AFP is original fake news mill in PH - Karapatan

“For the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to continue lying through its teeth, it is a confirmation that they lack credibility and integrity, and that they are desperate for any opportunity to mask their abhorrent public image. Resorting to fake news is at the height of desperation. Since time immemorial, the AFP has been a foremost purveyor of fake news to save its own skin and to justify rights abuses,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the reports by the AFP of alleged hostage-taking, looting and threats of members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Antipas, North Cotabato. The AFP’s claims were later disputed by Mayor Egidio Cadungon of Antipas, North Cotabato. 

“Unfortunately, for an institution known to be the number one violator of human rights, excuses, word wars, and PR stunts won’t cut it, especially after killings, bombings and illegal arrests,” Palabay added. 

On March 23, 2017, at least 237 families voluntarily evacuated in Antipas, North Cotabato, fearing an armed encounter between the military and the NPA. Residents called the mayor to help transport the people to the Antipas municipal gym. On the evening of March 23, more residents from the barangays of Camutan, Marili, and Malangad also evacuated, when the military launched clearing operations at 9 p.m. The regional chapter of Karapatan in Southern Mindanao reported that the 39th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army dropped bombs on Sitio Bugwak, Brgy. Marili, Antipas, in the course of their operations. The evacuees numbered to at least 700 individuals by the evening. 

Mayor Cadungon was quoted to have said that the people were scared because of the President’s orders, referring to his all-out-war pronouncement declared last February 2017. Karapatan attested that the said declaration, complemented by counter-insurgency measures, has resulted to the displacement of thousands, the damage to properties, and endangerment of communities as aerial strikes and other operations were launched.

Karapatan also documented the forcible evacuation of 691 residents in Maddela, Quirino, due to the deployment of troops from the 86th IBPA on February 18, 2017. The AFP claimed that they had a run-in with the NPA on February 20, residents claimed that there were no NPAs and there was no encounter in their community. Recently, in Malibcong, Abra, the PNP and the AFP claimed that there were no aerial bombings by the military in the communities, despite testimonies of residents that at least 14 phosphorous bombs were dropped in their rice fields and forests and photos of forest areas razed by fire due to the bombings. 

“It is hypocritical for the AFP to talk about peace, while their bombs are being dropped on civilian communities. The all-out-war has revealed the tendency of the current government, as with previous regimes, to respond with State fascism when faced with resistance,” Karapatan said. 

“While we welcome the continuation of the peace talks this April, continuing human rights violations, through State policies such as counter-insurgency programs, will ultimately be impediments to a just and lasting peace. Instead of wasting government funds on bombs and weapons of soldiers, direly needed reforms such as free land distribution for peasant and indigenous communities, among others, should be discussed and implemented,” Palabay ended.