Karapatan condemns continuing rights violations, calls for an end to OBL

The human rights alliance Karapatan condemns the brazen attack against Fr. Jose Francisco Talaban, whose convent was strafed by several armed men last June 26 in Casiguran, Aurora, and the continuing human rights violations spurred by the military’s extended counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya.

Speaking at a press conference on the report of the Ecumenical Solidarity Mission which was conducted on August 24 to 28, Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Jigs Clamor expressed alarm over the Mission’s findings which shows a characteristic pattern of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its counter-insurgency campaign. 

“Karapatan has documented a number of cases wherein the victims are vilified as members or sympathizers of armed revolutionary groups, such as the New People’s Army; harassed and intimidated by state security forces, prior to graver human rights violations,” Clamor deplored.  

He also added that these victims are human rights defenders themselves, opposing projects and activities that are detrimental to the lives and livelihood of community members. “Father Talaban staunchly opposed the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (APECO), a government project which will displace 3,000 residents in Casiguran, Aurora,” said Clamor. “Those who oppose the project became victims of a vilification campaign designed to instill fear into the members of the community and to force them to cower in silence. Often, the individual is either forcibly disappeared or killed as a result.”

Clamor also said that time and again, the AFP remains in a state of denial of the violations committed against human rights. “It is also deplorable that the Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency campaign, the reason behind more than a thousand victims of extrajudicial killings, is still enforced under the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III, and still continues to take the lives of innocent civilians.”

On August 25, another Bayan Muna member was shot and killed at his home in Balangiga, Eastern Samar. Casiano Abing, who was also a Regional Trial Court sheriff in Balangiga, actively campaigned for Bayan Muna in this year’s elections. He is the 6th activist killed under Noynoy Aquino’s administration.

Karapatan condemns the continuing spate of killings and called on Pres. Aquino to rescind OBL, and punish the perpetrators and to render justice for all victims of human rights violations. ###


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