EO 546 legitimized paramilitaries and illegal arrests, revision will worsen rights abuses in PH

“Instead of revoking Executive Order 546, a policy that legitimized the creation of paramilitary groups and private armies, the BS Aquino administration is now using it to further the proliferation of these armed dogs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Instead of junking a policy that supports a counter-insurgency program that infringes on basic human rights, BS Aquino enhanced it to worsen the human rights situation in the Philippines with the use of force multipliers," Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said. 

The EO 546 was signed by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2006, at the height of the extra-judicial killings in the country. The revised implementing rules and regulations of EO 546 was reportedly signed on August 14 by the AFP, Philippine National Police, Department of National Defense and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). The occurrence of the Ampatuan massacre in November 2009 has been attributed to the promotion of the climate of impunity through this EO. The United Nations Human Rights Council and the European Union Parliament have previously expressed their call to the Philippine government to revoke the said policy, citing Aquino’s “promise” to do so in his first State of the Nation Address as President in 2010. 

Karapatan cited the continuing operations of the Alamara, a paramilitary group in Davao del Norte and Bukidnon, that has already killed several civilians including couple Reynaldo and Teresita Intal, Songkok Asero and daughter Diane in 2015 alone. "The Alamara has been widely known in all Mindanao to be connected with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, doing combat operations with them serving as guides and goons," Palabay said. 

In Cabanglasan and Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, the Dela Mance paramilitary group are terrorizing the residents which led to the evacuation of some 100 Higaonons. Attached with the 26th IB, the Dela Mance group was involved in the killing of Frenie Landasan, chairperson of Dalacutan - Higaonon Tribal Association, on March 28, 2015, and the frustrated killing of Rosella Cahanggan and four minors. The killings were then followed by threats and harassments against community members. The Dela Mance brothers are all barangay officials in Cabanglasan. 

Italian missionary priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio was killed by elements of the paramilitary Bagani Force and the 5th Special Forces of the Philippine Army in October 17, 2011. The killing of Aklan Municipal Councilor Fernando Baldomero and fair trade activist Romeo Capalla are also being attributed to the paramilitary RPA-ABB in the Panay Island. 

Palabay said this so-called revision is also the government’s way to legitimize its gross violations of its peace agreements with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. “The policy enhances the AFP-PNP joint operations to illegally arrest NDFP peace consultants and persons suspected as CPP/NPA members, despite direct violations on the right to due process and other fundamental rights," Palabay said. 

"The illegal arrest of NDFP consultants for the peace process was all committed jointly by the PNP and the AFP, in total disregard of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. With the revisions, more violations of previous agreements with the National Democratic Front may be committed," Palabay concluded.

 

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