Army officials not off the hook on torture, says HR group

EVANGELISTA BATCHAR

DAVAO CITY- Don’t just arrest the Cafgus, but the Army officials as well.

This is what the human rights group Karapatan said after four Cafgu members were charged for abusing an indigenous farmer in Malita, Davao Occidental last week.

The group said there is accountability from the higher command of the Armed Forces in Mindanao over the incident.

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan – Southern Mindanao, said the Cafgu were sacrificial lambs.

“These armed auxiliaries and Corporal Batolbatol have become the sacrificial lambs, in order for the 10th Infantry Division to project themselves as an agency who respect human rights. But the truth is, this division must be held accountable as well. They are the ones who placed these elements in the field in the first place,” Suazo said.

“These officers have willingly let loose their dogs which are the paramilitary to prey upon the people. This is not a simple case of lack of oversight; this harassment and physical assault is part of the systematic war against the people, Oplan Bayanihan.” Suazo added.

For this, Suazo reiterates the call to scrap Executive Order 546, the act that legalized the use of armed auxiliaries by the AFP.

Suazo also condemns that cases involving the military have been moving on a slow pace, at worse being dismissed.

“Till now, the cases of Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio, Roque Antivo, Juvy Capion, and the Paquibato farmers remain bereft of justice, even when the military’s bloody hand into these killings have been established in several occasions,” Suazo said.

She added that aside from hiding away from justice, the AFP is hiding also from issues of corruption based on Commission on Audit reports.

Karapatan urged the local government units and the Commission on Human Rights to stand up for the victims of human rights violations, that they should stay in their mandate to serve the people.

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