By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY— Militant groups belie Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claim that there are no human rights violations committed in the first four months of 2012.
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) Secretary General Jude Baggo stressed that human rights violations that include militarization and vilification continued under the Aquino administration. “The AFP is always in a state of denial,” he said.
Baggo pointed out that the continuing presence of army men in the communities is a violation of the people’s rights as it endangers them. “Let us face it, there is an on going civil war in the country and military encampments inside the communities puts the civilians in a very vulnerable situation,” he explained.
He said that CHRA documentation show that military units are presently detached and operating in civilian communities in Kalinga, Abra and Benguet. He also said that the soldiers are mobile and go around adjacent communities but maintain a regular presence in these communities they have identified for operations.
He cited that Artcle 12, Part 4 of the Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) prohibits military encampments inside the communities.
He added that CARHRIHL is an agreement signed between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
He also cited Article 30 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDIRP) that prohibits the use of indigenous peoples communities as military camps.
“There is zero truth in the AFP statement that there have been no violations of human rights during the past four months.” Katribu Partylist President Beverly Longid reiterated before a media briefing May 18 here.
Longid stressed that the encampment of military forces in indigenous communities are in itself a violation to the people’s rights. “Anywhere the military are, there are documented human rights violations,” she said.
Longid also pointed out that human rights violations should not be reduced to technicalities and numbers. She added that the absence of solid evidence or complaints do not mean there are no violations. She said the mere fact that there are reported cases of violations should be enough to cause alarm.
“The victims are real people. Who would like to just make up stories about being raped or tortured or harassed?” she further said.
Longid further said that the AFP statement aims to condition the minds of the people because the Philippine government will undergo another review in the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council to evaluate its implementation of the recommendations made on the first UPR in 2008, and its fulfillment of the human rights treaties it has signed.
Katribu partylist will join the delegation of the Philippine UPR Watch, a network of human rights and faith based organizations, peoples organizations and institutions in the Philippines whose members are constantly under threat in its engagement in the second UPR this May.
Twelve civil society groups under the Philippine UPR Watch have submitted separate alternative reports to the UNHRC November of 2011.
The submissions reveal that after the first UPR the Philippine government failed to improve the human rights situation in the country despite the recommendations of 14 other countries. # nordis.net