Karapatan slams Año appointment as NSA

“The appointment of retired general Eduardo Año, whose military and government service record screams of a brutal record of human rights violations across administrations, is akin to a death sentence to many Filipinos,” said rights group Karapatan, as it slammed the appointment of Año as national security adviser, replacing Prof. Clarita Carlos.

“We deplore his appointment, as we cry for justice for thousands of victims killed, massacred, abducted and disappeared, and communities terrorized by state security forces under Año’s command,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

“Throughout key positions in the military and government, Año carried with him the brutal mindset of a militarist and mercenary aimed at annihilating government critics, activists, and alleged dissenters,” she added.

Victims and human rights defenders had pointed at Año as mastermind behind the disappearance of peasant activist Jonas Burgos, who was abducted and disappeared in 2007 when Año was the Army intelligence chief under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Año was also responsible for the massacre of three indigenous people and wounding of a 12-year old child in Paquibato, Davao City on June 2015, known as the Paquibato massacre, when he was commander of the 69th IB-PA, under the 10th Infantry “Agila” Division, under Brig. Gen. Aurelio Baladad,” Palabay said.

The Paquibato massacre, Palabay pointed out, was only one of the long list of violations of military troops under Año’s command in Lumad communities in Mindanao, when the campaign “Stop Lumad Killings” was launched in response to the heightened militarization in Mindanao, way before martial law was declared by Duterte in 2017.

“As DILG chief, Año continued the implementation of the brutal campaign of extrajudicial killings and war on drugs under Duterte’s reign. Notwithstanding, DILG, along with the DND, has made redtagging and arbitrary arrests and detention a money-making venture, under a bounty scheme against persons falsely accused as members of the CPP-NPA,” Palabay added.

“As national security adviser, Año is now one of the biggest threats to people’s life and security in the land, completing Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s arsenal of butchers in his Cabinet. He will likewise be acting as the vice chairperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the Anti-Terrorism Council – both bodies are acting as judge, jury and executioners that arbitrarily label and accuse persons and groups to quell political dissent. His appointment should be met with condemnation and heightened vigilance by rights defenders and the people,” Palabay said.

Karapatan has earlier deplored the appointment of PNP Brig. Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr. as CIDG director and Carlito Galvez, Jr. as DND secretary, citing Caramat’s involvement in the single biggest slaughter of 32 suspected drug personalities under the Duterte regime, then as head of the Bulacan Police Provincial Office.

On the other hand, Galvez, as OPAPP chief, was the implementer of so-called peace talks projects that involved forced surrenders of suspected NPA supporters, who are mostly poor farmers. Galvez was also behind military air strikes in Mindanao as Western Command chief, which included the intentional fires set by the military in residential areas that razed Marawi City to the ground during the all-out offensive against the Maute Group in 2017. #