From the Business World (Jul 14): Government workers seek Supreme Court protection from state agents’ harassment
THE Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) has asked the Supreme Court to issue a protection order from the harassment of state agents, who accuse them of alleged ties with the Communist Party of the Philippines.
In a 41-page petition, the government workers’ union sought a writ of amparo to protect their life, liberty, and security from harassment and threats by the state.
The 22 union leaders also asked for a writ of habeas data that would order the government, police, and the military to disclose and destroy information it was able to gather.
The petition said the union leaders were subjected to threats and harassment from people who identified themselves as policemen or soldiers, being accused of ties with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.
“In many instances, the Petitioners were told that their activities are anti-government and illegal and that they should cooperate with the military,” the petition read. “The message is rather clear: the Petitioners are being harassed and threatened because of their political affiliations and/or their organizational work.”
As to their request for the writ of habeas data, the petition argued that the threats, intimidation and constant surveillance clearly indicate that the government possesses information it has “unlawfully compiled and are using as basis in the cited spate of attacks.”
In an interview with reporters, COURAGE National President Ferdinand R. Gaite said that at least one of their members, Carlo “Caloy” Rodriguez, president of the Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Manggagawa ng Calamba Water District, was killed under the administration of President Benigno S.C. Aquino III.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers noted in a statement that the petitioners’ accounts show “the grisly pattern bearing the hallmarks of military and police intelligence operations conducted to stifle dissent.”
“Some of them were personally approached by people introducing themselves as soldiers who offered them ’help’ in light of an ambiguous threat to their lives,” NUPL said.
Named as respondents were President Benigno S.C. Aquino III, Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Hernando Delfin Carmelo A. Iriberri, AFP Chief of the Intelligence Service Arnold M. Quiapo, recently-retired Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Leonardo A. Espina, National Capital Region Police Office Regional Director Carmelo E. Valmoria, Manila Police District Acting Director Rolando Z. Nana, Manila Police Station 8 Commander Nicolas S. Piñon, and Manila Police Station 8 Intelligence Section Chief Alfredo F. Agbuya.
Rodriguez’s death in 2010 was only one of the 238 extrajudicial killings recorded by human rights group Karapatan under the Aquino administration.
“The challenge now is to continue expand the discussion on the realities of conflict and broaden the options for peace,” she said duringthe Awarding Ceremony of the EU Peace Journalism Awards held at Intercontinental Hotel in Manila on July 8, 2015.
She lauded members of the media who won in the awards in different categories. “Tonight, we will give due recognition to and celebrate people whom we consider as ‘craftsmen/craftswomen of peace’ who, with their hands, hearts and minds, brought out stories that contributed to the triumphs of peace,” Deles quoted in an article posted at the OPAPP website.
“I extend my congratulations and appreciation to the European Union Delegation in the Philippines and its partner organisations for affirming their long-standing commitment to the Philippine peace process by seeking to inspire Filipino journalists to be a positive force in conflict transformation—through their fairness, impartiality, and reliability, bolstered by their commitment to conflict sensitivity and peace promotion in their stories,” she said.
“We used to note what happened with the Al-Barka incident in 2011 as an example of the extent of the influence the media hold in terms of shaping mindsets and forming public opinion. This year, that example faded into the background, overtaken by what happened with the Mamasapano tragedy in January, 2015.”
Deles said, “The situation we faced with the Mamasapano clash was a number of times worse than the Al-Barka incident, and the role of media, as recorded and reviewed, was also stronger in its intensity and frequency.”
“The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), in its comprehensive review and assessment of the media coverage of the Mamasapano incident, concluded that (I quote) ‘Misinformation and even disinformation, sensationalism, as well as lack of context characterized the coverage,’ inflaming an already volatile situation that it, in fact, helped create.
“Until today, there are many who continue to think that the ongoing peace process is at fault, turning it into a culprit that brought harm to the people it sought to protect. The incident opened a Pandora’s Box filled with deeply-held prejudice and antagonism against our Moro brothers and sisters,” Deles added.
The secretary said, “Peace cannot thrive without the support of the people. And so we appeal that you, our friends from the media, to share our vision—for what we hope for transcends the now and aspires to offer a life free from harm, from fear, from prejudice for future generations.”