Human rights alliance Karapatan deplored the Marcos Jr. government’s latest appointments for secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND) and chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG of the Philippine National Police, saying their sordid records bode ill for the future of human rights in the country.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said “appointing PNP Brig. Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr. as CIDG director and Carlito Galvez as DND secretary is like unleashing a double whammy against the Filipino people.”
Palabay cited Caramat’s involvement in the single biggest slaughter of suspected drug personalities during the Duterte regime – the so-called one time-big time drug bust in August 2017 that resulted in the killing of 32 drug suspects and the arrest of 102 others in Bulacan in a span of 24 hours. Caramat then headed the Bulacan Police Provincial Office.
“It is bone-chilling for us to think that this is the guy that Duterte hailed as a paragon for the police force when he said, ‘(If) we could just kill another 32 everyday, then maybe we could reduce what ails this country.’ Is Marcos Jr. thinking of replicating his predecessor’s bloodlust through his newest CIDG appointee?” asked Palabay.
Palabay also called to mind the arrest last August 31, 2022 by PNP-Caraga operatives of 76-year old Gabriela secretary-general Atheliana Hijos, at her home in District 8, Brgy. Kinabjangan, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte. “Atel Hijos’ arrest was based on dubious police investigations that cited ‘testimonies’ of soldiers alleging that she is a combatant and was involved in armed encounters—an absurdity considering her advanced age and frail physical condition. Yet,” said Palabay, “Caramat, then Caraga’s regional police director, went on record to defend his men’s arrest of Hijos, who was suffering from tuberculosis and was just recovering from a mild stroke when she was arrested.”
“As for Galvez,” said Palabay, “we are gravely concerned that as the new DND secretary, he will be given freer rein to implement his local peace talks projects, which he was obsessed with as former OPAPP chief. But we know from experience,” said Palabay, “that they are nothing but psywar schemes to effect the forced surrender of suspected NPA supporters and have nothing to do with resolving the deep-seated social, economic and political roots of the armed conflict,” she said.
“In addition, Galvez seems to have a preference for scorched earth tactics, as shown by the numerous air strikes he ordered as Western Command chief and 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. In a similar vein, as anti-COVID czar, he enforced strict, widespread and long-term lockdowns and militarized government response to the pandemic that had practically the same devastating effect of crippling an already ailing economy,” said Palabay.
“We shudder to think that with Galvez now at the helm of the DND, the Marcos regime’s counter-insurgency drives will be wreaking even more havoc on the Filipino people,” said Palabay.