CPP condemns AFP refusal to release Burgos and other abducted activists*
CPP Information Bureau
July 16, 2011
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today condemned the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for refusing to release peasant activists Jonas Burgos, Karen Empeño, Sherlyn Cadapan and Manuel Merino despite the Supreme Court's issuance of a habeas corpus order directing the military to produce them in court.
"The AFP's refusal to heed the decisions of the Supreme Court shows its continuing contempt for human rights," said the CPP. "It has given the Supreme Court a virtual slap-in-the-face through a simple denial of custody of Burgos, et.al, despite overwhelming evidence showing the direct responsibility of AFP officials and personnel in the abductions."
In successive decisions this month, the Supreme Court ordered the AFP to release the missing activists after finding credible the evidence presented by the families of Burgos, Empeño, Cadapan and Merino which point to AFP units under the 56th IB as responsible for the abduction and enforced disappearance of the peasant activists.
Burgos was abducted by several armed personnel in 2007 while having lunch in a mall in Quezon City. He was forced into a waiting vehicle whose plate number was later determined to belong to a vehicle in the custody of the 56th IB. A witness was able to identify Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. as "the principal abductor". Baliaga, an Army First Lieutenant at the time of the abduction, belongs to the 56th IB.
Empeño, Cadapan and Merino were abducted in Hagonoy, Bulacan by elements of 24th IB in February 2006. According to Raymond Manalo, who was also abducted by the military but later escaped, he met the three activists incarcerated in a dungeon inside Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan. He was able to confer with the three who related their ordeals of torture and rape in the hands of the AFP. Manalo said that while in custody, he was confronted by Gen. Jovito Palparan, who issued veiled threats against him.
The CPP said that the military's "refusal to rectify its fascist crimes under the Arroyo regime show the hypocrisy of its so-called advocacy and respect for human rights."
"The AFP is as fascist as ever before in spite of the human rights rhetoric of the Aquino regime and its military officials," added the CPP.
"The Aquino regime has failed to punish even a single element of the AFP responsible for the extrajudicial killing of more than a thousand activist during the Arroyo regime," said the CPP. "Under its Oplan Bayanihan, hundreds of thousands of civilians especially in the countryside continue to suffer from intense military operations being conducted by the AFP under the signboard of 'peace and development'."