Philippines: Arbitrary detention of Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr.
PHL 002 / 1008 / OBS 175
Arbitrary detention / Judicial proceedings
October 30, 2008
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Philippines.
Brief description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (KARAPATAN) of the arbitrary detention of Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr., a human rights and labour attorney, member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, the chief legal counsel for the trade union alliance Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Board Chairperson of the Pro-Labour Legal Assistant Centre (PLACE), which handles 700 pro-bono cases on labour, human rights, criminal, civil and administrative cases.
According to the information received, on October 23, 2008, members of the Philippines National Police (PNP) from Antipolo city entered Atty. Remigio Saladero’s office and showed him a warrant of arrest for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder cases, which was reportedly issued by Branch 40 of the Mindoro Oriental Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Calapan city, Oriental Mindoro. Said warrant was allegedly defective as it bore a wrong name and was dated back to 2006. Atty. Saladero was then handcuffed and removed from his office, along with his mobile phone and computers, and taken to Calapan City Provincial Jail. He was officially charged for “multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder cases”, along with 72 other persons. Other human rights defenders are believed to be among them but no further information could be obtained as of issuing this urgent appeal.
Atty. Saladero is also facing other judicial proceedings. Following the bombing of a Globe Cellsite in Lemery Batangas on August 2, 2008, the military and Globe Telecoms filed a complaint against 27 leaders and activists from Southern Tagalog Region, including Atty. Saladero, for “conspiracy to commit rebellion, arson and destruction of property”. The investigation is ongoing and Atty. Saladero has not been officially charged yet.
As of issuing this urgent appeal, Atty. Saladero remained detained in the Calapan City Provincial Jail.
There is strong reason to believe that these charges have no basis, and were manufactured in order to harass Atty. Saladero for his work as a human rights defender of workers and trade unions. Atty. Saladero was indeed one of those who argued before the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of President Gloria Arroyo’s calibrated pre-emptive response policy. Atty. Saladero has been subjected to various attacks in the past mostly from the military for being the lawyer of suspected members of the New Peoples’ Army in Rizal. Furthermore, PLACE, of which Mr. Saldero is a member, has been subjected to harassment and surveillance from unidentified men believed to be military agents, and as of yet Mr. Saladero’s legal team has been refused any documents pertaining to his arrest.
The Observatory expresses its deep concern with the arrest of Mr. Remigio Saladero Jr. which is further evidence of the ongoing arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders in the Philippines, and recalls that the Philippines has been elected as a member of the Human Rights Council until 2010 and has, in this regard, committed to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights”.
Accordingly, the Observatory urges the Philippines to comply with Article 12.2 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any threats, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.
Please write to the authorities of the Philippines urging them to:
- Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Remigio Saladero Jr. and that of all human rights defenders in the Philippines;
- Immediately release Mr. Remigio Saladero Jr., as his detention is arbitrary as it seems to sanction his activities as a human rights defenders;
- End all forms of harassment, including judicial harassment, again human rights defenders in the Philippines, and guarantee in all circumstances that they be able to carry out their work without any hindrance;
- Conform with all the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and above-mentioned Article 12.2;
- More generally, ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Philippines.
- H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic, New Executive Building, Malacanang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila 1005, Philippines ; Tel: +632 564 1451 to 80 ; Fax: +632 736-1010 / 742-1641 / 929-3968; Cell#: (+ 63) 919 898 4622 / (+63) 917 839 8462; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Mr. José de Venecia Jr., Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rm. MB-2, House of Representatives, Constitution Hills, Quezon City, Philippines; Tel: +632.9315001;
- Hon. Purificacion Valera Quisumbing, Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, SAAC Building, Commonwealth Avenue, U.P. Complex, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines; Tel: + 632 928 5655; Fax: 632 929 01 02; email@example.com
- Mr. Raul Gonzales, Minister of Justice, Department of Justice, Building Padre Faura, 1004 Manila, Philippines; Tel: +63 (2) 523-8481; Fax: +63 (2) 521-1614; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Director General Oscar Calderon, Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Camp General Rafael Crame, Quezon City, Philippines; Tel: +632 726-4361/4366/8763; Fax: +632 724-8763; Email: email@example.com
- Ambassador Enrique A. Manalo, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, 47 Avenue Blanc, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, 297 Avenue Moliere, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: +32 2 340 33 77 / 2 340 33 78, Fax: +32 2 345 64 25.
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of the Philippines in your respective country.
Paris - Geneva, October 30, 2008
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
See OP9 of UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/60/251.