Anonymous Leaks Most Comprehensive List of Gazan Civilian Deaths

Israel is continuing to attack Gaza on all fronts with heavy air and drone attacks.

After the takedown of hundreds of Israeli websites, the Anonymous hackers now have leaked the most comprehensive list of Gazan civilian deaths together with a short explanation of the circumstances in which they were killed:

Because the victims — Palestinian victims — NOT just numbers, Anonymous 10488017_265888306943136_135366395889831965_ncompiled the names and ages of 174 people murdered during the 8-day Israeli attack on Gaza, November (14-21) and the circumstances in which they were killed. Their blood won’t go in vain. The murder of those innocents has just made us more determined and more willing to pay any price for our freedom from this inhumane Israeli occupation. Israel must be held accountable for their crimes against humanity sooner or later. RIP

1- Ahmad Al-Ja’bary, 52 years old.
2-Mohammed Al-Hams, 28 years old.
3- Rinan Arafat, 7 years old.
4- Omar Al-Mashharawi, 11 moonths old.
5-Essam Abu-Alma’za, 20 years old.
6-Mohammed Al-qaseer, 20 years old.
7- Heba Al-Mashharawi, six-month pregnant, 19 years old.
8- Mahmoud Abu Sawawin, 65 years old.
9- Habis Hassan Mismih, 29 years old.
10- Wael Haidar Al-Ghalban, 31 years old.
11- Hehsam Mohammed Al-Ghalban, 31 years old.
12- Rani Hammad, 29 years old.
13- Khaled Abi Nasser, 27 year old.
14- Marwan Abu Al-Qumsan, 52 years old.
15- Walid Al-Abalda, 2 years old.
16- Hanin Tafesh, 10 months old.
17- Oday Jammal Nasser, 16 years old.
18- Fares Al-Basyouni, 11 years old.
19- Mohammed Sa’d Allah, 4 years old.
20- Ayman Abu Warda, 22 years old.
21- Tahrir Suliman, 20 years old.
22- Ismael Qandil, 24 years old.
23- Younis Kamal Tafesh, 55 years old.
24- Mohammed Talal Suliman, 28 years old.
25- Amjad Mohammed Abu-Jalal, 32 years old.

26- Ayman Mohammed Abu Jalal, 44 years old.
27- Ziyad Farhan Abu-Jalal, 23 years old.
28- Hassan Salem Al-Heemla’, 27 years old.
29- Khaled Khalil Al-Shaer, 24 years old.
30- Ayman Rafeeq sleem, 26 years old.
31- Ahmad Ismael Abu Musamih, 32 years old.

At 8:20 am, as a result to an Israeli inhumane attack on Deel Al-Balah, central Gaza, three people were killed. The list of murdered victims goes longer>>>

32- Osama Musa Abdeljawad, 27 years old.
33- Ashraf Hassan Darwish, 22 years old.
34- Ali Abdul HakimAl-Mana’ma, 20 years old

At 8:45 am_ 9:00 am, warplanes attacked several places including Rafah, Khan-Younis, and Tal Al-Sultan, southern Gaza, leaving three killed>>

35`- Mukhlis Edwan, 30 years old.
36- Mohammed Al-Loulhy, 24 years old.
37- Ahmad Al-Atrush, 22 years old.

In a series of attacks on several places on central Gaza at noon, two more people fell victim:

38- Abderrahman Al-Masri, 31 years old.
39- Awad Hamdi Al-Nahhal, 23 years old.
40- Ali Hassan Iseed, 25 years old, killed in an attack on his motorbike in Deer Al-Balah, central Gaza, at 8:10 pm, Novebmer 17.

IOF attack another motorbike in Deer Al-Balah at 8:20 pm, leaving two more killed:

41- Mohammed Sabry Al’weedat, 25 years old.
42- Osama Yousif Al-Qadi, 26 years old.

In an attack on central Gaza, to the west of Al-Masdar area, at 9:10 pm, two more people people killed:

43- Ahmad Ben Saeed, 42 years old.
44- Hani Bre’m, 31 years old.

At 9:40 pm, Israel attacked Qdeih family’s house in west Khan-Younis, Southern Gaza and a woman got killed.

45- Samaher Qdeih, 28 years old.
46- Tamer Al-Hamry, 26 years old, died after being seriously injured in an attack on Deer Al-Balah.

On November 18, the fifth day of the Israeli ongoing aggression on Gaza:

Israeli warplanes shelled the house of Abu-Alfoul family in northern Gaza, killing two children and injuring at 13 at least, mostly children and women.

47- Gumana Salamah Abu Sufyan, 1 year old.
48- Tamer Salamah Abu Sufyan, 3 years old.

An Israeli warplanes fired missiles at a house that belongs to the family of Abu Nuqira in Rafah killing one person:

49- Muhamed Abu Nuqira

An Israeli war plane fired a missile at a house in an agricultural land east of Bureij camp, in the Central Gaza Strip, killing one child and injuring 2 other children:

50- Eyad Abu Khusa, 18 months old.
Two people were killed, one of them a child, when an Israeli missile hit a beachfront refugee camp in Gaza City: 51- Tasneem Zuheir Al-Nahhal, 13 years old.
52- Ahmad Essam Al-Nahhal, 25 years old.

Medics also reported finding the body of woman under the rubble of a house in eastern Gaza City who had been killed in a strike earlier in the morning.

53- Nawal Abdelaal, 52 years old.

At 3:10 pm, November 18, Israel rocked a house belongs to Al-Dalou family in Sheikh-Redwan area, west Gaza, killing at least 10 people, including 4 women and 4 children.

54- Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, the father.
55- Ranin Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 5 years old.
56- Jamal Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 7 year old.
57- Yousef Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 10 years old.
58- Ibrahim Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 1 year old.
59- Jamal Al-Dalou, the grandfather.
60- Sulafa Al Dalou, 46 years old
61- Samah Al-Dalou, 25 years old
62- Tahani Al-Dalou, 50 years old
63- Ameina Matar Al-Mzanner, 83 years old.
64- Abdallah Mohammed Al-Mzanner, 23 years old.
Soon after Al-Dalou massacre, 2 more were killed, a father and his son, in an attack on a car for water supply in northern Gaza.
65- Suheil Hamada, 53 years old.
66-Mo’men Suheil Hamada, 13 years old.

In an airstrike that targeted Nussairat camp after that two people were murdered and 10 at least got injured

67- Atiyya Mubarak, 55 years old.
68- Hussam Abu Shaweish, 35 years old.
69- Samy Al-Ghfeir, 22 years old, killed in an attack on Shijaiyya area, west Gaza.
70- Mohammed Bakr Al-Of, 24 years old, killed in an attack on Al-Yarmouk st. in Gaza city.

At 8:00 pm, November 18, the ministry of health in Gaza has reported that Israel has risen the death toll in Gaza to 69, including 20 children, 8 women, and 9 elderly people. Moreover, Over 660 person got injured since Wednesday, including 224 children, 113 women, and 50 elderly people. At 10:00 pm, November 18, an Israeli warplane attacked a motorbike near the ministry of finance roundabout, west Gaza, killing a father and his son:

71- Ahmad Abu Amra, 42 years old.
72- Nabil Ahmad Abu Amra, 20 years old.
At 10:10 pm, November 18, an Israeli warplane rocked a house belong to Nasser family near Abu-Sharekh crossroad in northern Gaza, killing a child and his father. 73- Hussein Jalal Nasser, 8 years old.
74- Jalal Nasser, 35 years old.

On November 19, the sixth day of the Israeli ongoing aggression on Gaza:

At 12:10 am, an Israeli warplane attacked Mahmoud Al-Hashash house in Rafah killing one woman.

75- Sabha Al-Hashash, 60 years old.

At 1:00 am, an Israeli warplane rocked a car in Rafah killing two people:

76- Saif Al-Deen Sadeq, 27 years old.
77- Hussam Al-Zeiny, 30 years old.
78- Emad Abu Hamda, 30 years old, killed after being seriously injured in as a drone fired a rocket at Beach camp, west Gaza.
79- Mohammed Jindiyya, mentally disabled, killed in an attack on Helles roundabout in Shijaiyya, west Gaza.

At 4:10 am, Israel committed another atrocious crime shelling a house belong to Azzam family that is full of children. 3 people were killed in this attack and at least 40 injured. Medics said that more than 15 children have arrived Shifaa hospital, three of them are in a very critical condition.

80- Mohammed Iyad Abu Zour, 4 years old.
81- Nisma Abu Zour, 19 years old.
82-Sahar Abu Zour, 20 years old.
83- Ahed Al-Qattaty, 38 years old.
84- Al-Abd Mohammed Al-Attar, 51 years old, killed in an attack on Beit-Lahya, northern Gaza at 6:00 am.
85- Rama Al-Shandi, 1 YEAR OLD, killed as four F16s airstrikes hit former security compound Al-Saraya in Gaza City.

In an Israeli attack on Al-Qarara area to the south of the Gaza Strip, two farmers were killed at 8:50 am. In the same attack, a 4-year-old girl was seriously injured.

86. Ibrahim Suleiman al-Astal, 46 years old.
87. Omar Mahmoud Mohammed al-Astal, 14 years old.

As a warplane rocked a motorbike in Khan-Younis, southern the Gaza Strip, two people were killed:

88. Abdullah Harb Abu Khater, 21 years old. 89. Mahmoud Saeed Abu Khater, 34 years old.

An Apache warplane fired a rocket at a car in Al-Berka street in Deer Al-Balah, killing three people:

90. Rashid Alyan Abu Amra, 45 years old. 91. Amin Zuhdi Bashir, 40 years old. 92. Tamer Rushdi Bashir, 30 years old 93- Hussam Abdeljawad, 32 years old, killed as an F16 rocked his car in Saftawi street, northern Gaza, at 2:25 pm. 94- Ramadan Ahmad Mahmoud, 20 years old, died this morning after being seriously injured in an attack that hit Al-Maghazi camp, two days ago. 95- Mohammed Riyad Shamallakh, 23 years old, killed as IOF targeted a car in Tal Al-Hawa, southern Gaza city.

At around 4 am, two people were killed as an Israeli warplane fired a missile that hit Al-Nusseirat Camp, to the west of Gaza city.

96- A’ed Sabri Radi, 48 years old.
97- Ameen Ramadan Al-Malahi, 24 years old.

In an attack on Al-Shorouq building in Gaza City which contains several media offices, 2 were killed and 3 journalists were seriously injured.

98- Ramez Najib Harb, 29 years old.
99- Salem Boulis Sweilem, 53 years old.
100- Muhammed Ziyad Tbeil, 25 years old, killed in an attack than hit central Gaza.

At 6:55 pm, an Israeli warplane attacked Al-Bureij camp killing two people:

101- Arkan Harbi Abu Kmeil, 24 years old.
102- Ibrahim Mahmoud Al-Hawajri, 34 years old.

At around 8:00 pm, an Israeli warplane shelled Shhada family’s house in Nusairat camp killing two people from the same family– a child and an elderly.

103- Khalil Ibrahim Shhada, 53 years old.
104- Osama Walid Shhada, 17 years old.

At around 9:00 pm, Israel committed another massacre against Hjazi family killing a father and his two sons, and injuring at least 15, most of them are children and women.

106- Suhaib Fo’ad Hjazi, 2 years old.
107- Mohammed Fo’ad Hjazi, 4 years old.
108- Fo’ad khalil Hjazi, 46 years old.

On November 20, the seventh day of the Israeli ongoing aggression on Gaza:

At around midnight, an Apache rocked a house in Rafah that belongs to Nassarsa family, killing two siblings and injuring 10 others.

109- Mohammed Tawfeeq Al-Nassasra, 20 years old.
110- Ahmad Tawfeeq Al-Nassasra, 18 years old.
111- Yahya Akram Ma’roof, 38 years old, a farmer killed at 9:20 am as an Israeli warplane attacked agricultural lands in Al-Atatra area, northern Gaza. Four other farmers were injured in this attack.
In an Israeli attack on an agricultural land in Beit-Layha, northern Gaza, at 10:10 am, two people were killed: 112- Yahya Mohammed Awad, 15 years old.
113- Bilal Jihad Al-Barawi, 20 years old.

114- Mahmoud Rezq Salman Al-Zahhar, 30 years old, killed in an attack on Al-Mughraqa are in the middle of the Gaza strip. 115- Abderrahman Hamad Abu Hamza, 22 years old, killed at 12:10 pm in an Israeli attack on Mokhabarat buildings, west Gaza.
116- Mohammed Abed-Rabbo Yousef Bader, 24 years old, killed at 12:20 pm as IOF targeted Abu Tama’a family in Deer-AlBalah, in middle the Gaza Strip, at 12:20 pm.
117- Ahmad Khaled Doghmosh, died in Egypt after being transferred to a hospital in Egypt for being seriously injured in an airstrike that hit Tal Al-Hawa on November 18.

Within 1 hour and while negotiating the truce between Israel and Hamas, Israel committed another massacre killing at least 14 people.

At 4:20, an Israeli warplane rocked a car in Al-Sabra neighborhood, leaving four people from the same family killed and torn to pieces:

118- Ahmad Jameel Hamdan Doghmosh, 30 years old.
119- Sobhi Nemer Mohammed Doghmosh, 29 years old.
120- Salah Nemer Mohammed Doghmosh, 29 years old.
121- Musab Mahmoud Rushdi Doghmosh, 22 years old.
122- Ameen Mahmoud Asad Al-Dadda, 22 years old, killed in an Israeli attack on Baghdad street in Shijaeyya, west Gaza at 2:30 pm.

In an attack on Kishko street in Zaytoon street, two children were killed while playing football in front of their house:

123- Mohamoud Rezeq Ashoor, 54 years old.
124- Saqer Yousef Bulbul, 57 years old.
125- Ayman Rafiq Abu Rashid, 33 years old, killed in an Israeli attack on Jabalia camp, northern Gaza.In the same attack, a 5-year-old girl was seriously injured.

In another attack on Al-Shawwa family’s house in Shijaeyya, west Gaza, a young woman arrived at Shifa hospital as charred pieces. 20 people were injured in this attack at least, 3 cases are severe.

126- Yosra Basil Murtada Al-Shawwa, 18 years old.

At 5:55 pm, an Israeli warplane attacked a press car working for Al-Aqsa TV station in Nasser street in Gaza city killing two journalists. They were just holding their cameras, reporting on the ongoing attacks…

127- Mahmoud Ali Ahmad Al-Koomi, 19 years old.
128- Hussam Mohammed Abderrahman Salama, 30 years old.

At 6:10 pm, two more were killed in an attack on Beit-Hanoon, northern Gaza.

129- Mahmoud Mohammed Hussein Al-Zahry, 21 years old.
130- Tareq Azmy Mustafa Hjeila, 40 years old.

At 6:50 pm, an Israeli missile hit a car in Deer Al-Balah killing two people:

131- Mohammed Musa Abu Eisha, 24 years old, the manager of Al-Quds educational radio.
132- Hassan Yousef Al-Ostaz, 22 years old.

At 8:30, two brothers were killed in an Israeli attack that targeted a motorbike in Bilbeisy street in Rafah:

133- Ahmad Abed Abu Moor, 24 years old.
134- Khaled Abed Abu Moor, 19 years old.

At 9:00 am, two cousins were killed in an Israeli attack on Deer Al-Balah:

135- Mohammed Ahmad Abu Sitta, 21 years old.
136- Salem ‘Ayish Abu Sitta, 32 years old.
137- Shawqi Abu Sneima, 24 years old, killed as Israeli warplane targeted his motorbike in Rafah.

At 11:45 pm, two children were found as pieces in Al-Shouka area, western Rafah.

138- Ibrahim Ahmad Mahmoud Hamad, 16 years old.
139- Mahmoud Kahlil Al-Arja, 16 years old.

On November 21, the eighth day of the Israeli ongoing aggression on Gaza:

At 9:25 am: an Israeli warplane hit two places in Northern Gaza:

140- Fadi Mousa Al-Qatnani, killed in as attack on Beir Al-Na’ja area, northern Gaza.
141- Mustafa Awad Abu Hamidan, 23 years old, killed in an attack on Al-Shafi’y mosque compound in Jabalia, northern Gaza.

At 11:20 am, an Israeli warplane attacked a group of people in Khan-Younis, killing a child:

142- Ahmad Awad Abu’liyyan, 15 years old.
143- Fares Sbeita, 25 years old, died at noon after being seriously injured in an attack on Shijaeyya, west Gaza.

A young girl and her elderly father were killed at 1:30 pm in an Israeli attack on a group of civilians in Abasan area, west Khan-Younis.

144- Ameera Abu Nasser, 15 years old.
145- Ibrahim Abu Nasser, 80 years old.
146- Mohammed Adnan Al-Ashqar, 22 years old, killed in an attack on Al-Khuzundar gaz station in Al-Twam area, northern area, at 2:00 pm 147- Mahmoud Abu Khusa, 4 years old, killed in an attack on Al-Nafaq street in Gaza City.

At 2:40 pm, an Israeli missile hit a house belongs to Al-Assaly family killing a man and his son and daughter:

148- Talal Al-Assaly, 47 years old.
149- Ayman Talal Al-Assaly, 17 years old.
150- Abir Talal Al-Assaly, 10 years old.
151- Abderrahman Majdi Na’eem, 6 years old, killed in an Israeli attack on Ne’ma building in Gaza City. In the same attack, 3 children from Neim family also got injured.
152- Riham Al-Nabaheen, 13 years old, killed in an Israeli attack on house in Nussairat camp in the middle of the Gaza Strip
153- Mubarak Ibrahim Abu Ghalwa, 24 years old, killed in an attack on the middle of the Gaza Strip
154- Mohammed Mohammed Baker, 27 years old, died after being seriously injured in an attack on Al-Sabra neighborhood on Monday.
155- Ibrahim Mheisin Shhada, 20 years old, killed In an attack on Al-Na’ga street, to the west of Jabalia camp, northern Gaza.

In an attack on a house that belongs to Abu Kmeil family in Al-Mughraqa area in the middle of the Gaza Strip, 5 people were killed:

156- Ramy Abed-Rabbo Abeid, 30 years old.
157- Mohammed Salama Abu Eteiwy, 33 years old.
158- Nidal Hassan Abu Riyad
159- Sa’dy Mohammed Abu Kmeil, 26 years old.
160- Ahmad Abu Kmeil

As negotiations about ceasefire is going, more bombs fall over several places in the Gaza Strip killing a child and injuring at least 7 people.

161- Nader Yousef Abu Mghaseeb, 14 years old.
162- Abderrahman Amer Ayish, 32 years old, killed in an Israeli attack on Sheikh-Redwan bridge in Gaza City at 8:50 pm.
163- Mohammed Abu Edwan, 18 years old, killed in an attack on Raffah.
164- Odeh Arafat Al-Shandi, 17 years old.

A man and his daughter from Al-Dalou family were found buried beneath the rubble on Thursday, November 22, after three days of their death. Israel committed a massacre against Al-Dalou family on Monday. The paramedics managed to pull out ten dead bodies in that attack (Check the list from 54 to 64) The death toll in this single massacre rises to 12 people.

165- Mohammed Al-Dalou, 35 years old.
166- Yara Mohammed Al-Dalou, 15 years old.
On Friday, November 23, 3 people died due to their wounds sustained during the 8-day attack on Gaza: 167- Ahmad Samih Ja’roor, 24 years old.
168- Zaki Saeed Qadadah, 42 years old.
169- Jouda Sulaiman Amran Shamallakh, 30 years old.
170- Ramadan Abu Hasanein, succumbed to serious wounds suffered during the 8-day Israeli aggression on the Strip and died at dawn Saturday, November 24 .

Other people killed during the attacks on Gaza.

171- Kamal Mohammed Morad Miqtat, 23 years old, suffered a heart attack that killed him on November 18 due to the Israeli bombings.
172- Ahmad Sulaiman Abu Nqeira, 61 years old killed in an Israeli attack that targeted his house in Rafah or November 18.
After the truce was endorsed at 9:00 pm on late Wednesday, December 21, Israel has violated the truce continuously. 173- Anwar Abdelhadi Qdeih, 21 years old, killed as the Israeli Occupation Forces started shooting at the farmers in the southern Gaza village of Khuzaa, close to the buffer-Zone. In the same attack, 19 other Palestinian were injured.
174- Mahmoud Jaroun, 21 years old, died late Friday, December 23, of wounds he sustained hours earlier by Israeli gunfire east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

On November 29, the Israeli navy has also detained dozens of Gaza fishermen, although Israel agreed to allow Gaza fishermen to go six nautical miles off the coast instead of three.


On Kimiko’s Sixth Birthday: A Plea for the Release of Her Daddy, Political Prisoner Scientist Kim A. Gargar


kwentoIt’s Kimiko Gabrielle Silverio-Gargar’s sixth birthday today! She’s serving donuts and cake to her classmates and friends, and she will be opening presents (one of them is a pink tutu, and no – she doesn’t study ballet because she wants to learn karate, but she wants to look like a princess while doing it, go figure).
Kimiko is six, and she will not be seeing her daddy for her birthday. Her daddy, political prisoner since October 2, 2013 Kim Ajeas Gargar, left for Mindanao is June last year to do research on the behalf of the Center for Environmental Concerns (CeC). Before he left, he promised Miko that he will return by Christmas and they will go to the playground, watch cartoon movies on his laptop and do fingerpainting and crafts.
Miko waited for her daddy. Waited, and waited, until it became necessary for her to ask me where he was. I wasn’t able to answer her truthfully – I didn’t know how, and I still don’t – but I told her and continuously tell her that her daddy loves her very, very much and misses her like anything. Not wanting to lie to her, I told her that Daddy was far away (he was in Baganga provincial jail in Davao Oriental), and plane tickets were expensive (they are).
I didn’t tell her anything more specific than that, but Miko thinks that her Daddy is back in Holland. Not surprising given that the first four years of Miko’s life, her daddy was in Holland taking his Phd degree in chronobiology in the University of Groningen. When Kim returned in January 2013, he reunited with his daughter and it was such a happy thing to see, the two of them playing together like they were the same age, and I could see sometimes in Kim’s sad expression that he remembered how he had been away for so long, missing so many of Miko’s milestones.
But anyway.
I keep thinking how I’m going to write an essay that explains why Kim should be immediately released from prison, but it’s hard for me to wax eloquent about something so plain and obvious: I can only state the facts as they really are. There is no reason to embellish the truth, and there is no need to dramatize the situation. The case is this: Kim is innocent of all the charges levelled against him by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and he was arrested on false grounds. He continues to be detained on the same, and each second that he remains incarcerated is a vicious violation against his civil, political and human rights.
Kim grew up poor, and he is used to hardship. It was primarily natural-born intelligence and an inherent will to excel that enabled him to reap awards and honors all throughout his academic career. He graduated magna cum laude with a degree in physics from Mindanao State University (MSU)-Iligan Institute of Technology. He passed the UPCAT and qualified as a university scholar, but being severely short of funds, he opted to go to MSU-IIT which has a science program that is more than equal to that of UP. He has taught in different universities – UP Diliman, the Mindanao University of Science and Technology, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and the Mapua Institute of Technology. He has a masters in physics from UP, and in 2009, he was offered a doctorate scholarship in Holland. In Groningen, all his colleagues and research supervisor have nothing but praises for his intellect and his skills.
I am getting tired of writing this because it’s like writing “the sky is blue” or “water is wet”, but as I have written in previous statements – Kim is an academic, a researcher, a scientist and an environmental activist. He is not a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and he has never been a member of the NPA.
I could go on and on about how Kim’s continuing detention is a great blow against the academic and research community (not to mention to the human rights community: according to Karapatan, there are currently 483 political prisoners in the country and the number continues to increase. Pres. BS Aquino is definitely not a human rights advocate); but what I mostly care about is how Kim’s detention is affecting his daughter.
Miko takes after her daddy in so many ways (the way she likes to reason out; the way she explains things; and finally, the way she is intellectually gifted), and she misses her father more and more as she gets older. Because she grew up with her father being away, she is used to not having him always around. She is used to being surrounded by women (mother, aunt, grandmother), but she nonetheless wonders why her father did not make good on his promise to be home by Christmas 2013, and now he won’t be there for her as she blows out the candle on her 6th birthday cake.
To Department of Justice secretary Juliet de Lima, please order the release of Kim A. Gargar now. The Philippine government has no right to imprison him because he is an innocent civilian and the AFP arrested him on malicious and politically-motivated grounds. There is not an iota of truth in the allegations of the AFP that Kim is an NPA, that he was working on behalf of the NPA, and that he had weapons and ammunition when he was arrested. Please review his case now and I am certain that you in your legal wisdom and common sense will see how full of holes the allegations of the military against Kim are. Please release Kim A. Gargar and let him return to his daughter Kimiko. Kimiko is always waiting for her father to return. Please don’t let her experience another Christmas without her father – he’s already missed her birthday.

Release Scientist Kim Gargar Now

IMG_20150617_221038The family of detained scientist and academic Kim Gargar expressed full support for today’s protest action led by his supporters in the human rights and science communities in front of the Department of Justice, Padre Faura, Manila.  They said that the DOJ should take immediate action on Kim’s case and dismiss all the charges against him.

“All the charges against him are ridiculous. He has never been a member of the New People’s Army (NPA); he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who found him wounded from a bad fall  took advantage of the situation. They arrested Kim, an innocent civilian, just so it will look like they’ve been doing their job of going after insurgents,” said Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Kim’s former wife. She and Kim remain on good speaking terms after their separation in 2011. From 2009 to 2013, Kim lived in Groningen, the Netherlands pursuing his doctoral degree in chronobiology at the University of Groningen.

“Kim has been in prison since October, and that’s eight months too long. He should never have been arrested because he is not and never has been an NPA. The local court handling his case and the DOJ should stop the continuing series of serious violations against his civil, political and human rights and set him free. Kim’s imprisonment is a great disservice against the science community which he serves, as well as to all researchers and academics who want to use their skills and sharp intelligence to help this country. He was in Mindanao to do research and that is all. The military has sorely failed to substantiate their infamous lies about Kim, and the least that can be done now is to throw out all charges against Kim and release him,” she said.

Silverio said that her and Kim’s daughter has long been asking after her father. “She is turning six next month, and she wants to know whether her daddy will be there for the party. She makes pictures and drawings for him on a regular basis, and she badly wants to show them to her father. Kim doesn’t want her to know what has happened because he’s afraid what the effect might be on her. I, for one, want to begin explaining because he is, after all, innocent, and if there’s anyone to blame for this, it’s the government. Kimiko will know soon enough why she is being denied her father, and why so many other children do not see their own mothers and fathers who are also political detainees. The number of political prisoners in the Philippines continues to grow, and this is a terrible indication of the human rights situation in the country,” she said.

To help raise funds for Kim’s campaign for release and for his legal and personal needs in prison, Silverio said that she is putting together a children’s book explaining how Kim became a scientist and teacher. She said that she and Kim are writing it together “via long distance”.  “It will also be our way to explain to Kimiko what her father stands for and what his work entails. It will also be a tribute to other Filipino scientists who continue to stay in the country and work for nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented education,” she said.

Roses for Diona Andrea Rosal (Published in the Philippines Graphic Magazine June 2, 2014)

Roses for Diona Andrea Rosal
I have never met Andrea Rosal and I do not know her personally. I do, however, know of her, and who her father is. Andrea Rosal is the daughter of Ka Roger Rosal, the former spokesman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Ka Roger died in 2011, and his loss was mourned by many even outside the revolutionary movement.
In the last two months have grown to know moIMG_20150519_213211re about Andrea, and what I learned about her and her circumstances have added to the already lengthy list of reason why I do not believe this government when it says that it stands for human rights in the Philippines. I also know that in the last two days, she has lost all fear, and that from now on she can only be strong because someone most precious to her was taken away forever.
In March 27 earlier this year, Andrea, 28, was arrested by Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) and the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Organized Crime Division (NBI-AOCD) as she was on her way to Caloocan for a pre-natal check-up. She was seven months pregnant at the time. She and her companion Edward Lazanas are peasant organizers in Laguna under the Pagkakaisa at Ugnayan ng mga Magsasaka sa Laguna (Unity of Peasants in Laguna, PUMALAG). Andrea was arrested on charges of murder, and kidnapping with murder. Lanzanas, on the other hand, was arrested without a warrant and is still under detention without any valid charges.
According to the spokesperson of the Free Andrea Rosal Movement Pastor Gil Sediarin, during her whole day interrogation at the NBI upon her arrest, Andrea was repeatedly asked about her relationship with the late CPP spokesperson Roger Rosal and if Ka Roger was her father. The NBI authorities also sought to pressure Edward to admit that he was an NPA member.
“Andrea told us that the interrogators threatened to peel Edward’s sole and make him walk on salt if he does not admit that he was an NPA,” he said. “These are outright violations of international humanitarian law,” he said.

Basis of Arrest
Why was she arrested? The spokesman of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said that Andrea was “a ranking official of the CPP-New People’s Army (NPA) in the Southern Tagalog Region. Andrea had been charged with attempted homicide at the Luisiana-Cavinti court in Laguna in connection with an alleged ambush staged several years ago.
That the military would accuse her of being a member of the NPA is not surprising. According to human rights group Karapatan, in its failure to defeat the NPA, the AFP has made it a habit to accuse otherwise innocent civilians of being sympathizers or members. Still, it is a cause of outrage for human rights advocates that Andrea’s arrest was based on a report founded on second-hand, unsubstantiated and unverified information that Andrea was seen in a supposed NPA training camp. Now she stands accused of murder and kidnapping. She is the same Andrea who was kidnapped 25 years ago by elements of the Southern Luzon Command and received no justice for it. In 1989, then five-year old Andrea was forcibly taken by soldiers from her grandmother with whom she grew up in Ragay, Camarines Sur.
It’s painful to imagine how Andrea suffered the last two months. Any woman who has been pregnant will testify that pregnancy is not easy. The body changes, and with it one’s state of mind and feeling. One is often in a state of discomfort; and even when one deeply loves the unborn child growing inside one’s body, it cannot be denied that one does not love the aches and pains, the swollen feet and ankles, the oddness of appetite, the mood swings and the fear of something bad happening to the baby. In Andrea’s case, I am certain she cared nothing for herself, but greatly feared for nothing but her child.
Andrea was pregnant when she was arrested, and her captors showed little or no respect for the fact and that by all intents and purposes, she was a political prisoner. They took her to the Camp Bagong Diwa prison. Her supporters say that the authorities threw her in a dirty 5 x 10 meters small jail cell with 30 other ordinary inmates, and let her sleep on the cold floor. There was no clean water, no immediate access to medical care, and the heat was unbearable. The petition of her supporters that an electric fan be brought in for us was reportedly denied by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
The AFP has insisted in subsequent reports that they did all it could to take of Andrea and her unborn child. On the other hand, the only doctor who examined her was from the Health Action for Human Rights (HAHR) Dr. Geneve Rivera-Reyes who said that from Andrea’s pregnancy was put at risk by her arrest. Reyes said that it was also Andrea’s family who paid for all the laboratory tests, not the BJMP or the Aquino government.
In an interview, Reyes said that when Andrea was first detained on March 27 at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), she already complained of stomach cramps, but the NBI nurse just made her fill out a form.
“On her third day of detention, the obstetrician whom the HAHR sought help from on Andrea’s behalf requested to see Andrea was able to access Andrea and examine her only after many circuitous and frustrating arguments with the NBI guards and officials. Only after the HAHR doctor insisted that Andrea be brought to a hospital because of premature contractions did the NBI bring her to Medical Center Manila for an ultrasound. Andrea’s Aunt Fely paid for the ultrasound; she gave P10,000 for the procedure, but the guards did not return the change,” Reyes said.
In Camp Bagong Diwa, while waiting for the court order for her hospitalization, Reyes said that gave Andrea a prenatal checkup, but it was not a thorough one as there was no space in the prison. “I was able to examine Andrea only in the hallway or in the guard’s office, where Andrea had to only lie on the office floor so she can be examined. The BJMP offficials and employees were walking all around us,” she said.
Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said that since her arrest, Andrea was forced to stop taking her supplements and had to make do with prison food rations, which is usually just rice and a meagre amount of fish or boiled vegetables. “She was allergic to fish, but she was not allowed to cook her own food. She had to sleep on the floor because the sleeping cot assigned to her was on the third deck. Her request for an electric fan of her own was refused by jail authorities who said that there was a limit on the allowable number of fans in each cell,” she said.
The doctor Reyes insisted that contrary to assertions of officials of the BJMP like Inspector Alex Villaester and BJMP spokesman Roy Valenzuela, not a single official of the BJMP expressed concern that Andrea was pregnant. Had it not for the stringent campaigning of HAHR and the human rights groups, Reyes said, Andrea would not have been allowed to go to the Philippine General Hospital to give birth. And when she was finally transferred from Camp Bagong Diwa to the PGH on May 16, she was already suffering painful contractions. She went through eight long hours of labor and a few hours after dawn, her baby was born.

IMG_20150520_090750A Mother for Two Days
The baby, Diona Andrea, looked glorious and her heartbeat was strong, but she entered the world without breathing. She immediately needed an artificial respirator. She represented so much to her mother and to those who supported her plea for freedom, but Diona Andrea was not strong enough. What her mother went through in the last two months of her incarceration she was unable to overcome. On May 18 at around 5:00 pm, Baby Diona expired due to pulmonary hypertension secondary to neonatal pneumonia and hypoxic encephalopathy. She died from hypoxemia, or oxygen deficiency in the blood.
There are no words. Imagine Andrea being told that the baby she carried for nine months has died, and she was never even able to touch or hold her. Imagine Andrea in her grief perhaps thinking that it was all her fault that her daughter died, when all along it was human monsters that killed Diona Andrea when they threw her mother in prison.
What is clear through all this is that Andrea did not receive adequate medical attention considering the advanced state of her pregnancy.
According to the women’s group Gabriela, how Andrea was treated constituted violations of international humanitarian laws on the treatment of pregnant women prisoners of war. The group’s secretary general Joms Salvador explained that the Geneva Convention and its protocols specifically take into consideration the conditions of pregnant women and provides for the accommodation of their needs during detention. “Pregnant prisoners of war have the right to prenatal and postnatal care. International standards recognize that the ill-treatment of pregnant women in detention increases the risks of miscarriage or permanent injury towards the mother as well as the unborn child’, she said.
The women’s group, human rights and church-led organizations held an indignation rally in front of the Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City to denounce what they said that was the government callousness and betrayal of human rights. A day after baby Diona’s death, they arranged all the baby clothes, diapers, and toys they had solicited from various supporters in front of the Camp Aguinaldo gate.
“We were as eager as Andrea to see the baby; we were looking forward to watching her grow because she was a symbol of new life and freedom given what her mother suffered while she carried her. Because of
Baby Diona Andrea’s wake was held at the cathedral of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. What added further injury to an already appalling, galling series of injuries, the Taguig RTC Branch 266 resolved that “in the interest of compassionate justice”. Andrea was allowed to attend the wake of her baby for three hours from 2-5pm on May 21. She was not allowed to attend the burial of her daughter on May 22, 2014.
Relatives, friends and various supporters buried Diona Andrea in Ibaan Batangas on a cloudy, muted morning.
IMG_20150519_213029Legal Battle
Andrea continues to be denied her freedom. She stands accused of crimes that she insists she is innocent of. Still she is, after all her, father and mother’s daughter, and it is certain that she has reserves of strength that the AFP will never be able to extinguish, and she will survive this ordeal. Her own mother Rosemarie Dumanais was killed in February 2011 in Quezon in an armed encounter between soldiers and the NPA.
Andrea’s petition for the dismissal of the case is scheduled to be heard on Sep. 2, 2014. Her lawyers filed a petition for the dismissal of the case on grounds that she was mentioned in the witnesses’ sworn statement only once. According to Andrea’s legal counsels from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) led by Atty. Edre U. Olalia, Erwin Rosales, one of the witnesses, stated that he trained with Andrea and other members of the NPA. Olalia said that Rosales did not mention Andrea’s name in his sworn statement when he listed the names and aliases of those involved in the kidnapping and murder case, which allegedly happened on May 27, 2007.
According to Olalia, Andrea was arrested based on a warrant of arrest that the judge issued relying on a faulty affidavit that she was seen at an NPA camp by the witness Rosales. “Walang ebidensya na kumukonekta sa kanya sa mga krimeng ipinapataw sa kanya. But guilty or innocent, the government has a responsibility to treat prisoners especially those who are not even convicted, humanely. Given her condition authorities -from the judge, to the prosecution to the BJMP officials – should have ensured that Andrea Rosal was given proper medical attention as a first-time mother whose doctor had already warned that she could be having a high-risk pregnancy,” the human rights lawyer explained.
Olalia explained that the charges of the AFP against Andrea are baseless and the evidence against her are fabricated.
“The only basis/evidence for the indictment of Rosal and her co-accused are the sworn statements of a certain Erwin Rosales, alleged former NPA who claimed to have witnessed the incident; and Marissa Eclavea, widow of one of the alleged victims. In his statement, Rosales merely described and identified the individuals who allegedly ordered and those who carried out the abduction/killing. He never mentioned Andrea Rosal among those he described and identified. This indicates that Rosal was falsely implicated in the said criminal cases, thus her arrest and continued detention is illegal,” Olalia said.
The human rights lawyer also argued that the State forces’ use of “witnesses-for-hire” like Rosales is “very malicious”.
“Aside from his original sworn statement, Erwin Rosales executed and signed three more sworn statements that implicated other individuals in the case and were used as basis of their arrest. Among them was Rolly Mira Panesa, a security guard whom he falsely identified as “Benjamin Mendoza” an alleged high ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Rolly Mira Panesa was released by virtue of a Writ of Habeas Corpus issued by the Court of Appeals, where it was ascertained that he is not Benjamin Mendoza, contrary to Rosales’s assertion,” Olalia said.
Andrea has a long and difficult struggle ahead of her as a citizen of a country wherein social justice is but a phrase that means very little to those in power. As a political detainee, she now suffers being directly denied her right to be free, even if only to put roses on the grave of her beloved daughter.

Uphold the truth, respect the law and free scientist Kim Gargar

FishieLast October 1, members of the 67th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) arrested my husband Kim Ajeas Gargar in Mati, Davao del Sur. At the time of his arrest, Kim was in the third month of his research on the impact of Typhoon Pablo on the diversity in Mindanao. On October 24, the will arraign Kim on the preposterous charges of two counts of attempted murder, illegal possession of firearms and violation of the gun ban implemented as part of the impending baranggay elections.
I have spent the more than a decade of my life as a human rights advocate, writing about the civil, political and human rights of workers, urban poor and other marginalized sectors of Philippine society. As a writer and an alternative journalist, I have documented and written reports of many events and issues that prove the wretchedness and depravity of the political and economic system that controls this country. I have already written profiles and stories of ordinary working class Filipinos who struggle against all odds to assert their rights and defend their dignity against the inhumanity of anti-people and anti-poor policies and actions of state institutions and agencies.
Never for the life of me did I ever think that I would one day write about my own husband being accused of common crimes by the military.
IDBy all accounts, Kim is a civilian. He is an academic, a researcher and a scientist. From first grade to the time he graduated magna cum laude in physics, he has done nothing but excel in academic pursuits. He could have focused his energies on getting rich, but instead he chose to be a scientist with a social conscience; instead of working for some transnational company, he chose to teach. Instead of staying in the Netherlands where he was a scholar from January 2009 to December 2012, he decided to return to the Philippines and work for the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC), a non-governmental organization that champions the cause of a sustainable environment for the Filipino people. Kim’s work in Mindanao was made possible through the coordination between the CEC and its affiliate PANALIPDAN-Southern Mindanao. Kim’s expertise on research and science was expected to make the project research successful and useful as it will help in plans and efforts to rehabilitate of communities devastated by Typhoon Pablo.
I wish I could say that I am surprised that the AFP arrested him when they found him hurt at the bottom of a waterfall that fateful morning on October 1. When he heard gunfire sometime around 2am that morning, Kim hurriedly left the hut where he had been staying on his own as he did his research on nocturnal life in the forest. It was pitch dark and he could barely see the front of his hand when he waved it in front of his eyes. Of course he was afraid, of course he panicked. Disoriented, he made a wrong turn and fell 20 feet, hurting his leg and cutting his forehead on large rocks and stones at the bottom of a small waterfall.
When the military found him, they automatically accused him of being a member of the New People’s Army despite his immediate explanations that he was a scientist doing research. Nevermind that he had no weapon; nevermind that he had identification cards proving who he was; nevermind that he had concrete proof of the data he was gathering including pictures in his camera. He was an NPA in the eyes of the military — soldiers are always eager to show that they had done their duty to capture rebels, nevermind if they were actually only innocent civilians.
It’s hard to put into words the outrage and indignation I felt when I learned how the military had forced Kim to make a false confession that he was a member of the NPA. Hungry, cold, sleep-deprived with a broken leg and a possible concussion, Kim was surrounded by at least 15 soldiers in full-battle gear and forced to say that he was an NPA member. The military arranged various paraphernalia — an M-16 rifle, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), blasting caps, and all other materials that he could not describe and shot a video of him saying that he was NPA. There he was, my husband who’s afraid of firecrackers, a man so clumsy that one time when I was a guest on Manolo Quezon’s old ANC show “The Explainer” he almost knocked down two six-feet tall studio lamps, there he was accused of carrying and firing a gun, handling land mines, murdering civilians.
Kim has explained — a little shamefacedly– that he gave his false admission under extreme duress. I don’t blame him, I probably would’ve admitted to countless crimes myself if I had been in his position. It would have been very hard to keep calm and level-headed when you are well-aware that you could get summarily executed anytime or disappeared forever if you didn’t obey orders from the AFP.
I don’t know how else to argue that Kim is an ordinary civilian (and a brilliant scientific mind). Do I present our marriage certificate that proves that the ceremony was officiated by no less than House Speaker Sonny Belmonte when he was still mayor of Quezon City in May 2005? Do I show the passport that shows that he arrived in the country only on January 2, 2013 when the AFP alleges that he has been in the boondocks with the NPA since 2012? Should I write that he is sorry for having missed the developments in the plot of My Husband’s Lover which he was really interested in when it debuted in May just before he left for Mindanao? I really don’t know. But what I do know is that the soldiers and military officials who arrested him and violated his human rights while breaking many other provisions of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) protecting civilians are lying through their teeth.
What was he doing in the forest and alone? Is it really so hard to accept the truth that he was doing research? A fisherman casts his net at 3am miles from the shore, and no one questions him. Kim — a scientist just like Dr. Leonard Co before him — was in the forest documenting nocturnal habits of wildlife, and automatically he is an NPA, a legitimate target and no questions asked. Even if he was able to explain all about circadian clocks, climate change effects, soil erosion caused by mining etc., etc., the soldiers wouldn’t have paid attention. Truly, to be a patriotic scientist in this country is a thankless job.
Kim is not the first civilian to be accused and framed by the military of being an NPA member. In its ruthless campaign to present itself as winning in the battle against the insurgency, the AFP continues to terrorize, abduct, disappear and kill civilians and present them to the media as bona-fide NPAs. The fact that they did not kill Kim outright when they found him hurt and helpless is not a credit to the AFP– it is the law, it is part of IHL that they do not harm anyone wounded and unarmed.
CollagesSo now, with all the calmness and dignity I can muster, I demand on our five-year old daughter’s behalf that the Aquino government release my husband, political detainee and scientist Kim Gargar from prison and dismiss all the ridiculous charges against him. Arresting innocent civilians does nothing to improve the image of this government in the eyes of the international human rights community and the rest of the world.
The last time he was home with our daughter was in early June. They drew marine animals, folded paper cranes and ate ice cream. When he told her goodbye, he explained that he was again leaving for work and that he would be home in time for Christmas and they would watch animated films all day in his laptop. Now, four months later, Kim is in jail, her daughter is missing him, and I don’t know what happened to his laptop.
I haven’t told our daughter where her father really is. As far as she knows, he is still in Holland, that cold far-away country where she herself lived for a time with both her parents. While I have already started bit by bit to explain to her the nature of Philippine society and how injustice is suffered by the poor on a minute-by-minute basis in this country, I am unable to begin to tell her that her own father is a victim of the same unjust system. The way she also is a victim, being denied him, his love and protection by the government that refuses to uphold the law, much less the principles of truth and justice.
On October 24, I can only hope that the court in Lupon Municipality, Davao Oriental goes against the tide and the defies the pressure of the military; I hope Judge Emilio Dayanghirang III does what is moral, legal, right and just and frees my daughter’s father, scientist and civilian Kim Gargar.

The Artist as A Conscious Political Being

Iggy Rodriguez is a political activist and an artist both. For him,  his work as an artist is enriched and given meaning by his activism, and his work as an activist is also improved by the discipline he has cultivated as an artist.
Currently the coordinator for the Makabayan coalition of political parties and its chapter in the National Capital Region (NCR), Rodriquez is also a core group member of the  Tutok Karapatan Artists’ Initiatives and the well-know group that makes the impressive effigies thatare burned during important political protests the  UGAT Lahi Artist Collective. His work in these organizations are considerable, but he manages to juggle his workload through discipline.

Discipline is a crucial thing with Rodriguez.  Born Raoul Ignacio Mallillin Rodriguez in Zamboanga, the 37-year old artist  was not “born” with the innate ability to draw or paint.
“It was something I willed myself to do,” he explains.

In grade school, he watched classmates and friends draw images in their notebooks, and while he himself was not inclined to draw himself at the time, he liked the idea.
“I liked the idea of creating images, of copying ones that I liked. I found it interesting. I didn’t do it myself, but I liked seeing the work of others,” he says.
His elder brother often brought home comic books (“Marvel Comics, Heavy Metal, that sort of thing”) and he was amazed at what he saw.
“It was like seeing the world interpreted in a different way. The way the characters were drawn, the scenery, the entire conceptualization and consequent rendering. Before then I didn’t know that there was such a way to depict the world,” he shares.
The beginning of his journey as an artist officially began, however, when he was forced to stay in the library one afternoon in high school. Rodriguez can’t recall the exact circumstances that led to his afternoon detention in the library (“Maybe it was raining, I don’t remember), but he will never forget the artist that first inspired him to try to be one himself.  He found a  book on Pablo Picasso and his work during his so-named Blue Period.
Picasso’s Blue Period refers to the time between 1901 and 1904, when the Italian artist  created essentially monochromatic paintings using the colors  blue and blue-green.  He made his paintings at a time in his life when he was depressed over the death of a friend and retreated from society. The paintings themselves evoke feelings of sadness, loneliness and a lack of hope.
“I was affected by the images themselves and how they were rendered. I was only a high school student, but I’d already heard of Picasso even then. That afternoon was the first time I’d really looked — I mean looked– at his work and I told myself that I would work hard to be a painter, an artist myself,” he says.
Rodriquez has no qualms about admitting that he only learned to draw and paint in college at the University of Sto. Tomas where he took a course in fine arts and advertising.  He says that whatever talent he has, he cultivated and honed it by studying and constant practice. He literally taught himself to draw, pushing and goading himself until wielding a pen or a paintbrush became second nature to him.
“Many artists are said to be innately talented and that they are able to create merely from sheer inspiration, goaded by a muse of their own making. I didn’t start off like that, am up to now I cannot say that I need to be inspired to create. My own process of creating art always starts with me confronting myself with the necessity to create: tired or not, inspired or not, I need to be always practicing my craft and I want to be always learning ways to improve it,” he says. His right index finger has a rough callus, a testament to his daily routine of drawing at least one hour a day and more on days when his schedule permits.
Rodriguez somewhat shatters the stereotype of artists who are often lost in their own worlds and apathetic to what the world at large thinks or says about their work. He carries defined political stands and is always willing and prepared to discuss and even debate about what art means and the role of artists in the general scheme of things.
“I suppose my approach to art is always practical. I want everything I create to say something, to mean something, and my own views about society and what happens in it are reflected in my drawings and paintings.  Some of my work carry obvious message about the struggle against poverty and exploitation; others are more subtle and less overt.  In either case, I stand behind my work and if asked, I am willing to explain what they mean. Of course this doesn’t mean that the people I look at my work have it wrong when they see something different in it;  all I mean is that as the creator of the piece — be it a drawing, a painting, an installation piece or sculpture — I had real reasons for putting it together the way I did,” he explains.
Artists in the Social Movement for Change
Rodriguez says that it his involvement in social and political movements for genuine change that keeps him and his work grounded. He is empathic in saying that for him, art should “advocate and educate.” He takes part in rallies, attends symposia, and helps organize urban poor communities. One of his dreams is the creation of an arts center for patriotic and liberative culture and arts complete with galleries, a studio, theater and an editing room for videos and music.
“The artist cannot remove himself from society or divorce himself from what’s happening around him. Given this, it’s important that he should also take part in whatever efforts are being done to fight against all that’s unjust and inhumane. Otherwise his art would be empty statements, decorative objects devoid of meaning. Then again, it also speaks about what kind of values the artist has and what he believes in; if he carries no clear-cut convictions, then his art would reflect that,” he says, then hastens to add, ” but then again each person and each artist is different.”
Rodriguez shares that among the issues he most likes tackling in his art are human rights and the social ills that erupt as a result of the lack of respect for it.
“There’s homelessness, unemployment, extreme poverty, exploitation and war. These are universal themes that are sadly not addressed enough by mainstream artists in their work,” he says. As an aside, he adds that social alternatives are also important — they should be discussed in art as a counterpoint to the social horrors.
Rodriguez also carries a very practical approach when it comes to his work as an artist. This, he says, is also something he learned as an activist. Before he begins his work, he sits down and plans the process. He considers all the factors involved in the undertaking, from the gallery venue, how he will transport his work, if he will have help putting up the paintings. Then he begins to put together and smoothen out his ideas, contrasting and comparing them against each other and determining which are sound and which are weak.
“It’s easier to create when I’m already fully-confident in the ideas or messages I want to convey. Every line, every brush stroke has to count because mistakes can alter the entire piece. When I do make mistakes though, I have learned how to make them look deliberate or intended,” he smiles.

It’s also surprising to learn that Rodriguez also learned to depict images directly from his brain, from his own imaginative store  of images or interpretations of them. While most artists learn to make their renderings more life-like or exact by using representations (or using models), Rodriquez began rendering images without using photographs or looking at photographs as he painted or drew.

“I was like that in my first few years of painting and drawing. I simply sat and began creating my ideas of what an object looked like, or putting together the images I saw in my head if they were realistic,” he says. Eventually, however, he felt that something was lost or absent in his work because he sometimes missed details he felt he should have added.

“Say shadows, for instance; or how light falls. Or the folds of cloth or a sleeve as it is worn part of a shirt or blouse. I felt that some of the drama is lost from a piece when  I am unable to render details more exactly. When I feel this about a piece I am doing, I use representations,” he says.

Mainstream Work Features His Politics

Every year, his collective work with Ugat Lahi being get burnt to ashes in Mendiola fronting the presidential palace or in Batasan Avenue during the annual State of the Nation protests, but Rodriquez on his own has already built a comprehensive body of work.  Already known in activist art circles, he is not new either to the mainstream local art scene, and he has even exhibited abroad.

He has had exhibitions in the up-market galleries ion Makati, Pasig and Quezon City, but his work has also been featured in the Cultural center of the Philippines (CCP), Singapore, China, Singapore and Cambodia. He has also won  recognition from various art institutions. In  2009 he was among the  CCP’s 13 Artists awardees. In 2003, he was among the awardees of  the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) Annual Competition, and won the grand prize in the 2001 competition of the same association.

His last solo exhibition was  the series he titled ” Genuflect”   at the Kanto Artist Run Space at The Collective in Makati this May. It  consists of five pen and ink works on paper, one cut-out, and one installation-sculpture piece.  In this series, he displays his remarkable mastery of using the pen and ink as a medium.
Rodriguez says “Genuflect” expresses his views on how power corrupts and how the greed for it distorts humanity. There are different kinds of power, he says, such as the power of religion and its institutions; the power of nations, governments and their armies; and the power of wealthy corporations. The rapaciousness of corporations, the military violence of governments, and the close-minded righteousness of certain religious institutions and its leaders all constitute power that serve no one but those who wield it, while the effects on everyone else in society are brutal, maiming, destructive.
Rodriguez’ stands as political being cannot be dismissed in how he depicted the institutions he believes to be against humanity and the greater good. Even how the frames of his drawings were hung on the gallery wall revealed a criticism against the power of religion and how it imposes on believers: they are hung the way images of the Stations of the Cross are traditionally displayed in Catholic churches. One is forced to look up, and the paintings are looking down, seemingly forcing themselves on the viewer.
In the meantime, critics have not ignored Rodriguez’ gift when it comes to working with pen and ink.  In her review of the exhibition, social critic and writer Katrina Stuart-Santiago opines that  “Genuflect” reveals  not only  Rodriguez’s critical perspective and intellectual stance on religiosity and faith, but also how he pays great attention to detail.
“What resonates is the discipline, the control, the knowing when to stop and how. After all, between the installation and the pen and ink works, a lesser artist would’ve and could’ve gone crazy. But in Rodriguez’s hands there is a sense of taking an image and running as far away with it as possible, and taking it back to where it started to make sure it’s saying what it must. Here one finds that Rodriguez is able to push the spectator into acknowledging those limitations, seeing the control, and finding that anger and discontent can be in the thinnest of lines drawn, its magnitude measurable by the painful patience that must have gone into such detailed work,” she writes.
Currently,  Rodriguez is working on two paintings for the House of Matahati, an independent art space  in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He shares that his work will dwell on the issues of poverty and want. He is also preparing for his tasks as a coordinator for Makabayan Coalition and its bid to send Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino to the senate.

In the next five years, Rodriguez says that he will still be doing what he’s doing now.

“Five years ago I said that I would still be doing what I am doing now — art projects, rallies, organizing work for the organizations I belong to, drawing and painting. There’s no reason for me to think or say that I would be doing anything much different five years from now, but I do hope that I would be much, much better at all those things,” he concludes.

Aquino Cancels Meeting with Influential Protestant Church Leader


The general secretary of the World Council of Churches of Churches Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed disappointment over President Benigno Aquino's seeming lack of interest to discuss issues pertaining to the human rights situation in the Philippines.

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches of Churches Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed disappointment over President Benigno Aquino’s seeming lack of interest to discuss issues pertaining to the human rights situation in the Philippines. The WCC is the biggest protestant organization in the world, with a worldwide fellowship of 349 churches represening 560 million Christian members coming from various Christian traditions including the Protestants, Anglicans, Orthodox and Pentecostal Churches. It is considered to be on equal footing with the Roman Catholic religious authorities in the Vatican.
 Tveit was in Manila from March 22 to 24 to attend the pre-assembly of the WCC Commission for World Mission and  Evangelism (WCC-CWME) which began March 22 and continues until March 27.
 Tveit was scheduled to meet with Aquino in Malacanang around noon last Friday, but according to the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP) which handled Tveit’s schedule, Malacanang suddenly cancelled the meeting when it was told that the church leader was interested in discussing the Philippine human rights situation. The NCCP and its member churches belong to the WCC fellowship.

An issue of Legality and Morality

In an interview with, Tveit said that he could not help but be “disappointed because it would have been a tremendous opportunity for the president and us to talk about matters that are highly important to the Church and the Filipino people. ‘

“There a lot of a people who need th attention of both the Church and the government. Somebody needs to speak for the human right situation — the disappearances, the detention of political prisoners, the tortures and the over all lack of legal security Filipinos face. This is a being challenge for the Philippnes, and these need to be addressed. When the well-beiong of the people suffer, when their human rights are not cared for, then the Church’s fellowship also suffers. Anyone can be a victim of human rights,” Tveit said.

On March 23, Tveit met with leaders of the human rights organization Karapatan and some human rights victims. During the meeting in Quezon City, Karapatan gave a rundown on the current human rights situation in the Philippines.A number of victims of extrajudicial killings from 2001 to the present belong to member churches of the WCC.

“One case of human rights violations is one case too many. This situation has to be addressed by the legal systsem, by the political authorities in the country. What we all want is to build a fair society, where everyone can have legal protection. The authorities should listen to the people,” he said.
In the meantime, Tveit said that he was also personally interested in a dialogue with Aquino because they were the same age — 51.

“I was interested to hear about his views on what people our generation can still contribute to humanity. I wanted to hear his own reflections on this matter, about his thoughts on what we can do to make the world better,” he said.

According to Tveit, human rights are a very important issue to the WCC. “We are always concerned about issues concerning human rights. This is a very serious issue that any leader should be concerned with. How can any leadership be trusted if he won’t discuss these issues? This is a legal issue, but it is also a matter of morality. It is in the interest of everybody to address the issues of the people,”he said.

The protestant church official said had he been able to speak with Aquino, he would have also wanted to discuss with him other issues affecting the world like poverty, rising criminality, violence and worsening economic and political crises.
“Perhaps we could have reflected on how to to address the issues of the world and how the Church can support the work to bring about peace and justice. I would have wanted to learn from President Aquino what he thinks about these issues,” he said.

Tveit was elected WCC general secretary in August 2009 and began to hold office in January 2010. He previously served the WCC as a member of the Faith and Order Plenary Commission and as a co-chair of the Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum core group.  He is an ordained pastor in the Church of Norway and served as a parish priest in Haram, More Diocese, as well as an army chaplain. In 2002, he was awarded a doctorate in theology by the Norwegian school of Theology/Menighetsfakultet in Oslo for his dissertation on Mutual Accountability as Ecumenical Attitude.

Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes Jr., General Secretary of the NCCP said the last minute cancellation was unfortunate.

“Dr. Tveit is very much aware of issues in the Philippines and while he would have raised certain concerns, he would have also conveyed support to the resumption of the formal peace negotiations. We tried to seek this audience between the visiting leader and the President hinged on his campaign promises,” Reyes said. Dr. Tveit is a Norwegian and is aware of the role of the Royal Norwegian Government on the peace process.

“The WCC has always been our partner in the work for the defense of human rights in the Philippines. The WCC has not been ignorant of developments in the country when it comes to these matters. It’s too bad that Aquino missed the opportunity to give his views. It would have been his opportunity to explain what he intends to do with these concerns,” he said.

The Church Mission in a Globalized World
Representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and representatives of independent Pentecostal and Evangelical churches and movements also attended the event. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle represented the Vatican which both he and Tveit said had very close ties with the WCC. The Roman Catholic Church is an observer at the WCC but holds full participating membership ion the Commissions on Mission and on Faith and Order.
Rev. Reyes said that the conference was the broadest and biggest international ecumenical gathering in the Philippines.
“The affirmation of mission is timely and critical. Much has changed in teh world in the past three decades since the first Statement on Mission and Evangelism in 1961. In a globalized world, many problems have been globalized as well, such as economic crisis, displacement, plunder, poverty. And surely the world’s rich remains few while the poor had grown in bounds. In this context, with parallel similarities during Jesus’ time which the church mission will be for the poor, with the poor. Only through this will the church’s role be truly prophetic.”
Reyes explained that the WCC pre-assembly sought to  take a second look at mission and evangelism in the complex and difficult context. A draft  on the same was prepared by the CWME  and is hoped to be   adopted by the assembly. The final assembly paper will be  presented to the WCC General Committee before it is presented to the 10th General Assembly of the WCC to be held in Busan, South Korea in 2013.
One of the speakers, Dr. Roderick R. Hewitt, presented a paper titled “re-articulating Christian Mission and Evangelism.” In it, he issued a crticisim against the impact of globalization.
“The impact of globalization on the wellbeing of people has resulted in war, political instability, hunger and climate change, especially for those in the South and has resulted in the mass migration of peoples that brought their faiths, languages and different Christian traditions into new cultural contexts. The pressing missiological challenge is how churches today celebrate differences while remaining faithful…The Christian mission must address, redefine and celebrate its integral mode of being in community. It must consistently affirm plurality which moves beyond simplistic dialogue to reconceptualize misison and evangelism in the light of the challenge of religious and cultural plurality because mission and evangelism in Christ’s way is based upon a theology of generosity arising from our understanding of truth that in revealed in Christ,” he said.

Journalist Appeals for Family abducted by AFP in Samar

The researcher and anchor for  the Lingganay Han Kamatuoran Radio Program in Samar and contributing editor of the University of the Philippines Vista Jebri Gil Sida in the same province has released a statement over the abduction of baranggay official Artemio Labon and his son Jeffrey, 21, last March 5, 2012 in Brgy. Pagsang-on, Paranas, Samar. Sida was formerly the regional chair of the Kabataan party list group in Tacloban.

In an earlier report by the Katungod-Sinirangang Bisayas (SB) Karapatan in Samar,  it was said that the two were abducted by a group of soldiers from 87th Infantry Battalion The group also said before he was taken, Labong was interrogated and was tortured in front of his 12 year old daughter.

“The family members of Artemio and Ruel saw that those who have taken them were members of the Philippine Army. They were in full battle gear and in uniform. We condemn this act of abduction by the members of the 87th Infantry Battalion and demand the immediate release of the two victims,” the human rights group said.

Sida said that since March 5, they have heard nothing about the two missing civilians since they were forcibly taken by 20 to 30 armed men in military uniform. Artemio’s family sought the help of the media and  appealed to the public Sida’s  program Lingganay Han Kamatuoran (LHK).

“After almost a week of searching in the locality and in Camp Lukban in Brgy. Maulong, Catbalogan, Samar – where the 8th ID’s General Headquarters is located, the family had yet to find their missing loved ones,” Sida said.

In Military Custody and Acting Under Duress

Sida said that on March 19, he and a few others went to the camp of the 8th Infantry Division in search of the two missing civilians. The two, along with another individual named Roel were  allegedly abducted by operating military personnel. Sida’s group was composed of Artemio’s wife Anecita,  her two other children, the local barangay chairman Marito Mabanan, two other local officials.

According to Sida, the family’s  search in Camp Lukban did not yield positive results because the military casually denied knowlege of the abduction.

“The 8th ID spokesperson Niceforo ‘Jun’ Diaz issued a statement through another local radio program  in Tacloban City. Diaz categorically denied having custody of the missing persons, but after that,  Anecita reported in our own program that her husband was already contacting them. This began came after the family’s public appeal,” Sida said.

Sida said that Artemio was supposedly sending a letter requesting  his family to join  him and jeffrey where they were.

“Surprisingly, the letter stated that Artemio was in Camp Lukban. His wife was suspicious, however, because she didn’t recognize the handwriting and said that the language was not of her husband’s.  Other reports coming from residents who had previously spoken to Artemio and seen him prior to his disappearance said that he was under military custody when he was last seen in Paranas town,” he said.

The family was also compelled to send clothes and various legal documents  Artemio supposedly requested in his letter to an address in Maulong. A relative working in Catbalogan City made the delivery.

What happened Before

In the hours of  March 16, Aniceta received a SMS from supposed students studying in Catbalogan but originally hailed from Pagsang-an. They said that Artemio  visited them and asked them to relay a message to his family asking them to join him in Maulong. Anecita said that she seriously doubted the veracity of the messages and the credibility of the message senders.

The following day, March 17, Jeffrey reportedly   called the barangay captain Mabanan on his cellphone and made the same request that his family be alerted. The whole day, other calls supposedly from Artemio and another unidentified person came in using the same phone number.

 “In the  first call, Mabanan asked the caller who was supposedly Artemio to confirm his present location. Artemio reportedly answered “Catbalogan.” In the next call, Mabanan  talked to a man whose voice he could not identify and told him ‘“Sir, diri man ikaw hi Konsehal Timmy, kumusta man dida an kahimtang ni Konsehal Timmy? (Sir, you’re not Councilor Timmy. How is Councilor Timmy?). “Timmy’ was Artemio’s nickname. The voice hesistated before answering ‘maayos.’ or ‘fine'”, Sida said.

That same day, Mabanan and other concerned barangay officials escorted Artemio’s family and sought help and protection from the Paranas local government.

“By then they were convinced that Artemio and Jeffrey were really under the custody of the military and was acting under duress. They were by then extremely worried for the safety of the two,” Sida said.

The family reiterated their appeal over Sida’s radio program on March 16 and said that they were going to the military authorities to search for Artemio and Sida.

“In Paranas, we were surprised by the overwhelming presence of military men in uniform in the town plaza and immediate surroundings of the  municipal hall. Some of them were positioned at the second floor along the balcony. They had seen us arrive and took pictures of us as we walked into the building. Men in military uniforms and others who also looked like they were military but were in civilian garb  followed us until we reached the second floor. The men then prodded   Anecita and the two kids towards the direction of the 87th Infantry Battalion (IB) Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jun Balaoro,” he said. “We were not allowed to go with her and some of the men barred our way. We then saw  Artemio, and he was there with Jeffrey and Roel.”

Depicted as a Family of Rebel Returnees
 Sida and the rest of his group entered the building’s main hall, still trying to reach Anecita and the two children.

“We were photographed many times by the military. I tried to avoid being photographed by attempting to go to the comfort room, but two men followed me.  One of them also accosted them saying ‘Uy, diin kamo nag-titinago?’ I then realized that there was  a meeting that dubbed as “People’s Day.” 

 “We were surprised and caught off-guard by the sudden changes when the MPOC secretariat plus the military gestured in a manner as if to indicate that we were  instrumental in reuniting the family — the father and two others who were now being tagged as surrenderees or rebel returnees.”
According to Sida, the military positioned themselves in such a way that it appeared as if they were protective of the civilians led by Sida and as if they were eager to secure their  cooperation.

“I saw Mrs. Labong and her two kids were guided to the front of the hall along with the rest of her previously-missing family members. They were told to pose  for a picture. We found out then that they were being presented to the public as a family or rebel returnees and that were being given  a cash grant under the Social Integration Program from the local government. They were depicted as a reunited family of rebel returnees,” he said.

 Sida immediately  sent messages to his workmates in Tacloban regarding what he saw and experience. The whole time he noticed that two two military personnel who were beside and behind him kept trying to read his messages over his shoulder.

“I still managed to tell my workmates that those of us in the original group who went with Mrs. Labong were being closely monitored and photographed. I narrated via text what happened to Mrs. Labong and the two children,” he said.

Sida went on to report that one of the labong children  attempted to seek help from Sida’s group and asked if they can decide to not go with the military. One of the military men, however, interfered and soon after the men the whole  Labong family into a car that was reportedly taken them toMaulong.
Sida and the rest of the team returned to Tacloban and continued to send text message to friends and colleagues regarding their situation. The entire time they also worried for the safety of the Labong family.

 “The 87th IB under the 8th Infantry Division is expected to issue more denials about the abduction and white the whole issue about what they did tothese innocent people. What they did to us and the family of Mr. Labong was a desperate move to cover-up their  usual crime. I would not be too surprised if in the following days the whole Labong family will be paraded in the tri-media as members of the New People’s Army. I appeal to the public and all other sectors to join in the call for the release of the Labong family and to my fellow journalists to help monitor this case,” he said.

 The College Editors Guild of the Philippines led by secretary-general Pauline Gidget Estrella has already issued an appeal to the public to help  protect Sida by exposing his ordeal and what has been done to the Labong family who remains in the custody of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

FFM on Killing of 7-year old Reveals Results, Point to AFP as Perpetrators

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should stop its habit of blaming the victims of its human rights violations especially when the victims are children.
This was the statement of Karapatan and other people’s organizations in reaction to the AFP’s declaration on the killing of six year-old Rodelyn Aguirre last March 11 in Panay. Rodelyn’s five-year old sister Roda was also seriously hurt in the incident. The two children’s grandfather Julian who was with them  rushed Roda to Calinog District Hospital realizing she was still alive.  Rodelyn was immediately killed after shrapnel entered her abdomen, legs, neck and left eye.

On March 11, the Tumanduk Indigenous People’s Organization, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and Panay Alliance Karapatan led a fact finding mission to gather evidence and testimonies regarding the child’s violent death. The groups said that based on their mission’s findings, the army is to blame for it. They said that the child was killed because an M203  exploded in her immediate vicinity. All evidences and testimonies are being compiled by Karapatan and Bayan -Panay and will submit as supporting evidence  to the case filed at the Commission on Human Rights.

The groups journeyed for three hours across a mountainous area to get from  Brgy. Garangan in Calinog, Iloilo to Brgy. Tacayan in Tapaz, Capiz. Once they arrived at the site, they examined the area where the explosion that killed Rodelyn took place. They said that based on what they discovered, the explosion was not caused by an improvised explosive device as insisted upon by the AFP,  but by a missile from grenade launcher.
They suspected the missile to be from an M203.

Reylan Vergara, Secretary General of Panay Alliance Karapatan said that what they found belies the claims of 3rd Infantry Division  that an IED killed Rodelyn.

“Some of the evidence we gathered were pictures of the blast site which was a mere two meters away from the house. We  found no other damage in the perimeter of the structure. “If the explosion was indeed caused by an IED, there should have been a crater and the house should have been damaged extensively. It was strongly suggested that Robelyn was killed from a  direct explosion coming from a projectile,” she said.

Vergara also belied the statements of Capt. Java, 3rd ID spokesperson, when the latter said it was not only the Philippine Army who has access or custody of a M203 grenade launcher.

“They previously kept insisting that Rodelyn was killed by an IED that detonated. Now that  various investigations are pointing that  a grenade most likely  caused the explosion, why are they changing their statements?”, she argued.Vergara condemned the denial of the Philippine Army and challenged them to face an independent investigation. “It’s very alarming that the Philippine Army will do anything to cover up their atrocities by blaming everything to the NPA” Vergara said.

The team was also able to speak  with other members of Robelyn’s family. Rodelyn’s grandfather, 76-year old Julian  is now being accused by military officials of having made and detonated the IED. Aguirre denied the charges, saying that he was with the girls when the incident happened. He told the members of the mission that he  immediately sought help from neighbors and barangay officials and told them that the explosion was caused by something that came from above and outside the house.

The military detachment is 200 meters uphill from where the Aguirre residence was located.

In a testimony of Brgy. Captain Celdic Diaz, he expressed wonderment over why military ignored the explosion when it was very loud and took place just a few meters away from the detachment. He said that he even went to the detachment together with other barangay officials to convince the military to check the explosion site and see whether the fragments found in thesite were similar to the ones in the camp.

Diaz said that the military denied knowledge of the explosion and even challenged the community teacher to smell their guns to prove the explosion did not came from them.

Vergara said that this was not the first time this kind of incident where the Philippine Army denied of accidentally firing at civilians and other populated areas. She cited a similar case in the same barangay in the 2008 when the house of couple and their livestock were hit by an M203 mortar strongly believed to have been launched from the camp of the 47th IB.

For his part, Bayan-Panay spokesman Lean Porquia said that the Philippine Army, especially the 3rd ID  and the 61st Infantry Battalion continue to hatch plots to harass and  antagonize the Tumanduk Indigenous People and the people of Brgy. Tacayan.

In a military-run radio program DYK3 in Calinog, Iloilo, an unnamed anchor said that “everyone in Brgy. Tacayan are members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

“This goes prove how desperate the Philippine Army is in covering their atrocities and crimes against the people” he said.

AFP’s Mounting HRVs against Children
Karapatan national chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez who also participated in the fact-finding mission also expressed outrage over the allegations of the AFP that Robelyn’s grandfather is to blame for the child’s death.

“The lies of the AFP are preposterous! Rodilyn and her sister were hit by grenade shrapnel from an M203 launcher. The barangay residents believed that the explosion could only come from the nearby detachment of the 61st IB-PA as they often saw army personnel Willy Faulo brandishing that weapon, ” Hilao-Enriquez said.
Results of the fact finding by Karapatan-Panay stated that on March 11, the two children were in their house with their grandfather, Julian Aguirre, when an explosion struck a few meters from their house.

The FFM’s report said that, “Rodelyn was hit by shrapnel from M203 launcher in “different parts of her body, resulting in fatal injuries. The most fatal wounds were on her left eye and her neck. The sister sustained superficial injuries on her face, arms and stomach.” Rodelyn died on the way to the hospital which was  “two hours walk and another hour by motorcycle away from the village.”

Hilao said that based on reports of local human rights groups,  the people in Brgy. Tacayan have been long opposing and protesting against the military’s presence in their village.
“What this incident proves is that civilians’ lives are endangered by the mere presence of the military in the communities,” she said. Hilao pointed out that children are especially vulnerable to human rights violations.

In the meantime, Karapatan has also exposed a separate but related incident involving the AFP and its attacks against civilians.

On  March 7, 10 year-old Michael Mancera and brother Richard, seven years old,  were  killed when soldiers from the 49th IB in Labo, Camarines Sur fired at their house. The dwelling was riddled with bullets. Recovered from the different spots outside the house were a total of 231 spent shells from armalite rifles.

Karapatan said that to cover up the killings, the military tagged Benjamin,Michael and Richard’s father, as “NPA militia” and called the incident an ‘encounter’ between the military and the NPA.
Karapatan said it has been the practice of the AFP to immediately brand the victims of human rights as members or supporters of the NPA.
“The AFP often says that ‘legitimate encounters’ or ‘hot pursuit operations’ against the NPA are behind their operations that lead to  rights violations against the unarmed civilians in the communities. They are mindless of who are victimized in the process because they have a healthy excuse — branding civilians, including children as rebels, as if branding a person as NPA or NPA supporter justifies extrajudicial killing,” she said.
The group reiterated its call forthe pull out of all AFP units from communities and to put an end to Oplan Bayanihan.

Three Months After Sendong: Iligan Residents Far from Recovered

Three months after Tropical Storm Sendong (international name Washi) hit Mindanao’s northern provinces,  residents of the most affected provinces of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro have yet to fully recover.  According to the last report of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), Region 10 released on February 7, a total of 69,666 families with 384,431 members  in were  affected.

Of this figure, 47,009 families comprising  281,740 individuals   were from Misamis Oriental. Further breakdown revelead that of   38,071 of these families (with 228,576 members) were from Cagayan de Oro City (CDO), while the rest came from eight of its municipalities, namely: Lugait, Manticao, Naawan, Alubijid, Opol, Tagoloan, Villanueva, and Kinoguitan.

Figures from Iligan City revealed that 20,249 families with 90,285 members  were affected. Affected residents in Bukidnon belonged to 2,408 families (12,406 members) were from Valencia City and the towns of Baungon, Libona, Malitbog, Cabanglasan, Manolo Fortich, Talakag, and Impasug-ong.
As of February,  the Office of Civil Defense, Region 10, said that 4,572 families with 18,273 members still remain in 35 evacuation centers (ECs), of which 18 are located in CDO and 17 in Iligan City. The ECs in CDO served as temporary shelter for  1,795 families with 7,390 members. In Iligan, the ECs collectively housed  1,617 families with 5,657 members. Finally, 1,159 families with 5,226 members were taken to various transitory relocation sites.

As of March 14, there were still evacuation centers both in both provinces. It is still uncertain what happened to the  internally displaced persons (IDPs) who , as of last count by the RDRRMC, numbered  46,245 families  with 262,682 members.

The Situation in Iligan

Two-year old John Cyrus and mother Johnamae

Husband and wife Yamcy and Johnamae Diaz’ house was all but destroyed by Sendong. When the killer typhoon struck in the hours near midnight on December 19, the young couple and their two-year old son Cyrus John immediately moved to leave their house and evacuate the area.  They said that they immediately saw how the water was quickly rising so they placed their son inside a Durabox container (a cabinet for clothes made of plastic) and packed a small bag they filled with necessities. By the time they exited their small house, the water level had reached their necks.

“We pushed the makeshift boat with Cyrus John in it. We alternately dog-paddled and floated, always trying to get near the tallest trees that still weren’t submerged under the quickly-rising water. The backpack I had hurriedly stuffed with a few clothes and personal items became too heavy for me so I let go of it. All that mattered was getting our son to safety,” said Johnamae.

The entire family was able to swim to safety and eventually ended up in the nearby school where their other neighbors had also taken shelter. For the next three days, the school turned evacuation center became their home. The PRC and other humanitarian groups that rushed to the aid of the affected families of Iligan gave them food packages as well as blankets.

Yamcy, in the meantime, was determined to check on the house that they left behind.
“It was not much, but it was ours and if there was any chance that anything could be recovered, I wanted to take it,” he said.

Everyday for the following   three days after Sendong left and the flood waters began to go down, Yamcy returned to Purok 12. He saw that the basic structure — the skeleton — of their house had survived, but the roof was gone and many of the walls were damaged.  He began to clear the house of mud and debris, and salvaged whatever he could from his immediate environment.

As soon as they finish rebuilding their house with the help of relief agencies, Yamcy said that he will go and look for work because had been unemployed for the last three months. Before Sendong struck, he worked in the market for one of the fish sellers. He carried tubs of fresh fish from the delivery vans to the businessman’s stalls in the market.

“After Sendong, not too many people wanted to eat fish. People were worried that the fish being sold in the markets might have tasted and even eaten bodies of people who died in the floods. The businessman I worked for closed shop, and all of us, his workers, were rendered jobless,” he explained.

The family now mostly relies on donations and the assistance of relatives who still have money to spare and lend. While grateful for the donations of instant noodle packets and canned goods like tuna, sardines and the occasional tinned meatloaf, the Diazes are justifiably worried that the almost unchanging diet is bad for their little boy. Whenever they can afford to, they buy vegetables like kangkong and malunggay to supplement the rice rations they receive from humanitarian relief organizations. They are able to buy meat and fish only occasionally, and always with borrowed money.

Yamcy gestured to the soil in the backyard of their small house.

“I want to clear this area and plant vegetables here. Tomatoes, eggplant, beans are very easy to grow. If we had seedlings, my wife and I as well as our neighbors could begin planting small crops for our own consumption,” he said.

Johnamae, in the meantime, wistfully wants to reopen a store.

“I used to run a small store before Sendong. Everything in the store disappeared in the flood, and for a while I really felt bad about it. Maybe one day when Yamcy has found stable work I could start over again,” she said.

Food and Cash for Work Programs
When asked if the local and national governments have done anything to help the residents of  Purok 12, Yamcy ruefully shook his head. he said that he was not really aware of any efforts the govenrment was doing.

“There was a ‘food for work’ program and another called  ‘cash for work,’ but they didn’t last long and not every body was given opportunities to participate. It was a three to five day-scheme, I was told. Work for three or five days and be paid P200 (US$5) every day, or get food packages. The problem was each man was only allowed to register with the program once and that was it,” he said.

In a report in the Philippine Information Agency dated Feb.16, it was stated that the Department of Labor and Employment implemented the emergency employment program Yamcy described.

The program was first implemented on February 6, with each  worker being given   P215  (US$ 5.119) per day for 15 working days. They were provided  with working tools like shovels, rakes,  and wheelborrows which were to  be returned after the completion of the clean-up operations in the evacuation centers and public areas.   The local government  admitted that there were problems  with the clean up of the  dirt, mud and garbage in the heavily-affected  areas affected so the authorities came up with  cash for work program.

Jun Reyes, 44, also lives in Upper Hinaplanon. Before Sendong, he worked as a security guard, but since the typhoon, he has been unemployed. He applied for the cash for work program, only he he said that he was given P250 (US$5.95) a day for 10 days.  In the food for work program, he heard that people were give a half sack of rice for five days of work.

Jun Reyes participates in the "cash for work program" of the local government

“That was the only catch —  a person can only work once for the program and that was it. I suppose it’s a fair enough deal, but I’ve heard that the Iligan local government received so many cash donations so one can’t help wonder where all the money has gone. I don’t think the local government could have used up billions and billions of donations in just a few months,” he said.

Audit Donations for Iligan Victims
Yamcey and June are not alone in wondering about what has happened to the donations that poured into Iligan in the wake of Sendong.

The media continues to report that various donations in cash and kind continue to pour in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.

For instance, in a story also posted in the website of the PIA, it was stated that as of March 2, the Dumaguete City Disaster Advisory Council has approved more than P3.8 (US$95,238,095)  million in financial assistance for the typhoon victims. City Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria  said that  the budget will come from the financial contribution of LGUs  , private individuals and others.

Of the said amount, P1.940 million  (US$47, 619,047) will be allocated to the 388 families  whose houses were totally damaged. Each of the said family  will receive P5,000 (US$116) . Victims whose houses were partially damaged will receive P2,500  (US$59.52) each.  Total allotment for the said group was P1.845 million (US$43,928), to be divided among 738 families.

In the meantime, the city government has collected about P6 million  (US$142,857) cash and check donations for Iligan.

As the media continues to divulge information on the funds that the affected provinces have received, the public and especially the affected residents are justified in wondering where the money is being used. In the areas frequented by volunteers of humanitarian and relief groups both local and international, residents complain that they have yet to receive concrete help from the government. Most of the help they are getting, they say, come from the humanitarian groups.

In a report posted on the Iligan local government website, it was said that there were appeals from concerned groups that  the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA)  audit the Sendong” cash donations. The city’s auditor Gulam Sucor said they would first secure the consent of the Central Office of the Commission on Audit(COA), as  even the outsourcing of audit services would normally need the consent of the agency.

“We want to assure  the public that a tight audit is being done, and the public can check for themselves  as we will post the information on the donations on the website of the CoA. We will also post the full audit report of all fund sources and statement of expenditures of the city of Iligan for 2011 until April 2012 when they’re completed,” Sucor said.

Currently the  donations are said to amount to P242 million (US$5,761,904,761) . The Iligan government said that this will be used only in the building of houses, with  P60 million (US$1,428, 571) going to the repair of damaged infrastructure; P14 million (US$333,333)  to the  repair of water supply facilities;  and the P11.87 million (US$285,714,285) for cash for work program.

In a report  was dated  Feb. 27, Iligan  officials planted  1,500 mahogany seedlings along Mandulog River in Barangay San Roque.  Iligan City was said to have “observed the Iligan Love Month and the 26th anniversary of the People Power Revolution.” The LGU launched the  of tree-planting/growing campaign it dubbed “Plant a Tree and Grow with Me” and officials said that the  number of seedlings planted  corresponded to the approximate 1,200 number of flooding casualties in Iligan.  A memorial marker  was also erected in honor of the victims.

Where are the DSWD’s Funds for Relief Victims?
As for the national agencies, as early as December 29, 2011 or a few days after Sendong struck, reports already came out questioning their management of the funds.

In a story filed by  Michael Punongbayan of the Philippine Star, it was said that the as of December 2011, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) had more than P193.6 million  (US$ 4,619,047, 619) in donated funds which could have been used to help victims of Sendong.
COA  auditors questioned  why the money was ” lying idle in a government depository bank and is not being utilized for its intended purpose.”

In Punongbayan’s report, it was also said that the COA  discovered how the   DSWD has received over P314.7 million (US$ 7,500,000,000)  in donations for typhoon victims from various sources from 2004 to 2010. As of Dec. 31, 2010, over P193.6 million (US$ 4,619,047,619)  was unused.

“The donors may have thought that all their donations had provided relief to the beneficiaries and were used to rehabilitate the damage done by the calamities which struck the country in the past years,” COA said.“Although the government had earned corresponding interest from such deposits totaling P2,506,990.45 (US$ 59,690,476) and P57,688.66 (US$1,373.52) for local and foreign currency accounts respectively, as of year-end, it defeated the objectives for which the assistance was provided. The management’s failure to utilize foreign currency donations amounting to P36,316,984.94  (US$ 864,690.1176) also for victims of typhoons, resulted to foreign currency loss of P757,326.07 (US$ 18,031.5731).”

The COA also said that DSWD records state that funds were spent on  the rental of warehouses, forklifts and the use of trucking services. Money was also spent on operations for the release of donated goods and food, as well as the delivery of  electricity and water services.

The COA reacted to this, saying that expenses that will be sourced from donated funds should be those that will directly benefit the beneficiaries. It also said that  donations should not remain idle in banks waiting for another calamity to occur.

During last year’s budget deliberations, it was revelaed that 80 percent of the DSWD’s   P49.359 billion (US$116,666 million)  budget has been allotted to the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program. The remaining  P9.914 billion  (US$23,809,523 million) was said to be for the assistance for victims of disasters and natural calamities. In any case,  the budget for disaster victims pegged at  P48.043  million  (US$ 1,142,857 million) is less than one-tenth of one percent of the total DSWD budget. The DSWD’s  Quick Reaction Fund is P662.5 million  (US$ 15,785,714 million) for 2012.

Water and Safety Issues

In any calamity, it’s always the children and old people who are most vulnerable.
In the aftermath of Sendong, 38-year old mother of four children Norjannah Omar was desperate over more than the considerable to their house. The immediate environment of their house in Purok 12 flooded for almost a week and clean and potable water supplies were scarce.
“Even before the typhoon struck, our area already didn’t have access to potable water from the local water company. We had to buy drinking water from a company that sells mineral water, and even then it was expensive,” she said.

A five-gallon plastic container of drinking water costs P30 (US$0.7143), and the Omar family uses one day. Every week, they spend P210 (US$5) for water and P840 (US$20) for a month’s supply.

“It took while for the water company to resume its operations and to send its delivery trucks to our homes here. We were forced to boil water from the hand pump so we could have drinking water. Two of my children had stomach problems like diarrhea and I felt that it was my fault because I didn’t boil the water properly,” she said.

In the meantime, another child fell ill with leptospirosis.

“We’ve always known that there were rats here. The children often liked to wade and play in the puddles that remained after the flood, and my five-year old daughter had open wounds in her feet. The doctor in the public hospital said that that’s how she got leptospirosis — the rat pee and feces mixed with the water in the puddles and the flood water,” she said.

Homes for the Rendered Homeless
Last March 6, it was announced that 102  houses will  be constructed by March 15 in Sta. Elena Bayanihan Village also in Iligan. This is through the  joint efforts of the City Engineer’s Office, City Mayor’s-Technical Division, and Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers Iligan Bay Chapter.

City Engineer Franklin Maata was quoted as saying that the   construction efforts were delayed because of a shortage of hollow blocks in Iligan. They are already  buying hollow blocks in other areas of Lanao del Norte  to supplement Iligan’s construction materials needs.

Lennie and Matthew

In the meantime, late last month, The National Housing Authority (NHA) said that it will   purchase lots that will be used as relocation sites to those affected families in Iligan whose houses were washed out. The NHA was said to be  sending  a team to  Iligan city to assess the prices of the lots presented by the owners to be used as relocation sites. The NHA is also coordinating with humanitarian and relief organizations that have offered to build more permanent shelters and houses for the victims.

While the relief agencies wait for the government to turn over land where houses for the victims can be built, tent cities and camps have been established in various areas in iligan.

One such tent city is in Luinab and it   serves as the temporary home of 156 families. The average family has between two to six children. The tents were donated by an international relief agecy  each tent spans some 20 square meters.  Inside the floor is laid with thick plastic and rubber matting. There is no electricity inside the tents, but the refugees are lent flashlights, and there are lamp posts that are turned on at night.

Thirty-four year old Lennie Liza Rinez lives in one the tents with her husband and two children. The elder is Jandy, a two year old girl with big and beautiful doe eyes, while the younger is  a six-month old baby boy named Matthew.  Lenni’s husband sells peanuts in the city proper, and earns P200  (US$5) a day.

The Rinezes had no options left when Sendong struck. They used to live in a rented, one room house in Katipunan in Hinaplonan, and the typhhon destroyed it.

“We had nowhere else to go. At first we lived with relatives, but there was no space in their house either, and it didn’t seem to rise to impose on them too much because they,too, were victims of the typhoon. Their house survived, but there wasn’t space there for another family with two young children,” she said.

Lennie is a little embarrassed to show their tent-home because, as she said, she had not tidied up.

“It’s a little hard to keep everything clean and orderly with two small children always getting into everything,” she said. Inside the tent, clothes clean and dirty were strewn everywhere along with empty plastic bottles and containers which Lennie explained to be the children’s playthings.  It was clear that they did not have to many belongings. The small tv they used to own was lost in the flood.

“We didn’t get to save anything but clothes when the water started rising. We all just ran out of the house and kept moving until we got to an evacuation center,” she said.

Lennie shared that while daytime is hot and humid in the tent city, the nights can get very cold. Lennie puts her two children in sweaters at night, but they still catch colds.  The baby boy, in particular,  keeps coughing in the afternoons. Lennie is worried that he might have tuberculosis.

“The settlement administration and the relief group  gives us vitamins and vitamin drops for the children, but I would much rather take my children to the doctor,” she said.

While clean drinking water is not a problem in the tent site as the relief agency  supplies 4,000 liters twice a week, ther are other factors that need to be addressed to ensure that the refugees do not fall ill, especially the children.

The back area of the campsite was cleared and toilet stalls were built, numbering nine to 12 in all. Most of the toilets upon inspection, however, were foul and dirty.  The refugees explained that they couldn’t clean the toilets regularly as they should because the water supply was too far from the toilet area. The stalls for bathing were put up in the front area of the camp site where the water pump is, and where the relief group’s water delivery truck  releases its contents through a hose and into a gigantic water bag that functions as the camp’s water storage facility.

During a lecture on hygiene  given by relief volunteers Lennie promised to pay more attention to keeping clean habits inside the tent and outside. Her immediate neighbors also do the same.

“I know it’s important to keep clean because it’s what will help keep us healthy and less susceptible to sickness,” she said.

The Long Road to recovery for Iligan
It is clear that three months after Sendong, much still needs to be done to ensure the complete recovery of the affected families. Even as everything appears to have returned to normal for the rest of the city and province — business establishments have opened, the local government offices and police and security agencies have returned their normal operations — the residents affected by Sendong still have a long way to go before they can pick up the reins of their lives before the typhoon struck.

Many of the affected families are unemployed, and those who do have work do not earn enough. Their meager wages as day laborers, household help, and utility workers are already far from being enough to cover their family’s basic needs. The challenges they continue to face in the aftermath of Sendong are still considerable as they have to contend with either major house repairs or to completely find new shelters.

Either way, they need financial aid.

In the meantime, to restore their sense of dignity, the affected families also need to be provided means of livelihood and subsistence. Many were employed before the Sendong struck, but lost their jobs afterwards. Others chose to stop working so they can focus on rebuilding their houses, and even with the aid of humanitarian groups, the process is fraught with difficulty. The affected residents of Iligan need all the help they can get if they are to get their lives are to return to normal again.