Karapatan hits Año's appointment as DILG head, warns against intensifying rights abuses

Karapatan earlier condemned the appointment of former AFP chief Eduardo Año as head of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Año was among those charged in a criminal complaint for the disappearance and arbitrary detention of activist Jonas Burgos in 2011, among other rights violations. Prior to his appointment as AFP chief, Año was commanding officer of the 10th Infantry Division in Davao City, a division notorious for several rights abuses, including the Paquibato massacre which resulted to the killing of 3 indigenous people in Paquibato district, Davao City in 2015. 

“The consistent promotion and assignment of Año in key government positions is indicative of the Duterte regime’s design to intensify its repressive policies and its lack of intent to prosecute human rights violators. Once again, we are reminded that high-ranking officials of the country’s biggest organized crime syndicate -- the government -- are awarded for abuses and rights violations. This is a classic case of how impunity prevails in our country,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the appointment of former AFP chief Eduardo Año as officer-in-charge of the DILG.

The DILG has, in the past administration, started a bounty scheme tantamount to an “organized racket”, resulting to the arbitrary arrest, torture and detention of activists and civilians wrongly tagged as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army. In 2012, the DILG, along with the Department of National Defense (DND), set out a P466 million bounty for individuals accused as communists. 235 names were listed, but this merely resulted to a series of arbitrary arrests under alias warrants and civilians jailed for mistaken identity. 

Palabay cited the case of Rolly Panesa, a security guard arbitrarily and tortured by elements of the police and the military after he was alleged as high-ranking CPP leader Benjamin Mendoza last October 2012, After 9 months in jail, the court acquitted Panesa, ruling that Panesa is not Benjamin Mendoza. His captors, however, have long claimed the bounty. 

Last August 2010, a similar scheme was put forward by then-AFP chief Año, mounting a 100,000 bounty for suspected communist rebels. This program was to be implemented by local government units. 

“Such policies have added millions to the pockets of the military and the police, at the expense of those wrongfully accused. This is a likely scenario of Año’s DILG, with more similar schemes that will start intensify this witch hunt, and is ultimately intended to fatten those in position while people’s rights are trampled and ignored,” said Palabay.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-979058