Urgent Interventions

Assassination of land rights activist Moises Fuentes


PHL 004 /0712 / OBS 072



July 20,2012

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme ofthe World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federationfor Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent interventionin the following situation in ThePhilippines.

Briefdescription of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed byTask Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) of the killing of Mr. Moises C. Fuentes, a human rightsdefender from Maramag, Bukidnon. The victim is a member of the Bukindon chapterof Human Rights Defenders Pilipinas. Since 1999, he was also alocal leader of the farmers’ organisation Kuya Christian Farmers Association,in Barangay Kuya, Maramag, Bukidnon. His organisation, along with otherfarmers' groups, has been struggling to keep the land they till, which islocated within the area controlled by the Ocaya cattle ranch in Bukidnon, andlater granted to them in 2011 under a government land reform programme (seebackground information).

According tothe information received, on June 16, 2012, Mr. Fuentes was gunned down by anunknown assailant at his residence in Barangay Kuya, Maramag, Bukidnon at about1 p.m. in the afternoon. He was shot in front of his wife and died on the spot.

Background information:

A few monthsbefore Mr. Fuentes' killing in June 2012, a message had reportedly been read ona local radio station in Maramag, Bukidnon, listing the names of persons to bekilled. The list contained the names of leaders of farmers’ groups, includingthe Kuya Christian Farmers Association that had successfully petitioned thegovernment to place the Ocaya ranch under the Comprehensive Agrarian ReformProgram (CARP), a state policy that allows the government to acquire andredistribute farmland.

The farmers’groups have been struggling for three decades to secure entitlement to the landthey have been farming on, which is located in a former forest areasubsequently converted into a ranch and occupied by the powerful Ocaya family.The land was originally leased in 1986 to a company represented by the lateBukidnon Governor Timoteo Ocaya, under a Forest Land Grazing Lease LeaseAgreement (FLGLA), but the Department of Environment and Natural Resources(DENR) cancelled the agreement in 2008 after discovering violations of theterms.

In2007-2009, several people’s organisations also applied for Community BasedApproach Forest Management (CBFM) in the area, which led the DENR to publishdetailed maps of the entire area controlled by the Ocaya ranch. Afterdiscovering that almost ninety hectares of the area were already available asAlienable and Disposal, people’s organisations, including the Kuya ChristianFarmers Association, filed a petition with the office of the Department ofAgrarian Reform (DAR).

On February22, 2010, DAR distributed fifty hectares out of the 820-hectare Ocaya ranch tothe farmers and representatives of five people’s organisations, including theKuya Christian Farmers Association which was awarded a total of 9.8 hectares..In May 2010, however, these farmers were forced to leave the area awarded tothem after reportedly being harassed by armed guards of the ranch. In December2011, these farmers were re-installed in the area by the Provincial AgrarianReform Officer (PARO) of the DAR.

Actions requested:

Please writeto the Philippines authorities urging them to:

i. Order an immediate, thorough, effective and impartialinvestigation into the assassination of Mr. Moises C. Fuentes, the result ofwhich must be made public, in order to identify all those responsible, bringthem before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply the penalsanctions provided by the law;

ii. Provideadequate reparation and protection to Mr. Fuentes’ family;

iii. Complywith all the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adoptedon December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:

- its Article 1, which states that“everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promotethe protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at thenational and international levels”,

- its Article 6.a, which states that"everyone has the right individually and in association with others toknow, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights andfundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how thoserights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial oradministrative systems",

- Article 12.1, which foresees that“everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, toparticipate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights andfundamental freedoms”,

- and its Article 12.2 which providesthat “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection bythe competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association withothers, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adversediscrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of hisor her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the presentDeclaration.”

iv. Guaranteethe respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rightsinstruments ratified by the Philippines.


· H.E. Benigno S. Aquino III,President of the Republic of the Philippines, New Executive Building, MalacañangPalace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila 1005, Philippines. Fax: +63 2736 1010, Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80 Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

· Hon. Leila M. De Lima Secretary,Department of Justice (DOJ) Padre Faura Street
Ermita, Manila, 1000 Philippines Fax: +63 2 523 9548 Tel: + 63 2 521 1908

· Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales,Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue, U.P. Complex, Diliman, Quezon City
Philippines Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188 Fax: +63 2929 0102 Email:
Police Director Nicanor BartolomeChief, Philippine National Police Camp General Rafael Crame Quezon City, PhilippinesFax: +63 2 724 8763/ +63 2 723 0401 Tel: + 63 2 726 4361/4366/8763 Email:

· Hon.Emilio Gonzalez Deputy Ombusdman Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for theMilitary And other Law Enforcement Offices 3rd Flr., OmbudsmanBldg., Agham Road, Diliman, 1004 Quezon City Fax: +63 2 926 8747 Tel: +63 2 9269032

· H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador,Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, 47 AvenueBlanc, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32, Email:

· Embassy of thePhilippines in Brussels, 297 Avenue Moliere, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: +32 2340 33 77 / 2 340 33 78, Fax: +32 2 345 64 25.

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic representations of the Philippines in yourrespective countries.


Geneva-Paris,July 20, 2012

Kindlyinform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in yourreply.

TheObservatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of HumanRights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contactthe Observatory, call the emergency line:

· Email:

· Tel and faxOMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29

· Tel and faxFIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / 01 43 55 18 80

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