On IACLA formation: Anakpawis solon warns against abuses akin to Oplan Bantay Laya

Peasant leaders and organizers Dario Tomada and Felicidad Caparal, still imprisoned due to trumped up charges filed under Oplan Bantay Laya.Peasant leaders and organizers Dario Tomada and Felicidad Caparal, still imprisoned due to trumped up charges filed under Oplan Bantay Laya.

Manila, Philippines – Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao slammed the Duterte administration for its formation of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Actions (IACLA) and claimed that it is a rehash of the publicly resented Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime. The resolution for IACLA was signed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Rogelio Dela Rosa during the 20th Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Council (JPSCC) on October 9, while IALAG created through Executive Order No. 493 in 2006, was then a component of the regime’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya, particularly the filing of trumped up charges against activists.

“It is a shame that even this anti-human rights body under former president Macapagal-Arroyo was plagiarized by President Duterte, this was a major player in abuses against the people, particularly activists demanding then her resignation,” Casilao said in a statement.

Casilao said that IALAG caused the the rebellion charges against the so-called “Batasan 6” or the party-list representatives, the Leyte and Nueva Ecija murder charges against Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza, as well as the Southern Tagalog 72, the Southern Tagalog 27, the new Rizal murder charges against Southern Tagalog activists, Tagaytay 5 and other trumped-up cases against leaders of progressive groups in Cebu and Davao. He added that IALAG contributed to the increasing number of political prisoners under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime that reached to almost 2,000 from 2001 to 2009.

“If IACLA pushes through, the possibility of us in the Makabayan bloc being accused of trumped up charges will not be remote, as it has precedent, hence, it is just to call for the immediate abolition of this authoritarian measure,” Casilao said.

The lawmaker also emphasized that the counter-insurgency program of President Duterte, Oplan Kapayapaan, had all the ingredients of its past versions, predominantly, extra-judicial killings (EJK), filing of trumped up charges and massive militarization of the countryside. Aerial bombings of communities are also becoming a standard operating procedure of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“EJK has been the norm of the Duterte gov’t, at the cities and the rural areas, where 81 farmers already fell victims as of end of August, while bombings on farmer communities are mounting, with the latest in Batangas,” Casilao said.

He warned that the recurring EJK of youth in the urban centers and related to Duterte’s “war on drugs” can easily be tweaked against activists akin to the Oplan Bantay Laya and butcher Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan-led EJKs under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime. EJK victims then reached to about 1,200 while of enforced disappearances to more than 200.

With the recent drop of satisfaction ratings of President Duterte, Casilao also reminded that former president Macapagal-Arroyo suffered negative ratings since 2005 until the end of her term in 2010, with the worst at net -53 percent.

“We do not want to see the former mayor of Davao City to be despised by the whole country, and could only persist for a day to sit in power via an iron-fisted rule,” Casilao ended. ###