DAVAO CITY – Philippine-based non-government organizations and victims of alleged human rights violations filed cases against the government before an international tribunal in the United States.

Groups from the Philippines represented by the Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice) brought the cases to International People’s Tribunal which started July 16 in Washington DC.

The tribunal is “Indicting the BS Aquino Regime and the US Government as represented by Pres. Barack Obama for Human Rights Violations, Plunder and Transgression of the Filipino People’s Sovereignty.”

The groups will present 32 testimonies in the tribunal.

17 witnesses will give their testimonies in the US, while 15 others will hook via live streaming and pre-recorded videos.

The groups belong to Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of the People’s Rights), Hustisya! (Victims United for Justice), Desaparecidos (Families of the Disappeared for Justice), SELDA (Society of Ex-Detainees Against Detention and Arrest), Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines) among others.

Meanwhile, a group from Southern Mindanao also filed cases before the tribunal.

Datu Tungig Mansimoy-at presented the case of Talaingod Manobos via teleconference last Thursday.

Mansimoy-at and two other witnesses gave testimony on how Army men allegedly threatened and harassed their communities which led to their evacuation last year and in May this year.

They also complained how their school was made target of the government’s insurgency operations.

Earl John Antivo, the brother of 8-year old Roque Antivo who was killed in an alleged strafing by Army men in Compostela Valley in April 2013 also testified in a video.

Ariel Casilao, Southern Mindanao spokesperson of the National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU) testified how “contractualization, privatization, and militarization plagues workers” in the region.

Casilao said “US-based corporations which employ thousands of employees heavily exploit and commit gross human rights violations in Mindanao.”

He said “trumped up charges versus union leaders of Dole Stanfilco (banana company) are filed as tactic to violate workers’ right to organize.”

Other cases which the group will present include that of the killing of Italian missionary Fr. Fausto Tentorio and the alleged illegal arrest of former University of the Philippines instructor Kim Gargar.

Tentorio was killed last October in 2011 inside his parish garage in Arakan, North Cotabato by men his supporters believe to be funded by those who have mining interests.

Meanwhile, Gargar was arrested by Army troops last October in Davao Orietal after a firefight between government soldiers and the New People’s Army.

The Army accused Gargar of being an NPA member but he said he was in the area for a research on the areas for an organization helping victims of then typhoon Pablo (international name: Bopha) victims.

Jeanne Mirer, president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), one of the conveners of the tribunal congratulated the groups for their work “to bring to light the suffering of the Filipino people caused by the Philippine government t and its supporters in the US.”

“Since Dewey sailed into Manila Bay in 1898 until today the US sought to control the people of the Philippines in many ways including by support for its dictators and its silence for in the face of ongoing supression of peoples democratic struggles,” she said.

Mirer said “at the time when impunity reigns it is important for the people to make a record of the violations of their rights, including violations of IHL, rights of the people under the conenant on civil political rights and the covenant on economic and social rights.”

Mirer said the tribunal” will contribute to this record and hopefully the people will use its results to end that impunity.”

IADL, who had Nelson Mandela as one of its presidents emeriti is a co-convener of the tribunal along with US-based organizations International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), National Lawyers Guild and Ibon International.

The Lead Prosecutor of the the group is Ramsey Clark, a renowed American lawyer, activist and former US Department of Justice official and attorney general.

The IPT in its website said that “like other peoples tribunals, the IPT 2015, as a court of public opinion, derives its legitimacy from the people as the ultimate source of the authority of all national and international laws.”

“We call on all freedom loving peoples of the world to support the victims, witnesses and the Filipino people in making their oppressors accountable for their crimes!” it said.(davaotoday.com)

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