Impunity prevails as butcher-generals appointed in key gov’t positions - Karapatan

“The most recent appointments of butcher-generals in the Duterte Cabinet furthers the militarization of the civilian bureaucracy and, in addition to pro-US officials and warmongers Delfin Lorenzana and Hermogenes Esperon, will inevitably result to more militarist and fascist policies that disregard the rights and welfare of peasant and indigenous communities,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said, on the recent appointments of Armed Forces of the Philippines chiefs of staff Roy Cimatu and Eduardo Año, as new heads of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

 

 

 Prior to this, former AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya was as head of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) last March 7, 2017, while the main implementer of counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which resulted to extrajudicial killings of many peasants and indigenous peoples, Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, was appointed last year as Under Secretary. 

Palabay said Año was implicated in the abduction and disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos on April 28, 2007, but was however absolved by the Department of Justice in 2013 and promoted as a four-star general and as chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the BS Aquino regime. Año is also said to be responsible for the killing spree of Lumad and illegal arrest and filing of trumped-up charges against activists during his stint as the commanding officer of the 10th Infantry Division-Philippine Army in Mindanao, among others.

Meanwhile, Cimatu was at the helm of the AFP Southern Command from September 2001 to May 2002 when civilians who came to be known as the Basilan 72 were arrested on wrongful accusations that they were Abu Sayaff members. During his brief stint as AFP Chief of Staff from May 2002 to September 2002, Cimatu led the implementation of the bloody counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya.

Cimatu was also accused of accumulating ill-gotten wealth from the conversion of military funds during the time of the Arroyo regime. Along with other high-ranking AFP officials, the Department of Justice recommended the filing of plunder cases on 2011. The case, though later dismissed, demonstrated corruption within the military, implicating no less than its top officers.

“With butcher-generals at the helm of a department overseeing the brutal and corrupt Philippine National Police amid its war on drugs and one that is notorious for conniving with the interests of big mining corporations, how can pro-people policies be implemented if those appointed in key government posts have been proven to be rights violators themselves?” Palabay said.

“This brings into serious concern the direction with which the Duterte administration is veering towards. The rise of military generals in key government positions is a preview of a leadership strongly influenced by rightist-militarists who were at the forefront of implementing fascist policies such as the US-driven counter-insurgency programs. Lest we forget, these generals have a bloody record of violations and crimes against the Filipino people. This is exactly how impunity prevails, when rights violators are accorded medals and positions, while victims and their families are left without an iota of justice. Truly, impunity can only continue with the tacit compliance of those in power,” added Palabay.   

“If the Duterte administration continues with where it is headed, then there can be no respite in rights abuses, both in rural communities and in the urban centers. The President must remember that he is not the head of the State to only use the position to churn out favors to military generals, nor was he elected to be a mere instrument of US-loyal and fascist military men,” Palabay concluded.

 

 

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