AFP's damaged reputation is its own making

"There's no reputation to 'besmirch'. The AFP’s reputation has long been stained with blood of the Filipino people,“ Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said in reaction to the Armed Forces of the Philippines' statement that groups like Karapatan are ‘besmirching’ its reputation even in the international community. 

AFP Berdugo 

“The AFP is obviously irked by the complaints filed by Karapatan before the United Nations Human Rights Council on the killing of two Lumad leaders, Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo, and Lumad school Director Emerito Samarca,” she added. The killing resulted in the evacuation of 3,000 Lumad coming from the affected communities in Surigao del Sur. 

“The AFP claimed it already did its own investigation and immediately exonerated itself from the killing. Nagpapatawa ba sila? (Are they trying to be funny?) Who, in the right mind, would believe in this kind of investigation?" Palabay said. The AFP is now saying the killing was a result of a tribal war. "They were so quick to have their own findings. Such a lame alibi to exonerate the army's role in the political killings," Palabay continued. 

The witnesses recognized the killers, brothers Bobby and Loloy Tejero, members of the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani who were with the 36th and the 75th Infantry Battalion and 1st Special Forces of the Philippine Army. Magahat/Bagani Force, led by Marcos Bocales was Task Force Gantangan, a civilian group formed by the AFP as part of Gloria Arroyo's Oplan Bantay Laya. The Magahat-Bagani are recruited by the AFP among the Lumad as part of its divide and rule tactic.”

"Therefore the AFP is making the Lumad kill each other in the name of BS Aquino's Oplan Bayanihan. It is not a tribal war, the existence of paramilitary groups among the Lumad is part of the State’s counterinsurgency program," Palabay said.

"This is exactly why we are requesting the United Nations Human Rights Council to do its own investigation—so the government cannot fudge the findings. We challenge the government to issue official invitations to the concerned UN Special Rapporteurs for them to be able to conduct their own probe on the killings of Lumad,” Palabay said. 

"If the AFP wants good reputation, they should stop committing human rights violations among the people, pull-out of the tribal schools and communities and disband the paramilitary groups," Palabay said. 

In 2012, several international institutions have called on the Philippine government to disband the paramilitary groups. UN Special Rapporteurs on Extrajudicial Killings and on Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Christof Heyns and Ms. Margaret Sekaggya have pointed out the role of the paramilitaries in the killing of Fr. Fausto Tentorio. The UN Human Rights Council, during the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines, has strongly recommended that the Aquino government disband these paramilitary groups. The European Union Parliament also issued a resolution calling on the Philippine government to “revoke Executive Order 546” and “disband paramilitary groups and private armies.

 

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