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Sorsogon Hearing on rights violations
Ni Reynaldo Jamoralin <>

Rights committee raps knuckles of CHR's Senar

SORSOGON CITY - "Stop talking to us about budgets and geography . .
instead, be more pro-active and creative . . " thus admonished
Congressman Loretta Ann Rosales, chair of the House Committee on
Civil, Politicial and Human Rights, the regional director of the
Commission on Human Rights (CHR)-Bicol, Pelagio Senar, Jr., at the
conclusion of the day-long public hearing held at the Vicenta Hall,
Fernandos Hotel, here, April 1, to look into numerous complaints of
human rights violations committed allegedly by military personnel
operating in the Province of Sorsogon.

Rosales was reacting to the report of Senar during the public hearing
where he said his office could have performed better if it had
sufficient budget support. In the same report, Senar also mentioned
the location of his office in Legazpi City while he had to cover all
the provinces of the Bicol Region. Senar said, CHR did not maintain
provincial offices except for the regional office in Legazpi City.
Earlier, in the course of the hearing, Congressman Francis G.
Escudero (1st Dist., Sorsogon) also practically dressed down Senar
for harping on budget constraints and the distance of his office from
the other Bicol provinces that he had to cover.

Both congressmen suggested to Senar to be "more pro-active, more
creative, and mobilize existing resources". Escudero suggested, Senar
can even tap the local human rights advocacy non-governmental
organizations in different parts of the region. And he does not even
have to spend a single centavo for this, Escudero said.

The public hearing, aside from Rosales and Escudero, was conducted by
Representatives Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna, partylist) and Jose Solis
(2nd dist., Sorsogon). Gov. Raul R. Lee also attended, together with
the municipal mayors Deogracias Ramos of Gubat, Roque Carranza of
Magallanes, and Renato Laurenaria of Castilla. Gubat, Castilla and
Magallanes all had
documented cases of human rights violations allegedly committed by
unidentified elements of the Philippine Army in Sorsogon.

Sorsogon City also had several documented cases, the latest of which
was the case of seven youths of Barangay Marinas who are now still
detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Sorsogon
City for alleged involvement in the killing of three members of the
Philippine National Police in Gubat town. Most of the accused are
still minors.

The hearing was conducted by virtue of House Resolution Nos. 998 and
1058 regarding "the spate of summary executions and mass killings in
the provinces of Sorsogon and Camarines Norte" based on a documented
report submitted to the House Committee by KARAPATAN-Alliance for the
Advancement of People's Rights.

A total of eight victims and relatives of victims - mostly wives of
the slain victims - from Sorsogon testified at the hearing, together
with a couple of relatives of victims from Camarines Norte.

Meanwhile, tossed around during the hearing was the possibility of
creating so-called "zones of peace" in the province or in the region
(Sentro Sorsogon/Kaiba News and Features)

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KAIBA News & Features, P.O. Box 6126, Naga City 4400.  email:  Tel No. 0917 8122107 Copyright 1999  KAIBA News & Features. All rights reserved.  Revised: May 04, 2003