FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12 March 2009
Reference: Jonna Baldres, Secretary General, Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, firstname.lastname@example.org
ANAKBAYAN NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY STATEMENT ON THE ABDUCTION AND KILLING OF REBELYN PITAO
a person who lacks the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things.
This is how Anakbayan New York/New Jersey tags the Arroyo government for taking upon Rebelyn Pitao its desperation in failure to catch her father, Leoncio Pitao, also known as New People's Army (NPA) Commander Parago. Bringing out one's anger on somebody else and not directly confronting the person one has differences with can only be considered as nothing else but an act of cowardice.
And we, the Filipino youth of New York/New Jersey, strongly condemn the barbaric acts carried out on Rebelyn, a 20-year-old gradeschool teacher in St. Peter College in Toril, Davao City, who was abducted by armed men and taken away in a white van while riding in a tricycle on her way home from school on March 4, 2009. She was later found tortured, raped and killed with five stabs of ice pick the next day floating on a river.
For years, this distinct form of abduction and torture has been the trademark of the suspected military elements of the Philippine government who perform these executions on anyone speaking against the government's crimes against the Filipino people, or on anyone believed to be members or sympathizers of the NPA or of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
In this particular case, however, Rebelyn was not even a member of any political organizations and yet the government crossed the line once more and took on her only because she is the daughter of a person they have political differences with and whom they have failed many times to get ahold of. To echo Rebelyn's mother, Evangeline, "If they are angry because they can’t get my husband, they should go up the mountains and look for my husband there.” Rebelyn's mother did not doubt, even for a bit, that it was the military who killed her daughter, referring to these elements as "“evil, vicious men of the military intelligence group.”
This savage attack perpetrated upon Rebelyn is definitely a complete and total disregard of the existing Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and Intenational Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Part III of the agreement entitled "Respect for Human Rights", Article 2 states that the "agreement seeks to confront, remedy and prevent the most serious human rights violations in terms of civil and political rights, as well as to uphold, protect and promote the full scope of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including: (number 4) The right to life, especially against summary executions (salvagings), involuntary disappearances, massacres and indiscriminate bombardments of communities, and the right not to be subjected to campaigns of incitement to violence against one's person."
This agreement has been violated by the GRP many times as this agreement's scope includes "to guarantee the protection of human rights to all Filipinos under all circumstances, especially the workers, peasants and the poor people" and "to affirm and apply the principles of international humanitarian law in order to protect the civilian population and individual civilians, as well as persons who do not take direct part in armed hostilities." (Part II, "Bases, Scope and Applicability", Article 2) Clearly, the GRP has not been abiding by any of these.
From the time President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took office in 2001, more than a thousand cases of political killings and hundreds more cases of enforced disappearances had been documented, done in the same systematic way as that in Rebelyn's case. Even Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur, concluded from his research and interviews of human rights victims in the Philippines that it is, indeed, the military and the police -- which is under the chain-of-command of the President -- perpetrating these series of state-sponsored terrorism. WIth what the government has done to Rebelyn, it only shows how inhuman the people in power can be.
In a society where guns, torture and violence are used by the state to silence its people who only speak the truth, can there still really be any chance for peace? How many more Karen Empenos, Sherlyn Cadapans, Chris Hugos, Ambo Gurans and Rebelyn Pitaos will there be? If this method by the Arroyo government continues -- with the sole purpose of protecting its personal economic and political interests -- will the revolutionary willpower of the NPA and the CPP be crushed? Or will it encourage more Filipinos to take up arms, stand up against these atrocities, protect themselves and their families and fight against these vicious state apparatuses in the hills, in the countryside and in the cities?###
JUSTICE FOR REBELYN PITAO!
JUSTICE FOR FAMILIES AND ALL VICTIMS
OF POLITICAL KILLINGS & ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES!
DOWN WITH THE US-ARROYO FASCIST REGIME!