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
The San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SF CHRP) has condemned the killing of 8-year-old Roque Antivo by the 71st Infantry Battalion (IB) in Barangay Antipan, Mabini in Compostela Valley. Antivo was killed last Wednesday by soldiers of Alpha Company while he and his 12-year-old brother and 13-year-old uncle were heading home to prepare dinner for their father who was harvesting corn with others in the field.
“This is an absolute travesty!” Exclaimed SF CHRP chair Rupert Estanislao. “While the children were shouting at the soldiers, ‘We are kids, we are kids!’ the troops continued to lay down heavy fire on these children until one was shot in the jaw and the other was laying limp and dying. This is pure and calculated cold blooded murder on the part of the AFP.”
The three children were walking at night, with flashlights, on a main road near the troops from the 71st IB, when they heard what they first thought was shots from an air gun but they quickly realized it was gunshots coming from the AFP troops. The troops had been in the area for a few days and already knew of the children but despite their shouts that they were kids the troops didn’t stop firing until both Antivo and his brother were hit.
The AFP claimed that the children were killed in a crossfire between them and troops from the communist New People’s Army (NPA) but based off of human rights organizers who have been gathering evidence at the site since the incident there was never an encounter with NPA troops and the nearest fighting between the AFP and NPA was 15 km away from the village were Antivo was killed.
“Not only were the actions of the AFP reprehensible but their response to the death of the child shows their bankrupt morality,” said Estanislao. “Instead of taking responsibility for the killing and moving to indemnify the families of the children involved in the shooting, they are churning out one lie after the other in order to justify their gross human rights violations.”
The killing fell just a few days before the start of the Balikatan military exercises involving more than 4,000 U.S. troops and 4,000 AFP troops in order to help strengthen the “military capacity” of the AFP which in turn will be used to further implement the counter insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan.
“This recent killing unmasks the polite talk and double-speak of the Aquino regime when it comes to Oplan Bayanihan,” explained Estanislao, “Far from being a program that is human rights centered it is actually a program that unleashes pure and unmitigated terror on the Filipino population. As Oplan Bayanihan is nearing the end of its first phase the AFP and the Aquino regime are stepping up military operations, martial law style imposed governments in the provinces, and the kidnappings and assassinations of national democratic activists and administration critics.”
Ever since the start of Oplan Bayanihan by the AFP in Southern Mindanao in June of 2010 there has been at least 17 extrajudicial killings involving government forces, one kidnapping by government forces, nine illegal arrests and 33 political prisoners. None of those targeted by the AFP have been involved in the NPA, instead they have been community organizers, church workers, tribal leaders, and human rights advocates.
SF CHRP is demanding that the AFP take full responsibility for the crimes of the troops of the 71st IB and immediately move to bring the killers to justice. SF CHRP also recognizes that counter insurgency programs can never be used to root out armed struggle in the Philippines and only through a genuine approach towards peace talks which recognizes social inequality as the root cause of armed struggle can the Aquino regime truly move towards peace. The tragic killing of Antivo is yet another example of why Oplan Bayanihan needs to be scrapped completely.