November 7, 2015
Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, +63917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, +63918-9790580
Aquino, AFP afraid to show skeletons in the closet
“Scared to reveal the skeletons in the closet, Colonel Benjamin Hao?” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said in response to Army Spokesperson Col. Hao’s threat to deport the foreigners who joined the International Fact Finding Mission (IFFM) held in Surigao del Sur, where the September 1 massacre and other military and paramilitary atrocities were committed.
Held on October 26 to October 30, the IFFM teams went to different villages in Lianga and San Miguel, Surigao del Sur to investigate the extent of human rights violations perpetrated by both the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group and the 75th and 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. Initial results of the mission indicated that rights violations were committed even after Lumad evacuated as a result of the massacre of school executive Emerito Samarca and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo.
In at least two communities, houses and farm equipment were burned down. The majority of the houses were ransacked and defaced, including the schools. The pigs and chickens raised by individual households, as well as those in Alcadev demo farms, were stolen. Farm tools, personal belongings and household utensils were stolen.
“By showing its claws to the international observers, the Philippine Army is preempting the full disclosure of the abuses and violations they committed against the Lumad. The AFP is again trying to divert the issue,” Palabay said.
Palabay reminded the BS Aquino regime that harassing foreigners who take part in activities promoting human rights violates the people’s right to international solidarity. Under the Aquino administration, Karapatan earlier documented cases of Dutch youth Thomas Van Beersum and Canadian Kim Chatillon Meunier who were both detained and deported—even as they were already on their way back to their respective countries—for participating in international events and fact-finding missions.
“The right to international solidarity shall be understood as a fundamental human right by which peoples and individuals have the freedom to enjoy, on the basis of equality and non-discrimination, the benefits of a harmonious international society with a just and fair international political and economic order, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms may be fully realized,” Palabay quoted the draft United Nations declaration on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity.
“It looks like the BS Aquino regime has more secrets to keep on the human rights situation in the country. Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs have repeatedly turned down the requests of UN experts to investigate on the numerous reports of political killings, forcible evacuation, illegal arrests and other human rights violations. On the other hand, Aquino has welcomed US and other foreign troops that commit human rights abuses within our territory,” Palabay concluded.###
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.