Press Statement | September 14, 2017
Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580
Duterte funding Lumad, peasant murderers, sanctions budget to kill – Karapatan
“There is no money for social services, for mechanisms for redress, for socioeconomic programs for the welfare of the majority under Duterte’s leadership. The budget is instead allocated to murderers and fascists who are enabled and protected by no less than the President. State security forces – from the police, the military, and its paramilitary forces – are not only accorded the license but also the resources to kill,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
Despite criticisms, Executive Order 546 enforced since the Arroyo regime is still used to legitimize the creation and operation of paramilitary units and private armies. Paramilitary units have been extensively used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to implement its counterinsurgency program. Part of the 2018 allocation for the Duterte regime’s counterinsurgency measure, Oplan Kapayapaan, is at least P3.4 billion for paramilitary groups. “That is 3.4 billion worth of guns, bombs, personnel, among others, that will be used by paramilitaries to terrorize peasant and Lumad communities,” said Palabay, adding that as present, there are 25 paramilitary units in various regions under the direct control of the AFP.
“Veiled by the protection and command of the AFP, these violators walk around the communities they have victimized without fear of arrest,” Karapatan’s secretary general said. Palabay cited the cases of the killing of 19-year-old Obello Bay-ao, a Grade 6 Lumad student of the Salugpongan ‘Ta Tanu Igkanogon Community Center, who was shot by 2 armed members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU). As of August 31, 2017, Karapatan documented at least 88 victims of extrajudicial killings in line with Oplan Kapayapaan.
Palabay added that “the killing of Bay-ao reminds us that killings are not only happening in urban poor communities, usually in line with Duterte’s war on drugs campaign, but is being done with the same intensity and brutality in peasant and indigenous communities. Lest we forget, the police are not the only murderers in this country; foremost is the military and its paramilitary minions. As Bay-ao is set to be laid to rest today, the struggle to give justice to him and so many others who have been victims of State repression, as well as to hold the perpetrators and regimes accountable, will continue.”
Palabay also mentioned the September 1, 2015 killing of 2 Lumad leaders and the executive director of an alternative lumad school in Lianga, Caraga. The massacre was perpetrated by elements of the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary force, a unit under the control of the 75th IBPA. She also added the case of New Indigenous People’s Army for Reform (NIPAR) leader Alde Salusad who has been responsible for the killing of Manobo tribe leader Datu Jimmy Liguyon on 2012. A warrant of arrest has been released for Salusad since 2012 but due to the protection of the 8th IBPA, there is no semblance of the warrant being enforced by the authorities.
“These are not isolated cases. The targeting of indigenous peoples and peasants are systematically reinforced, enabled, and directed counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan. With the military as coddlers of their beloved paramilitary minions, and with the President protecting the military, there will never be any resolution to the killings perpetrated by State security forces. Instead of scrapping these militarist and fascist policies, the Duterte regime aggravates the situation by imposing martial rule in Mindanao, among many other deranged acts recently pursued by this administration,” Palabay ended.
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
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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.