On 10th ID spox dare to file charges
Read about reign of impunity
Manila, Philippines – In reaction to the statement of the spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippines Army Captain Rhyan Batchar, daring Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao to file charges against soldiers involved with extra-judicial killings of farmers in Compostela Valley, the lawmakers dared him to read about reign of impunity. This was due to Anakpawis and farmers’ recent protest at the gates of Camp Aguinaldo demanding justice for the latest victim of extra-judicial killing, Federico “Pande” Plaza, a lumad farmer killed in Maragusan town of the said province.
“The military spokesperson is clearly detached from reality, as if, marginalized sectors are free to file charges against government forces in front of the court, without being subjected to harassment and threats, and even being killed,” Casilao said.
The lawmaker, who hails from Davao City, recalled the Paquibato Massacre that took place on June 14, 2015, where three lumad community leaders were killed in the said district, but the 10th IDPA, under Major General Eduardo Año, claimed they were members of the New People’s Army (NPA). Families and survivors of the brutality asserted that the victims were not members of the NPA, but no soldiers were held accountable for the killings. Davao City councilor Karlo Bello, Chairperson of the City Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights that conducted a probe, said that the military could not just dismiss this as a legitimate encounter.
Also on September 1, 2015, lumad school and community leaders were killed by members of Magahat-Bagani para-military group in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur. If not only due to a global indignation, perpetrators would not have been indicted with criminal charges. But as expected, there were no arrests made, that they were even able to threaten the media community against covering an event of the NPA in December 2015, and even after a year until present, they remain scot-free.
“As definition of impunity by the United Nations, the impossibility of bringing the perpetrators of violations to account, whether in criminal, civil, administrative or disciplinary proceedings, that is the real situation in the country, and it is enjoyed by the military and other state forces,” Casilao said.
Casilao was also compelled to recall the gross impact of previous counter-insurgency programs, namely Oplan Bantay Laya under the Arroyo regime, and Oplan Bayanihan under the Aquino administration. Oplan Bantay Laya, fronted by the “butcher” then Maj. General Jovito Palparan, resulted to 1,206 victims of extra-judicial killings, including the brutal murder of human rights workers Eden Marcellana and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy on April 21, 2003 in Oriental Mindoro, the serial killings of Hacienda Luisita supporters such as Tarlac City Councilor Abel Ladera and peasant leader Marcelino Beltran, who stood as witness for the Hacienda Luisita Massacre during the numerous senate investigations. Under OBL on April 28, 2007, agriculturist Jonas Burgos, was abducted by the military in Quezon City and has been missing since. Moreover, the Aquino regime, was highlighted by the Lumad killings and continued EJKs, and even massacres. At least 206 cases of EJKs were documented by human rights group under Aquino.
Amid these rule and reign of impunity, cases were filed at the courts, Department of Justice, even at the Ombudsman, but never pushed through. Gen. Palparan, who was charged with the abduction of two UP students at a Malolos court is enjoying his stay in Fort Bonifacio in Makati City. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for the extra-judicial killings Philip Alston on his report, stated that failure of the justice system and criticized the government and military’s execution of counter-insurgency programs.
“To further elaborate, just recently, some victims of the martial law received cash compensation, as result of the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, but a few if not no member of the military was held accountable for the atrocities that took place,” Casilao said.
Casilao supposed that the military spokesperson would issue such statements as its mandate is none other than people’s repression and its mission, authoritarianism and particularly at this present time, to undermine the on-going peace negotiations between the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
“If there are cases to be filed, the farmers will rather file at the Joint Monitoring Committee of the NDFP and the government, particularly on the cases of more than 50 farmer-victims of extra-judicial killings, than wait for the sun to rise from the west and set to the east, at the regular courts or other government institutions,” the lawmaker ended. ###