Oplan Bayanihan in full swing

Karapatan today said in a media briefing that there is a marked and alarming increase in the number of human rights violations involving children due to the ongoing massive and intense military operations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the rural areas.

Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez attributed the escalation of military operations and the consequent human rights violations to the implementation of the President’s counter-insurgency program called Oplan Bayanihan, now on its second year and one year short of its target to end the insurgency in 2013.  “Combat military operations now takes the frontline over surveillance and civil-military operations. These are the three components of the AFP’s triad operations used in both former President Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya  and Oplan Bayanihan of President Noynoy Aquino,” said Hilao-Enriquez.

Hilao-Enriquez presented  some of the initial  documented results of Karapatan’s first quarter monitoring of human rights violations. The report stated that:

•    Of the  nine victims of extrajudicial killing during the first quarter of 2012, four are children who were victims of indiscriminate firing by the military.  This brings the total number of victims of extrajudicial killings to 76 since P-Noy assumed the presidency.
•    Of the 49 incidents of frustrated extrajudicial killings since July 2010, seven children were victims in the last six months (October 2011 – March 2012).
•    There were eight children illegally arrested and/or detained in the first quarter.
•    There are three rape cases involving minors documented in the last six months.  
•    Three incidents of forcible evacuation due to military operations were documented, specifically in mineral-rich areas in Agusan and Surigao, in Compostela and Bukidnon, all in Mindanao.  Children compose the majority of the affected evacuees in these areas.

Hilao-Enriquez also noted that the areas targeted by former President  Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) still registered the highest number of incidents of extrajudicial killings under President Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan. From July 2010 to March 30, 2012, Bicol has 23 victims  while  Southern Tagalog has 17. “Also, under Oplan Bayanihan, most of these operations are in the areas of farmers and in the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples. It is no surprise that since July 2010, there are already 35 peasants and 11 indigenous people killed,” said Hilao-Enriquez.

“Oplan Bayanihan has shed off its facade of being  touted as ‘people-oriented, pro-human rights and pro-peace and development’. Like Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya, it is spreading  terror against the people who stand in the way and oppose the P-Noy government’s pro-imperialist, pro-landlord and big business bias. It is now on its phase when it has no more qualms about human rights, reeling as it is like its predecessor, Oplan Bantay Laya; the same program called a different name, embellished with words like “development and human rights” by its apologists to deceive a people resisting impositions by its implementors. It is now upon the people to thwart Oplan Bayanihan’s  onslaught,” concluded Hilao-Enriquez.###