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Philippine News Digest 102

February 2, 2007 · 

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Contents:
Sex slave for 4 days
UN: AFP in denial on killings
Another journalist shot dead

Sex slave for 4 days
By Nestor Etolle
The Philippine STAR
02/21/07

A suspected con man preying on young innocent coeds was arrested yesterday by Manila police for abducting a 19-year-old college student and keeping her a sex slave for four days.

According to Chief Inspector Rene de Jesus, chief of the Manila Police District’s detective beat patrol unit, suspect John Paul Catalina, 34, abducted a teenager – a student in Manila – last Friday and held her for four days in inns and motels. He let her go last Monday outside a church in Tondo.

Catalina was caught when he contacted the girl, unaware that the police was already waiting for him. De Jesus said Catalina was a Sigue-Sigue Commando gang member who went around befriending young girls in school campuses by showering them with gifts until he earned their trust. He introduced himself as Mark Villanueva and a student of the University of the Philippines.

Last Friday, Catalina went to his victim’s school in the afternoon to fetch her and offered to bring her home. But the girl vehemently declined and Catalina became furious and threatened to hurt her.

Terrified, the girl went with Catalina and was taken to an apartelle and raped repeatedly. She was later brought to several inns and motels where she was repeatedly raped for the next three days.

Finally, last Monday, Catalina left the teenager at the gates of a church in Tondo. She went home and narrated her ordeal to her parents, who then went to the police.

The break came when Catalina phoned the girl, who – upon instructions from the police – pretended that she had begun to like him. She asked to meet with him at the church where Catalina left her.

Police officers pounced on Catalina when he showed up. He now faces non-bailable charges of abduction with rape. De Jesus suspects that Catalina had other victims and he is hoping that others would come forward to press charges.

UN: AFP in denial on killings
The Philippine STAR
By Pia Lee-Brago And Katherine Adraneda
02/22/07

United Nations special rapporteur Philip Alston said the Philippine military was in “almost total denial” of its need to respond to allegations of its involvement in political killings.

Alston, in wrapping up his 10-day investigation of the reported extrajudicial killings in the country, said the explanation offered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in denying the political killings was “unconvincing.”

Alston, however, also stressed that he did not believe the murders were part of government policy.

But Alston said Mrs. Arroyo should persuade the military to improve its reputation “by acknowledging the facts and take genuine steps to investigate.” Alston said the state of denial “is amply demonstrated” by the military’s response to the Melo Commission report.

The military, however, has accused rights groups of inflating the numbers of victims and said many of those listed as dead were guerrillas killed in clashes with the security forces.

Alston said he had looked at a “large number of cases in depth” but declined to give an overall tally for the political killings.

Alston, who met government officials as well as families of victims during his almost two-week mission, said he did not think that orders for the murders had come from high.

He added that there was a “problem of virtual impunity” which meant eight out of 10 cases failed to move from police investigation to prosecution.

Alston also said the increase in extra-judicial executions victimizing leftists and militants can be attributed to the military’s sustained counter-insurgency strategy.

Alston said the government should learn to provide legitimate political space for progressive groups.

He also expressed disappointment that “there has been a definitive abandonment of (former) President (Fidel) Ramos’ strategy of reconciliation” with the Left at a national level.

Calling it a Sinn Fein strategy, Alston said the strategy of Ramos involved the creation of the party-list system for the Left to participate in the democratic political system.

Alston though acknowledged that some of the militant groups are still sympathetic to the communist armed struggle. In the same news conference, Alston criticized Esperon for simply calling up Palparan to explain his side of the story.

Palparan, now retired, has been singled out as one of the military officials behind the killings of leftist activists. Militant groups, for their part, said they have been vindicated by Alston. Renato Reyes of Bayan said Alston’s findings are “a stinging rebuke of the government and a vindication of the victims.”

It is good to note that government deception did not take its toll on the UN rapporteur. We are definitely relieved and pleased with his initial findings.” Reyes said the government must hold accountable all the military officers involved in the killings. Karapatan, for its part, said Alston validated the claims of the witnesses and survivors in the killings.

“As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), we expect the Philippine government to be circumspect, to say the least, on the findings of Mr. Alston, and that they should follow Mr. Alston’s recommendation that will come soon,” Cervantes said,

“Most of all, we hope that the government will immediately put a stop to the killings and rights violations, and punish the perpetrators,” she added. -With Paolo Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe, AP, AFP

Another journalist shot dead
by: Edwin Fernandez Charlie Señase
Philippine Daily INquirer
02/20/07

COTABATO CITY — A gunman wearing a baseball cap shot Hernani Pastolero twice in the back of the head, killing the editor of the weekly Lightning Courier as he sipped coffee in front of his house in Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan, at 6:20 a.m. Monday, police reported.

Pastolero, 64, was the first journalist killed this year, the 50th since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became President in 2001 and the 110th since the Philippines regained democracy with the ouster of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Only a handful of the killings have been solved. Two police officers have been convicted of the killing of two journalists in Mindanao.

“He was killed instantly,” said Ismael Mama, the town’s police chief. “We’re still trying to establish the motive for the killing because Pastolero was not known to be a very hard-hitting journalist. We’re trying to establish if he had some enemies.”

The unidentified gunman approached Pastolero from behind and opened fire twice with a .45-cal. pistol then walked away as the journalist slumped on the pavement which doubled as a basketball court.

Witnesses saw the attacker hurriedly leaving still holding his gun. They described him as slim, about 5’6″ tall and dark-skinned.

Pastolero’s daughter, Eva Marie, said the journalist had no known enemies. She said her father had never mentioned receiving death threats.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned Pastolero’s murder, describing it as the “latest atrocity” against the media in the Philippines, tagged by international news groups as the most dangerous place for journalists after war-torn Iraq.

“This is again proof of how official inaction has bred a culture of impunity and emboldened those who seek to stifle freedom of the press and of expression in this country,” said Jose Torres Jr., the union’s chair.

The Publishers Association of the Philippines Inc. also denounced the killing and called on the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an immediate and credible investigation of the case.
Pastolero was a PAPI member. [End]

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