Editorial: Who's violating who?

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

MILITANT groups, every now and then have been calling for government to step up its effort against human rights violations by members of the police and the military.

Every now and then, we hear reports of cases filed against members of the Armed Forces and police citing torture, arbitrary detention and summary executions alleged committed.

Earlier this year, the National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines have conducted a number of aerial and ground military operations.

Militants in the region said the operations are carried out under the pretext of "counter insurgency" and gravely violate indigenous peoples' ancestral land rights and assertion of right to self-determination through extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, political vilification, harassment, and intimidation, among others.

But in Tuesday’s Regional Human Rights Consciousness Summit, the Armed Forces of the Philippines stressed it upheld and improved protocols to prevent abuses coming from the military.

501st Infantry Brigade commander Brigadier General Roger Salvador said human rights advocates have failed to report abuses of erring soldiers but instead give information and sometimes misleading reports to media.

Salvador stressed the 501st IB which covers Cordillera provinces of Kalinga, Apayao, Ifugao, Benguet and parts Mt. Province has been cognizant of human rights stressing the command is strict in enforcing what is right and punishes erring soldiers through proper procedures and investigation.

From January to September this year, some 27 regular cases of HR violations were brought to the attention of CHR while some 97 other legal services were rendered by the commission.

Majority of these cases include violations of the International Humanitarian Law such as cases of rape, violence against women and children.

However, other cases also include at least three cases of torture, six cases of summary execution, two cases of unlawful searches and unnecessary arrests and two cases of enforced disappearance.
Time and again, it has always been the military and the police whose abuses are always brought to justice.

But how about those military and police officers killed in ambush by rebel groups who in one way or the other are linked to some militant groups? Are they not also victims of human rights violations, too?

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 13, 2013.


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