Duterte’s bounty system, fake NPA surrenderees are forms of organized racket

“The government is at it again, using the ineffective bounty system to resolve armed conflict. Duterte recently made another pronouncement, increasing the bounty for New People’s Army members killed - from PhP20,000, to PhP25,000, to PhP100,000. Such a scheme is short-sighted and flawed, only lending itself to the corrupt nature of state security forces,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

She added that “this is not the first time that such a “reward system” was used by the government.” Karapatan cited the case of security guard Rolly Panesa who was abducted and tortured on October 5, 2012. Panesa was accused of being ‘Benjamin Mendoza’, an alleged high-ranking leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) with a PhP5.6 million bounty. He spent 9 months in jail before being acquitted by the court. Panesa has then filed cases on the basis of the Anti-Torture Law against his captors.

“Clearly, such a scheme will open the floodgates to more human rights violations, committed arbitrarily for the sake of money. At the end of the day, ills pervading our society and root causes of the armed conflict remain, while millions from the people’s money gets transferred to the pockets of military, militiamen, and the police,” said Palabay.

Karapatan noted that both the bounty scheme and maneuvers to parade so-called NPA surrenderees, a new batch of whom were flown yesterday to Manila, are “organized rackets” by the military. “As Duterte wines and dines with these so-called surrenderees, he knowingly coddles paramilitary members who are wanted with warrants of arrest for grave rights violations and other criminal activities,” Palabay added.

According to reliable information received by Karapatan, among the so-called surrenderees are paramilitary members of the Magahat-Bagani force who have warrants of arrests for human rights violations perpetrated in Lumad communities in the Caraga region. Among those who already have a warrant but still was listed as surrenderees were: Datu Calpito Egua, Oscar Egua, Jojo Acebedo, Benjie Martinez, Zaldy Banusan, Joakin/Joaquin Salinas, Roldan Acebedo, Pluto Acebedo, Ramil Pedroso, Rico Acebedo, Arnold Brital, Romeo Banusan, Egoy Perez,Totok Acebedo, Urso Banusan, Ramsy Salinas, Along Salinas, and Rommy Acebedo.

“The warrant for these murderers have been out since May of 2016, for the killing of two Lumad leaders and the executive director of a community school in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Authorities have claimed these militia men have evaded arrest when all along they are being protected and coddled by the military and this government,” said Palabay.

“There is something seriously deficient in the understanding of a government who deems to resolve the roots of the armed conflict in the same manner that noontime variety shows do -- by handing out piecemeal “incentives”. This short-sighted and short-term solution will barely scratch the surface,” Palabay ended.

Reference:  Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580