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PHILIPPINES - Mar 15, 2003

Cubao, Quezon City -- On February 19, 2003, members of the Central Police District of the Philippine National Police (CPD-PNP) conducted a raid insultingly called "Operation Lollipop" on Alta Theater. During the raid, police subjected patrons to physical and verbal abuse as well as extortion attempts, apprehending 63 men for "verification" and detaining five men without charges and against their will in nearby Camp Karingal until they paid a substantial bribe.

Even more outrageously, the raid was set up by reporter JV Villar of ABS-CBN, who approached the local District Police Intelligence Unit (DPIU) and reported the existence of "indecent acts" inside the theater in order to capture a report. Villar and fellow reporter Karen Padilla then accompanied the police unit during the raid and filmed theater patrons for reports shown on three ABS-CBN news programs. In one of them, Magandang Umaga, Bayan!, when one of the TV Stations own hosts commented on the blatant police harassment, his colleague, Erwin Tulfo, allegedly remarked that the "indecent" gay men inside the theater deserved such treatment from the police and that they should concentrate on their work in beauty parlors instead of committing lewd acts. ABS-CBN unethically showed undisguised images of theater patrons who attempted to cover their faces and were forced to expose them to cameras by the Police.

The raid was led by DPIU Investigator SPO1 Danilo Tan, under the direction of Chief Ruben Jaranza, along with operatives SPO1 Carlito Mangaoang, PO2 Noel Ponsica, PO2 Pedrito Miranda, PO2 Romualdo Cruda, PO2 Rolando Azuria and PO1 Jeremias Aliggayu, and several assistants.

According to eyewitness reports, at about 8:15pm, a group of around 20 plainclothesmen entered the theater, shouting that they were conducting a raid and causing patrons to stampede towards the exits. Policeman forced customers back into their seats saying that they were "caught in the act of doing something (immoral)" and were being apprehended for "public scandal". Some of the officers were violently hitting frightened patrons with their hands or with shoes, using language inappropriate for public servants including terms of hate and abuse. One man began bleeding from a wound on his head after being hit by the gun butt of one of the operatives.

During the raid police stole money from the wallets of some of the victims, hit them repeatedly, ripped the shirts of many, and demanded money to allow patrons to go home.

Outside the theater, the reporters who set up the raid tried to interview moviegoers and filmed the faces of patrons as police forced them to uncover their faces for the camera. The resulting media reports neglected to mention the abuse, the extortion, or the fact that the raid had been set up by the reporters Villar and Padilla.

The man who had been wounded on the head later suffered an asthma attack and asked to be brought to a hospital. Instead, he was forced to walk around the camp barefooted while being threatened not to talk to anyone about the incident.

Five moviegoers were pushed inside a rented jeepney. When the cameraman stopped shooting, they were moved to an unmarked vehicle and taken back to Camp Karingal where they were told, "Gusto niyong umuwi, gusto rin naming makauwi kayo, e di magtulungan tayo" (You want to go home, and we also want you to go home, so let's just help each other). The next morning, after calling relatives and friends for help, the group scraped together Php 3,500 and were released at 11 AM after their pay-off.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has endorsed a call to action from LAGABLAB (Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network), a network of lesbian and gay organizations and individuals that actively campaigns for the fundamental freedoms and human rights of the Filipino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. LAGABLAB appeals to members of the Filipino and international lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, to protest against police abuse and the unethical journalism of ABS-CBN.

The right to be free from discrimination is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirms that existing protections should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status and numerous human rights mechanisms of the United Nations have condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Other UDHR covenants protect citizens from arbitrary arrest or detention, from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and from unlawful arrest or detention.

Please help call on the national government, as well as the commission on Human Rights, to conduct full and impartial investigation into the actions of the police and to demand a public apology for media reporting that reflects bias as well as exacerbating stigmatization against homosexuals in Filipino society. Send protest letters to the organizations listed below. For strongest impact, supporters are encouraged to show their protest direct to the ABS-CBN newsroom via faxed messages. Supporters are also encouraged to file official complaints via the KBP website: http://www.kbp.org.ph

ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs
Sergeant Esquerra Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, Phillipines
Tel: 63-2-924 4101 local 5323; Fax: 63-2-9241523
E-mail: feedback@abs-cbn.com

2nd Floor L & F Bld.
107 Aguirre St., Legaspi Village, Makati City, Philippines
Telephone: 63-2-818 6113 /Fax: 63-2-818 6158
E-mail: adboard@info.com.ph

Association Of Accredited Advertising Agencies - Philippines (4A's)
2nd Floor L & F Bld.
107 Aguirre St., Legaspi Village, Makati City, Philippines
Tel: 63-2-893 1205
E-mail: 4as@skyinet.net

Philippine Association Of National Advertisers (PANA)
Unit 4 & 5, 3rd Floor
Sunshine Condominium, #9633 Kamagong St., Makati, Philippines
Tel: 63-2-890 2989
E-mail: pana@info.com.ph

Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP)
6/F LTA Bld
118 Perea St. Legaspi Village, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Telephone: 63-2-815-1989 / Fax: 63-2-815 1990 to 92
E-mail: kbp@pacific.net.ph

Purificacion C. Valera - Quisuimbing
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
UP Complex, Diliman, Quezon City 1101, Philippines
Telefax: 63-2-929 0102 / 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: dprvq@chr.gov.ph

Please send a copy of your letters to the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network (LAGABLAB) at: lagablab@yahoo.com.For further information or other inquiries about LAGABLAB, please contact Jonas (+63-919 4313564 or jonas@akbayan.org), Dax (+63916-7924174 or kagandax@yahoo.com) or Ging (+63918 9396235 or kopidogs@edsamail.com.ph).

The mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is to secure the full enjoyment of the human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression, and/or HIV status.

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