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Beaconsfield Initiative and the CHRA meet with Canadian Ambassador Thornley on Human Rights Concerns The Beaconsfield

Initiative 1 and its partner, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) met with Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines, Christopher Thornley and his staff, Ms. Karra-Lee Geritts and Mr. Benoit Girouard on human rights concerns in the Philippines. Representatives from both groups encouraged the Embassy to look into the cases, and to extend support for the promotion and respect of human rights in the Philippines. Cases of human rights violations in the Philippines brought to his attention were the subject of concern of different Canadian institutions and organizations such as the United Church of Canada (UCC), KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, the Center for Philippine Concerns, the Philippine Network on Justice and Peace (Toronto) and the Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines. Different letters to President Benigno Aquino III were issued by the said groups in response to the CHRA Urgent Action Alert since November last year. The Urgent Action Alert was prompted by human rights violations perpetrated by the 86th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) in Tinoc, Ifugao including the discovery of their Target List containing the names of 28 members and leaders of different peoples organizations in the region including Jude Baggo, Secretary General of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance. In the letter of concern issued by the United Church of Canada (UCC) signed by The Right Reverend Gary James Paterson, Moderator of the United Church of Canada, the UCC urged President Aquino to ensure the safety of the listed individuals and to conduct an independent, thorough and prompt investigation into the threats made against the individuals listed. The UCC letter stated that The labeling and political vilification of CPA and CHRA unjustly make them open targets of various human rights violationsThe United Church upholds the rights and dignity of persons as an integral part ofour Christian faith and the common mission we share with partners around the
Beaconsfield Initiative - The Beaconsfield Initiative was an Exposure Mission to the Cordillera Region in the Northern Philippines, whose purpose was two-fold: 1) to establish long term covenants with partners and church congregations in the Cordillera region with congregations and ministry sites in Canada; and 2) to explore and document the lives of indigenous people; the militarization of the region; the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances; the environmental destruction and many additional forms of human rights violations. The Reverend Shaun Fryday and The Very Reverend Dr. Bill Phipps, were leaders to a team of 14 concerned Canadians primarily from the United Church of Canada and we were hosted by our long term partners: The National Council of Churches of the Philippines, The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, The Regional Ecumenical Council of the Cordillera, The Cordillera Peoples Alliance and The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance

world. The Cordillera People's Alliance and its human rights arm, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, have been partners of the United Church for over 25 years. Those individuals labeled in the military document as "supporters of the New Peoples Army" are leaders and members of indigenous communities who work in community development and education, policy development and human rights advocacy that the United Church has collaborated with and supported. The delegation presented its views on the reported human rights abuses in Zamboanga del Sur, area of operation of TVI Resource Development (Phils), Inc. (TVIRD), a subsidiary of the Canadian mining company TVI Pacific Inc. The cases were submitted during a hearing by the Committee on Human Rights by the House of Representatives of the Philippine government last November. The perpetrators named in the cases belong to the 53rd Infantry Battalion and the Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units Active Auxiliaries (SCAA) from the 1st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army but placed under the command of the TVIRDs Balabag site officer-in-charge and Security Manager, retired Army Col. Valentino Edang.

Representatives of various human rights groups, also representing the Beaconsfield Initiative, met with Canadian Ambassador Christopher Thornley (fifth from left). (From left) Honorio Guerrero (CPSHR), Audrey Beltran (CHRA), Jude Baggo (CHRA), Beth Dollaga (UCC and CPSHR), Tess Tesalona (CPC), and Benoit Girouard (Canadian Embassy).

Human rights concerns in the Philippines have been consistently brought to the attention of the Canadian government through series of delegations and visits by church and human rights leaders to Canada. Last October 30, 2012, Representative Neri Colmenares 2

of Bayan Muna and president of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers addressed the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons on their 54th meeting. Representative Colmenares invited the Subcommittee to conduct a study mission in the Philippines to look into these cases and come out with recommendations to both the Canadian and Philippine government in strengthening human rights protection. Ambassador Thornley said he would welcome the possibility of a Canadian Parliament Study Mission to the Philippines. The meeting took place last January 16, 2012 at the Canadian Embassy in Makati City and was attended by Beth Dollaga of the United Church of Canada and the CanadaPhilippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR), Honorio Guerrero, also of the CPSHR, Tess Tesalona of the Centre for Philippine Concerns (CPC), Jude Baggo and Audrey Beltran of the CHRA. #

For reference: Jude Baggo Secretary General Cordillera Human Rights Alliance Mobile number: 09189199007