NDF-EV criticizes MSQRT as a palliative measure
and a platform for absolving human rights violators*
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Mayo 14, 2011
The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas said today that extra-legal killings and enforced disappearances will not be solved by the Multi-Sectoral Quick Reaction Team (MSQRT) called "Kasugbong" in Western Samar and involving the military, police and other government agencies and non-governmental organizations. The initiative is backed by the Euro-Phil Justice Support Program, The Asia Foundation, and the Ateneo Human Rights Center. "Does it not bother the proponents of this MSQRT that it campaigns against extra-legal killings and enforced disappearances but enlists the military and police, who have often been accused as the very perpetrators of such crimes?" asked Fr. Santiago Salas, NDF-EV spokesperson. "Moreover, the MSQRT appears to address only the mechanics of trying to solve such human rights violations, while ignoring such essential issues as the impunity of state security forces and the larger social context of the civil war. The MSQRT seems no different than previous forums and dialogues where human rights violations are discussed but nothing substantial achieved.
"If the state security forces remain unaccountable for their crimes, and if the roots of the civil war are not addressed, the MSQRT will be nothing more than a palliative measure as more victims will be claimed."
Likewise, Fr. Salas noted that the MSQRT initiative also obscures the responsibility of the Philippine government for human rights violations and the continued denial of justice for the victims. "The military went amok during Gloria Arroyo's in implementing Oplan Bantay Laya and going on a killing spree of political activists as well as alleged supporters of the revolutionary movement. Today, such crimes remain unsolved after the Aquino regime took over. Worse, the Aquino regime is continuing the climate of impunity with extra-legal and other human rights violations under its own "counterinsurgency" program, Oplan Bayanihan. There is nothing in the MSQRT to show that participating military and civilian officials will not take advantage of it to proclaim their innocence rather than genuinely render justice. "
The NDF-EV spokesperson added that the 8th Infantry Division chief, Gen. Mario Chan, had pushed the military's agenda in joining the MSQRT. "For example, Gen. Chan made the MSQRT a platform for absolving the military's abuses in claiming that the rights of cultural worker Ericson Acosta were respected when he was arrested last February. But Acosta has exposed through the internet that he was threatened with extra-legal killing, continuously interrogated for almost 48 hours, planted with evidence (a grenade), and continues to be harassed by the military while currently detained in Calbayog City. Gen. Chan also called Acosta a member of a "local terrorist group" -- an arrogant contradiction to the admission by government chief peace negotiator Alexander Padilla that the CPP-NPA-NDFP is not a terrorist group."
Fr. Salas also said that the 8th ID only intends to use the MSQRT to deodorize its "counterinsurgency" operations. "In the meeting to form the MSQRT -- supposedly a human rights project -- Gen. Chan ridiculously promoted the Millenium Road Project, which is funded by the US and backed by the military. The fascist general claims this will solve "lawlessness" and deliver basic services. In fact, Gen. Chan is pushing the project to justify widespread military operations and to hasten on large-scale logging and mining opposed by the people."
The NDF-EV spokesperson cautioned the people on the MSQRT and concluded that the people can only attain justice for human rights violations through their revolutionary and militant struggles. "The people must continue to broaden the opposition to political repression, demand justice for the victims of human rights violations, and bring to account Gloria Arroyo and other human rights violators. The people must call on the Aquino regime to end the impunity of state security forces and stop Oplan Bayanihan. The people must continue to support the peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDFP, as well as the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and other standing peace agreements. The people must continue to struggle for a just and lasting peace, to finally end the vicious cycle of fascist state terrorism."