The Philippines: Killing of Mr. Bernardino Patigas and death threats against Ms. Cristina Palabay and Ms. Clarizza Singson

13/05/2019
Urgent Appeal

PHL 001 / 0519 / OBS 040
Killing / Death threats
Philippines
May 10, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (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 reliable sources about the killing of Mr. Bernardino Patigas[1], founder and Secretary General of the North Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, a member organisation of the Negros chapter of the human rights non-governmental organisation (NGO) Karapatan - the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights.

According to the information received, at around 4.30pm on April 22, 2019, Mr. Bernardino Patigas, aka ‘Tatay Toto’, was fatally shot twice by a gunman while driving his motorcycle along the highway of Barangay Washington, Escalante City, Negros Occidental Province. Mr. Patigas died on the spot.

Mr. Bernardino Patigas was a well-known human rights defender who called for land reform and denounced the militarisation of communities and ongoing human rights violations in Negros. As a result of his human rights work, he repeatedly received threats and was subjected to harassment. In April 2018, his name and picture, together with that of human rights lawyer Mr. Benjamin Ramos, who was subsequently murdered on November 6, 2018[2], and 60 other individuals and rights advocates, were included in a poster of alleged communist personalities.

On the same day, following reports of Mr. Bernardino Patigas’ killing in the media and on social media, a death threat via text message from an unknown person was sent to Ms. Cristina Palabay, Kaparatan Secretary General, Ms. Clarizza Singson, Karapatan-Negros Occidental member, and various other community leaders in Negros, insinuating that the names included in the message were targets to be killed within the year.

The Observatory condemns in the strongest terms the killing of Mr. Bernardino Patigas and the subsequent death threats against Ms. Cristina Palabay, Ms. Clarizza Singson, and other community leaders in Negros, and urges the authorities of the Philippines to carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned events, and to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law.

The Observatory further reiterates its utmost concern over ongoing killings and attacks against human rights defenders in the Philippines, and calls upon the authorities to adopt effective measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders in the country, as well as to ensure proper investigations into such killings and attacks.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of the Philippines asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ms. Cristina Palabay, Ms. Clarizza Singson, and all members of Karapatan, as well as all human rights defenders in the country;

ii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the murders of Mr. Bernardino Patigas and Mr. Benjamin Ramos in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Articles 1 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Philippines.

Addresses:

· Mr. Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines, Fax: +632 742-1641 / 929-3968, Email: op@president.gov.ph or send a message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/;
· Mr. Teodoro Locsin Jr, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, Email: osec@dfa.gov.ph;
· Hon. Menardo Guevarra, Secretary, Department of Justice of the Philippines, Fax: (+632) 521-1614, Email: communications@doj.gov.ph;
· Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Fax: +632 929 0102, Email:chairgascon.chr@gmail.com;
· Police General Oscar Albayalde, Chief, Philippine National Police, National Headquarters Building, Camp BGen Rafael Crame, Quezon City, 1111 Philippines. Fax: +632 724 8749 Email: pnpo.adm1n@gmail.com;ocpnp@pnp.gov.ph; srocpnp@yahoo.com
· H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32 Email: mission@genevapm.ph;
· Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 02 345 64 25, Email: brusselspe@gmail.com.

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of the Philippines in your respective country.

***
Geneva-Paris, May 10, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax OMCT +41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH +33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] Mr. Patigas was a survivor of the Escalante massacre of 20 farmers and farmworkers, which occurred on September 20, 1985. He subsequently joined human rights advocacy especially in favour of the Sakadas of Negros as well as fact-finding missions in the region. At the time of his killing, he was running for re-election as a Sangguniang Panglungsod (city council) member in Escalante City.
[2] See Observatory Urgent Appeal PHL 005 / 1118 / OBS 132, published on November 9, 2018.

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