KILLINGS under President Aquino’s watch have gone from bad to worse with the increased militarization in areas believed to be strongholds of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), the human-rights group Karapatan-Alliance for Advancement of People’s Right said.
In its 2012 year-end report, Karapatan said that “killings have gone back to being gruesome” and “attacks against the people are marked with contemptuous boldness.”
Extra-judicial killings, the group said, aggravates the sorry-state of people who are still mired in poverty, reeling from high prices of basic commodities and services, unemployment, measly wages, sham land reform and inadequate housing.
Karapatan said in a statement that even the government’s campaign against poverty which is anchored on cash dole-outs under the controversial Conditional Cash Transfer Program or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is under question, as more cases of corruption surface.
“No hope can be pinned on this President whose government fails to lighten and, instead, adds to the burden that the people, especially from the basic sectors, endure,” the report stated.
The group, which documents cases of human-rights violations in the Philippines, reported that 13 out of the recorded 51 cases of extra-judicial killings in 2012 involve minors as victims.
The group has recorded a total of 137 cases of extra-judicial killing since Aquino assumed power in June 2010.
Aside from extra-judicial killings, the group recorded 14 cases of enforced disappearances, 3 cases of rape involving minors, 154 cases of frustrated killings, 72 cases of torture, 229 cases of illegal arrests, 269 cases of illegal arrests and detention, 203 cases of illegal search and seizure, 205 cases of physical assault and injury, and 27,308 cases of threat, harassment and intimidation.
The group also reported that 8,336 individuals were forcibly evicted, and 30,260 people were forcibly evacuated.
According to Karapatan, the year 2012 saw increased military operations and deployment of more troops in areas believed to be strongholds of the CPP-NPA.
Large-scale mining operations are protected and guarded against resistance from the affected communities, which resulted in the forced evacuation and displacement of thousands of tribesmen and farmers from their land, and hundreds of cases of human-rights violations, including extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearance, illegal arrests and detention and torture, Karapatan reported.
The group cited the case of Jenesis Ambason, a tribal leader in Agusan del Sur, who was shot and tortured to death. Ambason’s head had shrunk owing to heavy beatings.
Another victim, Ely Oguis, a barangay council member in Albay, was shot and beheaded.
Karapatan also cited the killing of the members of the Capion family in Mindanao, where witnesses allegedly heard a military official issue an order to finish off the two children who survived the shooting “so there would be no witnesses left.”
“The Capion massacre typifies the collusion of the civilian bureaucracy, the military and big business interest and, at the same time, an example of how the Armed Forces turns its guns against unarmed civilians when they fail to get their targets,” the report added.
Karapatan is blaming Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan, the Philippine version of the US Counterinsurgency Guide, for the worsening human-rights situation in the Philippines.
Ironically, the group said this extra-judicial killings and other form of human-rights violation continue with impunity.
While Karapatan noted Mr. Aquino signed Administrative Order 35, creating a “high-level interagency superbody” that will investigate cases of extra-judicial killings, disappearances and torture, among the nine members of the interagency body are the chiefs of the Armed Forces and the National Police, the two institutions which the group said, are the primary perpetrators of human-rights violations.
Karapatan, added that Mr. Aquino’s Executive Order 79, which outlines the Aquino administration’s mining policy, served as marching orders to the “Investment Defense Forces”–the Army, the Citizens Armed Forces Geographic Units and the paramilitary groups that are accredited as Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA)— to clear the mining areas, and remove hindrances such as a resistant populace.
“In several instances, the military even tried to cover up the killings, claiming that the civilian victims were NPA rebels killed in an encounter with soldiers,” the report stressed.
As in the cases of farmer-leaders, indigenous peoples’ leaders who oppose large-scale mining, logging, and plantations operated by foreign companies are first tagged as supporters, sympathizers, if not members of the CPP-NPA themselves, before being killed, abducted or arrested and detained.
Urban poor leaders who fight back during demolitions are not spared by state forces, according to Karapatan, citing the cases of Arnel Leonor, 20, a youth resident of Silverio Compound, Parañaque, who was killed in one such violent demolition on April 23, and John Khali Lagrimas, 14, who was shot and killed while standing on the roof of a furniture shop that was on the row of houses to be demolished in Tarlac City a few weeks after Leonor’s death.
Karapatan said 2013 is a challenging year for the people’s movement to be vigilant and determined in its pursuit of social justice and genuine democracy.
The Aquino administration, the group said, will continue to use deception, and is expected to be more politically repressive and might even go to the extent of limiting the flow of information like imposing an anti-cybercrime law.
“The Aquino administration is set to consolidate its rule in the midterm elections in May. The present line up of the majority of the candidates reflects the dominance of the same ruling elite that has exploited and oppressed the poor majority in our country. It is still the same names, the same economic and political interests,” the group warned.
Worse, Karapatan noted that 2013 is also the end of Phase I of IPSP Bayanihan. This year IPSP Bayanihan “author” Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista was appointed Armed Forces chief of staff, Karapatan said.
“It was Bautista, who declared the bare-faced lie that the fugitive Gen. Jovito Palparan is the last of his kind in the military, despite the continued violations committed by the military against the people and in the interest of the ruling class and the US,” the group noted.
“Already the uptrend in human-rights violations is observable, especially the incidents of extrajudicial killing, illegal arrests and detention, bombings and forced evacuation,” Karapatan warned.