Assassination of Mr. Benjamin E. Bayles

30/06/2010
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (KARAPATAN) of the assassination of Mr. Benjamin E. Bayles, member of the September 21 Movement[1], which is a member of KARAPATAN, in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental 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 the Philippines.

According to the information received, on June 14, 2010 at around 4.30 pm, Mr. Benjamin E. Bayle was shot dead by two men, who approached him wearing helmets in a motorcycle with no license plate, when he was waiting for a ride at the crossing Sitio Antolo, Brgy. Suay. The back rider disembarked and shot him several times at about three metres distance. When the victim fell down, the rider also came near and shot him as to make sure he was dead. The perpetrators left the scene on board the motorcycle. The Himamaylan City Philippine National Police (PNP), alerted by a government employee who witnessed the shooting, arrived on the spot and then contacted the nearby Kabankalan City PNP police station, which set up a check point in Kabankalan, close to Himamaylan city on the southbound. Two individuals, who were carrying two 45 calibre pistols and identified as Messrs. Roger M. Bahon and Ronnie L. Caurino, were later apprehended and sent to the Himamaylan City Jail, where they remain detained and have been charged with “murder”. The same day, Kabankalan police officers made a statement on the radio were they claimed that the two suspects had confessed to be regular members of the 61st Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army. However, the Himamaylan PNP retracted from this initial statement the next day.

Mr. Bayles had been reportedly subject of surveillance by the military since May 2010. In the run-up to the May presidential, legislative and local elections for instance, a team of the 11th Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army reportedly encamped in the Barangay[2] Centre, the headquarters of the council and the local peacekeeping officers, and looked for him, asking for his whereabouts. The soldiers had also accused him of working for the alleged front organisations of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army[3].

Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that Mr. Bayles often accompanied Mr. Fred Cañas, KARAPATAN Secretary General for Negros, to fact-finding missions of human rights violations and it is therefore feared that Mr. Fred Cañas might be in turn threatened. Mr. Cañas already received threats in the past and is often “visited” by soldiers at his house.

As a member of the September 21 Movement, Mr. Benjamin Bayles had been denouncing abuses committed by the officers and men of the Philippine Army against the upland farmers and farm workers, and had helped families of the victims to seek the legal services offered by this movement and KARAPATAN. He had joined fact-finding missions and quick reaction teams sent to investigate human rights violations in the interior neighbourhoods of the Himamaylan City. He was also District Coordinator of the Aglipayan Forum[4], and as such he was active in anti-mining campaigns and in advocating for peasant’s rights.

The Observatory strongly condemns Mr. Benjamin E. Bayles’ assassination, which seems to have been merely aimed at silencing his work, notably his denunciations of human rights violations, and urges the Philippines authorities to order a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into his assassination, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Philippines authorities urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Fred Cañas as well as of all human rights defenders in the Philippines;

ii. Order a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into Mr. Benjamin Bayles assassination, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Provide Mr. Benjamins Bayles’ family adequate reparation;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure in all circumstances that they be able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrances;

v. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular its article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and its 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”;

vi. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Philippines.

Addresses:

· H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Republic, New Executive Building, Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila 1005, Philippines. Fax: +63 2 736 1010, Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80; E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph;

· Hon. Eduardo Ermita, Chairperson, Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC), 3rd Flr. New Executive Bldg. Office of the President, Malacanang Compound, Manila, Philippines. Trunk Line: + 632 735 6201 Loc. 5301 & 5503. Telefax: + 632 734 6761. Email: phrc.phil@gmail.com

· Hon. Leila De Lima, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights, SAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines. Fax: +632 929 0102. Email: : atty_delima@yahoo.com.ph

· Atty. Jasmin Navarro-Regino, Regional Director, CHR, Region 3, 3rd Flr. Kehyeng Bldg, Dolores Junction, Dolores, City of San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines. Tel. No. +45 2 9614830. Tel-Fax. No. +45 2 9614475. Email: attyjnr@yahoo.com

· General Eduardo Versoza, PNP Chief, Office of the Chief, PNP, National Headquarters Philippine National Police, Camp Crame, Edsa, Quezon City, Philippines. Tel: +632 9116213. Fax: +632 7248763

· Gerardo G. Dia, Police Superintendent, Asst. Chief, Human Rights Affairs Office, Human Rights Affairs Office, Office of the Chief, PNP, National Headquarters Philippine National Police, Camp Crame, Edsa, Quezon City, Philippines 1111. Tel. Nos. +632 723 0401 to 20 local 3668. Mobile: +63 916 442 4536. Email: Gerardo_dia@yahoo.com.ph

· Mr. Jesus D. Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), 7th Floor Agustin Building I, Emerald Avenue, Pasig City 1605, Philippines. Voice:+ 63 2 636 0701 to 066. Fax:+63 (2) 635 9579. Email: osec@opapp.gov.ph

· Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, 47 Avenue Blanc, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32, Email: mission.philippines@ties.itu.int

· Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, 297 Avenue Moliere, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: +32 2 340 33 77 / 2 340 33 78, Fax: +32 2 345 64 25.

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Bangladesh in your respective countries.

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