"Sila itong dapat magbayad sa mga krimen nila. The AFP should pay for their crimes against the people and deserves not a single cent from the people’s money,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said today at the Lower House as Congress hears the Defense Department’s proposed 2016 budget. "With what is happening especially in areas under the Eastern Mindanao Command—the massive evacuation, the killings, massacres and threat to Lumad schools, their teachers, staffs and students—it is the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its paramilitary force multipliers who owe the people," Palabay said.
"Gen. Aurelio Baladad, chief of EastMinCom, has no right to take a single cent from the nation’s coffers. Instead, Gen. Baladad should be relieved from his post for the terror he caused since he assumed command. The taxpayers’ money has been used to fund ed the paramilitary Magahat/Bagani forces, enabling them to kill Emerito Samarca, director of Alternative learning Center for Agricultural and livelihood Development (ALCADEV), Dionel Campos, chairperson of MAPASU, a local Lumad organization and Datu Juvello Sinzo in Lianga, Surigao Sur. They also killed brothers Crisanto and Ely Tabugol in San Miguel, Surigao Sur," Palabay cited.
"It is also the taxpayer’s money through which was used in fundinged the 36th IB’s rampage in Bukidnon, resulting to the massacre of five Lumads Herminio Samia, Welmer Somina, Jobert Samia, and minors Emer Somina, 17, and Norman Samia, 13," Palabay continued.
"Who could forget the Paquibato Massacre where three civilians were killed, two were Lumad leaders and one peasant?" Palabay said.
Palabay also reminded the public that it is under Gen. Baladad’s reign that Lumad schools are have been increasingly under attack and threat, the AFP branding them as NPA schools. "It is also under his command that residents of Talaingod, Davao del Norte were forced evacuated to Davao City because the paramilitary group Alamara has been terrorizing its residents," Palabay said.
The paramilitary groups, trained and funded by the AFP and big business, have been used in the government’s counterinsurgency campaign “and in no way should be treated as an internal conflict among the indigenous peoples. Since the time of Marcos, these paramilitary groups, usually recruited from among the indigenous peoples themselves, have been used as pawns to aid in the government’s dirty war against the people.”
“When cornered, the AFP either calls their victims as NPAs or blames the NPA for the killings,” Palabay said.
In Surigao del Sur, as of September 6, there are already 2,658 individuals from 22 communities in five towns who are in evacuation at the Provincial Sports Complex, Tandag City; nine tribal schools are forced to close down due to intense military operations and the terror caused by the AFP’s paramilitary groups. The people of Surigao del Sur, especially in these 22 communities have long been victims of human rights violations and have experienced almost yearly evacuation, since 2005, because of military operations.
“The more than 55 AFP combat battalions deployed in non-Muslim areas in Mindanao haves caused a series of human rights violations against the people of Mindanao, especially peasants and indigenous people; showing brutality and committed with impunity. Yet, the government, as usual, has not lifted a finger and punished a perpetrator,” said Palabay.
"Battalions and forces under the EastMinCom, geared as if to wipe out the Lumad, should not be given any budget but should instead be pulled out from communities and Baladad should be relieved from his post and be charged with crimes against humanity. The blood-stained Daang Matuwid of BS Aquino should be put to an end," Palabay said. ###