Duterte regime uses its all-purpose paramilitary pawns in fake terror list – Karapatan

In the proscription petition filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on February 21, 2018, names of at least eight (8) known paramilitary members have been included. Among those in the list are Aldy Salusad, Dumanggol Salusad, Reyboy Salusad, Benjamin Salusad, Julieto Tapanan, Ronal Cabantao, Abing Gawilan, and Joas Licawan. Many are members of the New Indigenous People’s Army for Reform (NIPAR) and the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU).
“The proscription petition includes both human rights defenders and paramilitary members, militiamen who have perpetrated rights violations against the former. Again, this is indicative of how ludicrous this list is. These paramilitary groups and their ruthless members are multi-purpose pawns in this murderous regime’s schemes,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Palabay added that “it is also puzzling how these paramilitary members with standing warrants of arrest are being paraded as surrenderees. Clearly, justice is not a priority of this vindictive regime. If it was, they would have already arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned these criminals the moment they had them under custody. Not only has this government allowed these criminals to roam free, they have also been the recipient of government funds by presenting themselves as surrenderees, apart from what they are already receiving as “force multipliers” of this regime’s ruthless State forces.”

“This modus operandi of the military and paramilitary members who have made it their life’s work to murder and deceive the Filipino people is best exemplified by Aldy and Benjamin Salusad. The father-and-son criminal tandem, who both have been presented as surrenderees in 2011 and again in 2017, is included in the proscription list, and has evaded arrest despite a warrant against them for the killing of indigenous leader Datu Jimmy Liguyon in 2012. They continue to ‘evade’ arrest because of the military’s protection. This is all part of a deceptive ploy and an organized racket by the military, in partnership with their fellow killers,” explained Palabay.

The Karapatan leader said that “paramilitary groups continue to commit atrocities in indigenous and peasant communities. Enabled by this tyrannical regime, the killings have continued.”

On March 22, 2018, Garito Malibato, 23, Manobo, and a resident of Brgy. Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, was shot dead by elements of the Alamara, a paramilitary group under the control of the 73rd Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army. The Alamara has been implicated in many rights violations against indigenous communities in Mindanao, including the killing of 15-year-old student Alibando Tingkas in January 2016, the killing of 60-year-old Umayamnon tribe leader Matanem Pocuan in February 2017, and the shooting of farmer Ande Latuan in July 2017.

“The continuing rights violations committed with impunity by Salusad and members of NIPAR, as well as the Alamara and other paramilitary groups, despite them being within the government’s reach, is indicative of a flawed justice system that is farcical and inutile. With them on the loose, the lives of those in indigenous and peasant communities are put at even greater risk,” explained Palabay.

“The Justice Department frees whom it wants and arbitrarily labels those whom it wants to persecute as “terrorists”. This all comes down to who is perceived as a “friend” of this administration and who it considers the “enemy”. This is the DOJ’s twisted brand of “justice”. The Duterte regime, through government agencies, have weaponized the entire government, foremost its security forces and the DOJ, to train its guns and resources against those whose only “crime” is to struggle for a just and humane society,” concluded Palabay.