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The Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Migranteng Manggagawa sa Korea  (KASAMMAKO)

 

The Unity of Filipino Migrant Workers Association in Korea

 

 

STATEMENT AGAINST CRACKDOWN ON MIGRANT WORKERS

August 22, 2007

 

The South Korean immigration department collaborated by the local police forcibly enter workplaces and route the streets of villages, districts, towns and cities to arbitrarily arrest undocumented migrant workers. Currently, thousands of undocumented migrant workers around the country were arrested and consequently deported to their home countries.  The Ministry of Justice and its Immigration Department cited legal and judicial bases for conducting the clampdown. One of this is that they justify their action against overstaying migrant workers by pointing out the legal process of getting employment in South Korea namely the Industrial Trainee System and the Employment Permit System (EPS).

 

Another reason is that there has been no other way to curb the increase of overstaying migrant workers, but crackdown. This means that regardless of the causes why individual migrant workers continue to stay in the country even without a visa is not investigated or heard. Mass deportation, even if it is against United Nation’s International Convention on the Protection of Rights of All Migrant Workers and the International Labour Organization’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, is the ultimate solution to the many contradictions that underlie labour practices in South Korea.

 

Furthermore, the unwritten principles of neo-liberal economic globalization are the underlying reasons for the mass arrest, detention and deportation of undocumented migrant workers. Simply understood, these principles govern the means and ends of industrial production such as the concept of “outsourcing of labour”, “maximum profitability”, and “competitiveness”. In ensuring market competitiveness, factory owners have to get the cheapest labour as much as possible so as to get maximum profit for their products. By instituting a clampdown policy on migrant workers, labour outsourcing from developing countries such as the Philippines becomes a very convenient way to exploit cheap labour. As a result undocumented migrant workers who fear arrest and deportation suffer discrimination such as low wages, no medical insurance, no pension benefits, long working hours, abuse—verbal, sexual and physical and many more.

 

Undeniably, the Employment Permit System (EPS) since its implementation in August 2004, a year after its enactment has been proven ineffective in preventing the increase of undocumented migrant workers.  The South Korean government has failed to address the insidious issues on migrant labour. The Amnesty International on its 2006 annual report on Human Rights Situation of Migrant Workers in South Korea cited that the EPS has not solved the problem of overstaying migrant workers:

    

 

 

…Once in Korea, many (migrant workers) find that their jobs are very different from those were promise and are more dangerous or more poorly paid than they had ever expected. With few rights to negotiate a change of job, many end up giving up their legal employment and going to work as undocumented or irregular migrant workers elsewhere in the country. …Under the EPS system, migrant workers, in practice, have very limited scope for changing their workplace. This can hamper seriously their ability to lodge complaints about abuses because they fear antagonizing their employers or they fear losing their job and thereby losing legal status to in South Korea (AI 2006 Report p. 3-4).

 

 

With these, we, member organizations of KASAMMAKO deplore the unabated clampdown on migrant workers which violates our fundamental rights as enshrined in the international treaties ratified or subscribed to by the South Korean government. We call on the South Korean government to STOP CRACKDOWN! Respect migrant workers rights, because we have the right to:

           

·        Life;

·        Freedom from torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

·        Freedom from slavery or servitude;

·        Freedom from imprisonment for inability to fulfill contractual obligation;

·        Recognition as a person before the law;

·        Freedom of thought, conscience and religion;

·        Best attainable standard of physical and mental health;

·        Education;

·        Adequate housing;

·        Adequate food and water;

·        Work and rights at work.

 

We call on all migrant workers to unite, be organized and raise our voices and together act against the violation of our rights and welfare.

 

 

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FAQs on the Human Security Act

By Jose Manuel Diokno
Inquirer
Last updated 06:47am (Mla time) 07/15/2007

(Editor’s Note: The antiterror law takes effect today, raising fears among bishops and human rights advocates that authorities would use it to crack down on political enemies. But Malacañang claims that the law was enacted to protect the people from terror. To help the public understand the implications of the law, we are featuring here the frequently asked questions [FAQs] prepared by a lawyers’ group. The group warns against abuses that could be committed in the name of the new law.)

MANILA, Philippines

 

Q. What is the Human Security Act of 2007?

 

A. The “Human Security Act of 2007,” or Republic Act No. 9372, is a law that Congress enacted “to protect life, liberty and property from acts of terrorism, to condemn terrorism as inimical and dangerous to the national security of the country ... and to make terrorism a crime against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of nations.”

While well-intended, the Human Security Act (HSA) is one of the most incoherent, disorganized and disjointed laws our Congress has ever passed. A mix-and-match collection of 62 sections, the law has no discernible structure, no headings or subheadings, and no groupings of sections. Provisions follow one another without logical connection; some sections contradict each other; while others simply make no sense.

Worse, the HSA is a dangerous law. It authorizes preventive detention, expands the power of warrantless arrest, and allows for unchecked invasion of our privacy, liberty and other basic rights. Persons merely suspected of engaging in terrorism may be arrested without warrant and detained without charges.

They may be placed under house arrest, prohibited from using their cell phones, computers and any other means of communication, even when they are granted bail on the ground that evidence of guilt is not strong. They may also be subjected to surveillance and wiretapping, as well as examination, sequestration and freezing of bank deposits and other assets, on mere suspicion that they are members of a “terrorist organization.”

 

Defining the crime

Q. How does the HSA define the crime of ‘‘terrorism?”

A. It defines the crime as follows:

“Sec. 3. Terrorism—Any person who commits an act punishable under any of the following provisions of the Revised Penal Code:

A. Art. 122 (Piracy in General and Mutiny);

B. Art. 134 (Rebellion or Insurrection);

C. Art. 134-A (Coup d’Etat), including acts committed by private persons;

D. Art. 248 (Murder);

E. Art. 267 (Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention);

F. Art. 324 (Crimes Involving Destruction); or under

(1) P.D. 1613 (Law on Arson);

(2) R.A. 6969 (Toxic Substance and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act);

(3) R.A. 5207 (Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act);

(4) R.A. 6235 (Anti-Hijacking Law);

(5) P.D. 532 (Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law); and

(6) P.D. 1866, as amended (Decree Codifying the Laws on Illegal and Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing in, Acquisition or Disposition of Firearms, Ammunition or Explosives)

 

Thereby sowing and creating a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand shall be guilty of terrorism and shall suffer the penalty of 40 years of imprisonment, without the benefit of parole...”

For the crime of terrorism to be committed, therefore, four elements are essential:

 

The commission of one or more of the crimes specified in Section 3 above,

That sows and creates a condition of “widespread and extraordinary fear and panic” among the populace,

For the purpose of coercing the government,

To give in to an “unlawful” demand.

 

Vague, susceptible to abuse

In FLAG’s view, the law’s definition of terrorism is vague, ambiguous and highly susceptible to abuse. When does a condition of “widespread and extraordinary fear and panic” exist? Does the “populace” refer to the public in general, those who live in the same city or town or those who live in the same barangay? What is an “unlawful demand?”

 

With no objective standards to guide our law enforcers, the HSA in effect bestows on our law enforcers the unfettered discretion to decide if a person is engaged in terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism. And that is very dangerous indeed.

 

In the words of Martin Scheinin, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism, “... there are some positive aspects of the definition of terrorist acts in the Human Security Act but the end result is an overly broad definition which is seen to be at variance with the principle of legality and thus incompatible with Article 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

 

Q. How does the HSA define “conspiracy to commit terrorism?”

A. Section 4 provides that a conspiracy to commit terrorism is committed “when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of the crime of terrorism as defined in Section 3 hereof and decide to commit the same.” The law, in short, defines a terrorist conspiracy as an agreement between two or more persons to commit the crime of terrorism and a decision to commit it.

 

The basic principle in conspiracy is that the act of one is the act of all. As an American lawyer has observed, however, modern criminal organizations operate on an entirely different principle:

“... Conspiracy laws make all conspirators equally liable for all the crimes, when clearly that just is not the case. In fact, criminal organizations are structured specifically to place the greatest risk on the people with the least to gain from the enterprise. That’s how you rise in those organizations.

... Criminal conspiracies don’t happen amidst open forum discussions. I can’t imagine that many criminal organizations have large group meetings ... Quite the opposite. Mostly, conspiracy convictions are based on disparate, separate and barely if at all coordinated acts by the conspirators. Meetings are one on one, or (in) tiny minimal groups. Almost none of the typical conspirator even knows what the whole scheme is, let alone the harmful effects...”

 

Small fry

In FLAG’s view, criminalizing terrorist conspiracies is a useless, impractical and ineffective way of addressing the problem. It may result in the arrest of lots of “small fry,” but will never stop the “big fish” behind these organizations.

 

Q. Does the HSA provide for the outlawing of “terrorist organizations?”

A. Yes. Section 17 provides that an organization, association or group of persons that is organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism, or, although not so organized, actually engages in acts of terrorism, may be outlawed or proscribed as a “terrorist organization.”

 

In FLAG’s view, the outlawing of organizations on the ground they are “terrorist” is not only vague and ambiguous; it is an open invitation to the authorities to muzzle free speech, to stifle the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

 

Penalties

Q. What is the penalty for the crimes of terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism?

A. The penalty for the crime of terrorism is 40 years of imprisonment without benefit of parole. This is a new penalty not recognized by the Revised Penal Code.

The penalty for conspiracy to commit terrorism is also 40 years of imprisonment without the benefit of parole.

The penalty for accomplices is 17 years, 4 months and 1 day to 20 years of imprisonment.

The penalty for accessories is 10 years and 1 day to 12 years of imprisonment.

 

Q. Can the rights and liberties of a person merely suspected of terrorism be curtailed under the HSA? If so, in what manner can they be curtailed?

A. Yes. It contains many provisions that allow the rights of mere suspects to be curtailed.

Section 26 provides that persons who have been charged with terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism—even if they have been granted bail because evidence of their guilt is not strong—can be:

Detained under house arrest;

 

Restricted from traveling; and/or

Prohibited from using any cellular phones, computers or other means of communicating with people outside their residence.

Section 19 provides that in the event of an actual or imminent terrorist attack, persons suspected of terrorism may be arrested and detained without charges for as long as the detention is approved by a judge of the municipal or regional trial court, the Sandiganbayan or a justice of the Court of Appeals nearest the place of the arrest or by “a municipal, city, provincial or regional office of a Human Rights Commission.” It is not clear whether the “Human Rights Commission” mentioned here is the same as the constitutionally established Commission on Human Rights.

FLAG believes that these and other similar provisions violate the right to liberty, to be presumed innocent, to due process of law, to equal protection under the law, to a fair trial, to travel and to privacy of communication and correspondence.

 

Detention

Q. What is “custodial detention” and what are the rights of persons under custodial detention?

A. Section 21 uses the term “custodial detention” but does not expressly define it. It would appear from the wording of this section, however, that “custodial detention” begins the moment a person is arrested and detained. Section 21 provides:

“The moment a person charged with or suspected of the crime of terrorism or the crime of conspiracy to commit terrorism is apprehended or arrested and detained, he shall forthwith be informed, by the arresting police or law enforcement officers or by the police or law enforcement officers to whose custody the person concerned is brought, of his or her right: (a) to be informed of the nature and cause of his arrest, to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel of his or her choice, the police or law enforcement officers concerned shall immediately contact the free legal assistance unit of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or the Public Attorney’s Office, who are duty-bound to immediately visit the detainee and provide legal assistance. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel of choice; (b) informed of the cause or causes of his or her detention in the presence of counsel; (c) allowed to communicate freely with his legal counsel and to confer with them at any time without restriction; (d) allowed to communicate freely and privately without restrictions with the members of his family or with his nearest relatives and to be visited by them; and, (e) allowed freely to avail [himself or herself] of the services of a physician or physicians of choice.”

 

Violations of Section 21 by law enforcers are punishable by imprisonment of between 10 years and 1 day to 12 years.

Under Section 24, persons under investigation for the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism have the right to be free from torture, threat, intimidation, coercion or any act that inflicts physical pain or torment or mental, moral or psychological pressure that vitiates free will; any evidence obtained as a result thereof is not admissible in any judicial, quasi-judicial, legislative or administrative investigation or proceeding.

 

The penalty for those who commit torture or any of the other acts mentioned above is imprisonment of between 12 years and 1 day to 20 years.

 

Contradictory

Q. What procedure must law enforcers follow before detaining a person they have arrested without warrant under the HSA?

A. The second paragraph of Section 18 provides that the law enforcers must, before detaining arrested persons, present them before a judge at the latter’s residence or office nearest the place of arrest, at any time of the day or night.

 

The judge, among other things, must:

Ascertain the identity of the arresting officer;

Ascertain the identity of the arrested person;

Inquire into the reasons for the arrest;

 

Determine, by questioning and personal observation, whether the arrested person was subjected to any physical, moral or psychological torture, by whom, and why; and

 

Within three calendar days from the time the arrested person was brought before him or her, submit a report to the court with jurisdiction over the arrested person, stating in detail what he or she observed when the arrested person was brought to him or her.

 

The third paragraph of Section 18, however, provides that “(i)mmediately after taking custody of a person charged with or suspected of the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism, the police or law enforcement personnel shall notify in writing the judge of the court nearest the place of apprehension or arrest; Provided, that where the arrest is made during Saturdays, Sundays, holidays or after office hours, the written notice shall be served at the residence of the judge nearest the place where the accused was arrested.”

 

In FLAG’s view, the two provisions are contradictory. While the first provision requires personal delivery of the arrested person to the judge nearest the place of arrest, the second provision appears to negate this requirement by requiring only a written notice to the judge nearest the place of arrest.

 

Dangers of wiretapping

Q. Can government place suspects under surveillance, or tap into their private conversations and communications? How may this be done?

A. Yes, if authorized by the “authorizing division” of the Court of Appeals. In FLAG’s view, surveillance and wiretapping operations infringe on the rights to be presumed innocent and to privacy. Why should these rights be sacrificed because the investigating officers are incompetent, ineffective or unable to gather evidence in a lawful manner? Added to this, with current technology, the danger of fabricated recordings, spliced tapes and conversations taken out of context is real. The potential for abuse is frightening.

 

Anyone who undertakes surveillance or wiretapping operations against terrorism suspects, without authority from the “authorizing division” of the Court of Appeals, shall be punishable by imprisonment of between 10 years and 1 day to 12 years.

Q. Will the subject of surveillance or wiretapping be informed about it?

A. While the HSA states that it upholds the “right to be informed of the acts done by law enforcement authorities,” the subject of surveillance or wiretapping will only be informed of the surveillance or wiretapping if no case is filed against him or her. If the applicant fails to notify the subject of surveillance or wiretapping in writing within 30 days from the expiration of the operation, he or she shall be punished with imprisonment of between 10 years and 1 day to 12 years.

 

FLAG believes that this provision violates due process, since those under surveillance or wiretapping are barred from participating in the proceeding to the detriment of their life and liberty; they are not to be informed of the application or any such authorization order against them; they are not allowed to contest such application or any evidence that may be brought against them; neither are they allowed to present evidence on their own behalf.

 

They will be subjected to invasion of their privacy rights without due process for up to 60 days by a battery of law enforcement officers, and any recordings made or evidence obtained in violation of their privacy and due process rights may be used in evidence against them.

 

Q. Can government examine bank deposits and finances, and seize, sequester or freeze assets of persons suspected or charged under the HSA?

A. Yes. Under Section 27, bank deposits and finances may be examined if judicially authorized. Under Section 39, assets of (1) any person suspected of or charged with terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism before a competent regional trial court, (2) a judicially declared terrorist organization, and (3) members of a judicially declared terrorist organization “shall be seized, sequestered and frozen in order to prevent their use, transfer or conveyance for purposes that are inimical to the safety and security of the people or injurious to the interest of the State.” Unlike Section 27 however, Section 35 does not expressly require judicial authorization and is silent on which office or agency may authorize and implement such seizure, sequestration or freezing of assets.

 

License to look into bank deposits

In FLAG’s view, the power to examine bank deposits and finances of persons or entities suspected of involvement in terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism is particularly alarming. Law enforcers are armed with the widest license to inquire into the bank deposits of persons who are merely assumed or perceived to be terrorists.

 

Anyone could easily be assumed or perceived or suspected of being a terrorist. Even worse, these examinations could lead to incidents of extortion, blackmail or even be the basis for kidnapping committed by erring law enforcers or syndicates.

Anyone who examines the bank deposits and finances of terrorism suspects, or members of outlawed terrorist organizations or outlawed terrorist organizations without authority from the “authorizing division” of the Court of Appeals, shall be punishable by imprisonment of between 10 years and 1 day to 12 years.

 

Q. Who authorizes government’s inquiries into bank deposits and finances of terrorism suspects or members of outlawed terrorist organizations or outlawed terrorist organizations?

A. The justices of the Court of Appeals “designated as a special court to handle antiterrorism cases” are authorized to allow government to inquire into the bank deposits and finances of terrorism suspects, if they are “satisfied” that probable cause exists to warrant such examination. They may authorize:

The examination of the deposits, placements, trust accounts, assets and records in a bank or financial institution; and

The gathering of any relevant information about such deposits, placements, trust accounts, assets and records in a bank or financial institution.

 

Q. Will the subject of the examination be informed that it is being done?

A. Persons whose bank deposits and finances are being examined will only be informed about it if no case is filed against him or her after the period of examination. If the applicant fails to notify the subject of the examination in writing within 30 days from the expiration of the examination, he or she shall be punishable by imprisonment of between 10 years and 1 day to 12 years.

 

FLAG reiterates that this provision violates the due process and property rights of those whose bank deposits and finances are under examination.

 

Payment of damages

Q. Does the HSA penalize law enforcers and government officials who misuse the law?

A. Yes. Section 50 provides that any person accused of terrorism who is later acquitted by the court shall be entitled to the payment of P500,000 in damages for every day that he or she has been detained or deprived of liberty or arrested without a warrant as a result of such an accusation. The amount of damages shall be automatically charged against the appropriations of the police agency or the Anti-Terrorism Council that brought or sanctioned the filing of the charges against the accused. The payment of damages must be released within 15 days from the date of the acquittal. In addition, the award of damages shall be without prejudice to the filing of criminal or administrative charges against those responsible for the unproven charge.

 

Section 41 provides that persons whose properties are seized, sequestered or frozen, but who are later acquitted or the cases against them dismissed, are entitled to P500,000 a day for the period in which their properties were seized, sequestered or frozen. The amount shall be taken from the appropriations of the police or law enforcement agency that caused the filing of the charges.

 

Other sections of the Act—for instance, Sections 11-16 and 35—provide various penalties for acts committed by law enforcers in violation of the law. While most of these sections impose a penalty of imprisonment for a certain period of time, a few sections provide that evidence seized as a result of illegal police actions may not be used against the accused.

 

Q. Why should I care about the Human Security Act? It’s only for terrorists.

 

A. The HSA is so vague that it can be used against just about anyone, including you or me. The law is so sweeping that it can be used to curtail the rights of persons merely suspected of terrorism, even if they have been granted bail because evidence of their guilt is not strong. And the law is so dangerous that, unless repealed, it will destroy the Bill of Rights of the Constitution and rip apart the very fabric of our democratic system.


Jose Manuel I. Diokno is chairperson of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).

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This story was taken from Bulatlat, the Philippines's alternative weekly newsmagazine (www.bulatlat.com, www.bulatlat.net, www.bulatlat.org).

Vol. V, No. 9, April 10-16, 2005

 

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

God’s ‘Apostles’ Under Siege

It has only been three weeks since one of their brethren was gunned down but four priests of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI or Philippine Independent Church) in Tarlac found themselves in danger of meeting the same fate. One of them in fact barely escaped an attack, proving that living the church’s teaching of helping the poor is risky in the Philippines.

 

BY DABET CASTAÑEDA

Bulatlat
 

PANIQUI, Tarlac – Fr. Mario Quince, parish priest of Barangay (village) Balaoang, this town, survived an assassination attempt just a few minutes past midnight last April 1 after attending the Passover Seder Celebration at the Aglipay Central Theological Seminary (ACTS) in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan.  

Together with three other Iglesia Filipina Indepediente (IFI) priests in Tarlac, Fr. Mario is a keen supporter of the striking workers of Hacienda Luisita and actively provides humanitarian services to other victims of human rights violations in their province.

In an interview with Bulatlat, he said it was exactly 12:45 a.m. when he arrived at the parish church alone. He parked his red jeep in front of the gate, left the vehicle’s engine and lights on and stepped out to open the gate. Realizing it was padlocked, Fr. Mario decided to climb the gate and enter through the bell tower’s window.

 

When he was about to enter the window, Fr. Mario said he saw three men on board a black motorcycle arrive in front of the church. One of the men stepped down, tried to get something from the right side of his waist and opened the door of the prelate’s jeep.

 

Judging that the men were after him, Fr. Mario crept inside the bell tower, passed by the kitchen and switched on the light downstairs. It was then that he heard three successive gunshots fired in front of the parish.

 

He then heard the motorcycle leave. To find out if the men had really left, he peeped from the window and saw two other men on board a tricycle arrive.

 

The two men stayed in front of the parish for about five minutes and then left.

 

An unidentified IFI member who lives a few houses away from the church told Bulatlat that she was awakened by a tricycle that passed by her house. At about the same time, a similar vehicle arrived in front of the church. She said she even went outside to see where the vehicle was headed.

 

“Nakita ko yung tricycle na kulay pula, naka-parada sa harap ng parokya. May dalawang tao sa loob” (I saw a red tricycle parked in front of the church. There were two men inside), she said.

According to Fr. Mario, it took at least an hour before he could go outside and park his jeep in the garage.

 

Order of Battle

Five IFI priests in this province have reportedly been in the military’s Order of Battle (OB) since middle of last year. They are Fr. Mario, Fr. Greg Lacanaria, Fr. Marcial Bautista, Fr. William Tadena and Bishop Alberto Ramento. They have been allegedly accused of supporting New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas. Tadena was killed March 13 this year after saying mass in La Paz town by unknown gunmen.

 

Fr. Mario said a top Tarlac provincial official confirmed that they were in the list but the Northern Luzon (Nolcom) Command of the Philippine Army denies this.

 

Harassment

Fr. Mario said he has experienced continuous harassment and intimidation even before the April 1 incident.

In random interviews with IFI members who live near the parish in Balaoang, they confirmed that several people disguised as taho (soya) vendors frequently asked about Fr. Mario’s whereabouts.

“Iisa lang ang magtataho dito sa amin, suki namin yun kaya kilala namin” (There is only one taho vendor in this area and we know him), one of the parishioners said. However, after the massacre of striking workers in

 

Hacienda Luisita on Nov. 16 last year, the parishioners said different men have been selling taho in the area while asking questions about their parish priest. Some of the members further said that during the Holy Week, motorcycle and tricycle riding men also frequented the parish inquiring about the same.

 

Detachment

Fr. Mario’s experience is not an isolated case. In Barangay Sulipa, Gerona town, the Barangay Hall was turned into a military detachment early morning on April 5. It is only about 50 meters away from the IFI parish where Rev.

Deacon Gilbert Garcia is the officer-in-charge.

In an interview with Deacon Gilbert, he said he immediately inquired about the presence of the military from Barangay Captain Prisco Ramos who told him that the 12-man military squad would be staying in the area for five months. “May misyon kami” (We are on a mission), the village chief quoted the military as saying. The soldiers identified themselves as belonging to the 69th Infantry Battalion (IBPA) and came all the way from Isabela, more than 160 kms north of Tarlac.

According to Deacon Gilbert, this sent chills not only to him but more so to IFI members in the village.

 

He has been the parish OIC for only six months, the deacon said, but harassment has been frequent. He said burly men have been roaming around the parish at night, knocking at the parish gate or throwing stones at the roof.

Tinapa (smoked fish) vendors on board tricycles have also been frequenting the place, telling residents they are workers from Hacienda Luisita and inquiring about Deacon Gilbert’s whereabouts.

 

Fr. Greg and Fr. Marcial experience similar harassment, the deacon added.

 

Encumbered

The spate of harassment has led the parish priests to take precautionary measures.

“Hindi biro ang mga pananakot na ginagawa sa amin” (The threats are no laughing matter), Fr. Mario said while admitting that the harassment has hindered them from performing some of their tasks in the village.

“Minsan napipilitan na kaming tumanggi sa mga paanyaya lalo na pag gabi”

(Sometimes we are forced to decline some of the invitations especially at night), he added.

But Fr. Mario also expressed his gratitude to his parish members who have been very supportive of him and added that despite the threats to his life, he has opted to stay in the village. “Hindi ko naman pwedeng iwanan ang parokya” (I couldn’t leave the parish), he said. Bulatlat 

 © 2004 Bulatlat   Alipato Publications

Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.

 

 

Forwarded From: Bulatlat Online Magazine <bulatlat_feedback@yahoo.com>