Karapatan condemns military for its human rights stance

Published March 19, 2019, 6:54 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Chito Chavez

The human rights watchdog Karapatan has condemned the military for supposedly boosting the illustrious human rights record of the current administration which the group claimed was “pure bunk’’.

Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay (POLITIKO VISAYAS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay (POLITIKO VISAYAS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay said Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, should be schooled about a very basic concept on human rights.

She described Parlade as “the primary duty-bearer in the defense, protection, and promotion of human rights in the government and all its agencies, which include the military”.

For this reason, the mandate of Karapatan and other human rights groups is focused on state-perpetrated human rights violations and its function is to check whether the state complies with its duty or not, Palabay argued.

“The government has trillions of pesos at its disposal, funds that are being used to commit atrocities instead of being channeled to social services and mechanisms to promote and advance human rights,” she added.

Palabay told Parlade that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) was created after the Marcos martial law regime fled precisely because the government had been training its guns against civilians, political dissenters, and civil society.

She stressed that Karapatan is emphasizing this fact for the enlightenment of Parlade and his wrecking crew.

“Curiously, the military keeps asking us about alleged violations committed by the New People’s Army (NPA.) By all means, resort to mechanisms such as the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Government of the Republic of the Philippines Joint Monitoring Committee (NDF-GRP JMC) to seek investigation on these incidents, and other violations to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL),” she pointed out.

Palabay told Parlade that exacting accountability from the government is in line with our mandate and we shall not be dissuaded from doing out work.

“In any case, the actions of other parties will never whitewash nor diminish the crimes and responsibility of the government towards its citizens,” she stressed.

Human rights work will never become irrelevant, unfortunately for people like Parlade and his military crew, as long as individuals like them and fascist governments exist, Palabay insisted.

“We are engaged in exposing rights violations committed by the government from the organization’s inception, up until today. We have records of the fact sheets provided for by our human rights workers on the ground containing the details of the violations and the perpetrators. Even more unfortunate for Parlade, we have this — atrocities during the time of Arroyo, up until present – on record,” the

Karapatan leader noted.

Palabay added that by engaging in human rights training and legislative advocacy, Karapatan helped in crafting relevant laws like the Anti-Torture Law of 2009 and the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law of 2012.

“The statement that the AFP has not committed any rights violation for the past five years or more is almost laughable. Perhaps, Parlade should be enlightened about martial law violations under Duterte which was investigated and verified by the CHR, including the massacre of members of an indigenous community in Lake Sebu in December 2017,” she added.

Karapatan has documented 222 victims of extrajudicial killings in line with the government’s counterinsurgency campaign, 111 victims of torture, around 2,000 illegal arrests and detention and many others.

“Likewise, we have a boatload of evidence. Fabrication of evidence and fiction writing is your area of expertise, Parlade. Look at the hundreds of trumped-up charges and even the proscription petition that even the Department of Justice (DOJ) admitted was not verified.

Oh, and the Red October plot? We cringe at this attempt at being a convoluted conspiracy theorist to discredit the legitimate demands and issues raised by the opposition,” Palabay said.

The military has also eagerly pointed to Karapatan’s engagement with the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) as if this were the supreme evidence that will prove their claims, she noted.

“Our international solidarity work with peoples of other countries who bear the brunt of similar fascist regimes is all in the open. We have released statements in support of political prisoners in other countries who are facing political persecution and have supported calls for their respective fight for national liberation in public. Indeed, you can check out the link and see our international solidarity work. You can even support it!” Palabay maintained.

“Again, how this relates to us being a CPP front all comes down to the mention of Jose Maria Sison as chairperson of ILPS. This ‘1+1’ equation of the military is really the work of some bright minds (sarcasm intended),” the Karapatan leader said.

“Continue your defense of the Duterte government, even glossing over the thousands killed in the drug war. The police admitted killing around 5,000, while the rest are labeled ‘deaths under investigation.’ Numerous victims and their kin are speaking up. A case against policemen, who included Kian de los Santos’ case as those who died under ‘legitimate police operation,’ has been won in court, with the perpetrators set to serve their sentence. Families are now filing counter-charges. You cannot simply put all these irregularities under the rug when they present themselves as clear as day,” Palabay argued.

“At least 47 of our human rights workers have already died under several administrations, Parlade. Our national officers have been put under threat and even our online platform is being compromised by DDoS attacks. Yes, we rally. Yes, we assist victims, their families and survivors to exact accountability. Yes, we file complaints. Yes, we raise these issues in the UN. Yes, we have international solidarity work.

Yes, we engage in legislative advocacy. Yes, we work with numerous human rights defenders. And yes, we talk a lot. Many of our colleagues have paid the ultimate price to help us attain the freedoms and rights that this government is denying us. We are committed to pursuing their cause,” she concluded.