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Karapatan to P-Noy: Scrap ‘repressive’ Bayanihan

Karapatan finds insincere and untruthful the denial by the Armed Forces of the Philippines of the existence of an order of battle (OB), in reaction to the enactment of the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10350) which declares such lists unlawful. (Inquirer, 12/25/12)

Denial is the usual response of the Aquino administration and the AFP when they are confronted with questions about human rights abuses. The lies they have been peddling through their counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan have been exposed.

We question the administration’s policy that is being perpetuated by Joint

Order No. 14-2012 of the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government. The order, which reportedly contains a list of the leaders of the communist movement for whose arrest a total bounty of P466 million has been set aside, is dangerous and malicious. It is, in fact, a hit list of personalities/individuals who may be persecuted or charged with trumped-up offenses or killed with impunity.

We cite the case of Rolly Panesa, a security guard who was illegally arrested, tortured and detained after being mistakenly identified by the military as Benjamin Mendoza, allegedly a top-ranking leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines, with a bounty of P5.6 million.

There is a similar OB in the hands of the 86th Infantry Battalion and 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, which lists 28 individuals as targets of military operations in Tinooc, Ifugao. The list includes the names of Jude Baggo, Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA)-Karapatan secretary general, and farmers who are vocal against militarization of communities in the Cordilleras.

The Aquino administration should put an end to its hypocrisy—it perpetuates human rights violations on the ground while making it appear that it is compliant with human rights standards by enacting laws and establishing human rights offices. The human rights situation on the ground shows that, despite the laws against torture and disappearances, human rights violations and political repression continue through Oplan Bayanihan, and the soldiers and policemen behind these crimes are not held accountable; in fact, they are promoted to higher ranks.

We credit the enactment of RA 10350 mainly to the painstaking, persevering, militant and unwavering pursuit of justice of the relatives of the desaparecidos, human rights groups and lawyers and people’s organizations.

Karapatan has documented 12 victims of enforced disappearances under President Aquino’s watch. With RA 10350, we challenge the Aquino administration to file charges against all perpetrators of enforced disappearances—from Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan to Brig. Gen. Eduardo Año—to hold them accountable for the disappearances of Karen Empeño, Sherlyn Cadapan, Jonas Burgos and many others. We likewise urge Mr. Aquino to end enforced disappearances and all human rights violations by scrapping Oplan Bayanihan, which is an instrument of political repression.

—CRISTINA PALABAY,

secretary general, Karapatan,

karapatan@karapatan.org


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