DAVAO CITY- Human rights group Karapatan-SMR decried today the proliferation of paramilitary groups backed and trained by state forces, as counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan nears end.
“From the Magahat in Surigao del Sur, to the Alamara in Davao del Norte, and to the Barangay Defense System put up in White Culaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon, paramilitaries are being set up, enabling regular military forces to hide behind a blanket of physical security and glove their hands from accountability,” said Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR.
“Oplan Bayanihan will be remembered as the counterinsurgency program that revived to a stronger existence the use of proxy forces by the AFP in its counterinsurgency efforts,” Suazo added.
Suazo points out that it was also during the regime of an Aquino that paramilitary forces became common among poor peasant sectors.
“The Alsa Masa movement during the Cory period allowed the military to tie puppet strings on the civilian populace and used them to hunt down innocent individuals who were poor to be suspected as supporters of the NPA. In similar vein, the residents of Brgy. Culaman have been ordered by their captain to act as night guards against the NPA, with the captain working under the directives of the military.”
“This forced recruitment as appendages of the state armed force puts civilians at risk, as they are pushed into the frontlines of combat. Furthermore, they are made susceptible to committing human rights violations, since they have little or no training on the soldier work they are forced to do.”
Suazo called once more for the disarming, disbandment, and investigation of the paramilitary forces, and creation of law that will prohibit the existence of these military auxiliaries.
“The trend of using civilians against civilians in counterinsurgency efforts has to stop, otherwise this could be the next motivating force that will lead to increase in the rate of human rights violations.”
FOR CONTACT: HANIMAY SUAZO