Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


October 18, 2008
Reference: Joms Salvador, Spokesperson, 3712302 / 0918-9182150

The militant women’s group GABRIELA expressed alarm over the recent court decision sentencing to death a Filipina tutor in Taiwan .

“After the death of Venancio Ladion (aka Jenifer Bidoya) in Jeddah, we fear for the life of Cecilia Alcaraz, a mother of four, who worked as a tutor in Taiwan before she was arrested for allegedly killing a Taiwanese national,” said Joms Salvador, GABRIELA Spokesperson.

The women’s group said that the government’s lax attitude on Alcaraz case might result to another case of “too little, too late” as in the case of Bidoya.

“The case of Alcaraz started a year ago and we did not hear anything from the DFA until today when the death sentence was handed down,” said Salvador .

According to the women’s group, the family of Alcaraz voiced their dissatisfaction over the DFA’s response. According toRosalinda Armia, Alcaraz’ sister, the DFA only recently talked with them through the Manila Economic Cultural Office in Taiwan and merely updated them on their sister’s case. Armia also said that the next hearing for the appeal on her sister’s case is on October 24 and not November as announced by the DFA.

The women’s group said that GABRIELA, together with Migrante International, will join the family of Alcaraz in a dialogue with the DFA on Monday to discuss the case of Nemencia.

“The only way OFWs can get any help from the government is when their families and concerned groups relentless push DFA to take action.”

“The case of Alcaraz is another illustration of the sad plight of millions of OFWs especially women who are forced to leave the country because of poverty despite the many cases of injustices against OFWs in foreign countries.”

“For its part, the Philippine government seems to have forgotten the lesson from the unjust execution of Flor Contemplacion and continues to neglect our so-called modern-day heroes,” said Salvador . ###

Monday, October 13, 2008

RP Maids' Sanity and Lives Also At Risk - GABRIELA

13 October 2008

Reference: Emmi de Jesusi, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0197-3221203


The militant women's group GABRIELA said that aside from jobs, Filipinas working as domestic helpers outside the country are now more vulnerable to abuse with the economic crunch.

"Employers who are reeling from the economic crisis will tend to be
more irritable and might pass on their feelings of helplessness at
their defenseless domestic helpers. It is not unthinkable that there
will be more cases of Filipinas loosing their sanity and lives should
this economic crisis result to more cases of abuse of Pinay domestic
helpers abroad," said Emmi de Jesus, GABRIELA secretary general.

De Jesus said that Filipinas overseas have constantly been victims of
abuse. The women's group cited DFA data last month stating that more
than 1,000 migrant workers have been repatriated after experiencing
maltreatment from their employers.

According to the women's group, this vulnerability of Filipinas
working as domestic helpers abroad mirrors the weakness of the
government's migration program. "OFWs, especially domestic helpers,
are under the mercy of their foreign employers. Domestic helpers work
as individuals and their workplace confined within the home, mostly
isolated from the outside world making them more vulnerable to abuse,"
added de Jesus.

"The truth is there is no real development in forced migration.
Labor-export policy is a means to deflect the government's inutility
in providing jobs for its people within the country. This should serve
as a slap in the face of the Arroyo government as it nears hosting the
Global Forum on Migration and Development, bannering the erroneous
thesis that migration leads to development and that the Philippines is
its showcase," added de Jesus.

"The Philippine government insists that the fundamentals of the
Philippine economy is strong but the fact that it fears the return of
OFWs, as they anticipate massive lay off of Filipinos working
overseas, only shows that this seeming economic confidence is but a
farce," concluded de Jesus.###

GABRIELA Statement on the Pinay DH Portrayal on "Harry and Paul"


09 October 2008

Source: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0197-322-1203


Much has been said about the portrayal of a Filipina maid in the BBC comedy sketch "Harry and Paul." That it is racist and it demeans Filipinas specifically those who work as domestic helpers in foreign countries is undebatable, notwithstanding the supposed artistic license of the show's genre.

But the crux of this issue must go beyond the show, beyond seeking apology from the producers of the show. What should alarm and enrage every Filipino is the fact that the portrayal of the Filipina mirrors a growing view of Filipina women in foreign countries – that of domestic helpers prone to abuse and exploitation. This is not the first time that Filipinos working outside the country fall prey to racist depiction and comments. This will not be the last. Ultimately, accountable to this is the government's continued export of Filipinas as commodities in exchange for badly needed dollars.

GABRIELA National Alliance of Women in the Philippines found the Filipina portrayal in "Harry and Paul" offensive. But more than that, we find the hypocrisy of the Philippine government revolting.

For decades now Filipinas overseas have been maltreated, raped and abused with nary an iota of concern from the Philippine government as in the case of Grace, an OFW in Kuwait raped by her employer and turned away by the Philippine embassy when she sought help. Nor was there this much show of indignation from the Arroyo government when the 22-year old "Hazel" was raped by a US soldier in Okinawa, Japan early this year.

The Philippine government is seeking public apology from the show's producers and the British Broadcasting Corporation not in defense of the Filipino dignity but in defense of its labor-export policy especially on the eve of the Philippine hosting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development. The Philippine government is not affronted that Filipinas are being exported abroad as domestic helpers and/or entertainers vulnerable to ridicule, exploitation and abuse. The Philippine government is flustered the "anti-Pinay" portrayal in "Harry and Paul" mirrors the current state of many Filipina overseas workers, thus, puts into question its claim that the Philippines is the showcase of how migration leads to development.

Because clearly, a Filipina maid in a foreign land being tasked by a neighbour to seduce a despondent Englishman, speaks not of development but of degradation.

GABRIELA Philippines
35 Sct. Delgado St, Brgy. Laging Handa
Quezon City, 1103 Philippines
TeleFax: (632) 374 44 23

GABRIELA is a grassroots-based alliance of more than 200 women's organizations, institutions, desks and programs in the Philippines. We seek to wage a struggle for the liberation of women and the rest of our people.

Friday, October 3, 2008

CA to AFP: Free missing farmer, 2 UP students

Article posted September 18, 2008 - 08:02 PM
MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals on Thursday ordered the military to release the two University of the Philippines (UP) students and a farmer it allegedly abducted in Bulacan two years ago.

This was after the appellate court ruled that there is sufficient evidence that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is still holding students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, and farmer Manuel Merino in custody.

The three were abducted by suspected military men on June 26, 2006 in Hagonoy, Bulacan on suspicion that they are members of the New People's Army (NPA).

The 33-page ruling, penned by Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, in effect reversed the court's June 2007 decision dismissing the writ of habeas corpus petitions filed by the families of the three missing persons.

In the ruling, the CA's Special Former 11th Division said they consider the testimony of
Raymond Manalo, who, together with his brother Reynaldo, was a victim of military abduction and torture.

In his testimony, which was submitted by the petitioners upon a motion for reconsideration, Manalo said he and his brother saw Cadapan and Empeño during their captivity in Southern Tagalog between February 14, 2006 until their escape on August 13, 2007.

The CA said with the additional testimony of Manalo, petitioners have been able to convincingly prove the fact that the three victims are being detained by the military.

"The testimony of Raymond Manalo can no longer be ignored and brushed aside. His narration and those of the earlier witnesses, taken together, constitute more than substantial evidence warranting an order that the three be released from detention if they are not being held for a lawful cause. They may be moving from place to place but still they are considered under detention and custody of the respondents," the CA said.

The appellate court also directed the Philippine National Police to finish its investigation into the disappearance of the three and to file appropriate charges against those responsible.

The CA however clarified that the ruling is not against the military in general but only against "a few misguided self-righteous people who resort to the extrajudicial process of neutralizing those who disagree with the country's democratic system of government."

Named respondents in the petitions for habeas corpus and amparo were retired Army Major Gen. Jovito Palparan, former commanding general of the Army's 7th ID based at Fort Magsasay, Laur, Nueva, and was dubbed "executioner" by his enemies; Maj. Gen. Romeo Tolentino, commander of Northen Luzon Command; Lt. Francis Mirabelle Samson, commander of the Barangay Mercado Detachment in Hagonoy; and a certain Arnel Enrique.

Palparan has since retired from office and even ran as representative of an administration-backed party-list group.

The CA said troops from the Army's 7th Division appeared to have "appointed themselves as protective guardians of the Republic whose precious principles, however, they have dishonored by ignoring the rights and liberties of its own citizens."

Not being held for any lawful cause, the CA said the UP students should be immediately released from detention.

Based on Manalo's affidavit, six armed men in military uniform abducted him and his brother on February 14, 2006 from their place in Buhol na Mangga village in San Ildefonso, Bulacan.

From there, they were moved from one place to another, particularly military camps and detachments, including Fort Magsaysay and a detachment in Sapang, San Miguel, Bulacan, where they allegedly met Palparan.

From Sapang, he was sparated from his brother and transported to Camp Tecson under the custody of the 24th Infantry Battalion. From there he was moved to a place he later learned was a training detachment of the Scout Rangers.

He said it was in this training detachment where he met Cadapan, who was also being detained by the military and whose feet were chained to a double bed.

During their conversation, Cadapan told him that she was abducted from Hagonoy Bulacan and was subjected "to the gravest torture.''

After a week, he was reunited with his brother who also brought to the camp, where they stated from September 2006 until November 22, 2006. Three days after, he said Empeño and Merino were also brought to the said camp.

Raymond further narrated that she saw Cadapan being subjected to more torture like water treatment through nose and electric shocks. He also claimed having witnessed to the burning of Merino.

In its June 2007 decision, the CA merely admonished Palparan and his men at the 7th ID for withholding information and inconsistencies in their testimonies regarding the abduction and disappearance of Cadapan, Empeño and Merino.

The CA had earlier dismissed the petition for habeas corpus filed by the family of missing UP students on the ground that it was not the proper remedy in the case.

The appellate court, however, ordered the Commission on Human Rights, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the PNP to conduct separate investigations on the case due to the obvious inconsistencies in the testimonies of the respondents. - GMANews.TV

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Another Activist Missing

BAGUIO CITY — Another activist has been reported missing by his family.James Balao, a member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), was reported missing since Sept. 17.
In a statement, the CPA said the family was expecting Balao's arrival that day but he never came.
"The family was informed that he had left his residence in Fairview, Baguio City at around 7:00 a.m on the said date. Since then, he, unusually, has not been in contact with his friends or members of his family; nor can they contact him," CPA said.
Balao, 47, is of medium-built, 5'7" to 5'9" tall. He was last seen wearing a black jacket, brown pants, visor, black hiking boots and eyeglasses. He was carrying a yellow and blue backpack and red traveling bag.
"He was going to spend the following days at the family residence in La Trinidad," his younger sister told CPA officers.
CPA Chairperson Beverly Longid said Balao's absence is 'very alarming.' Longid said Balao had reported regular surveillance to his family that started on the week of June and has increasingly heightened until his disappearance. "He has even observed white and blue vans that regularly tail him from his residence to his daily chores," she added.
Vio Hidalgo of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) said there have been no reported arrests named Balao since Sept. 17.
The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) said this is the first case of enforced disappearance in the Cordillera under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.
Family members and friends called on the authorities, particularly the Philippine National Police, (PNP) the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the public to assist them in their search for Balao.
The CPA and the Balao family may be reached through 09175069404; the offices of the CPA (442-2115); or the CHRA (445-2586 and 09189199007) for any information about the missing activist. (Northern Dispatch/Posted by Bulatlat)

Dear Friends,

This is an urgent call for support from the CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE, CORDILLERA HUMAN
RIGHTS ALLIANCE and the BALAO FAMILY for the campaign to SURFACE JAMES M. BALAO, member of
the CPA and a victim of enforced disappearance. James was missing since September 17, 2008. James is
the second victim of enforced disappearance in the CPA, since Ama Daniel Ngayaan was abducted in 1987.

We specifically seek your support by responding to our URGENT ALERT below. We have attached a draft Letter of Concern which we urge you to send to the Philippine government and its agencies. The addresses are provided in the URGENT ALERT.

We also urge you to sign our online petition ( ) which we will
later forward to the Philippine government and its agencies. In addition, statements or letters of solidarity to
Balao Family, the CPA and the CHRA are very welcome, and are very helpful.

Thank you very much!

Mr. Windel Bolinget
Secretary General
# 2 P. Guevarra Street, West Modern Site
Aurora Hill, 2600 Baguio City, Philippines
Tel: +63-74-442-2115
Fax: +63-74-443-7159

Member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Missing since September 17, 2008

Case Type: Enforced Disappearance
Victim: James M. Balao
47 Years Old, Male
An indigenous person belonging to the Ibaloi and Kankanaey tribes of Benguet

Place of the Incident: somewhere between his residence in Fairview, Baguio City and his family
residence in La Trinidad, Benguet
Date of the Incident: 17 September, 2008
Alleged Perpetrators: unidentified elements of the Intelligence Security Unit (ISU) of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines
Account of the Incident:
On the morning of September 17, 2008 at 7 AM James Balao left his residence in Fairvew, Baguio
City, intending to go to his family residence in La Trinidad, Benguet. He informed his family that he
was going home that day through a text message at about 6:45 am. He was not able to reach home
and has not been in contact with his family or friends since, nor have they been able to contact him.
In the first week of June, 2008 Balao began reporting regular surveillance to his family, which
increasingly heightened until his disappearance last week. He had often observed white and blue vans
tailing him from his residence on his daily chores.

According to a reliable source, Balao is even listed in the AFP dossier as the head of the Communist
Party of the Philippines (CPP) Education Bureau in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions.

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance believes that the surveillance and enforced disappearance of
Balao was perpetrated by state security forces as a part of their operations under Oplan Bantay Laya,
a policy of categorizing legal people's organizations and their staff and volunteers as "front
organizations" and "supporters" of the of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) or National
Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) or the New People's Army (NPA). This policy has led to
the surveillance, harassment and intimidation,abduction and killing of members an leaders of
progressive people's organizations all over the country.

Recommended Action: Your urgent response to this action alert is being sought.

Please send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:
1. The immediate surfacing and release of James Balao by his captors.
2. The authorities, particularly the Philippine National Police, to agressively assist the Balao
family, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and the Cordillera Human Rights Aliance in their search
for James Balao.
3. The immediate termination of Oplan Bantay Laya which has labelled legal progressive
organizations such as the Cordillera Peoples Alliance as "sectoral fronts" of the Communist
Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the New Peoples
4. The Philippine Government to observe the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other international human
rights laws and declarations such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United
Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

You may send your communications to the addresses below. You may use the Letter of Concern
accompanying this URGENT ALERT. Thank you very much.

President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
Cell#: (+ 63) 919 898 4622 / (+63) 917 839 8462

7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 635 9579

Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue
Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213

Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614

Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City
Fax: (+632) 929 0102

Regional Director
Commission on Human Rights – Cordillera Administrative Region
SSS Bldg., Harrison Road, Baguio City
Tel: 074 619 9089

Regional Director
NCIP-Cordillera Administrative Region
2/F Hillside Square, Km. 4, La Trinidad, Benguet Province, 2601
Tel. Fax no.: (074)422-41-73

National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
2nd Floor N. dela Merced Building,
Cor. West and Quezon Avenues,
Quezon City, Metro Manila
Telephone (63 2) 373-97-87
Telefax (63 2) 373-97-65

Chief Research & Special Concerns Division
Assistant Chief, AFP Indigenous Peoples Affairs Desk
Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations
Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City

Chairperson, Government of the Republic of the Philippines Section
Joint Monitoring Committee – CARHRIHL
6/F Immaculate Conception MultiPurpose Center,
41 Lantana St., Cubao
Quezon City, Philippines

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the said government official to our address

URGENT ACTION Prepared by the:
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA)
No. 10 Rimando Road, Baguio City, 2600
Tel/Fax: 074 445-2586 cel:09189199007

Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)
#2 P. Guevarra Street, Baguio City, 2600
Tel: 074 442 2115; fax: 074 443 7159

# 2 P. Guevarra Street, West Modern
Aurora Hill, 2600 Baguio City, Philippines
Tel: +63-74-442-2115
Fax: +63-74-443-7159