Human rights group Karapatan on Tuesday denounced the Aquino administration for failing to solve the murders of 94 victims of extrajudicial killings by alleged paramilitary groups backed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as of Nov. 30, 2015.
“The regime’s monstrosity, that even children are not spared, speaks of the evil tactics of the counterinsurgency program of BS Aquino, Oplan Bayanihan. The attempt to pit the people in the community against each other ‘through winning the hearts and minds’ is simply sugar-coating its ‘divide and rule’ tactic. In truth, the AFP provides arms to those who can be used against its perceived enemies,” Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.
Palabay dared the Aquino administration and security forces to enforce the arrest warrants against brothers Bobby and Loloy Tejero and Margarito Layno, suspects in the kilings of lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur, who were all members of the Magahat-Bagani group, accused of fronting for the 36th Infantry Battalion/4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
“We call on the Aquino regime to enforce the warrant of arrest against the members of the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary groups involved in the September 1 massacre of Alcadev executive director Emerito Samarca and lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo,” Palabay said. “It has been three months since the massacre yet, these AFP-backed paramilitary members and the AFP units responsible for the massacre remain scot-free and continue to sow terror in the lumad communities,” Palabay said.
Palabay said that atrocities against indigenous peoples still pervade with the latest victim being a lumad activist Mankombite Mariano, who was shot then hacked last Oct. 27 by the De la Mance paramilitary group in Bukidnon.
Mariano, 48, of the Talaandig tribe in the town of Cabanglasan, Bukidnon, was on his way to pick some durian fruit along with 16 others, 12 of them are children. Mariano was hit in the left chest and left hip when the Dela Mance group fired at them.
Mariano’s grandson Ryan Olimbayan, 10, was hit in the left leg but was able to run away and hide. However, he saw how Manlumakad Bocalas of the Dela Mance group approached and hacked his grandfather in the head, left shoulder, and left thigh. Olimbayan survived the attack.
Palabay also reiterated the group’s call to disband all paramilitary groups and punish the perpetrators of human rights violations among its rank.
Meanwhile, a lawmaker lauded the military for doing “extremely well in winning the hearts and minds of tne people as shown by a Gallup poll.
Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Trenas was referrint to the survey of US-based polling firm Gallup highlighting the people’s rising confidence towards the AFP, from a mere 72 percent when President Aquino assumed office in 2010 to 82-85 percent confidence rating in 2015.
“As a result of internal and external threats, Philippines President Benigno Aquino III embarked on a military modernization effort shortly after taking office in 2010. This effort, along with military and government involvement in reconstruction after massive typhoons in the early 2010s, likely helped spur higher confidence in the military among the Filipino public,” stated the Gallup survey report entitled “Filipinos Give China’s Leadership Low Approval.”
The Gallup report which centered on how Filipinos feel toward the leadership of China and that of the United States was based on face-to-face interviews with 1,001 adults in the Philippines, aged 15 and older, conducted May 2015.
Trenas, vice chair of the House committee on good government, said that this Gallup report indicates that more and more Filipinos are beginning to appreciate the government’s effort to modernize the AFP with the acquisition of new military assets that will definitely boost the military’s capability not only in securing the country’s borders but also in conducting internal security operations.With Maricel Cruz