Ano, AFP are racketeer-butchers - Karapatan

"These racketeer-butchers are at it again. It does not suffice that they mercilessly kill and violate the rights of individuals and communities, they just have to device ways to make money out of it too! AFP Chief Eduardo Ano’s announcement of a PhP100,000 bounty on the heads of New People’s Army members is set to start a witch hunt that will have less to do with being an NPA, and more to do with finding civilians that they can parade as members of the NPA. Itigil nyo yang pangraraket nyo!" said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay on the recent AFP pronouncement last August 10, 2017. The AFP also said that the bounty includes the arrest of Islamic militants. 


Palabay cited the case of Rolly Panesa who was arrested and tortured on October 5, 2012, after being mistaken as a certain "Benjamin Mendoza," an alleged high ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) with a PhP5.6 million peso bounty. Panesa is a security guard and submitted various proof of his identity, including his birth and baptismal certificate, school and employment records, SSS card, driver’s license, NBI clearance, among others. Panesa was later acquitted and released on 2013.


Eduardo Esteban, a 60-year old businessman, was arrested in his house in Jaro, Iloilo in August 5, 2014 by a team of AFP and PNP officers using a warrant of arrest that named a certain “Esteban Manuel.” Karapatan disclosed then that the AFP-PNP team was awarded P5.9M for arresting Esteban, despite several questions on due process regarding his arrest. Esteban is still detained on numerous trumped at the Bontoc Provincial Jail. 


"This will be how this bounty system will work, as it has been applied during the BS Aquino III regime - it will be arbitrary and anti-people. It will result in the illegal arrest of activists, leaders of people’s organizations and anyone that the military and the police can torture to have them admit to being a member of the NPA. This will justify violations against activists, human rights defenders, and civilians. For money, anyone can be an enemy of the State," said Palabay.



The human rights group also raised the alarm on Alde Salusad who presented himself as a commander of the NPA. Salusad "surrendered" to the authorities on the day that the PhP100,000 bounty was announced. Palabay added that "if this didn’t show the whole gamut of hypocrisy and injustice in our security institutions, this would pass as an absurd, comical play. Salusad is a paramilitary member protected by the military. This is an outright deceptive ploy, a desperate PR stunt and an organized racket by the military." 


On April 2012, the regional trial court in Bukidnon ordered the arrest of Alde ‘Butsoy’ Salusad, leader of paramilitary group New Indigenous Peoples Army Reform (NIPAR), his father Benjamin, and his men, all under the command of the 8th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. Salusad et al is responsible for the killing of anti-mining activist Datu Jimmu Liguyon in March of 2012 and several harassment and rights violations in Bukidnon. Just last year, on July 30, 2016, Salusad and his group went on a shooting spree that killed a six-month pregnant woman and wounded five children and two farmers in San Fernando, Bukidnon. The incident also caused the evacuation of 428 families from three barangays.


Salusad’s group, NIPAR, is connected to the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) of the 8th Infantry Battalion – Philippine Army (IBPA). He and his men remain free from arrest despite the issuance of a warrant and was seen roaming around the community freely.


"From then until now, the military offers protection to rights violators. Salusad’s warrant of arrest was issued five years ago, and yet he roams the community without fear of arrest. Now, in his newest role as surrenderee, we know who will split the bounty. We demand an end to this pathetic display, and urge authorities to immediately arrest Salusad. Likewise, this bounty scheme will further endanger already militarized communities and give way to further violations. Such a scheme should be immediately revoked," Palabay concluded.