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Philippines
18.02.04
Urgent Interventions

Philippines: extrajudicial execution of Mrs. Juvy Magsino and Mrs. Leima Fortu

URGENT ACTION - THE OBSERVATORY

PHL 001 / 0204 / OBS 011
Extrajudicial execution
Philippines
February 18, 2004

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint program of OMCT and FIDH, 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 extrajudicial execution of Mrs. Juvy Magsino, a human rights lawyer and the Chairperson of Mindoro for Justice and Peace and Vice Mayor of Naujan, in Mindoro Oriental and of Mrs. Leima Fortu, a volunteer at Mindoro for Justice and Peace and the Acting Secretary General of KARAPATAN-Mindoro Oriental in Philippines.

On February 13, 2004, at around 11 p.m., alleged members of the 204th Infantry Brigade of the Philippines Army (IBPA) followed Mrs. Magsino and Mrs. Fortu while they were driving to Pinagsabangan to get a computer from a friend. According to the information received, in Barangay Amuguis, two men on a motorcycle without a license plate, peppered Mrs. Magsino's vehicle with bullets and shot to death Mrs Magsino and Mrs. Fortu. Witnesses reported that the two men were armed with a 9mm and an armalite. Mrs. Magsino received three gunshot wounds on her head and on her chest, shoulder and neck. Mrs. Fortu also received gunshot wounds on her chest, near her right ear, knee and shoulder.

According to the information received, Mrs. Magsino was a vocal critic of the increasing military deployment in the island province. She also spoke out against former 204th IBPA Commanding officer, Col. Jovito Palparan Jr. Col. Palparan is allegedly suspected of involvement in the extrajudicial execution of Eden Marcellana (Karapatan-Southern Tagalog Secretary general) and Eddie Gumanoy (Chairman of Kasama-TK) in April 2003. The Observatory recalls that before her death, Eden Marcellana was documenting human rights violations cases against Col. Palparan. Human Rights groups filed a complaint against Col. Palparan with the Philippine Commission on human rights in July 2003. Despite those complaints, the Commission on Appointments confirmed Col. Palparan's promotion as Brigadier General on February 4, 2004.

Mrs. Magsino had recently informed the KARAPATAN Southern Tagalog Office that she had received two death threats claiming that she would not live past February 15, 2004.

Mrs. Juvy Magsino was also running for Mayor of Naujan in Mindoro Oriental against current Mayor Norberto Mendoza. Mrs. Leima Fortu was a public teacher and a member of the party-list group Bayan Muna, in the Calapan City Chapter.

The Observatory is extremely concerned about these new killings of human rights defenders in the Philippines, especially in light of the climate of impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities in the Philippines urging them to :

i. conduct a fair, impartial and independent inquiry into these events, in order to identify the authors, bring them to justice and pronounce sentences proportional to the gravity of their crimes;

ii. put an immediate end to the climate of impunity for attacks against human rights defenders and suspend Brigadier General Palparan from his functions as long as the cases against him are pending;

iii. adopt immediate measures to put an end to all acts of violence against human rights defenders;

iv. ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9 1998 (Declaration concerning the rights and responsibilities of individuals, groups and institutions to promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental liberties ) in particular 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 realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels" and Article 12.2 which provides 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 violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration."

v. guarantee the effective respect of fundamental rights and liberties in accordance with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international and regional Pacts and Covenants ratified by the Philippines.

Addresses:

H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic, Malacanang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel Manila Philippines , Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968, E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph /opn@ops.gov.ph

Hon. Teresita Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process,7F Agustin Building I, Emerald Avenue, Pasig City, Philippines, Fax: (+632) 638 2216, Email: palaka@pacific.net.ph

Hon. Eduardo R. Ermita, Secretary, Department of National Defense, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines, Fax: (+632) 911 6213

Hon. Purificacion Valera Quisumbing, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights, SAAC Bldg., UP Complex Commonwealth Avenue Diliman, Quezon City Philippines, Fax: (+632) 929 0102, Email: drpvq@chr.gov.ph

Geneva, Paris, February 18, 2004.

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken, quoting the reference number given above.

The Observatory, an 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 : Fax : +033 (0) 1 55 80 83 92
Tel : FIDH 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 OMCT +41 22 809 49 39
E-mail : observatoire@iprolink.ch
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