Karapatan to AFP: you can’t whitewash killings with red tagging

“It is tempting to ignore the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ use of red baiting tactic against rights advocates and journalists. We all know it is a sign of panic or a work of dimwits to whitewash their crimes against the people. But history also tells us that most of the victims of extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, and illegal arrest and detention were first victims of red tagging by the regime and the military,” said Karapatan Chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez. 
Hilao-Enriquez scored the Aquino regime and the military for red tagging and maliciously spreading false statements, “which are actually veiled threats against Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Southern Mindanao Secretary General Hanimay Suazo, and journalist Inday Varona because they stand by the victims of human rights violations, specifically the Lumad in Mindanao.” 
“We will hold the Aquino regime accountable should anything untoward happen to those who echo the victims’ call for justice, to those who speak up against State terrorism,” Hilao-Enriquez added. Several meme against the three women are being circulated in the social media.  
On September 20, the secretary general of Karapatan-Caraga Eliza Pangilinan was charged with serious physical injuries for accosting three soldiers from the 401st Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army. The soldiers were in the crowd of mourners, taking photos, during the funeral of the two slain Lumad leaders in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. “Based on our experience with Oplan Bantay Laya, those photographed by  State agents without the victims’ permission turn up disappeared or dead a few days or weeks after.  That is why Pangilinan turned the three soldiers, one of them armed, to the police.” 
Hanimay Suazo and 15 other leaders of people’s organizations were charged by the military with kidnapping and human trafficking for supporting Ata Manobo evacuees who were forced to leave their communities in Talaingod, Davao del Norte due to military presence and combat operations.
A ‘hitlist’ was attached to the criminal complaint with names and photos of 70 other leaders, including Palabay. “True to form, the AFP included the names of Crispin Beltran and Francis Morales, both deceased, in the said list.” Eight of the 70 leaders in the hitlist, including Palabay, filed a writ of amparo before the Supreme Court on September 18, 2015.
“Expectedly, the AFP denied the existence of a hitlist,” commented Hilao-Enriquez.
Instead of bullying human rights advocates and civil libertarians, Hilao-Enriquez called on the Aquino regime to dismantle immediately the AFP-backed paramilitary forces, pullout the troops from Lumad communities and stop the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan. ###  


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