Karapatan tagged by AFP as enemy while civilians were wounded by AFP bombing in Maguindanao

"Defense by offense. This is a classic case of someone who is cornered and has nowhere to go, and there’s no other way but to punch one’s way out. Straight from the horse's mouth, the Armed Forces of the Philippines finally confirmed that it considers Karapatan its enemy. By calling Karapatan its enemy, the AFP had justified that the victims of human rights violations are also its enemies," Cristina Palabay, said secretary general of Karapatan.


Palabay’s statement came at the heels of newspaper reports that quoted Philippine Army (PA) Chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes saying the "opposition to Baladad's appointment was expected from the 'enemy'... You don't expect any positive statement from the enemy."


On July 4, Karapatan, through a press statement, expressed its opposition to the appointment of Brig. Gen. Baladad as commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division (ID) of the PA. Baladad is among those responsible for the torture and illegal detention of 43 health workers known as Morong 43. Karapatan called the appointment as "exemplary display of impunity under the Aquino government."


"The AFP and its officials are making a fool of themselves by saying they are human rights advocates. The military’s record of human rights violations speaks for itself,” added Palabay.


"Coballes’ statement signifies the AFP’s continued operations against those whom they perceive as 'enemies' of the Aquino administration, and that includes not only members of Karapatan but also leaders and members of people’s organizations and communities opposed to the Aquino government's anti-people policies," Palabay said.


Karapatan has documented 142 cases of extrajudicial killing and 164 frustrated killing; 16 incidents of enforced disappearance; 76 cases of torture; 293 cases of illegal arrest and detention. “Di namin papatulan yang work-work together na linya ng AFP. Any respectable human rights organization will not be trapped into their lies on security sector reform. We have, and will always, work with the poor and marginalised Filipino people,” said Palabay.


Meanwhile, reports of bombing of residents of Brgy. Ganta, Shariff Saidona Mastapha, Maguindanao by the 2nd Mechanized Brigade, 45th and 7th Infantry Battalion PA reached Karapatan.  Two children and four adults were wounded in the course of the military operation. They are Brgy. Councilor Omar Kalimbang, Fatima Balilid, a two year old girl, a four year old boy, couple Alimundo and Donna Alon and Nasser Kamid. All were rushed to the hospital because of the sustained wounds.


The victims said the military entered Brgy. Damabalas, Datu Piang on July 6 in a combat operation against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). “The operation resulted to the evacuation of some 107 families. Later in the afternoon, 105mm mortar bombs were dropped near Ganta Elementary School where more than 100 evacuees were staying,” said Palabay citing the report of Kawagib Moro Human Rights Alliance. "Victims were wounded due to indiscriminate bombing of the AFP. This is a clear violation of human rights and international humanitarian law," Palabay said.


"Instead of questioning the veracity of our reports of human rights violations done by its men, the AFP should instead pull out from the communities and stop fabricating charges and conducting illegal arrest and detention of leaders and members of people’s organizations,” ended Palabay.  ###