PHILIPPINES: Three killed, four others arrested in separate incidents in Bicol

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regrets to inform you that three persons have been killed while four others were arrested in separate incidents in February. The AHRC is deeply concerned by the ongoing attacks on human rights defenders.
CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation by the Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights -KARAPATAN-)
CASE 1: Father and son killed while on their way home
On 26 February 2014 at 8pm, Rosaldo Rayteran, coordinator of Albay People’s Organisation, a local human rights organisation, was with his 18 years old son, Rasty, when they were shot dead by two masked persons riding in tandem.
Rosaldo and Rasty were on their way home to Matara village after plying their jeepney route from Polangui town. They had reached San Pascual village when the incident happen. They died on the spot.
Prior to the incident, Rosaldo received threats on his life as coordinator of the Albay People’s Organisation. On December 10, 2013, he was a speaker at a program sponsored by Kadena Bicolandia in Matacon, Polangui to commemorate human rights day.
CASE 2: Shot dead by unidentified assailants while another arrested
On 30 January 2014, cousins Henry Orbina and Bryan Gallega were waiting for a jeepney in Barangay Cabid-an, Sorsogon City, when a police from a nearby outpost approached them and asked them where they work. The two replied that they were workers at a coconut factory. After a few minutes, eight men walked towards them. Gallega saw two of the men pulled out their guns. Fearing for their lives, Gallega and Orbina ran away.
Gallega went inside a house, which belonged to the owner of a nearby gas station, upon hearing gunshots. Gallega heard Orbina say he was shot, so he went outside the house to help Orbina. He flagged down a truck to take them to the hospital, but the truck driver did not stop. They heard gunshots again. Gallega could not carry his cousin back to the house, so he was forced to leave Orbina behind.
When the gunfire stopped, a number of policemen entered the house where Gallega was. The police took the names of the people inside the house, including that of the owner, his wife and his employees. They arrested Gallega and took his bag.
According to witnesses, Gallega was brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) precinct in Barangay Cabid-an, Sorsogon, while Orbina’s remains were brought to a funeral parlor.
On the evening of January 31, Gallega was taken from his police detention cell, supposedly for a ballistic examination. Gallega heard one policeman say, “Patayin na iyan.” (He should be killed.) His head was covered with a black cloth bag. In panic, Gallega screamed for help and tried to run back inside the precinct. The police immediately removed the cloth bag from his head.
The police charged Gallega with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
On February 17, 2014, Sorsogon City Prosecutor Alma Zacarias dismissed the charges stipulating that the search conducted was unlawful, and that the alleged evidence used against Gallega was inadmissible. The Prosecutor added that Gallega’s “alleged admission that he had a handgun could not be taken against him because his right under custodial investigation, particularly the right to counsel, was violated.” The order for Gallega’s release was issued.
CASE 3: Activist arrested for protesting in an electric cooperative
On 24 February 2014, almost 100 member-consumers of the Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) and their supporters held an assembly inside the Aleco compound. The Aleco consumers protested the impending take-over of the San Miguel Energy Corporation (SMEC), owned by the Cojuanco clan, on the consumers’ electric cooperative which they asserted will result in increased electricity rates.
At 10am, around 18 policemen, led by police chief Rommel dela Rama and Inspector Reynaldo Castuera, arrived and ordered the protesters to leave the premises. Some of the policemen were in civilian clothes.
Dela Rama threatened that the group will be dispersed if they refuse to leave. Paul Vincent Casilihan, Karapatan-Bikol spokesperson and Atty. Bartolome Rayco, chairperson of the Aleco Multi-Sectoral Stakeholders Organization (AMSSO) and National Union of People’s Lawyer (NUPL)-Albay chapter asserted they were exercising their rights as member-consumers of Aleco.
That afternoon, police chief Dela Rama said the protesters will be arrested if they do not leave. But Rayco and Casilihan insisted that there were no legal grounds for the police to arrest them. Dela Rama then ordered his men to arrest Casilihan immediately. The police chief pointed to Casilihan and shouted, “Posasan na yan! Hulihin ito!” (Handcuff him! Arrest him!)
Uniformed policemen gathered around Casilihan. Seeing this, Kilusang Mayo Uno member Hernan Certeza approached Casilihan’s, but he too, was arrested. Police grabbed Certeza, pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him. Karl Anthony Canata, a 17-year-old artist of the Kaboronyogan Cultural Network was also handcuffed and pushed into a police car with Certeza and Casilihan.
Dela Rama likewise ordered the arrest of Atty. Rayco who was escorted by policemen inside the police vehicle. The police confiscated the protesters’ jeepney and other belongings. Canata, Certeza and Casilihan suffered bruises while Canata’s elbows were wounded. Canata’s handcuffs were only removed upon insistence of the lawyer. He was transferred to the City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD) at 2pm.
The police charged Rayco, Casilihan and Certeza with grave coercion and malicious mischief. At 11:30 pm the City Prosecutor ordered their release since the warrantless arrest was not considered valid. The three were released at 1am on 25 February 2014. Canata, on the other hand, was forced to sign a certification at the CSWD without the presence of any of his parents and legal counsel. A member of the Karapatan quick response team Atty. Maddona Gay Escio, was barred from entering the CSWD to assist Canata and his mother.
Canata was only released at noon of February 25, after his mother was forced to sign a document stating that she will not allow her child to go to the Karapatan office or be with Casilihan. The police officers only released the passenger jeepney and other confiscated items upon the insistence of Casilihan.