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Philippines
17.12.04
Urgent Interventions

Philippines: summary execution of Mr. Marcelino Beltran

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

PHL 003 / 1204 / OBS 095
Summary execution
Philippines

December 17, 2004


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the FIDH and the 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) and the May First Labour Centre (Kilusang Mayo Uno - KMU), that Mr. Marcelino Beltran, 53, Chairman of the Alliance of Peasants in Tarlac (Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Tarlac - AMT), as well as Vice-Chairman of the Alliance of Peasants in Central Luzon (Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon - AMGL), was killed on December 8, 2004, by military elements in front of his house in San Sotero, Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac.

According to the information received, on December 8, 2004, at around 9:00 p.m., Mr. Marcelino Beltran was at home when he heard dogs barking unceasingly. As the dogs did not seem to stop, Mr. Beltran went outside and heard somebody call him. His wife and children did not think that he was in any danger, because they heard him talking with some people they thought were just his colleagues. A few minutes later they heard some gunshots. As they scrambled down the house they saw the armed men leave and the bloodied body of Mr. Beltran slumped in front of their home. He was still alive and told his family that military soldiers shot him.

His family brought him to the clinic which they thought was the nearest Mr. Beltran could get treatment or first aid. When they got there they saw two soldiers on a motorcycle who asked them if they had brought a wounded person from San Sotero. Marcelino Beltran’s son denied that they had brought his father to the clinic and told the soldiers that the injured person was from Calapayan. Since the clinic did not seem safe they moved Mr. Beltran to a nearby hospital. However, this hospital was lacking the facilities and they were thus obliged to transfer him to the Tarlac Provincial Hospital, 20 kilometres away. Mr. Marcelino Beltran expired on the way to the hospital, and he was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:30 p.m. He suffered from four gunshot wounds on his arm, thigh, stomach and back.

Prior to his death, Mr. Marcelino Beltran joined the strike of peasant workers in Hacienda Luisita to give them his organisation’s support. The farmer leader is also said to be a witness in the massacre that happened in Hacienda Luisita last November 16, 2004, during which 14 people were killed and several hundred others were injured (see background information below). It is thus believed that his death was meant to silence him about his knowledge of the tragedy as well as to sow fear among those who continue to support the peasant-workers’ cause.

The Observatory is deeply concerned by the situation of human rights defenders in the Philippines and strongly denounces the summary execution of Mr. Marcelino Beltran as well as the other killings that have characterised the intensifying state repression in the country.


Background information:

14 people, including children aged 2 and 5 years old, were killed in Hacienda Luisita on November 16, 2004, by elements of the Philippines National Police and military belonging to the 69th and 703rd Infantry Battalion. They had been ordered by the Hacienda Luisita Management and the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) to crack down on a workers’ strike.

According to the information received, the tragedy occurred during the violent dispersal of an on-going strike of more than 5,000 farm workers and sugarcane workers led by their respective unions, Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labour Union (CATLU) and United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU). The two unions launched the strike on November 6, 2004, after the failure of the negotiations with the Management on, among others, the issue of increasing wages, on October 28, 2004. The ULWU was also negotiating for the reinstatement of 327 illegally dismissed workers and labour leaders such as the ULWU president and vice president and eight other union officers, as well as to stop working with the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), which prevents the workers from tilling their own land and allows the Cojuangco family to escape land distribution under the 1987 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

111 persons were unjustifiably arrested and detained in Camp Macabulos in Tarlac and in the Criminal Investigation and Detention Group (CIDG). They were then released. Moreover, the Fact Finding Team of KARAPATAN established that there were 78 victims of looting, 111 injured and hospitalised (95 men and 16 women), 72 others were not hospitalised and KMU also reported that 35 had been victims of gunshots. Victims of strafing and restriction or dispersal of mass action accounted to at least 3,000 people. Only seven persons were confirmed dead and were recognised among the 14 killed as security restrictions prevented the investigating team from going further into the Central Azucarera de Tarlac. According to KMU, two more dead were identified, a child and his father, Boy Versola and Neng Balete.


Action requested:
Please write to the authorities in Philippines, urging them to:

i. Conduct a fair, impartial and independent inquiry into the circumstances of the summary execution of Mr. Marcelino Beltran, as well as in the events described above, in order to identify the authors, bring them to justice and apply the sanctions provided by law;

ii. Put an immediate end to any kind of harassment and violence against human rights defenders in the country and guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrity;

iii. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Marcelino Beltran’s relatives;

iv. Ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, 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 realisation 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. Conform with the provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and with the international and regional instruments ratified by the Philippines.


Addresses:
  • Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, New Executive Guilding, Malacanang Palace, J.P. Laurel Street, San Miguel, Metro Manila, Philippines, Fax: +632 929 3968, Email: opnet@ops.gov.ph; kgma@yahoogroups.com

  • Hon. Chairperson, Dr. Purificacion Valera Quisumbing, The Commission on Human Rights, SAAC Building, Commonwealth Avenue, U.P. Complex, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, Fax: +632 929-0102, Email: drpvq@chr.gov.ph

  • Hon. Sec. Avelino Cruz, Department of National Defense, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, E. de los Santos Avenue, 1110 Quezon City, Philippines, Fax: (+632) 911 6213, Email: snd@dnd.gov.ph; sndermita@dnd.gov.ph

  • Hon. Sec. Simeon Datumanong, Department of Justice, Padre Faura, 1004, Ermita, Manila; Fax: +632521-1614, Email: sechbp@info.com.ph

  • Hon. Sec. Teresita Deles, Office of the Presidential Advisers on the Peace Process, 7F Agustin Building, Emerald Avenue, Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Fax: 632 638 2216

  • The Secretariat, GRP-Monitoring Committee, 6/F Immaculate Conception Multi-Purpose Building, 71 Lantana St., Cubao, Quezon City, Email: grp_mc@myway.com

  • Ambassadeur, S.E. M. Enrique A. Manalo, Av. Blanc 47, CH-1202, Genève, Suisse, E-mail : mission.philippine@ties.itu.int, Fax: +4122 716 19 32



Geneva, Paris, December 17, 2004

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

The Observatory, a joint 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 :
E-mail: observatoire@iprolink.ch
Tel and Fax:
FIDH: +33 1 43 55 25 18 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
OMCT: +41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
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