Saturday, March 03, 2007

Anakpawis coordinator killed in Digos; MAcapagal-Arroyo continues to protect and defend the AFP on the issue of extra-judicial killings

Saturday March 3, 2007

Anakpawis coordinator killed in Digos; MAcapagal-Arroyo continues to protect and defend the AFP on the issue of extra-judicial killings

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today slammed the Macapagal-Arroyo presidency and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) anew for the killing of Renato Torrecampo Pacaide, 53, secretary general of Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Davao del Sur (NAMADS or Unity of Peasants in Davao del Sur) and coordinator of Anakpawis-Davao del Sur. Pacaide was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding men at 10:45 a.m. yesterday in Digos, Davao del Sur. NAMADS is a local chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, one of the main organizations behind Anakpawis.

"What other proof is required to prove the hypocrisy of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration in saying that it is addressing the issue of extra-judicial killings? Another political activist and peasant leader has been gunned down even in the midst of Malacanang's assertions that it does not condone the killings. Pres. Arroyo continues to protect and defend the AFP from culpability, the same way she herself is trying to evade the ultimate responsibility for the overall deterioration of the human rights situation in the country," he said.

Beltran said that AFP chief of staff Hermogenes Esperon was clearly justifying the killings by blatantly insinuating that the victims are affiliated with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) or the New People's Army (NPA).

"Esperon is unapologetic and stubborn in his refusal to admit that only the AFP has the capability to implement such a campaign of terror against members and leaders of progressive party-lists and militant people's organizations. He is trying to twist the issue and turn the tables on the human rights groups pointing at the AFP as being behind the killings by saying they're the handiwork of the CPP-NPA. This is hogwash," he said. "Since the AFP is clearly failing to defeat the CPP-NPA, in its frustration it is turning to the progressive party-lists and executing our members and leaders. Oplan Bantay Laya is all about killing political activists, ordinary civilians who have progressive advocacies," he said.

"Kung may natitira pang hiya o dangal yang si Esperon, dapat mag-resign na siya. Ang tigas ng mukha niyang sabihing kinikilala ng AFP ang mga karapatang pantao, at concerned na din sa isyu ng extrajudicial killings. Under his watch the extrajudicial killings continue, and we fear that the number of victims will continue to rise because the AFP is now directly under fire and will retaliate against its critics by killing more activists," he said.

Beltran also said that the relentless deployment of AFP troops to urban poor communities and residential areas where residents are sympathetic to the progressive party-lists Anakpawis, Bayan Muna and Gabriela Women's Party is also proof that the AFP is partisan.

"Again, Esperon is lying through his teeth. The man is a bald-faced liar when he says that the AFP is blind to politics. How else can soldiers know to target residents and communities that are the bailiwicks of our party-lists? Oplan Bantay Laya and the various military and intelligence documents that fell into our hands are black and white blueprints to eradicate our party-lists primarily through the use of intimidation and even outright violence. Pres. Arroyo cannot escape responsibility for this – she has knowledge of all this, yet she refuses to lift a finger to stop the AFP and order it to stop the killings and the campaign of harassment and intimidation against our members," he said.

"Higit lalong dapat biguin ang mga kandidato ni GMA sa darating na eleksyon, lalo pa't hindi rin sila nagsasalita sa isyu ng pamamaslang. This is literally an issue of life and death for hundreds of human rights advocates and members of the progressive party-lists, and by remaining silent they condone the killings," he concluded.#


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