Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CHR insults the victims of Oplan Bantay Laya-NDF

CHR insults the victims of Oplan Bantay Laya*

Fr. Santaigo "Sanny" Salas
NDF - Eastern Visayas
September 1, 2010

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today expressed outrage at the Commission on Human Rights in Region 8 for calling for, among others, the intensification of Oplan Bantay Laya. “Shortly after the extension of Oplan Bantay Laya, Casiano Abing, a Bayan Muna member and court sheriff in Balangiga, Eastern Samar, was killed by suspected military elements on August 25,” said Fr. Santiago Salas, NDF-EV spokesperson. “Abing is the sixth activist killed since the inauguration of the Aquino government, and the 121st activist killed in Eastern Visayas since 2001 when Oplan Bantay Laya began. The statements of CHR regional director Paquito Nacino are therefore extremely stupid, obnoxious and unbefitting that of a human rights official.”

Fr. Salas also said the CHR regional director reflects the fascist views of his principals in the Aquino government. “Despite the findings of UN special rapporteur Philip Alston putting the blame for political killings squarely on Oplan Bantay Laya, justice remains elusive for the victims under the new government. Worse, Oplan Bantay Laya has been extended until January 2011 and may be replaced with a similar government campaign.”

The NDF-EV spokesperson added the CHR has to prove it is still relevant to human rights advocacy, rather than an appendage of the Aquino government’s “counterinsurgency” campaign. “The victims of Oplan Bantay Laya have long lost respect for the CHR and regard it as the “commission of human rights for the military and police only.” Instead of attending to the 121 unsolved political killings in the region now, the CHR today is trying to pin baseless human rights violations on the New People’s Army. Such allegations will get nowhere because the NPA is fighting a just and legitimate war, subscribes to international humanitarian law, and is led by a revolutionary government advancing the interests of the people.

“Conversely, we challenge the CHR: Is Oplan Bantay Laya just and legitimate in attacking noncombatants in more than 1,000 political killings and more than 200 forced disappearances? By pursuing Oplan Bantay Laya despite international criticism, is the Philippine government honoring its state obligations to international humanitarian law, much less protecting the people and enforcing its own laws against torture and summary killings?”

Fr. Salas concluded that, “The CHR’s near uselessness and the rising fascism of the Aquino government compel the people to stand up and fight for their rights, demand the end of Oplan Bantay Laya and the punishment of its human rights violators, and struggle for genuine change.”

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