Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Urgent Action on on the senseless assassination of peasant leader Enrico "Eric" Cabanit

Our ref : 039/SK/RACA/IV/2006

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic of Philippines

MalacaƱang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila NCR 1005

Dear Mrs President,

I am writing to voice my deep concern, and most profound sorrow that we condemn in strongest terms the senseless assassination of peasant leader Enrico "Eric" Cabanit, current Secretary General of Pambansang Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Lokal na Organisasyon sa Kanayunan (UNORKA, National Coordination of Autonomous Local Rural People's Organizations), the biggest organization of landless and poor peasants in the Philippines fighting for social justice and land reform.

Enrico "Eric" Cabanit was at the public market of the city of Panabo in Davao del Norte (his hometown) at around 6:10 on 24 April 2006 when he was assassinated by two masked men. His daughter was also seriously wounded due to gunshot wounds and is in critical condition at the Tagum General Hospital.

We presume in the strongest term that Enrico "Eric" Cabanit assassination related to his position as the main leader of the network of workers' organizations campaigning for the immediate redistribution of Floirendo family-owned and controlled landholdings including the 5,000 hectare Davao Penal Colony (DAPECOL) and several other properties. All in all, the Floirendo lands involved around 8,000 workers. The Floirendos have been holding off successfully petitions of workers to redistribute these lands, even as these landholdings should have been distributed a decade ago. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has recently committed to look into these petitions, including a commitment for the conduct of an ocular inspection in one of the private properties of the Floirendos.

Assassination is a barbarous act and violated Article 3 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Its also violated Article 6 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which every human being has the inherent right to life and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

The assassination indicates that the government failure to protect its citizens from violence and violent attack. Its also a manifestation from government incapacity to make the rule of law prevail. Philippines government already retified seven international human rights treaties and a number of protocols, its implementation is dismal. Ratification of international laws means nothing if not made real through domestic laws. It also shows no genuine intent in implementing human rights standards. I would like to therefore ask you, Mrs. President, to:

a. Conduct comprehensive investigation on the senseless assassination of peasant leader Enrico "Eric" Cabanit and announce the result to public.

b. Order the Secretary Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to implement Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) more progressively, specially for the private properties of the Floirendos and Philippines in general.

c. Stop using violence approach and give priority to dialogue process.

Furthermore, immediate measures are needed in order to stop the abuse against the people and to prosecute those who are responsible for the senseless assassination of peasant leader Enrico "Eric" Cabanit. Please inform me of any measures you intend to take in this regard.


Adhi Prasetyo, SH
Executive Director

Copies send to :

1. The Secretary Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Elliptical Rd., Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

2. The Philippines Ambassador of Indonesia, Jl. Imam Bonjol # 6-8, Menteng, 10310 Jakarta, Indonesia