The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is set to conduct its own probe on the reported mass surrender of 244 individuals and suspected communist rebels allegedly affiliated with Bayan Muna and the urban poor organization Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) last April 30.
It said it had a dialogue with Bayan Muna Chairperson Neri Colmenares who claimed that the reported mass surrender was “fake” and branded it as another instance of red-tagging that was used to vilify any dissent against the government.
In his letter to CHR, Colmenares said that the April 30 event in the City of San Jose del Monte in Bulacan organized by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Insurgency (NTF-ELCAC) presented alleged ex-rebels who claimed they were recruited by organizations like Bayan Muna to be members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“Clearly, this is yet another instance of the continuous efforts of the NTF-ELCAC to vilify, demonize, and red-tag Bayan Muna, the members of the House Makabayan bloc, and progressive organizations, in their vain attempt to stifle dissent against the Duterte Administration,” Colmenares said.
He also claimed that those who “surrendered” were harassed and that the government-run Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) “was misused.”
“These reports have been received and shall be endorsed to the respective Regional Offices of the CHR for prompt investigation,” CHR Spokesperson and lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
While the CHR will be probing the incident, De Guia said the CHR is strongly urging the military to conduct its own parallel probe to ascertain the veracity of the allegations.
De Guia pointed out that the CHR will work with the military and the government in order to get to the truth.
“CHR continues to stress its condemnation against armed struggle and other forms of terrorism. It is also our hope that there will be a significant reduction of violence on the ground, especially for conflict vulnerable and affected communities. We must put a stop to senseless violence,” she stressed.