‘Greater and graver rights abuses, killings under Año’ -youth group

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

KABATAAN Party-list joins youth groups and various sectors as they storm the gates of Ateneo de Manila University, where AFP chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año is set to hold a forum on Tuesday, February 21.

“No words can rightfully express our horror and rage over the Año’s appointment, especially as the AFP’s mercenary tradition of violence and fascism on the people intensifies following the Duterte regime’s declaration of all-out war. Not only does he spearhead Oplan Kapayapaan under the Duterte regime, which has only caused confusion and discord instead of peace, but he is also implicated in human rights violations in the Arroyo and Aquino regimes,” Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago said.

Long history of violence and abuse

Año rose to prominence when in April 2007, Jonas Burgos, a farmer-activist and son of press freedom icon Jose Burgos, Jr., was abducted by military forces tagged to be working under him.

In June 2012, youth activist Franklin Barrera, district coordinator of Kabataan Partylist, was taken and tortured by armed men under the 201st Infantry Battalion commanded by then Colonel Año. He was believed to be pressured to speak against his comrades and colleagues shortly after.

In 2015, numerous incidents of human rights violations against indigenous communities of B’laan at Sarangani and Davao Occidental provinces were reported to be committed by the 73rd Infantry Battalion under Año’s 10th Infantry Division.

In the same year, a massacre ending lives of three IP and farmer leaders in Paquibato district in Davao City was conducted by forces under General Año’s 69th Infantry Battalion – dubbed as the “Palparan Battalion” named after their previous leader, the fugitive and retired General Jovito “The Butcher” Palparan Jr., the face of the Arroyo regime’s bloody Oplan Bantay Laya.

Also in June 2015, Año led AFP’s 10th Infantry Division’s operations as the head of “Oplan Minion,” effectively killing Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao, then commander of the New People’s Army (NPA). Pitao was undergoing treatment when he was killed along with his unarmed medic, an act which shows clear disregard for the rules of engagement specified under the Geneva Convention and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Intensifying fascism, deception under Año’s Oplan Kapayapaan

Año’s flagship project Oplan Kapayapaan has merely been a rehash of the previous Oplan Bayanihan. Still based on the US Counterinsurgency Guide, the recent declaration of ‘all-out war’ against the rebels has fast transformed into a crackdown of leaders, civilians and legal activists, under the guise of ‘promoting and maintaining the peace.’

In addition, Oplan Kapayapaan has brought out deceptive tactics that go through lengths, even spending their own forces in order to fake ambushes and churn out press releases framing the rebels, to further entry into civilian communities, and to sow confusion and discord among the people.

While army reports point to rebels ambushing military operations in Surigao del Norte, a clarification was released by the New People’s Army (NPA), which has previously declared a unilateral ceasefire following relief operations in the quake-hit area.

Crackdown on activists and leaders under ‘all-out war’

Since the declaration of ‘all-out war,’ at least 13 activists, leaders and consultants have been arrested in the past three weeks.

Even before the declaration, another 23 leaders and activists have already been arrested or slain under the guise of the ‘war on drugs.’

Duterte’s regime turning to the dark side

“Oplan Kapayapaan and Año’s appointment is just a step in the Duterte’s regime’s turn to the dark side, marked by the revival of mandatory ROTC for senior high school students, the revival of the Philippine Constabulary (PC), the reinstatement of death penalty deliberated in Congress, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and the lowering of criminal responsibility for children.

“The ‘suspension’ of police operations under the anti-poor Oplan Tokhang, aside from setting the stage for the revival of the PC, will also turn over the spotlight for Tokhang to military operatives,” Elago added.

“We call on the Filipino youth to strongly oppose and expose the AFP and Año’s two-faced tactics of deception and terror, and give no room to propagate his lies and deceit further.

“Ultimately, we call for the AFP to stop the killings under Oplan Kapayapaan, and for President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the ‘all-out war,’ resume the peace talks and reconsider the legacy of violence he is currently building with his recent moves involving the military,” Elago concluded.

Elago calls on the youth to register their collective protest against the rising threat of state fascism on February 23 and 25 and on March 8. ###