Last week, the Armed Forces of the Philippines released a statement on its accomplishments for the first quarter of 2012. This statement particularizes AFP’s so-called victory in it adherance to human rights. In their statement, human rights violations reports and complaints received by the Commission on Human Rights from July 2010 to March of 2012 total to 84 wherein the perpetrators are believed to be members of the military. 15 were dismissed, while the rest are for filing, further evaluation and/or investigation. The AFP Human Rights Office explained that most of the complaints were mere accusations and without evidence.
The statement is insulting to those who fell victims to the violations of the military men. Is it not it irresponsible to boast of a ZERO human rights violations report? Haven’t they heard of Captain Danilo Lalin of the Highlander 86, 50th Infantry Battalion in Mankayan, Benguet? The rape of case “Isabel” and the seduction of other minors?
Lalin took “Isabel” on February 17 for a “joyride”. It wasn’t until February 20 when the 16 year old fourth year high school student arrived home dazed and out of her mind. She revealed that Lalin took her to different places and raped her. At the same time, Lalin intimately relates to “Isabel’s” classmate, “Katrina” who is also a minor. According to ‘Katrina”, Lalin promised she is the only one.
On March 19, Innabuyog-Gabriela and Cordillera Human Rights Alliance stood in behalf of the incapacitated “Isabel” with members of her family and filed a complaint against Lalin with the office of CHR-Cordillera.
When the news about the rape case broke out through the help of several Barangays, peoples organizations and progressive groups, people became vocal at condemning the crime and perpertrators.
But on March 28, the Armed Forces of the Philippines announced that Lalin was already relieved from his position as Company Officer of the 50th Infantry Brigade and said he was detained in Tinoc, Ifugao. The AFP also clarified that they could not arrest or detain Lalin alleging that he had committed the crime outside the AFP boundaries of duty. Only when the victim or her family file a formal complaint will the AFP be able to hold or detain Lalin.
This action is in contrast to the AFP’s statement citing, “The AFP will not tolerate HRVs within its ranks…. Will continue to apply the rule of law towards any soldiers at all times whether on duty or off duty”. The AFP clearly ignored “Isabel’s” case because Lalin committed the crime beyond his duties as a soldier?
There is a level of acceptance of the crime, the mere fact that Lalin was demoted in rank by the AFP stating that they could not do anything about his crime because it happened outside the boundaries of his duty. An accusation this grave against one of their men should have been enough for them to take time to look into the case and investigate to first, prevent the perpetrator from harming more innocent women and second, to come up with the appropriate sanction.
Moreover, the family of “Isabel” has been experiencing constant surveillance by unknown men near their home. As a result of Lalin’s crime, “Isabel” is not the only victim but the entire family and an entire community.
What about the rape case of the 17 year old minor in Morong, Rizal involving three military men?
Numerous cases, ongoing cases, ongoing situations in Cordillera alone would debunk that recent statement of the AFP. The projection of Oplan Bayanihan does not help either. Their so called “people-centric approach” is still used to perpetrate more HRVs.
Vilification, a major characteristic of OpBay continues to victimize innocent human rights defenders to the point of serious harassment cases. Despite local laws and international human rights instruments prohibiting military camps, detachments and barracks, in civillian communities. Cordillera is still heavily militarized as evident in Abra, Kalinga, Mt. Province, Ifugao and some parts of Mankayan. Schools and other sacred places are still used by the military. Children and women in the community are still used by the AFP to gather information.
AFP Chief of Staff General Jessie Dellosa ended with the statement that the AFP will continue to promote human rights as the Filipinos deserve a safe and secure progress and development.
Question is, for whose progress and whose development? In the experience of Cordillera, militarization has not served the people but the transnational corporations and imperialist greed. Development aggression guarded by military camps and detachments in the countryside has resulted to numerous human rights violations. The inter relationships between Gold Fields, the Armed Forces and the Local Government Unit create a dangerous and unsafe community.
One where freedom is suppressed. When local communities try to defend their ancestral land, the military is automatically used to kill the resistance. The AFP statement lacks data and truth. Oplan Bayanihan which serves to downplay crimes against the communities, and practice “black propaganda” says a lot about their commitment to uphold human rights. There are numerous human rights violations committed everyday by a member of the military. Unfortunately, these cases are buried under piles of the reactionary government’s lies, empty promises and the lack of political will. # nordis.net