Karapatan tags as ‘blatant attack’ military’s stance against them

By Chito Chavez

The human rights group Karapatan assailed the violent stance of the military against them branding it as a “blatant attack’’ against the people’s right to defend themselves against all forms of abuses.

Karapatan alleged that Brigadier General Antonio Parlade Jr., deputy chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), has consistently red-tagged the group in several of his public declarations.

Parlade is among the representatives of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF) which made rounds in diplomatic missions in Europe.

Among Parlade and the NTF’s modus operandi according to the group is to red-tag and discredit organizations, including Karapatan and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, who have worked for decades in their commitment to uphold, protect and defend human rights.

“It is not lost on us that Parlade was among the jesters who ridiculously peddled the “Red October” destabilization plot, which fizzled out after a lack of any evidence. Now, these fictionists are taking their stage to the international platform, this time targeting other governments and persuading them to discredit and question the organizations which the defunct “Red October” plot failed to do. These false claims are built on untruths, fake news, and a sinister agenda to cripple the machinery of all those who remain critical to the Duterte government,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the continued red-tagging against Karapatan.

Palabay claimed that Parlade “himself admitted that they have no evidence that the organizations that he mentioned are front organizations of the CPP or are terrorist organizations.’’

“Well, sometimes the fish gets caught by its mouth. Parlade already said they have no evidence against these organizations, yet they went ahead with their junket to malign these organizations and individuals,’’ Palabay said.

Palabay insisted that “poorly-made power point presentations and videos with hideous scoring are not evidence.’’

“The military is not a credible institution, yet it still insists on making these laughable and unsubstantiated claims. We do not discount the possibility that in the coming days, not only will we be subjected to continuous smear campaigns, but that our human rights workers will be further subjected to an array of trumped-up charges and other forms of violations. After all, the military is an expert at creating allegations out of thin air,” she added.

She emphasized that “the Duterte administration’s motive to red-tag organizations is to defame diligent human rights workers and question the relevant services that our organizations have provided to communities.’’

“The minimal funding that we are working with is not an impediment to our firm commitment to investigate violations, expose these atrocities, at bringing these cases to the national and international arena to exact accountability. On the contrary, it is the Duterte government and its gamut of State forces which work with billions of public funds at their disposal, with a significant portion of that allocation relegated as discretionary/confidential/intelligence funds,’’ Palabay said.

Palabay noted these funds are used for State terrorism through the implementation of the government’s counterinsurgency program and its sham war on drugs, “with extra travel perks for its most pathological liars.”

“Human rights defense is never a crime. More so in this atmosphere of impending dictatorship, it is a duty. It is not an act of terror, but a process of working with victims, individuals and communities to expose the atrocities done against them by the supposed duty-bearers of human rights,’’ Palabay insisted.

“It is ultimately at the core of the struggle for recognition and protection of the people’s political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights,’’ she added.

Palabay asserted the likes of Parlade, the NTF delegation and the minions of this government are blatantly attacking human rights advocates and organizations to muffle the voices that demand justice and accountability from this unjust system.