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Philippine News Digest 116

June 10, 2007 · 


-Priest kidnapped in Philippines
-Canadian Parliament train sights on RP rights

Priest kidnapped in Philippines
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/06/10 07:09:31 GMT

An Italian priest has been kidnapped in the southern Philippines, police say.

The priest, named as Giancarlo Bossi, was seized by armed men near the coastal village of Bulawan near Zamboanga, and taken to a waiting boat.

Police suspect the kidnappers are from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), seeking an independent Muslim state in the south of the country.

Father Bossi is the second Italian priest to be abducted in the area in the last 10 years.

Police said Father Bossi, 57, was grabbed by up to 10 men while riding a motorcycle in Zamboanga Sibugay province, 800km (500 miles) south of Manila, on his way to celebrate Mass in a remote village.

Militants from the Islamist Abu Sayyaf group, known for frequent kidnappings for ransom, are not active in the area, they added.

The MILF signed a ceasefire agreement with the government in 2003, but the authorities have in the past blamed rogue elements from the group for some abductions.

Father Giuseppe Pierantoni was kidnapped by renegade MILF members in 2001 and held by various groups before escaping six months later.

Canadian Parliament train sights on RP rights
Bern Jagunos
Area Secretary, East Asia and the Philippines
Justice, Global and Ecumenical Relations Unit
The United Church of Canada

Hi all,

Thirteen Members of the Canadian Parliament from all parties, including the ruling Conservative Party are tabling a Petition today, May 30 and the next days, calling on the Canadian Government to press the Government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to take all the needed measures to end impunity and the political killings in the Philippines.

At a Press Conference held today at Parliament Hill and chaired by Omega Bula of the United Church of Canada, three of the MPs – Francine Lalonde of Bloc Quebecois, Wayne Marston of the New Democratic Party and Ruby Dhalla of the Liberal Party – were unanimous in condemning the political killings and calling on the Canadian Government to link Canada’s assistance to the Philippine Government to tangible actions by the Macapagal-Arroyo administration to put an end to the killings.

Today’s activities at Parliament Hill is a joint effort of Canadian churches, NGOs and Philippine solidarity groups and individuals.

We hope this effort will make a small contribution to stop the political killings.

Press release follows.


(Ms.) Bern Jagunos
Area Secretary, East Asia and the Philippines
Justice, Global and Ecumenical Relations Unit
The United Church of Canada
3250 Bloor St. West, Suite 300
Etobicoke, Ontario
Canada M8X 2Y4
Tel. #: (416)231-7680, ext. 4077 or 1-
800-268-3781, ext. 4077
Fax (416)231-3103

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Petition Calling for Linking Canada’s Aid to Human Rights
in the Philippines Tabled in Parliament Today

Toronto: It took only a few seconds to put pen to paper, to add one more name to a petition calling on the Canadian government to take steps to help end the political killings in the Philippines.

Two months and five thousand signatures later, that simple act of solidarity and support offered by thousands of Canadians has resulted in the petition that is being tabled in the House of Commons later today.

The petition addresses the alarming deterioration of the human rights situation in the Philippines and the political assassinations of more than 850 human rights workers, lawyers, journalists, church workers, labour organizers, peasant leaders and leaders of political organizations since 2001. Reports issued by Amnesty International, the Melo Commission in the Philippines and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial, Arbitrary and Summary Killings, all link the political killings to the Philippine military.

Today’s tabling of the petitions is a multi-party initiative undertaken in response to a request by a coalition of Canadian churches, non-governmental organizations and solidarity groups that have been working together on the Stop the Killings Campaign.

During a multi-party news conference on Parliament Hill today, three of the thirteen Members of Parliament who will be tabling the petitions were unanimous in condemning the political assassinations and supporting the actions called for in the petition.

“Considering that the promotion of human rights is a priority in Canada’s foreign relations, we must ensure that Canada is not supporting a regime that blatantly denies and abuses the human rights of its citizens,” says Wayne Marston, the NDP Member of Parliament for Hamilton East ­ Stoney Creek.

Marston explains this is why parliamentarians are calling for “a comprehensive review of all of Canada’s bilateral assistance, trade and investment, military assistance and security cooperation with the Philippine Government.’

“Our aim is to apply as much pressure as possible to ensure the Philippine Government takes all the actions needed to end the political killings and improve the human rights situation,” says Marston.

Francine Lalonde, Bloc Québécois Member for La Pointe-de-l’Île, Québec, who presented a motion on this issue in Parliament last May 10, pointed out that, “given the assistance that Canada provides to the Philippines, Canada has a great deal of leverage to press the Government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

CIDA’s current annual disbursement to the Philippines is approximately $25 million and there is roughly $1.5 billion in bilateral trade between Canada and the Philippines every year.

Lalonde further noted that “the climate of impunity created by the political killings has a corrosive impact on public confidence in the rule of law.”

“As a country that has always promoted human rights, democracy and freedom it is imperative that Canada show a leadership role and condemn these human right violations,” says Dr. Ruby Dhalla, Liberal Member for Brampton Springdale, Ontario.

For further information, please contact:

Francine Lalonde, MP
Tel : (613) 995-6327

Wayne Marston, MP
Tel: (613) 992-6535

Dr. Ruby Dhalla, MP
Tel: (613) 995-4843

Bern Jagunos (English media)
The United Church of Canada
Tel: 416-231-7680. ext. 4077

Dominique Caouette (French media)
Département de science politique, Université de Montréal
Tel : 416-343-7069
Courriel :



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