Karapatan calls Oplan Bayanihan fund as "blood money"

"Oplan Bayanihan fund is blood money," Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said in time of the Congress' budget hearing for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly citing the funds allocated for Pres. Aquino's counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. "We reiterate our call to the members of Congress to give zero budget to the AFP," Palabay added. 
 
"Filipinos do not need soldiers shooting at them, nor bombs falling on their houses and fields, nor guns killing them. We need schools, health care, adequate housing, and other social services," Palabay said.  "The 81B billion proposed budget of the Dept. Of National Defense should be put directly to social services," Palabay said. 
 
"Without the OpBay funds, many lives would be spared from extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest, torture, and other forms of human rights violations. Benjamin Angelia-Planos would still be alive now, with his family, if not for Oplan Bayanihan," Palabay cited. 
 
Planos was killed in the presence of his two kids, Alvin Jay, 3, and Airah Jel, 2. On September 13, at around 2 p.m., Planos with his two children were heading back home at Purok 2A, Barangay Kauswagan, Municipality of Loreto, Agusan del Sur. The three were on their motorcycle, carrying coconut fruits and chickens from their farm. A kilometer before their house, Planos was shot, slashed and hacked by unidentified assassins. Planos sustained gunshot wounds on his left ear, right hand and right chest near the armpit. His right hand and nape was hacked and his nose was slashed. Planos’ two children witnessed the brutality.
 
Planos was the treasurer of a local organization Kahugpungan alang sa Kalambuan (KASAKA or  Association for Development).
Prior to the killing, on September 2, he was summoned by the 1st Lieutenant Jeremy Ecellin of the 26th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) to report to the brigade, and “clear” his name. Planos presented himself before the 26th IBPA.  
A day after Planos' killing, the same Lt. Ecellin went to the wake and offered one sack of rice and cash to the family. He denied any knowledge on the incident. Emily, Benjie’s wife told Lt. Ecellin, "Abi ba nako sir, kung malimpyo na ang pangalan ni Benjie dili na siya hilabtan. (Sir, I believed that after Benjie ‘cleared' his name, he will no longer be harmed.)”
 
The family suspected the paramilitary Bagani Force, attached to the 26th IB, perpetrated the killing. 
The 26th IB and the members of Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) under it were also pinpointed in the killing of Genesis Ambason more than a year ago, on Sept. 13. Ambason sustained two gunshot wounds in his right chest and another two gunshot wounds in the hip area, near his spine. His face and chest were covered with bruises; his teeth were all gone. His head was deformed, and his face unrecognizable because of the bruises. 

"The links are clear. The people’s money that goes through the DND, DILG, AFP, specifically to implement Oplan Bayanihan also ends up to the assassins such as the military-backed paramilitary groups," Palabay said. "This has to stop. The people's money is meant to save and improve lives, not to kill." Palabay added.

Karapatan has documented 153 extrajudicial killings under the BS Aquino regime. Karapatan called on the government to "stop extrajudicial killings and dismantle paramilitary groups, and to render justice for Benjie Planos."