Labor Leader Killed In Philippines

March 10, 2008 at 8:14 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is shocked to learn that a labour leader who survived an earlier attempt on his life in April 2006 was shot dead this morning, March 10.

Gerardo Cristobal (a.k.a. Gerry) was driving his vehicle when armed men riding in another vehicle open fired at him soon after chasing him. He suffered several fatal gunshot wounds which killed him instantly. Gerardo, an organizer of labour unions in Cavite, South of Manila, had been facing continuing threats since surviving the 2006 incident.

CASE DETAILS: (according to information received from Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR))

As described in our previous appeal (UA-142-2006; UP-098-2006), labour activist Gerardo Cristobal (a.k.a. Gerry) survived an earlier attempt on his life on 28 April 2006 by gunmen later identified as a policeman and members of the security forces. Gerardo had since been actively involved in organizing labour unions in Cavite, South of Manila and his involvement in this work lead to the continuing threats to his life.

At around 8am this morning, Gerardo was driving his car from his house in Barangay (village) Malagasang II, Imus, Cavite when armed men riding in another vehicle chased him and subsequently open fired at him as they chased him towards a crowded place in the said municipality.

It is reported that the Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco), who are supposed to conduct an onsite investigation, allegedly asked a local funeral home in Dasmarinas to collect Gerardo’s body instead of conducting an investigation at the crime scene. Gerardo’s body was later transferred to another funeral home. As of yet, the complete details regarding Gerardo’s have not been made available.

In April 2006, Gerardo survived an attempt on his life after having exchanged fire with his attackers who were later identified as a member of the police force and another man who was said to be a member of the civil security unit. Gerardo at the time had to carry his own licensed firearm for protection due to continuing threats against him.

At the time, Gerardo suffered multiple gunshots wound but later recovered after receiving medical treatment. After the ambush, the local police claimed instead that it was Gerardo who had ambushed the police and security forces, and subsequently filed charges of frustrated murder against him. This, however, was contrary to Gerardo’s version of story.

Eight months later, December 2006, Gerardo’s colleague, Jesus Servida (a.k.a. Buth) was also shot dead in front of the factory where they help organizing unions. Two other workers, Joel Sale and Kenny Mari Severo, were also wounded during the shooting. For further information please read: UA-399-2006. None of the perpetrators in this case have so far been identified, arrested and prosecuted for the murder.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
The murder of Gerardo Cristobal demonstrates the severity of the security problem and the lack of safety of activists. In Gerardo’s case, apart from having no choice but to carry his own firearms for protection, there has not been any known action or arrangement afforded to him that he be afforded with security for his safety by the authorities.

In the Philippines, policemen are seen as adversaries by the activists for having been involved in carrying attempts on their lives and for their inaction into affording them any form of protection.

Gerardo’s death is a case in point. Often, when an activist faces and receives threats to his or herself, going to police station and concerned authorities is not an option. They rather take upon themselves any arrangement for protection. There are also cases where a person facing threats refuses to divulge his plight to his anyone.

This, however, has been proven fatal in most cases involving killings of activists. In May 2006, activist Elena Mendiola (a.k.a. Baby) was also shot dead after having been survived an earlier attempt on her life. For details please read: UP-106-2006.

The AHRC has in recent times has expressed serious concerns over the continuing violence and the lack of protection to activists facing threats in the Philippines.

AHRC-STM-016-2008: PHILIPPINES: KILLINGS – Two more killings: a priest and a judge – a symptom of lawlessness

AHRC-STM-014-2008: PHILIPPINES: KILLINGS – Why can’t security forces act without being asked?

AHRC-STM-009-2008: PHILIPPINES: KILLINGS – Claims of police efficiency at odds with reality

AHRC-STM-007-2008: PHILIPPINES: Killings leave deeply entrenched fear and distrust

SUGGESTED ACTION:Please write letters to the concerned authorities demanding their immediate attention into the killing of Gerardo Cristobal. An inquiry must be conducted as to who is responsible for his death and why the authorities have failed to afford him adequate protection. Those involved in the previous attempt on his life, in particular the police, must also be investigated to establish whether or not they have any involvement in his murder.

The AHRC writes letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions and Special Representative of the Secretary General for human rights defenders calling for interventions in this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,
PHILIPPINES: Labour leader who survives an earlier attempt on his life is killed
Name of victim: Gerardo Cristobal (35), a resident of Barangay (village) Malagasang II, Imus, CaviteAlleged perpetrators: unidentified armed menPlace of incident: Barangay (village) Malagasang, Imus, CaviteDate of incident: At around 8am, 10 March 2008.

I am shocked to learn that Gerardo Cristobal (a.k.a. Gerry), a labour activist who survived an attempt on his life in April 2006 had been shot dead on March 10, 2008. He was riding in his service vehicle coming from his place when armed men riding in another vehicle open fired at him and the vehicle he was driving. Gerardo died instantly due to multiple gunshot wounds he suffered during the attack.

I am aware that prior to his killing, Gerardo had earlier survived an attempt on his life by perpetrators later identified as a member of a police intelligence unit and security forces. However, none of those involved in previous attack on him have been held to account.

In fact, I have learned that Gerardo was instead been charged for supposedly attempting to murder the policeman and members of security forces who actually were responsible in attacking him.

I am also aware that Gerardo’s colleague, Jesus Servida (a.k.a. Buth), was shot dead in December 2006, eight months after the first attack on Gerardo. Two other workers were also wounded during the said attack. However, I am not aware of any progress regarding these two separate incidents; nor the perpetrators responsible been held to account. None of those involved in shooting Jesus to death, wounding the two workers, and the first attempt on Gerardo’s life have been held to account.

Also, I am deeply concerned by the reported action taken by the Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) in Gerardo’s case for allegedly not properly conducting investigation at the crime scene. I have been informed that instead of conducting proper onsite investigation, the police have instead reportedly instructed a funeral parlor to take the victim’s body out with them.

In so doing, I am seriously concerned that even at the early stage of investigation it has already been undermined as a result of the police’ negligence and inaction. I urge you to look into these allegations seriously and have the policemen involved investigated.

It is disappointing that human rights and labour activists has since been continuously becomes target of these killings and atrocities. I am aware that this is not the first time wherein an activist is killed after surviving an earlier attempt on their lives. I am extremely shocked by this deteriorating condition and the continued lack of protection for human rights and labour activists in the country.

I therefore urge you that any action taken in Gerardo’s case must be effective and adequate, in particular of ensuring that those responsible are held to account.

Yours sincerely,

——————-

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 736 1010 Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph

2. Mrs. Purificacion Quisumbing
Commissioner
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, DilimanQuezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102 Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: drpvq@yahoo.com

3. Deputy Director General Avelino Razon
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2724 8763 Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
E-mail: bluetree73@gmail.com

4. Mr. Raul Gonzalez
Secretary
Department of Justice (DoJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura1004
Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: agnesdeva@yahoo.com

5. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon
Chief of Staff
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
AFP-GHQ Offices, Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 911 6436 Tel: +63 2 911 6001 to 50

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals ProgrammeAsian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)

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