Karapatan to AFP: Denials won’t stop HRVs

“It no longer comes as a surprise that the AFP’s spokesperson has again denied that there are human rights violations in the Philippines. We’ve heard the line several times in the past. Walang pagbabago. We’re used to these lies and denials but we cannot get use to the violations that are committed against the people,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, in reaction to the statement of Armed Forces spokesperson Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. refuting the human rights group’s assertion on the rising rights abuses under the Aquino government. 

Palabay said that Karapatan stands by their documentation, “the statistics of the rights violations we published are, in fact, less than those reported to us.”

The AFP’s denial came a few days after the killing of Cristina Jose, a village councilor and woman leader of Barug Katawhan, an organization of victims of typhoon Pablo in Davao Oriental that led the protest at the DSWD office in Davao City. Jose, prior to her death, was also a victim by the military’s red baiting, calling her a “kagawad ng mga NPA” (councilor of the NPA).  Jose is the 18th woman victim of extrajudicial killing under the Aquino administration. 

Also, Karapatan said there are several cases filed in court by the victims’ relatives and rights groups which are considered as “cold” cases, “because the government, who is mainly responsible in the prosecution of the perpetrators, has not acted on these cases.” Palabay added that even the court martial proceedings for the military perpetrators of the Capion massacre remains a PR stint by the AFP, almost five months after Juvy Capion and her two sons were killed.

Karapatan also noted, on the commemoration of the International Women’s Day, the women victims of human rights violations. Aside from the EJK victims, Palabay said there are 33 women political detainees all over the country who are in jail because of trumped up criminal charges.  “All of them were illegally arrested and detained to stifle their opposition to Aquino’s anti-women and anti-people policies. They should be released immediately,” she added. 

“We will never tire of criticizing the Aquino government and the AFP for as long human rights violations are committed against the poor Filipinos,” said Palabay.