Two years of Aquino presidency: Intensified military operations

AFP modernization budget aggravates HR situation, militarization

“This is where the people’s taxes go—to buy arms and ammunition to protect the interests of big business and landlords and against innocent civilians and those who defend their lives and livelihood,” said Karapatan spokesperson, Cristina Palabay.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recentlyt heaped praised to Pres. Aquino for giving the highest allocation so far for its modernization program;  and amid the ongoing militarization of whole communities in Quezon.

Karapatan deplores Aquino’s ‘unprecedented support’ because it “only resulted to the worsening of the human rights situation in the country.”

According to Palabay, “the P16.8 billion fund support Pres. Aquino gave to the AFP only propped up its capability to implement Oplan Bayanihan and conduct intense military operations in the countryside, bombings and strafing communities of peasants and indigenous peoples, harassment and intimidation of ordinary civilians and in conducting psywar operations in the guise of ’peace and development projects.’ Oplan Bayanihan has now found its way to, and in full implementation at, the Bondoc Peninsula in Quezon where eight battalions of the Philippine Army are deployed.” 

The military deployment in Bondoc Peninsula, according to Karapatan, is “unprecedented” because it has never happened even when the country was under martial law.  Bondoc Peninsula is Quezon‘s agricultural center and an hacienda belt. The area is rich in mineral resources targeted “as potential area for Aquino’s showcase program, the Public-Private Partnership known to have caused displacement of thousands of people in the urban and rural areas,” added Palabay. 

“The military’s concentration in Bondoc peninsula is seen as a pre-emptive response to possible resistance of farmers due to displacement, to pave the way for the entry of numerous big business interests and to protect those that are already existing,” said Palabay.  

A fact-finding mission was held from June 25-July 1, to document the reported cases of human rights violations in the different towns in Bondoc Peninsula. “True enough, the initial reported cases of abduction, enforced disappearances, threats and harassment and detention of civilians in various communities are an understatement. The fact-finding/mercy mission was able to document more cases, especially children who experienced trauma due to the military’s presence in the barrios. Those who participated in the mercy mission were themselves victims of the military’s dirty tactics, and harassment,” said Palabay. 

The week-long mercy mission was met with numerous military and police check points and nail spikes on the road meant to delay the convoy of vehicles.  Palabay said that “the military was so desperate to cover up their abuses that they had to do everything to prevent the mercy mission from reaching the barrios. They even conducted medical mission days before or simultaneously with the mercy mission led by the Save Bondoc Peninsula Movement.” 

Earlier, the mercy mission participants reported that the medical missions conducted by the military were used to warn people not to participate in the mercy mission of the Save Bondoc Peninsula Movement. “The military even went to the extent of threatening the people that they will be killed if they join the mercy mission. These military medical missions have now reared its ugly head, with no more pretensions,” said Palabay. ###