AFP lies through teeth to justify rights abuses

“As attacks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) intensify against rural communities all over the country, their concoction of make-believe stories and alibis to cover up the rights abuses continue,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

On February 11, 2017, after a reported encounter between the AFP and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Sitio Tangis, Brgy. Datal Anggas, Alabel, Sarangani, the 73rd Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) dropped six (6) bombs in the said sitio and nearby areas. The next day, the military illegally arrested eight (8) civilians and accused them of being members of the NPA. All eight, from the Kaolo tribe, are members of local peasant organization Lumad Kasbakas De Sarangani (Lumakas-Sitio Tangis). 

It was only on February 15, when they were brought to the Prosecutor’s Office in Alabel, Sarangani for inquest proceedings for trumped up charges of frustrated murder and illegal possession of firearms and explosives. They are currently detained at the Alabel Police Station, pending resolution of the preliminary investigation. 

“The farmers, who are residents in the said community, returned to their homes in the afternoon of February 11, after the reported encounter. The next morning, the military accosted them in their homes, planting guns in their huts, and accused them of being NPA members. They only knew of the trumped up charges against them three days after their arrest, which also makes this a case of arbitrary detention. Unfortunately, this is the story of many political prisoners in the country, mostly from the peasant sector,’ Palabay said. 

Palabay added that “there is a long list of military ploys that have caused the endangerment of civilian communities.” More recently, Karapatan conducted a National Fact-Finding Mission (NFFM) in Maddela, Quirino province, Cagayan Valley, after incidents of forcible evacuation of residents were reported due to the deployment of troops from the 86th IBPA on February 18, 2017. Findings from the NFFM showed that 691 residents from barangays of Manglad, Cabua-an, and Ysmael were forcibly displaced. 

The AFP claimed that they had a run-in with the NPA on February 20, but ‘Norma’, a resident who lived in a hill across the alleged encounter site, attested there was no such confrontation, and that ‘the direction of the shots was upward’, contrary to allegations that there were exchanges of shots.

The AFP also claimed that Gilbert Buyucan, Brgy. Captain of Brgy.Cabua-an, was taken hostage by the NPA. Buyucan, who was then facilitating the safe evacuation of residents, repudiated such claims. 

“In the AFP’s record of rights abuses, including trumped-up cases against leaders and members of progressive organizations, there is no doubt that they have become notoriously prolific in manufacturing fictitious narratives that could rival the storytelling of fiction authors. Their acting may have earned them standing ovations from those who benefit from their fascist attacks, had it not meant injustice, imperil and violations against the people,” said Palabay. 

“Now that the AFP’s farcical ploys are back in full swing amid its all-out-war declaration, these parasites who thrive in patronage politics have a new script to play with – scenarios of “legitimate” drug operations where targets all happen to end up dead. With their involvement in the drug war, on top of the new counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, rights abuses sugarcoated with lies to put the blame somewhere else will continue to be fed to the public. As violations heighten, so will the deceitful excuses justifying the unjustifiable,’ Palabay concluded.