COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
EMBARGO FOR TOMORROW, 15 JULY 2008
Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Leila De Lima today immediately issued a Memorandum to CHR-NCR to dispatch anew the CHR Quick Reaction Team (QRT) to Fort Bonifacio General Hospital to check the situation of Ms. Rose Ann Gumanoy and her younger sister Fatima Gumanoy, who are currently confined at the Fort Bonficio General Hospital in Taguig City. The CHR head would like the CHR Composite Team to personally talk and interview the two subjects and be able to assess their condition.
The Chairperson’s action is in response to the letter sent to the Commission by Aling Maria, mother of the two young ladies. The younger Gumanoys are the daughters of the late Eddie Gumanoy, an alleged victim of political killing in April 2003. On July 7, 2008, Aling Maria, the widow of Mang Eddie, sought the assistance of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to look into the case of her 2 beloved daughters. She is requesting the independent constitutional body to help her to discharge her children from the said hospital and transfer them (Rose Ann and Fatima) to another hospital and seek medical attention from the doctor of their choice. The letter sender also wished that the custody of her offspring , Rose Ann, 21 years old
and Fatima, 17 years old be transferred to the custody of the police and not the military.
She (Aling Maria) believes, her letter reads, that indeed if Rose Ann has a pending case of rebellion, she should be placed under the care of the Police authorities and not under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
According to De Lima, the first time the CHR Team went to see the two, the group failed to talk to Rose Ann because there was supposedly a written statement coming from her, and shown by her lawyer, a certain Atty. Randy Vega, saying that Rose Ann refused to be interviewed because she was not feeling well. On the other hand, Fatima was sick at that time. She was said to be afflicted with measles.
Not taking no for an answer, Chairperson De Lima directed the team to go back to Fort Bonifacio since she wanted a concrete report on the outcome of the mission. She was also very worried about the condition of Fatima, who is a minor.
“We have to be very precise in dealing with this situation. First, we wanted to find out which of the two conflicting versions of this case is true and correct. According to an unidentified member of the military, the two girls willingly and obligingly sought custody of the AFP to distance themselves from Karapatan; Another version is that the two young ladies, according to the mother and Karapatan, are under `duress’ when they were held under the custody of the AFP.
“We want to find out the real reason why our team was not allowed to interview the sisters. Aside from that, we also would like to know the legal basis, if any, of the Philippine Army’s custody of the sisters since Rose Ann is out on bail,” the CHR Chairperson said. At this point in time, De Lima stressed that there is a need for the CHR to `intervene’ into the case for clarity and transparency of the procedures related thereto.
Time and again, the composed, battle-scarred lawyer, now a complete human rights defender and public official, stressed that CHR will remain sincere in its mandate to protect, promote and fulfill the human rights of every individual, regardless of his stature in the society.
“It is very imperative that the CHR Team of investigators, lawyers and medico-legal be able to personally interview the two girls, especially Fatima who is a minor,” the courageous CHR Chairperson intoned. She will get the feedback from the team in the next few days and draw up measures on how to deal with the situation after the report is given to her. xxx