Rights groups oppose Gen. Esperon’s office term extension

Human rights groups join a caravan to oppose the term extension of Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., a day before his birthday.

"Today, on the eve of General Esperon's birthday, we present to him this symbolic cake to remind him how he served the Filipino people by violating their rights rather than protecting them," Jigs Clamor, deputy secretary general of Karapatan, said.

To date, since General Esperon assumed office as AFP Chief of Staff on July 21, 2006, Karapatan has documented 69 victims of extrajudicial killings, 22 victims of enforced disappearance and 48 victims of torture - all committed by AFP personnel. These data would show how General Esperon exercised his leadership during his term. No genuine steps were taken to investigate these violations nor was there a perpetrator who was punished.

This would all the more lead to the growth of the culture of impunity. We firmly believe that Esperon's term extension means further extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other human rights violations.

"Mrs. Arroyo's decision to extend Esperon's term in office shows that Mrs. Arroyo has no qualms of violating human rights when it comes to the question of her staying in power. Also, this move of Mrs. Arroyo does not show seriousness in bringing the perpetrators of human rights violations to justice.

We call on our fellow Filipinos to show their support to victims of human rights violations by showing their opposition to the term extension of Gen. Esperon. Let us join hands in saying enough of Arroyo's general whose main mandate was only to protect her against government critics.