999 victims of threat, harassment and intimidation last year. Majority of the victims (1,031) are from NCR, approximately 1000 of whom were rounded up on August 11 along the shoreline of Baseco in Tondo, Manila. This was ordered by Mayor Isko Moreno under the guise of anti-drug operations. The victims were held at gunpoint, made to lie face down and coerced to undergo drug testing. Around 21 persons were also arrested while three others were killed after allegedly attempting to “fight back.”