AFP, revival of Philippine Constabulary for war on drugs will result to more rights violations vs Filipino people

“Fully integrating the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) into the already bloody war on drugs will be a chilling amalgamation of the said campaign to the military’s counter-insurgency and anti-people objectives. This will inevitably result to further fascist attacks and human rights violations against the people, including organized communities and movements,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General, as National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon announced yesterday the AFP’s plan to assign certain AFP units in the Duterte administration’s war on drugs. 

Philippine Constabulary 

Palabay said the involvement of military and the police as primary enforcers of the war on drugs in the Philippines and in other countries had led to the systematic violation of the people’s right to due process and to life. “The thousands of suspected drug users and pushers and innocent citizens, even minors, killed in the course of the implementation of the campaign against illegal drugs are enough proof,” she stated. 

Karapatan said that during the period of Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ unilateral ceasefire, AFP units harassed and threatened community residents in several provinces in Bicol and Mindanao to pursue Oplan Bayanihan, under the guise of the war on drugs. Four farmer activists were physically assaulted, illegally arrested and detained in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan on false drug charges, in an attempt to derail their opposition to landgrabbing schemes. 

“Like the Philippine National Police, the AFP and even the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) have notorious records as corrupt and fascist State mercenaries. Those currently at the helm of the military institution are living proof. General Esperon, as AFP Chief of Staff and Philippine Army Commanding General during the Macapagal Arroyo administration, and current AFP Chief Eduardo Año, who aided and supported Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. during the same period, are responsible for 1,206 activists and civilians who were killed and the 206 disappeared persons,” Palabay added. 

Karapatan also strongly criticized the proposal to revive the Philippine Constabulary (PC) for the war on drugs campaign. “Reviving an institution known to have butchered Filipinos during the US colonial rule and the Marcos dictatorship for the war on drugs will worsen the climate of impunity,” Palabay said. 

The PC, the forerunner of the AFP, was first organized by the US colonial government in 1901 as a paramilitary force ordered to make warrantless arrests of known revolutionaries branded as bandits like Macario Sakay and Julian Montalan. The Constabulary also led in the suppression of peasant uprisings and civil disobedience demonstrations of workers and peasants, during that period. 

During the Marcos dictatorship, the PC became the foremost implementer of counter-insurgency programs designed by the US following their military manuals used against millions in the US war against Vietnam. These programs resulted to thousands of victims of human rights abuses during martial law in the Philippines.  

“No amount of superficial ‘cleansing’ can reform these bankrupt and blatantly fascist institutions. State policies and declarations, such as counter-insurgency programs and law enforcement-focused war against drugs, that target and affect the majority of the poor, who are struggling for fundamental change in society, should be halted. Extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests and other rights violations should stop. Thoroughgoing social, economic and political reforms that solve the basic problems of hunger, poverty, inequality, and transgressions on national sovereignty should be implemented,” Palabay concluded.