Philippines: Killing of Ms. Elisa Lascoña Tulid

15/11/2013
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) about the killing of Ms. Elisa Lascoña Tulid, a human rights defender in the agrarian reform sector and a leader of the peasant group Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Barangay Tala at Camflora, in Sitio Kumbenyo, Barangay Tala, San Andres, Quezon Province.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Philippines.

Description of the information:

According to the information received, on October 29, 2013 at 2 pm, Ms. Lascoña Tulid was walking along with her husband and her four-year-old daughter when she was shot point-blank by a man who was identified as Mr. Rannie Bugnot, trustee of an alleged land grabber in the area, Mr. Edwin Ausa. Ms. Tulid, who suffered gunshot wounds in the nape, mouth, left eye and left thigh, was pronounced dead on the spot. Her husband and daughter both managed to run away. Her husband ran to the military camp in Barangay Tala to seek help and report the incident. The military called the police, who arrested Mr. Bugnot on the same day at his private house and charged him later.

The Observatory firmly condemns and expresses its deepest concern about the killing of Ms. Elisa Lascoña Tulid, and considers it as an attempt to criminalise her efforts to defend human rights in the country and discourage other defenders working for the same cause.

Ms. Elisa Lascoña Tulid had had several confrontations with Mr. Edwin Ausa and his group when trying to prove her community’s rights to the land. She also filed a complaint in 2012 before the Barangay Council against them when the group took crops cultivated by Ms. Lascoña Tulid’s family without their consent. Ever since then Ms. Elisa Lascoña Tulid and her family have been threatened and harassed by Mr. Ausa and his group. One of the most serious threats they received was posed by Mr. Ausa when he said that he would kill all the Tulids if they kept fighting for the land concerned.

The Observatory urges the Philippine authorities to conduct an immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation into the facts reported above in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent and impartial tribunal and apply the sanctions provided by the law.

Background information:

There is a persistent agrarian conflict in the Philippines. Traditionally, there has been a feudal exploitation system in Bondoc Peninsula, Southern Tagalog, where 80 per cent of the households depend on subsistence farming (mainly banana and coconut monocropping) as well as fishing. Mr. Domingo Reyes, one of the main landholders in the region, holds an estimated surface of 12,000 to 16,000 hectares and keeps a 60 per cent of these lands total harvest, while the remaining 40 per cent goes to the tenants, who also have to cover the production expenses.

In 1988 the Government launched the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) through which it bought all lands exceeding seven hectares and sold them to the landless farmers although frequently peasants did not want to apply for agrarian reform coverage due to fears to landowners.

In 2004, settlers requested to be covered by the CARP. Farmer tenants working on Reyes’ lands boycotted and stopped giving the 60 per cent share of the harvest when Ms. Elisa Lascoña Tulid and other settlers learned that the lands claimed by Mr. Reyes had been declared as public land and timberland by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Ms. Lascoña Tulid was at the forefront of the fight to claim the lands declared as public.

It has been alleged by some sectors that Mr. Edwin Ausa and Mr. Rannie Bugnot are supporters of Mr. Reyes’ clan and have been trying to instill fear in the communities to prevent them from claiming their land rights.

Action requested:

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

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Elisa Lascoña Tulid’s family and of all human rights defenders in the Philippines;

ii. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent, effective and impartial investigation into the murder of Ms. Elisa Lascoña Tulid in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Provide adequate reparation and compensation to Ms. Elisa Lascoña Tulid’s relatives;

iv. Put an end to any kind of harassment against all defenders who work for the protection of land rights and human rights in general in Philippines;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially regarding the following Articles:
- Article 1: 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;
- Article 12.2: 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 his or her rights [...];

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

Addresses:

· Hon. Benigno Simeon Aquino III, President, Republic of the Philippines, Malacanang Palace, JP Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila 1005, Philippines; Fax: (+63) 2 736 1010; E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph
· Secretary Virgilio R. Delos Reyes, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines; Fax: (+63) 2 920 0380; E-mail: secretary@dar.gov.ph / gildlr2010@gmail.com
· Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Visayas Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City 1100, Philippines, Fax: (+63) 2 920 4301; Trunkline: (+63) 2 929 6626 Local 2258, 2272, 2146; E-mail: osec@denr.gov.ph
· Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales, Commission on Human Rights (CHR), SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue, U.P. Complex, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines; Fax: (+63) 2929 0102; E-mail: rosales.chr@gmail.com
· Police Director General Alan LA Madrid Purisima, Chief, Philippine National Police, Camp General Rafael Crame, Quezon City, Philippines; Fax: (+63) 2 724 8763/ (+63) 2 723 0401; E-mail: feedback@pnp.gov.ph
· H.E. Mr. Mr. Denis Y. Lepatan, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Philippines to the United Nations. 47, Avenue Blanc, 1202 Geneva 19. Switzerland. Fax: (+41) (0) 22 716 19 32. E-mail: geneva.pm@dfa.gov.ph

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

***
Geneva-Paris, November 15, 2013

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

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax OMCT (+41) (0) 22 809 49 39 / (+41) 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH (+33) (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / (+33) 1 43 55 18 80

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