SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
Reference: Rupert Estanislao, chair
In an Orwellian display of “double speak” the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) showed complete disregard for its victims of human rights violations by stating they will be reaffirming “their commitment towards the promotion and protection of Human Rights” leading up to International Human Rights Day on December 10th.
“Ever since President Aquino took office the AFP has not relented in leaving a trail of bullet-riddled corpses along its path for ‘security and development,’” protested Rupert Estanislao, chair for the San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SF CHRP). “Has Brig. Gen. Domingo J. Tutaan Jr. undergone a traumatic and life altering brain injury? How can he claim that the AFP remains ‘committed’ as ‘Human Rights advocates’ while his very organization is the largest and most atrocious human rights violator in the Philippines? The complete disconnect from the reality on the ground and the rhetoric of the AFP’s spokespersons is utterly disturbing and sickening.”
In a press statement on December 3rd the AFP said that its organization was “[a]nchored with the theme ‘My Voice Counts in Ending Impunity: I work for human rights-based governance.”
“The only theme that has been operating within the AFP over the past few decades has been ‘Ignore All Voices: I turn a blind-eye to human rights violators,’” countered Estanislao. “Despite their bold-faced lies that they are committed to human rights the AFP has been implicated in a vast majority of the more than 129 extrajudicial killings since Aquino took office in 2010. They, and the president, have shown complete disregard over the concerned voices of human rights advocates by claiming that those who point out the AFP’s human rights violations are merely ‘extreme leftists’ who are ‘spouting leftist propaganda.’”
Despite Gen. Tutaan Jr.’s claim that “we draw our strength from the desire and conviction that human rights must be adhered, respected and protected” the AFP has been implicated in various atrocious human rights violations over the past few months.
On November 23rd the AFP’s 86th Infantry Battalion (IB) shot and killed a peasant couple, Vic and Rosario Valenzuela, in Isabela, Cagayan Valley and claimed that the couple was merely killed in the “crossfire” between the New People’s Army (NPA) and the battalion. However human rights investigators found that no firefight had taken place and that the battalion had strafed the couple’s hut. On November 11th suspected elements of the 2nd IB in Guinobatan, Albay shot and beheaded 60-year-old councilman Ely M. Oguis for merely being suspected of being an NPA tax-collector. In October the 86th IB also created a list of over 25 NGO workers and community organizers accusing them of being “members of the NPA” which has continued to put their lives in danger from military harassment and assassination. And there was the Tampankan Massacre on October 18th were members of the 27th IB in South Cotabato massacred three members of the Capion family because the father of the family, Daguil Capion, was engaged in activities opposing destructive mining policies by the SMI-Xstrata company.
“With a vast and extensive record of human rights abuses and with the recent killings of Vic and Rosario Valenzuela the AFP has no basis whatsoever to claim they are an organization that values human rights,” said Estanislao. “If anything they see human rights as a roadblock for their counterinsurgency campaign Oplan Bayanihan and it’s an obstacle that they want to overcome through red-baiting, abductions, and killings.”
SF CHRP is calling on the AFP to own up to its human rights abuses and to stop its campaign of cover-ups and lies when it comes to the myriad human rights violations due to its illegitimate and ill-conceived counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. If President Aquino and the AFP are serious about human rights than they need to immediately prosecute all known human rights violators and suspend its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan and all of the various anti-people policies associated with it.