07/15/2010 – 12:00
“It is still the same military in denial mode speaking on the current spate of extrajudicial killings going on in the country,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of the human rights group Karapatan, said, of AFP spokesman Brigadier General Jose Mabanta’s blanket denial of the AFP’s involvement in the said cases.
Karapatan has put the blame of these killings squarely on P-Noy’s hands, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, especially in the light of the President’s NON-issuance of a categorical statement to the AFP to putting a stop to the extrajudicial killings, which the group says, is a license to the AFP to commit more of the same.
“We reiterate that it is not enough to be talking of human rights in the pursuit of counter-insurgency programs; it is our bitter experience that once counter-insurgency programs are implemented, violations of human rights are resultant features in the execution of such programs. Even as supposed ‘development programs’ or ‘civil-military operations or CMO’ are supposedly incorporated in such programs such as what the government did in Oplan Makabayan of the Estrada administration, the results are the same: civilians are the ones who bear the brunt of human rights violations. Oplan Bantay Laya is the worst and most brutal of these campaigns as it specifically targets legal organizations and personages resulting to a staggering body count and brazen impunity in nine years of the Arroyo regime and it is still in place,” explained an exasperated Enriquez.
Counter-insurgency (COIN) is a program directly imposed by the American Government since its aggression in the country in the early 1900’s. All COIN programs of all administrations are thus recycled COIN programs meant to silence the people’s resistance to break free from poverty resulting from government policies that benefit not the Filipino people but those of foreign, especially American, interests. OBL, the latest COIN, is anchored on the ‘war on terror’ by the US Bush government and highly supported by GMA that benefited only the Bush regime and GMA herself. Thus, the victims of OBL are now labeled as “terrorists or communist-terrorists” or supposed supporters of such. It leaves thousands of killed, tortured, illegally arrested and hundreds of thousands displaced Filipino victims in its wake and brazen impunity among its perpetrators who remain unpunished up to this day.
“Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is correct. There is no doubt that the AFP is still behind the series of political killings, and that the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) is the operational plan behind it,” the Karapatan chairperson said. “The military has the motive and the resources to implement the attacks against progressive and unarmed individuals, which they have done so in the past nine years under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration.”
Since the implementation of the OBL, activists and civil libertarians are targeted by the military intelligence units for target research, which involves casing or surveillance, and “neutralization” or “liquidation”. Leaders and members of people’s organizations have been vilified and accused as communists or communist fronts by the military to lay the ground for liquidation and to justify the killings.
“As long as Oplan Bantay Laya is a state security policy, political killings remain a state policy. If indeed President Noynoy Aquino says that extrajudicial killing is not a policy of his administration, then he must scrap the OBL and desist from embarking on a counter-insurgency program to supposedly defeat the insurgency, as what his predecessors did, only to end up fueling more fire into the problem they vowed to end. I hope he learns his lessons well and heed our calls for him to disallow the penchant for embarking on counter-insurgency programs that only victimize the poorest sections of the Filipino people who need most the government’s protection and nurturing.
Enriquez reminded President Aquino of the findings of United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston on extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, which concluded that it is the military’s counter-insurgency operations that resulted to the killings of leftist activists. “We challenge the government to show its sincerity in ending the killings, impunity and the military’s atrocities, and to implement Alston’s recommendations,” Enriquez added.
Karapatan noted that the president has yet to categorically issue an order to scrap the U.S.-inspired counter-insurgency program, OBL. “Unless P-Noy announces the scrapping of the OBL and desist from implementing similar military campaigns, the killings and impunity will continue,” concluded Enriquez.
Karapatan believes that the insurgency can only be ended by meaningfully and substantively addressing the root causes of poverty and rebellion; NOT resorting to military solution! ###