The Philippines: Ongoing judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Mr. Temogen Sahipa “Cocoy” Tulawie

25/03/2013
Urgent Appeal

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), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention on the following situation in The Philippines.

New information
PHL 001 / 0112 / OBS 007.1

Arbitrary detention / Judicial harassment
Philippines

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) about the ongoing judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Mr. Temogen Sahipa “Cocoy” Tulawie, former Provincial Chairperson of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) in Mindanao, province of Sulu. His work involves the monitoring and documentation of human rights violation cases affecting Muslim communities in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, especially in the province of Sulu.

According to the information, on March 4 and 6, 2013, the hearing of the motion for bail filed by Mr. Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie took place at the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 19 of Manila. Mr. Tulawie is detained in suspicion of participating in the March 13, 2009 terrorist bombing, which led to the wounding of twelve persons, including Governor Abdusakur Tan of the province of Sulu. Mr. Tulawie has consistently denied any involvement in the bombing (See background information). During the hearing, the Prosecutor presented a total of seven witnesses, five from the military and the police and two self-confessed conspirators of the March 13, 2009 bombing, Messrs. Sali Said and Mujibar “Bong” Alih Amon. Both witnesses, though they confessed conspiring to the bombing, were not included as accused nor were they mentioned as witnesses on the charge sheet against Mr. Tulawie.

The police and military testimonies made no mention of Mr. Tulawie’s involvement in the incident but just described the incident and the destructions as a result of the bombing. The witness Sali Said admitted that he was one of those who conspired in the planning and execution of the March 13, 2009 bombing as well as in other criminal activities such as the kidnapping of a well-known network personality in 2008. He also admitted that he was an active member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Yet, he was released from prison last February 15, 2013, two weeks before the bail hearing of the Tulawie case. Mr. Mujibar “Bong” Alih Amon, who is currently in detention on suspicion of being a member of the ASG involved in the beheading of Almeda/Jehovah witnesses members, testified that Mr. Tulawie would have hired him for another plot to assassinate Governor Tan. Yet, though he said he had lived for years with the Tulawie family, he failed to respond to many questions on his job and Tulawie’s family.

After the testimonies of the witnesses, the Defence counsel motioned that the Public Prosecutor should include Sali Said as accused in the Tulawie case because of his admission of involvement in the bombing. The Prosecutor said that there should be a complaint in which the Judge said that it should be motu proprio on their part. But the former is still adamant, thus Judge asked the Counsel to formalize the motion.

The bail hearing for Mr. Tulawie was concluded on March 6. The Judge will issue her decision on or before June 19, 2013, the scheduled next hearing in the case. For the meantime, Mr. Tulawie will remain in Davao city jail.

The Observatory strongly condemns the continued arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Tulawie, and calls on the Philippines authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop the charges brought against him, as their intended goal seems to be the sanctioning of and obstructing to his human rights activities. The Observatory also urges the authorities to guarantee in all circumstances his physical and psychological integrity, as threats were reportedly made against his security and life.

Furthermore, the Observatory is concerned that on February 28, 2013, a news report in the national tabloid People’s Tonight [1] stated that the Palace (Office of the President) might interfere into the Tulawie trial. The article mentioned in particular that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Etta Rosales “openly aired her support for Tulawie’s innocence”. It also stated that “it is well known that influential civil society groups and NGOs, adept with tactics of information and agitation but without the benefit of formal trials and fair deliberations, often campaign for their members through various government channels, including the Office of the President”. CBCS and the Free Cocoy Tulawie Movement were specifically mentioned.

On March 4, a picket of Muslim youths, who regularly gathered during court hearings in the Tulawie case, referred to the news clipping.

Background information:

Mr. Tulawie is facing charges of “multiple frustrated murder” and “attempted murder” at the Regional Court of Jolo, Sulu, filed on July 22, 2009 (criminal case no. (07-09) 1648-3 and criminal case no. (07-09) 1649-3) against him and four others [2] The charges relate to a bombing incident that happened in the municipality of Patikul, Sulu, on May 13, 2009. The evidence and warrant of arrest against him was based on forced confessions of two of the accused, which they later recanted.

Mr. Tulawie was initially forced to hide due to fears that he would not be accorded a fair trial.

On June 13, 2011, the Supreme Court granted the motion he filed for transfer of venue to the RTC of Davao City. He argued that there were reasons to believe that he would not be afforded with impartiality if his case was to be tried in the RTC of Jolo. In its decision, the Supreme Court considered that “there is an indication of actual and imminent threat to the life of the petitioner and his family, as well as his witnesses” and that “there is reason to believe that continuing with the trial of the subject criminal cases in the RTC, Jolo, Sulu can lead to a miscarriage of justice”.

On January 13, 2012, at about 11:45 pm, Mr. Tulawie was arrested at his rented house in Davao City by combined elements of Military Intelligence Group (MIG) from Region 9, members of Special Action Force (SAF) and members of Police Regional Intelligence Group from Region 11 based in Davao City. He was then taken to Talomo police station for police blotter and to Davao Regional Hospital for medical check-up, before being taken to Camp Catitipan, Davao City, at the office of the Intelligence division for proper documentation. He was subsequently brought to Davao City Police Office in Camp Domingo Leonor, Davao City.

On January 16, 2012, Mr. Tulawie was presented to the RTC of Davao City, where a letter from the Executive and Presiding Judge of Jolo, Sulu RTC Branch 3, to the Executive Judge of Davao City was read, ordering the transfer of Mr. Tulawie back to Jolo within 48 hours, in contravention to the Supreme Court Order dated June 13, 2011 and granting the motion he filed for transfer of venue to the RTC of Davao City.

On January 17, 2012 in the afternoon, Mr. Tulawie was flown to Zamboanga City and detained at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-Region 9. On the same day, the Office of the Court Administrator (Supreme Court) sent an order for immediate action stating that “said order of Judge Barraquias is contrary to the Resolution dated June 13, 2011 issued by the Third Division of the Supreme Court wherein the transfer of venue of Criminal Case Nos. (07-09) 1648-3 and (07-09) 1649-3, both involving Mr. Tulawie, was decreed to be held at the Regional Trial Court of Davao City. Likewise, be advised that the Motion for Reconsideration of the above Resolution had already been acted upon and this has apparently been denied. Thus, with more reason that Judge Barraquias has no authority to issue his supposed order. As such, you are hereby directed to inform the police or jail custodians of Mr. Tulawie that any order contrary to the Resolution dated 13 June 2011 of the Third Division of the Supreme Court cannot be implemented”.

In August 2012, the case was ordered for transfer from Davao to Manila, Branch 19, upon the motion of Governor Tan. Mr. Tulawie appealed against the transfer of case and incarceration in Manila because of alleged plot of assassination if he is transferred to Manila. Yet the appeal was denied by the Supreme Court.

Actions requested:

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

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Temogen Sahipa "Cocoy" Tulawie as well as of all human rights defenders in The Philippines;

ii. Release Mr. Temogen Sahipa "Cocoy" Tulawie immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it seems to only aim at sanctioning his human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Temogen Sahipa "Cocoy" Tulawie as well as against all human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their work without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:
- 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”,
- Article 6.a, which states that "everyone has the right individually and in association with others to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems",
- Article 12.1, which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”,
- 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. 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:

• H.E. Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines, New Executive Building, Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila 1005, Philippines. Fax: +63 2 736 1010
 / +63 2 742-1641 / 929-3968 Email: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph / op@president.gov.ph
• Hon. Leila M. De Lima, Secretary, Department of Justice (DOJ), Padre Faura Street Ermita, Manila, 1000 Philippines Fax: +63 2 523 9548
 / +63 2 521-1614 Email: lmdelima@doj.gov.ph / doj.delima@gmail.com / soj@doj.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 Email: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com
• Police Director Alan Purisima, Chief, Philippine National Police, Camp General Rafael Crame, Quezon City, Philippines. Fax: +63 2 724 8763 / +63 2 723 0401. Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph
• Lt. General Emmanuel Bautista, Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), AFP-GHQ office, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Philippines. Fax: +63 2 9116436
• Hon. Emilio Gonzalez, Deputy Ombusdman, Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and other Law Enforcement Offices, 3rd Flr., Ombudsman Bldg., Agham Road, Diliman, 1004 Quezon City Philippines. Fax: +63 2 926 8747
• Hon. Manuel Roxas, II, Secretary, Department of Interior & Local Government (DILG) A. Francisco Gold Condominium II, Edsa corner, Mapagmahal St., Diliman, Quezon City. Email: mar@marroxas.com; marroxas@dilg.gov.ph. Fax: + 63 2 925 0332
• J/C SUPT Diony Dacanay Mamaril, Cese, Officer-in-Charge, Bureau of Jail management and Penology, 144 Mindanao Avenue, Project 8, Quezon City, Philippines 1106, Email: mailto:itu@bjmp.gov.ph
• H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, 47 Avenue Blanc, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32, Email: geneva.pm@dfa.gov.ph
• Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, 297 Avenue Moliere, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 345 64 25.

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of The Philippines in your respective country.

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