Murder /Murder attempt
TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of theWorld Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgentintervention in the following situation in the Philippines.
Briefdescription of the situation:
TheObservatory has been informed by reliable sources about the killing of Ms. Elisa Badayos, Coordinator of the human rights organisation Karapatan in NegrosOriental, and Mr. Eleuterio Moises, member of thelocal peasant organisation Mantapi Ebwan Farmers’ Association, as well as aboutthe shooting at Ms. Carmen Matarlo, Coordinator of the youth organization Kabataan Partylist inCebu, as they were investigating land rights abuses in Bayawan, NegrosOriental province.
Accordingto the information received, on November 28, 2017, at around 11 am, a 30-member fact-findingmission led by Ms. Elisa Badayos arrived in Barangay San Ramon, Bayawan city,toinvestigate alleged land rights abuses in the area.Upon their arrival, they were blocked and harassed by around fiveor six individuals who reportedly belonged to the private “army” of BayawanMayor Pryde Henry Teves and used by the Gaudiels, a powerful landlord family inthe area and known allies of Mayor Teves. The armed men inquiredas to the destinationand the purpose of the mission, while aimingtheir shotgun at the team’s vehicle. The team was eventually allowed to proceed.
Ataround 2:30 pm on the same day, the investigating team split, and while onegroup continued to conduct interviews and case documentation, a second group left to go toNangka Barangay Hall, Bayawan city, to file a police report at the localstation to denounce the harassment the fact-finding team had been victims ofearlier. This groups was composed of: Ms. Elisa Badayos, Ms. Carmen Matarl, Mr. PatrickTorres, Executive Director of Farmers Development Center (FARDEC) in Cebu,Mr. Eleuterio Moises, and Mr. Angel Trocio, member of the Women’sResource Center in the Visayas.
About 10 minutes later, Ms.Elisa Badayos, Mr. Eleuterio Moises, and Ms. Carmen Matarlo, who were all riding the samemotorcycle, were shot at by unknown men on another motorcycle. Ms. ElisaBadayos and Mr. Eleuterio Moises were pronounced dead on arrival at the Bayawanhospital. Ms. Carmen Matarlo, who sustained gunshots wounds at her shoulder, wasbrought to Bayawan District Hospital before being transferred to Dumaguete. Sheis now in stable condition.
The Observatory strongly condemns the killing of Ms. Elisa Badayos and Mr.Eleuterio Moises, as well as the attempted murder against Ms. Carmen Matarlo, which seems tohave targeted them because of their legitimate human rights activities, in acontext of increasing insecurity for human rights defenders in the Philippines.In particular, President Duterte has repeatedly threatened to kill human rightsdefenders. The latest such instance was on August 16, when he suggested thathuman rights activists were “obstructing justice” and urged police to “shootthem”.
The Observatory calls upon the authorities in the Philippines toimmediately order an impartial, independent, transparent, and effectiveinvestigation into the murder of Ms. Elisa Badayos andMr. Eleuterio Moises as well as into the shooting of Ms. Carmen Matarlo, and toguarantee the physical and psychological integrity of allhuman rights defenders in the country.
Armedindividuals have reportedly been deployed in the area of BarangaySan Ramon since 2015 and have been responsible for variousincidents of harassment and threats against farmers and peasant organisationsthat support the peasants’ claims over their land rights.
Theland guarded by those armed individuals covers more than 100 hectares and is anarea that the Gaudiel family reportedly plans to grab. According to locals, theGaudiels presented a tax declaration proving that they had claims to the land,but no title was presented because the land has long been classified as public.The area has been declared “alienable and disposable” by the Department ofEnvironment and Natural Resources (DENR), which means farmers can apply to tillthe land.
Whenthe Gaudiels first claimed ownership over the land, farmers and organisationssought the help of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to facilitate itsdistribution and place the land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program(CARP). Despite the land being clearly declared publicly owned, the Gaudielscontinue to cordon the land by putting in armed individuals to guard thepremises and intimidate the peasant community in the area. The residentshowever have refused to leave.
Ms.Elisa Badayos along with several other organisations started investigatingabuses and organised the peasant community in the area to oppose land grabbingand claim their land rights.
Please write to the authorities in the Philippines urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances thephysical and psychological integrity of Ms. Carmen Matarlo, Mr. Patrick Torres, Mr. AngelTrocio, all members of the mission they were belonging too as well as allhuman rights defenders in the Philippines;
ii.Order an immediate, impartial, independent, transparent, and effective investigationinto the murder of Ms. Elisa Badayos and Mr. Eleuterio Moises, aswell as into the shooting at Ms. Carmen Matarlo, in order to identifythose responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply themthe sanctions provided by the law;
iii. Provide adequate reparation and compensation tothe relatives of Ms. Elisa Badayos and Mr. Eleuterio Moises;
iv.Put an end to all acts of harassment and intimidation against all human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure thatthey are able to carry out their activities without hindrances;
v.Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular itsArticles 1 and 12.2;
vi.More generally, ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights andfundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights instrumentsratified by the Philippines.
· Hon. VitalianoAguirre, Secretary, Department of Justice, Fax: (+632) 521-1614,Email: email@example.com
· Hon. Jose LuisMartin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights, Fax: (+632)929 0102, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador,Permanent Mission of the Philippines tothe United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 71619 32
· Embassy of the Philippines inBrussels, Belgium, Fax: (+32) 02 345 64 25, E-mail email@example.com
Pleasealso write to the embassy of the Philippines in your respective country.
Geneva-Paris,December 1, 2017
Kindlyinform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in yourreply.
The Observatory for the Protection ofHuman Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programmeis to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against humanrights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human RightsDefenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
Tocontact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 2518 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Teland fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
 A three-day fact-finding mission washeld in different areas in Bayawan, Negros Oriental province, from November 26to 28, 2017, to investigate reports of human rights violations in the area, inlight of harassment incidents perpetrated by members of the private army of apolitical clan in the said community.
 See Observatory Press Release“Extrajudicial killings and attacks against human rights defenders surge underDuterte”, issued on September 8, 2017.