Philippines: Military abuse and extra-judicial killings are not “humanitarian”

Army chief hit over human rights remark

Sun Star, Saturday, June 25, 2011

ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Eduardo Oban drew flak from a militant group for saying that the government’s counter-insurgency program is founded on “human rights.”

Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said initial results of “Oplan Bayanihan” show that some Filipinos were “displaced from their homes and communities, harassed, arrested and detained, tortured and killed” due to the policy.

The group has documented 17 persons killed through extrajudicial means from January to mid-June this year, bringing the number of people killed under President Benigno Aquino III to 45.

“We are looking at that problem (of extra-judicial killings under Aquino administration),” Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Etta Rosales told Sun.Star in a text message.

In December last year, the AFP unveiled “Oplan Bayanihan,” which centered on resolving conflicts through peace process as well as community work and so-called civil military operations.

Karapatan’s documentation also noticed that the human rights violations committed under the new government “exhibit” the same patterns and characteristics of the forms used during the period of former President Gloria Arroyo’s “Oplan Bantay Laya.”

These comprise killers aboard motorcycles, leaders of peasant organizations killed, and in front of their children; soldiers looking for members of the New People’s Army (NPA) but were actually hunting down innocent people; and soldiers campaigning against people’s organizations that they brand as leftist organizations or fronts.

“While this government adds up to the cases of human rights violations, it has yet to render justice to the victims of human rights violations under the past regime,” Enriquez said.

Karapatan had counted some 1,000 victims of extra-judicial killings and hundreds of involuntarily disappeared under Arroyo’s nine-year rule. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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