Friday, April 13, 2007

AFP chief of staff Esperon should order AFP command in Panay to surface and release abducted activists

Friday, April 13, 2007

AFP chief of staff Esperon should order AFP command in Panay to surface and release abducted activists

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today demanded that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) local command in Panay island immediately surface and release alive and unharmed the leaders of Anakpawis Party-list they abducted yesterday. He challenged AFP chief of staff Hermogenes Esperon to surrender the officials and commanders of the AFP command in Panay and have them take account for the shooting and abduction of the activists.

Anakpawis National Council Member and Panay Coordinator Nilo Arado, human rights advocate and Bayan Muna Regional (Region VI) Coordinator Leeboy Garachico, and Ma. Luisa Posa-Dominado were attacked yesterday by unknown armed operatives while they were on their way from the province Antique.

A vehicle overtook the pick-up where the militant leaders were riding, shot Garachico on the neck and forcibly took Arado and Posa-Dominado. Garachico is currently confined in a hospital in Panay, while Arado and Dominado are still missing.

Arado is a respected peasant leader in Panay, is the Secretary-General of Paghugpong sang mga Mangunguma sa Panay kag Guimaras (PAMANGGAS – a Panay-wide alliance of farmers).

Beltran, who also is Anakpawis National Political Party chairman, said that Arado's abduction and the attempted murder of Garachico are without doubt the doings of the AFP. He said that Esperon immediately order the AFP local command in Panay to surface Arado and Posa-Dominado.

"We won't hear any more of the AFP's lies. The military is directly behind these atrocities. All of Esperon and Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's declarations that the military institution respects human rights are all out and out lies. The continuing harassment and violence the leaders, members and supporters of the progressive party-lists are subjected to are the doings of the AFP and their paramilitary arms. We demand that Esperon and Pres. Arroyo herself order the release of Arado and Luisa, and take responsibility for the attempted slay of Leeboy," he said.

"The closer the elections come, the harder the military will attack the ranks of supporters and leaders of the progressive party-lists. We ask the leadership of the various religious formations to call intensify their call to the government that it immediately stop its brutal campaign of extrajudicial killings and abduction of activists and human rights activists," he said.

Beltran also reiterated the call to senatorial candidates to speak out against the continued attacks against the progressive party-lists. "The attacks against us are attacks against the wide constituency we serve and represent. More than undermining the economic rights of Filipinos and burying them under the mountain of worsening poverty, the Macapagal-Arroyo government is guilty of massive human rights violations. Macapagal-Arroyo ahs brought back the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship when the military ran amok and arrested, abducted and executed civilians on the basis of their being sympathetic to activist causes. The administration's continuing disrespect and violation of the Filipino people's political rights is a thousand times worse than its already weighty crime of stealing from the people through corruption," he said.


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