CHRP Newsletter WINTER 2011

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  • 8/3/2019 CHRP Newsletter WINTER 2011


    NewsletterWINTER 2011

    ExclusivEInterview Detlev Mehlispp 4-5



    & murdErin Mindanao pp 6

    CHRP is marking two years since theMaguindanao massacre with an eventsupported by Amnesty International UK,

    UNISON, the International Federation o

    Journalists and the National Union o Jour-

    nalists (UK) ocusing on the killings and

    the need or judicial reorm or prosecuting

    human rights violations in the Philippines.

    On November 23, two years to the day rom

    the 2009 killing o 58 people in Maguindanao,

    Filipino lawyer and journalist, Carlos Zarate,

    Stean Antor, a judge ormerly o the Euro-pean Union-Philippines Justice Support Pro-

    gramme (EPJUS), Jim Boumelha, president

    o the International Federation o Journalists,

    and CHRP UK chair Mark Dearn will speak

    at Never Forget, at the Amnesty Interna-

    tional Human Rights Action Centre, London.

    Since the party o 58 people including 34

    journalists were murdered en route to l-

    ing Ismael Mangudadatus candidacy or may-

    oral elections, there have been no successul

    prosecutions. Former local ruling amily the

    Ampatuans have been put on trial, but theprocess has been dogged by delays, while

    many o the 195 accused remain at large.

    While the Maguindanao killings highlight

    the way in which provincial rulers needed by

    national government - whether to win elec-

    tions or ght insurgencies - can act with dis-

    dain or human lie and the rule o law, there

    remain a number o human rights abuses in

    which the military is culpable. Human Rights

    Watch documents seven extrajudicial killings

    and three enorced disappearances carriedout by the military since President Aquino

    came to power in 2010, with no convictions.

    Tis year also marks the end o the 18-month,

    E3.9 million, EPJUS project. Implement-

    ed to help improve institutional capability

    around investigating and prosecuting perpe-

    trators o human rights violations, such over-

    seas technical assistance initiatives should

    be actively encouraged by the government.

    By examining the lack o progress in pros-ecuting the alleged perpetrators and inthis and many other cases o human rights

    violations, CHRP urges the Philippine gov-

    ernment to act on its commitment to stopping

    human rights abuses and help enable the suc-

    cessul prosecution o human rights abusers.

    CHRP believes that the 58 killings in Magu-

    indanao in 2009 were an expected outcome

    o a tacit policy o supporting provincial rul-

    ers and granting them immunity rom thelaw as highlighted by the legacy o killings,

    torture and abduction that have been docu-

    mented to have occurred over the course o

    20 years at the hands o the Ampatuans.

    Te Maguindanao massacre was a stark

    evocation o the culture o impunity around

    abuses o human rights in the Philippines, said

    CHRP chair Mark Dearn. Te lack o progress

    made in prosecuting the killings is a reminder

    o the changes needed in the judicial system.

    Being a democracy goes ar beyondholding elections. Te Aquino govern-ment must act on its promises and initiate

    the reorms long-needed to create the air

    and transparent political and legal systems

    that will best serve the Philippine people.

    President Aquino must bring an end to the cul-

    ture o impunity around human rights violations

    that persists in the Philippines since his election.

    Perpetrators o such violations must be brought

    to justice, and the government must workhand-in-hand with the military, police, civil

    society and the legal establishment to this end.

    cHrP and PartnErs marK

    maguindanao massacrE

  • 8/3/2019 CHRP Newsletter WINTER 2011


    The Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines

    c/o PIPLinks, Finspace

    225-229 Seven Sisters Road

    London N4 2DA

    Phone: +44 (0)207 263 1002



    2 Campaign for Human Rights Philippines | Winter 2011

    he past year in the Philippines has served as a reminderthat the election o a president promising reorm doesnot guarantee reorm. President Aquino condemned

    human rights violations in the Philippines and pledged to bring justice to the victims o the Maguindanao massacre sincehe has come to oce Human Rights Watch has documentedseven extrajudicial killings and three enorced disappearancesin which there is strong evidence o military involvement, andthere has been little progress in the prosecuting o the per-petrators o the 58 murders in Mindanao or the many other

    cases o death and disappearance that wait to be resolved.

    hese examples serve to highlight problems in the Philippinepolitical and legal systems which i not tackled will result inmore deaths and disappearances i ollowing previous trends,o those who simply cam-paign or better lives - andthe impunity o those whoare responsible or them.

    It is clear that there re-mains a need or argreater civilian control oa more proessionalisedmilitary, which itsel must be better educated on human rightsand held to account by the courts. Breaking the dependencyo national government on provincial trapos is another neces-sity the manner in which such regional elites are given unre-mitting support by central government due to their ability towin elections or ght insurgencies highlights systemic aws inthe political system. Again, a well-unded military under rmpublic control would do away with the need or private militiasand the well-understood risks o allowing provincial rulers toamass private armies. Here, the issue o tackling insurgenciescomes to the ore it is clear that orce alone will not deeat

    the governments enemies, and it is well understood that in

    the case o both communist and Islamic separatist conicts,poverty in Mindanao the countrys breadbasket is a keydriver. Te government attitude o no development withoutpeace rst thus presents a conundrum which must be broached.

    Underscoring all these issues is the need or deep and widereorms to the criminal justice system an issue CHRP haschosen to highlight this year. A belie that there is no punishmentor crime only serves to incentivise would-be criminals. Here,Maguindanao must be seen as a test case setting an example to

    would-be human rights violators. As Detlev Mehlis head o thenow ended EU-Philippines Justice Support Programme - tellsCHRP in an interview in this newsletter, the criminal justicesystem is in desperate need o reorm, rom the police, throughto prosecutors and criminal procedures. And in this, civil society

    has a role to play.Ultimately, though,it is government

    which must takethe lead. As Me-hlis tells CHRP,while civil society

    plays a most im-portant role in cre-ating awareness and observing the government, unction-ing courts, an efective and determined prosecution serviceand an efective police respected by the people can only beimplemented by the elected political institutions. Andhere Mehlis says there must be a much bigger efort andmore determination than he saw when in the Philippines.

    We remain hopeul that Presidents Aquino will act with thedetermination that he promised. And where he does not,CHRP will be there to remind him o what needs to be done.


    lEttErfrom the Chairman

    Udrscrig a hs issus is h d fr dp

    ad wid rfrs h criia jusic sys

    a issu CHRP has chs highigh his yar.

    CHRP Newsletteris published in London

    Editor : Mark DearnLayout: RJ Fernandez

    Mark Dearn

  • 8/3/2019 CHRP Newsletter WINTER 2011


    Bnifaci P Ilaganis the award-winning writer of FAMASaward-winning flm Dukot and new release, Deadline, which CHRP

    is screening in London this December (see page 8). He spoke to

    CHRP about what motivates him to make human rights-ocused

    flms, human rights in the Philippines, his past and his uture.

    Winter 2011 | Campaign for Human Rights Philippines 3

    Ive been writing scripts or theatersince the 1970s, particularly or the re-surgent peoples movement in my coun-try. My writing benetted a lot rom theact that I had an activist theater groupthat perormed my plays, and that I was

    part o the movement mysel. Ive alwayssaid that I owe my art to my politics.Tat is because my being a writer wasbrought about by my being an activist.

    From theater, I moved on to televisionand the cinema. But as always, my workswere what you may call the political, orsocial. In the 1980s, I did an unprecedent-ed documentary drama series on the lieand times o Filipino heroes and anotherdrama series on the Philippine revolu-

    tion against Spain. Tese were both pro-duced and aired on mainstream television.

    With a couple o independent videogroups, I continued to write and also di-rect socio-political documentaries. I amnow a creative consultant with KodaoProductions, a progressive media outt.

    Was Dukot the rst project youworked on focused explicitly on humanrights? What inspired you to write it?

    Not exactly. But Dukot is the rst ea-ture lm I wrote that had human rights asan overriding theme. Previous to Dukot,I had written and directed a video docu-mentary on extrajudicial killings whosevictims were members o the UnitedChurch o Christ in the Philippines.

    What goaded me to write Dukot was theclimate o impunity that saw the murderand abduction o more than 1,000 Filipinoactivists since 2001. I must admit, too,

    that a great deal o the inspiration hadbeen engendered by my own personal expe-riences in the hands o the military that ab-ducted and tortured me in 1976 and 1994,as well as the disappearance o a younger

    sister o mine in1977, who remainsmissing to date.

    Were you at allsurprised about the

    success o Dukot,and why do you feelit was successul?

    No. I hadthought all alongthat Dukot wasgoing to make adiference in thelittle big world oPhilippine cinema,i only because o its

    daring. I expectedthat it was going tobe one o the reasons or its success. Andalso because it had many mainstream el-ements, including its being directed byprobably one o the most sought-aterFilipino directors today, Joel Lamangan.

    I eel it was successul because it con-nected, in a big way, with the public onthe issue o human rights. We screenedDukot in many cities and provinces allover the Philippines and it did make an

    impact, especially on the non-activistviewers. Quite a ew award-giving bod-ies also cited Dukot or its artistic merits.

    How difcult is it to promote aFilipino lm overseas? And how do

    you try and attract (non-Filipino) peoples interest in Filipino movies?

    Honestly, without the network o Fili-pino migrants, descendants and riendsoverseas with whom we have been

    working, I cannot say how we couldscreen our lms in the various coun-tries weve covered, including in North

    America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.

    We try to attract (non-Filipino) peoplesinterest by underscoring the act that humanrights, reedom, democracy and peopleswelare are universal themes. Tese maytake on a Filipino nationality and context,but in a larger perspective, when these aretrampled upon, the violation is committedagainst humanity. One can very well iden-tiy a corresponding story in other climes.

    What made you want to make Deadline?

    Again, as with Dukot, what made mewant to make Deadline was reality theseries o media killings that plagued thePhilippines and ended the careers andlives o at least 150 people since 1986.

    And then the Maguindanao Massacrehappened. At least 32 media womenand men were killed. Deadline is inspiredby that single most violent incidentagainst the media anywhere in the world.

    What is the message you are

    trying to bring with the ilm?

  • 8/3/2019 CHRP Newsletter WINTER 2011


    4 Campaign for Human Rights Philippines | Winter 2011

    Detlev Mehlisis a world-renowned lawyercurrently working as Senior Public Prosecutor

    in the Oce o the Attorney General, in Berlin,

    Germany. In 2005, then UN Secretary-General

    Ko Annan appointed him Commissioner o

    the UN International Independent Investigation

    Commission into the assassination o ormer

    Lebanese prime minister Rak Hariri and 22

    other people in Beirut. He has recently ended

    an 18-month posting leading the European

    Union - Philippines Justice Support Programme,

    which was created ater the Government o the

    Philippines ormally requested the European

    Union to assist in the implementation o the

    key recommendations o the Melo Commis-

    sion made in March 2007. He spoke to CHRP

    about what he encountered in the Philippines

    and what he thinks must be done to ensure

    better prosecution o human rights violations.

    Before you arrived, what knowledge didyou have of human rights violations in thePhilippines and their relation to the judicialsystem? How would you summarise the sit-uation you encountered in the Philippines?

    Prior to joining the EPJUS programme,my knowledge o the human rights situ-ation in the Philippines was limited. Youhave to realize that the Philippines does notreceive too much

    attention in theGerman media,unless it is in thecontext o naturaldisasters. Humanrights violations in the country are not a bigissue, as you have neighbouring countrieswith a much worse record than the Phil-ippines, i you think o China, Myanmar,Vietnam and others. However, what makeshuman rights violations worse in the Philip-pines is the act that they happen in a democ-racy. Anyway, ater consultations with rep-

    resentatives o human rights groups prior tomy departure I started to realize the extent othe problem. Tis was conrmed ater my ar-rival. My immediate main conclusions were,that: the police was - sometimes deliberately,but mostly or lack o expertise - not properlyinvestigating human rights violations; pros-ecutors and judges were incapable to ulltheir appropriate roles in the criminal justicesystem, partly because o an insucient legalramework; and civil society, including thepress, was either ignoring the problems or

    approached them on an individual basis -an organised, common efort was missing.

    Why do you think there are so few hu-man rights prosecutions in the Philip-

    pines, giventhe numbero recordedcases o hu-man rightsa b u s e s ?

    Te pros-

    ecution ser-vice seems tobe part o theproblem. Itis incredibleand totallyunacceptablethat onlyabout 10%o all politi-cally motivated murder-cases are brought

    to court. In scrutinizing the reasons, we rea-lised that prosecutors had been threatened oreven attacked, and are sometimes araid oefectively investigating these cases. Yet, theynever received any personal saety and secu-rity training. Tis is where EPUS imme-diately stepped in. By now, the Departmento Justice is providing this training to allprosecutors in the country. Prosecutors haveto efectively lead the investigation o thesecases and have to cooperate more strongly

    with the po-

    lice. It is thep r o s e cu t o r who has totake the lead.C r i m i n a l

    procedures have to be improved as well.New and up-to-date investigative tech-niques, like undercover-investigations,wire-tapping and up-to-date witness-pro-tection will have to be introduced undertight judicial control. On this, the EUcould be a role model or the Philippines.

    What are the key reforms that youbelieve need to be made to the Phil-ippine justice system in this regard?

    Better training or prosecutors, improved

    criminal procedures, improved wit...