On December 26, 2013, Charity Diño, Sonny Rogelio, and Billy Batrina were released from Batangas Provincial Jail, with all charges dismissed by the local court due to lack of evidence.
The three political prisoners were volunteers working as peasant organizers in 2009 when they were abducted and tortured by the Philippine Air Force in Talisay, Batangas. The three were then detained in prison on trumped up charges until their cases were finally brought to court in recent weeks.
Human rights group Karapatan‘s secretary general, Cristina Palabay, commented,
This ruling reaffirms our assertion that fabricated charges heaped upon political activists should be deemed as highly irregular, illegal and unconstitutional acts of repression against social critics of the government, in an attempt to silence them.
Palabay went on to note that Diño, Rogelio, and Batrina were three of 449 political prisoners under the Aquino administration as documented by Karapatan.
The Talisay 3 were among the political prisoners that OCHRP visited in Batangas Provincial Jail as part of their July Global Justice Tour and fact finding mission.
OCHRP member Doug Booker noted,
We are proud of the small contribution that we made to support the Talisay 3 and in campaigning for their release.
While it is heartening to know that the campaign to end their unjust incarceration was ultimately successful, one recognizes that the more trips we made to the Batangas jail, year after year, the more new political detainees we encountered.
While we celebrate this significant victory, we continue to call for the release of all political detainees.
Free all Political prisoners now.
Migrante BC wrote the following letter thanking all individuals and groups for their generous donations of time and effort:
Migrante BC takes this opportunity to wish you a New Year that is kinder, peaceful and abundant for all of us, and more importantly, to say Thank you / Maraming Salamat for entrusting your generous donation to the relief efforts of Sagip Migrante (Migrante Relief), the relief formation of Migrante International and its members overseas, which includes Migrante BC. The support from the ordinary people, Filipinos and non-Filipinos, in British Columbia and the rest of Canada has been overwhelming.
Migrante BC has raised at least $11,000 from individual donations, various fund raising efforts and collections, and from the Day of Solidarity at the Fraserview Banquet Hall. We continue to receive donations in support of the reconstruction phase of the relief operations. Together with our Migrante counterparts in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Alberta and Vancouver, we were able to raise a total of $40,874 as of mid-December – thanks to ordinary people like you. From the most recent update of Sagip Migrante in the Philippines, your donations have been used to deliver approximately over 2000 relief packs and almost 50 balikbayan boxes to various affected communities in Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte, in Cebu, in Coron, Palawan, in Mindoro Occidental, and in Iloilo.
The Home Office of Migrante International, its local Philippine chapters and its overseas chapters, organized and mobilized to help the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Sagip Migrante closely coordinated and worked with BALSA (Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan / Collective Action in Service of the People). This is the national and multi-sectoral network of the progressive groups to respond to disasters and calamities.
The Sagip Migrante Brigade went with the BALSA national relief caravan for the first wave of relief to Eastern Visayas on Nov 21- 24, 2013. The national relief caravan took off from Manila, Bicol (in Southern Luzon) and Mindanao to converge on Samar and Leyte. The national relief caravan took the land routes, bridges and inter-island ferries; the national convoy consisted of more than 50 vehicles which included at least nine (9) trucks of goods and had over 500 volunteers of students, church people, workers, youth, women, urban poor and health workers.
Of the total 10,000 relief packs distributed by the multi-sectoral efforts under BALSA in this first wave, at least 500 relief packs came from Sagip Migrante. Each pack had the standard contents of five (5) kilos of rice, a kilo of dried fish, half a kilo of mung beans, a kilo of salt, several packs of biscuits, and four (4) cans of sardines and bottled water. They were able to also distribute solar lights for the organizations based in the area doing relief work.
A second Migrante Brigade was dispatched to Samar on Dec.4-9 to distribute relief aid and to reunite families from Manila with their relatives in Samar.
Migrante’s local chapters in Southern Tagalog and in Cebu conducted relief operations, including organizing soup kitchens, thus covering a wider area of relief distribution. Sagip Migrante also coordinated with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and the Citizens Disaster Response Center (CDRC) for the sending of balikbayan boxes sent by overseas migrant workers to the affected areas by plane.
Sagip Migrante volunteers contributed to the relief mission of the Serve the People Corps of Southern Tagalog (ST) in Coron, Palawan, one of the islands where typhoon Haiyan made its landfall and devastated many villages. With the contribution of relief packs, Sagip Migrante made sure that they had the resources to set up soup kitchens to feed at least a thousand people.
Sagip Migrante is on-going. Migrante begins its next wave of relief operations in January and will focus on rehabilitation efforts and working with the affected communities on various projects to re-build and fix their houses, help the school children and their schools, build the fishing boats so the people can fish in the sea again, and deliver the much needed seeds and seedlings to farmers. The communities want and need to get on their feet again. Migrante welcomes any volunteers from overseas who would like to be involved in the rehabilitation efforts of BALSA/Sagip Migrante on the ground.
While we continue to work with the typhoon-affected communities in relief and reconstruction, we continue to hold the Philippine government accountable for its delayed and poor disaster response, its handling of international donations, and its anti-people rehabilitation framework.
This New Year will be the New Year of Rising Up, ang Bagong Taon ng Pagbangon. Because these communities will rise…will stand up…using the power of ordinary people.
Jane Ordinario on behalf of Migrante BC (www.migrantebc.com)
December 30, 2013
Photo credits: Shanthi Sivakumaran, UK volunteer with Sagip Migrante
Event proceeds to support Sagip-Migrante’s Philippines relief efforts.
Fundraising continues for relief efforts in the Philippines, as one of OCHRP’s partners, the Philippine Migrants Society of Canada (PMSC), will receive the door proceeds for an upcoming Christmas Party/Hair Show/Fernandino Launch Party at Ottawa’s FlyBar. These funds will be added to those sent to Sagip-Migrante for typhoon relief.
The event takes place on Friday December 20 at 158.5 Rideau Street.
Also, Just Voices, “an energetic community choir based in Ottawa, Canada” that sings songs about social justice, peace and the environment, will be performing their 9th Annual Winter Solstice Concert on Wednesday December 18 from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Irene’s Pub (885 Bank St, Ottawa). PMSC will be performing a song, and the event’s proceeds will also go to Sagip-Migrante.
Through ongoing media engagement and other awareness-raising activities, members of the Global Justice Tour 2013’s delegation have been finding ways to share what they learned during their July trip to the Philippines.
Journalist David Koch did a segment during Carleton University’s September 3 OPIRG Roots Radio show on CKCU FM 93.1. It starts at approximately 38:00 on the player here.
OCHRP members Kelti Cameron and Alana Roscoe published an article discussing issues the delegation witnessed, as well as the more recent pork barrel scandal, in the September/October issue of Ottawa independent newspaper The Leveller. Their article can be found on page 10 of Volume 6, Issue 1.
The appeal by OCHRP’s partners, ICHRP-Canada Committee and Migrante Canada, for increased Canadian assistance for Typhoon Haiyan relief, was published in the Philippine Reporter on November 22, 2013. The letter of appeal is shown in a previous blog post here.
Following an October 28 presentation, held in Ottawa, by COURAGE National President Ferdinand Gaite on the subject of water privatization in the Philippines, The Leveller newspaper published an in-depth article exploring the issue. Printed in the paper’s Volume 6, Issue 3 in November 2013, the article was written by Alana Roscoe.
*UPDATE: As reported by PMSC Ottawa on December 4 on the Bring and Buy Auction Facebook page, the successful event “allowed us to raise approximately 110% of our 10 k goal.” Read PMSC’s press release here.
As of December 11, total funds raised for typhoon relief exceed $15,000, as donations continue to roll in.
Paypal accounts have been set up to enable credit card donations and bank transfers via the links below; those over $20 are eligible for tax receipts.
For more information, please contact Aimee, Doug, or Joe at the phone numbers or email addresses on the poster and the bottom of this post.
OCHRP would like to extend their sincere thanks to everyone who attended the event, as well as those who made donations, big and small, of items, funds, and/or volunteer efforts. It is truly amazing to see what can be accomplished when people come together for a good cause!
The Philippine Migrants Society of Canada/Pilipinong Migrante Sa Canada (PMSC), Migrante Ottawa, and the Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (OCHRP) are raising funds for the victims of the Haiyan typhoon as part of Sagip-Migrante.
We are co-organizing an auction and aim to offer a variety of donated items (e.g., art, gift certificates, wine, desserts, dinner for two) and services (e.g., videography, massage therapy, computer services) to auction off.
Date: Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Time: 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm
Location: Montgomery Legion, 330 Kent Street, Ottawa, Ontario
People who donate items will get free admission, but otherwise tickets at the door will be $10.
For more info, please contact
Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines-OCHRP
Philippine Migrants Society of Canada-PMSC
November 12, 2013
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
80 Wellington St
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
Re: Appeal to the Canadian Government to increase the federal financial aid for typhoon Haiyan relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction
As the Canada Coordinating Committee of the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), we welcome the announcement of the Canadian Government that it will provide up to $5-million to assist with humanitarian aid in the communities in the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan, and in addition, match the money donated by individual Canadians.
While the full extent of the devastation is not yet known, early reports reveal that the impact on affected communities is catastrophic. In addition to the tragic loss of life and displacement of entire communities, it is estimated that the damage could reach $14 billion.
The half million Canadians of Filipino descent along with other generous Canadians and Canadian organizations have responded quickly to mobilize resources to aid the affected communities. However, private funding from individuals and charitable organizations can scarcely meet the enormous resources required for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction. The half million Canadians of Filipino descent along with other generous Canadians and Canadian organizations have responded quickly to mobilize resources to aid the affected communities. However, private funding from individuals and charitable organizations can scarcely meet the enormous resources required for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction. The UN has launched a flash appeal for $301 million for typhoon Haiyan emergency relief efforts to cover an initial period of six months. In past emergencies of this magnitude, Canada has been among the major donors of assistance. It gave $425 million to countries hit by the 2004 tsunami. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Canada immediately allocated $150.15 million for humanitarian and initial reconstruction efforts and another $400 million for the Haiti Action Plan.
We appeal to the Canadian Government to increase Canada’s direct financial aid for Typhoon Haiyan relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction, in addition to what it had already promised
We ask that information about the assistance provided by the Canadian Government to the Philippine Government and non-government organizations be made public to ensure public accountability for the use of the funds.
On behalf of the Canada Coordinating Committee – International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines
Email address: email@example.com
Mailing address: 211 St. Patrick St., #702, Toronto. ON M5T 2Y9
Let’s help the victims of Typhoon Yolanda!
To families, friends and supporters of the Filipino people:
Greetings of peace!
The typhoon that struck the Philippines on November 8th was the strongest storm to make landfall this year, and perhaps the most powerful in recorded history. This super typhoon claimed up to 10,000 lives according to some estimates. The storm cut a swath of destruction throughout the Visayas region in the Philippines, affecting as many as 4 million people across 36 provinces. Haiyan came only 3 weeks after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake destroyed buildings and homes in central Philippines.
Many areas in the Eastern part of the Central Philippines remain without food, water, power and communications facilities. Entire communities and cities have been completely annihilated by the storm. Relief workers are trying hard to reach rural communities, which have been devastated by the strong winds and the storm surge.
Livelihoods are compromised throughout the archipelago, and countless residents are displaced or homeless. Little government assistance is reaching the people who are in dire need of water, sanitation, food and safe shelter. They are relying on organizations on the ground, such as Migrante, to ensure donations go directly to those most in need.
For a number of years, Migrante has responded to crises and carried out its overseas relief and rehabilitation efforts with partner organizations that maintain a proven track record of serving Filipinos communities with integrity and trust.
In this state of calamity, there is an urgent call for assistance to help communities ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda through Sagip-Migrante.
The Sagip-Migrante fund-raising drive aims to gather financial assistance to support rescue missions, distribution and delivery of essential goods such as rice, canned goods and bottled water, setting up of soup kitchens and other relief missions in affected areas in the Visayan region.
In Ottawa, local partner organizations of Migrante, such as the Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (OCHRP), the Philippine Migrants Society of Canada (PMSC), and Migrante Ottawa are receiving cash and in-kind donations intended for the victims of the typhoon.
Donations can be sent by mail to:
Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
2852 Grandeur Ave.
By direct deposit at any Toronto Dominion Bank or Canada Trust
Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Canada Trust – World Exchange Center Ottawa
Branch 0354 Account # 7947-5260585
Philippine Migrants Society of Canada
Wellington at Holland
Branch 3344 Account # 0288-5203646
Charitable tax receipt may be provided upon request for donations over $20.00.
If you would like to send relief goods, you can send your packages to the home office of Migrante International, #45 Cambridge St, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines.
For more information, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call Doug 613-726-6556 or Aimee 613-255-1921.
Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Philippine Migrants Society of Canada (PMSC)
Along with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and MiningWatch Canada, OCHRP is sponsoring a public event at the University of Ottawa on Thursday, September 19. Speakers Dr. Erlinda Palaganas and Ms. Marion Sanchez will be presenting on “The Threats of Large-Scale Mining in the Cordilleras.”
Mining activities in this region have long been of concern to its Indigenous peoples, who face eviction from and devastation to their land.
As the Vancouver Media Co-op’s JR Guerrero (”Philippines Mining Climate: Canada Connection,” 23 February 2012) notes, Canada is strongly linked to this issue due to the presence of at least seven Canadian mining firms in the Cordillera region.
Tartlet R.K., “The Cordillera People’s Alliance: Mining and Indigenous Rights in the Luzon Highlands” Cultural Survival.org, 02 April 2010
*Update: Chatillon-Meunier was released shortly after widespread news coverage of her detention, and she returned to her home in Canada on September 16, 2013.
Kim Chatillon-Meunier, a 24-year-old International Studies student at the Université de Montreal, is being detained at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) detention center in the Philippines’ Camp Bagong Diwa for her alleged participation in the People’s SONA rally on July 22, 2013.
OCHRP is one of several human rights and lawyers’ groups that are calling for her immediate release through letters to President Aquino and other Canadian and Filipino officials. OCHRP’s letter is shown below, and a link to the Facebook campaign page for her release can be found here.
“Release Canadian student Kim Chatillon-Meunier from BI detention center,” Karapatan, 14 September 2013
“’Rights group, lawyers demand release of Canadian student detained by BI,” InterAksyon.com, 14 September 2013
In cooperation with Canadian and Filipino trade unions, the Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (OCHRP) sent 3 people as part of a 12–person human rights delegation to the Philippines in July 2013. Members of the delegation participated in exposure missions to sites of repression and resistance in the archipelago, visiting locations where gross human rights violations have occurred and actions opposing water privatization activities take place. They also attended the three-day International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, which gathered “human rights defenders and peace advocates from around the world, aimed at deepening our understanding of the current state of human rights and peace in the Philippines.”
OCHRP and its partners, including CUPE National, CUPE 4600, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers – Philippines (ACT), and the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), first started a Global Justice Project in 2009 in order to build ties and understanding of shared struggles among workers in Canada and the Philippines. As Phase Five of this ongoing initiative, the tour in July further strengthens the solidarity movement and support for Filipino human rights advocacy and action among Canadians.
July 22, 2013
July 22, 2013
Filipino President Benigno Aquino III’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) was delivered in Manila on July 22, 2013, but the Global Justice Tour delegation was not present to see it live. Instead, they were part of an approximately 100-member foreign contingent of the SONA demonstration aimed at revealing the true state of the nation and its people. The contingent, composed largely of the 200 human rights advocates and researchers in attendance at the preceding International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines, served to demonstrate to the government and people of the Philippines that an international community is present as witness and defender against injustice in the country.
A clash with police at the forefront of the rally, which saw up to an estimated 20,000 participants, left over 40 protesters and 21 police officers wounded, as well as ten protesters arrested. One of the international delegates, Dutch activist Thomas van Beersum, was detained, deported, and blacklisted by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for his visible – yet non-violent – involvement in the rally and the confrontation with police. The BI’s justification for his blacklisting included alleged violation of the terms of his tourist visa and engagement in partisan political activity. Rights groups such as the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and Human Rights Watch condemned this reaction, with NUPL secretary general Edre Olalia commenting,
His [Van Beersum] blacklisting is more a resounding indictment of the government and its claims to democracy than it is of his zealous yet moral outrage over issues that should make us and our society more fair and human. (Ronalyn V. Olea, “Rights groups condemn deportation, blacklisting of Dutch activist,” bulatlat.com, 08 August 2013)
The demonstration was barred from proceeding by large barricades seven kilometers from the president’s speech. At this point, organizers, including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and other allied organizations, set up a stage where they began their planned program. Using song, dance, pantomime, and speeches, several progressive organizations and peoples’ groups demonstrated their views on the true state of the nation. As has been an annual SONA tradition, the program culminated in the burning of a large effigy of President Aquino, an act which symbolizes the people’s disappointment in the current administration.
Analysts have criticized the president’s speech itself for its failure to address the worsening problems of poverty, unemployment, and wealth inequality. As bulatlat.com’s Benjie Oliveros noted,
Clearly, the Aquino government is intent on pursuing the same neoliberal policies that have increased the burden of the Filipino people and have fostered greater inequalities. Well, as President Aquino has repeatedly insinuated throughout his speech, those who are not able to take advantage of the opportunities being opened up by the government are the ones to be left out. With the way it is running the government, that would mean majority of the Filipino people. (“Policies outlined in President Aquino’s 4th SONA add to people’s burdens,” 26 July 2013)
Additional SONA analysis: Ronalyn V. Olea and Marya Salamat, “’Long and winding SONA silent on what matters most to Filipinos’ – progressive groups,” bulatlat.com, 23 July 2013