Monday, December 3, 2012

HUMAN RIGHTS WEEK | AFP affirms commitment to protect, promote HR

From InterAksyon (Dec 4): HUMAN RIGHTS WEEK | AFP affirms commitment to protect, promote HR

This poster was conceptualized and designed by the AFP's 7th Civil Relations Group (7CRG) led by Lt. Col. Samuel Sagun. PHOTO by JAIME SINAPIT

Amid accusations of human rights violations and the outcry over the naming of a new ISAFP chief linked to a celebrated abduction, the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Tuesday affirmed its commitment to protect, defend and promote human rights as the Filipino people celebrate National Human Rights Consciousness Week from December 4 to 10. “Anchored on the theme ‘My Voice Counts in Ending Impunity: I work for human rights-based governance,’ the activity enjoins all government agencies including the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Department of National Defense (DND) and AFP to celebrate the week through simple and appropriate activities. This is aimed at making the people aware of their basic human rights,” Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa said. Earlier, the chief of the AFP Human Rights Office, Brig. General Domingo Tutaan Jr., led over 200 soldiers in pledging an end to torture and cruelty at the CHR headquarters Tuesday. The soldiers recited Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Among those who joined the ceremonial pledge were representatives from the Department of Justice and CHR. As part of the week-long celebration, the AFP through its Human Rights Office (HRO) will conduct activities to heighten the soldiers’ commitment and responsibilities as human rights advocates.

On Tuesday, 50 soldiers led a “Bike Run and Fun Run” that started at the EDSA Monument on White Plains. On December 6, senior officers holding key positions in the AFP will join CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales in a round table discussion at the La Breza Hotel, Quezon City. This will be followed by a Top-Level Dialogue between the two parties.

On December 9, the AFP will join the HR Music Fest at the QC Memorial Circle, with the GHQ Band and GHQ Choral performing together with other Filipino artists. The AFPHRO will also attend the 2nd International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Summit on December 11. “The AFP remains firm and unyielding in its commitment as Human Rights advocates as we draw our strength from the desire and conviction that human rights must be adhered, respected and protected – in order for our country to truly attain a lasting peace and sustainable development,” HRO chief Tutaan Jr. said.

Oath-taking of new ISAFP chief clouds HR horizon

Ironically, the celebration comes amid a stinging rebuke by the family of the late democracy champion Jose Burgos Jr. after the oath-taking Monday at Malacanang Palace of the new chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP, Brigadier General Eduardo Ano. His promotion to general was earlier protested by Burgos’s widow Edita, who had filed a case against Ano and several other officers for the abduction of her son Jonas Burgos five years ago.“Whatever little hope I nurtured that the HR (human rights) situation would improve during this dispensation was demolished by the appointment of [Brig. Gen. Eduardo M.] Ano as ISAFP chief. Lord have mercy on us,” Mrs. Burgos said in a text message to on Monday.

Recently, President Benigno Aquino III signed a directive creating a 9-member inter-agency committee on human rights which included Dellosa as member, in time for the celebration of the National Human Rights Consciousness Month. “With the recent directive on the creation of the inter-agency body on human rights, our country is taking concrete steps in address cases of human rights abuse and violations.” This, added Dellosa, is in line with the AFP’s Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan, seeking to achieve “synergy of efforts of all Filipino people in dealing with our country’s security and development concerns.”

Buildup to AFP anniversary

Meanwhile, military spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said some of the activities of the HR week will also be highlighted during the 77th AFP Anniversary on December 21. “We’ve a lot of activities until December 21, our anniversary day. Our campaign and advocacy to protect, promote and defend human rights is a personal commitment in the everyday life of every soldier of the AFP,” Burgos said. The recitation of the pledge was held after the Bike Run and Fun Run which started earlier at the Quezon City Memorial Circle. Soldiers from the Army, Air Force, Navy and AFP General Headquarters joined other government agencies, civil society organizations (CSO), and human rights advocates in the event which aims to promote the National Human Rights Consciousness Week from December 4 to 10. “The Armed Forces of the Philippines assures the people that we will continue to defend and protect human dignity in all aspects of our operations. We hope that through active participation with other stakeholders and civil society organizations, our efforts to advocate human rights will continue to bear fruit,” said AFP Chief of Staff Dellosa.

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