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Philippine News Digest 30

July 17, 2002 · 

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Contents:

  • Children in centers to speak up
  • Rights groups document 90 abuse cases against Army
  • US pressure in signing MLSA cited

Children to speak up

Last July 19, children in rehabilitation centers had the chance to speak up and tell their stories of abuse and neglect they experienced since they were born. PREDA Foundation, in coordination with the University of the Philippines’ Center for Integrative and Development Studies, held a consultation workshop with minors who are detained in the Regional Youth Rehabilitation Center in Magalang, Pampanga. The children related their experiences- good and bad- from the time they were arrested, to their imprisonment and eventual release to their families. In the process, it is hoped that their voices are heard, hastening the enacting into law of the juvenile justice bill lying dormant in Congress. Source: Internet News Network, July 2002.

Rights groups document 90 abuse cases against Army

Human Rights groups in Ozamis City, Southern Philippines have uncovered at least 90 cases of rights violations committed by the military against residents of upland villages of Tangub City.

Rosebeth Bagarinao of Karapatan-Western Mindanao said the violations were monitored as the military intensified its operations against New People’s Army rebels.

Bagarinao said most of the victims were farmers and their families.
Based on Karapatan’s documentation, forced surrender topped the count of the 90 rights abuses with at least 38 cases. This was followed by 33 cases of grave threats, especially against members of Bayan Muna.

“In forced surrender, residents are called in a n assembly, asked to sign a document and pose for picture taking. They are then declared as NPA surrenderees,” said Erlinda Cahayagan, secretary-general of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. and member of the fact-finding mission.

Cahayagan said those who resisted the order, allegedly by mebers of the Army’s 5th Infantry Battalion were thretened with inclusion in the military’s order of battle.

Bagarinao said the soldiers also destroyed property and looted homes.
There were also alleged cases of hamletting, arbitrary arrests, displacements, tortures, and illegal searches.

“The military operations that were directed against the so-called enemies of the state are victimizing innocent upland villages, ” Bagarinao said.

But the Army’s 1st Infantry Division based in Zamboanga del Sur said if the allegations were true, then the soldiers involved should be charged.
A senior military official, however, denied the abuses.

“As far as we are concerned, we make sure that the basic rights of the people are observed,” said Col. Estrellito Romero,commander of the Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade.

Karapatan said it was wary of more human rights violations as more soldiers were being detained to the hinterlands. Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer Mindanao Bureau, 16 July 2002.

US pressure in signing MLSA cited

Several solons in Congress expressed alarm over undue pressure from the United States to the Philippine government in signing the Mutual Logistics Supplies Agreement. Rep. Jun Lozada, chair of the House committee on foreign relations, said the US request to conclude the MLSA before the end of the month was unreasonable, given the absence of consultations among Philippine officials. He said it is not even clear whether the proposed MLSDA would be a treaty or an executive agreement. If it is a treaty, it has to be submitted to the Senate for ratification. Party-list representative Satur Ocampo said that the US is pressuring not only the government but also the public to accept the continued presence of American troops. In the Senate, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel said the upper chamber has been kept in the dark on discussions regarding the MLSA. The senator asked the president to submit the draft MLSA to the Senate for closer scrutiny. Malacanang has been keeping a tight lid on the negotiations, conceding only that middle-level cabinet officials were still working on it. Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, 17 July 2002.

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