Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tuesday March 6, 2007

Comelec chairman Abalos should denounce election-related harassment campaign of AFP, support calls for troop pull-out from the NCR

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today said that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should put its foot down against the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) refusal to pull out troops from urban poor communities and from other public places. Beltran said that reports were pouring in from various concerned citizens complaining about the ubiquitous presence of AFP troops and uniformed members of the Philippine National Police in their communities.

"Comelec chief Benjamin Abalos should not give credence to the AFP's explanations that their heightened presence in the National Capital Region (NCR) is not election-related. There is no other reason for this massive deployment of troops in the communities sympathetic to the progressive party-lists than to terrorize and discourage residents from voting for our party-lists. This is electoral harassment, apart from abuse of Filipinos' constitutionally-guaranteed right to independent political belief," he said. "Commissioner Abalos should see that there is a thought-our plot against our party-lists intended to discredit and disqualify us from participating in the elections. This is political repression and it is illegal."

Beltran also said that the tone was also being set for a highly militarized May elections. "There are indications that unless they are made to withdraw from the communities now, AFO troops will still be making the rounds on election day itself, threatening civilians against voting for our groups. Already our campaign activities are being harassed and hampered because of the troop deployment. They're not looking for criminals, they're targeting our supporters and community coordinators," said Beltran. "This troop deployment in the NCR must be ended at once and the AFP must be made to withdraw."

Beltran slammed anew AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon and Department of National Defense (DND) secretary Hermogenes Ebdane for their refusal to act on the complaints of the progressive party-lists against the troop deployment.

"Esperon and Edbane cannot justify this massive militarization in the NCR by saying its an anti-crime drive. They are abusing their respective authority by taking on the task of securing peace and order in the urban centers away from the Philippine National Police (PNP). It is not the mandate of the AFP to oversee security in the urban centers when there is no state of national emergency or threat to national security."

Beltran also took Malacanang to task for its silence on the militarization of urban poor communities.

"AFP troops are running amok in the cities, yet again projecting an atmosphere of intensifying political repression. Pres. Arroyo had done nothing to stop Esperon and Ebdane from ordering massive troop deployment in the NCR, and it's becoming apparent that she is no longer calling the shots on this matter. Her authority has already become token in these matters," he said.#


Post a Comment

<< Home