Rights group slams Esperon extension

The human rights alliance, KARAPATAN, slams the term extension of Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr.  His continued stay in the command of the Armed Forces will mean more extrajudicial executions, disappearances and other forms of human rights violations. 

It is during Esperon’s  term that the administration has resorted to a national policy of killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other human rights violations.  By implementing the vicious Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program, the military under General Esperon has embarked on the systematic targeting of leaders of farmer and trade union organizations, partylist groups,  church leaders, women, youth and indigenous leaders as well as human rights workers including lawyers.

The UN Special Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston directly attributed the extrajudicial killings on this counter-insurgency program.  Esperon and the entire military institution including the Presidency have continuously denied any involvement even as witnesses and evidences clearly point to military elements as the perpetrators of these violations.

It must be recalled that in 2001, when Esperon was still the commander of the 103 rd Brigade of the Philippine Army in Basilan, the CHR has filed 32 cases of torture against him at the Ombudsman for the Military.  Although the Ombudsman expectedly dismissed the charges against him, these are evidences that he resorts to such gruesome torture that are prohibited by the United Nations.  This is reprehensible especially considering that the Philippines is a member of the Human Rights Council.

“Mrs. Arroyo’s decision to extend Esperon shows hypocrisy to put a stop on the extrajudicial killings and other forms of human rights violations.  Also, this move of Mrs. Arroyo does not show seriousness in bringing the perpetrators of human rights violations to justice. The Esperon term extension can only be viewed as an attempt of the Arroyo administration to perpetrate the culture of impunity,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez, secretary general of Karapatan said.  ###