AFP: Human rights cases vs military down-A A +A
Friday, September 28, 2012
MANILA -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Friday it has also taken steps to reduce human rights cases against government troopers. The justice secretary has claimed that the country has improved in its campaign against human rights violations.
Brigadier General Domingo Tutaan Jr., AFP Human Rights Office chief, said the number of human rights complaints against the military has declined in the first two years of the administration of President Benigno Aquino and cited the actions they have undertaken to stop or lessen the alleged violations.
In a live interview on state-run People’s Television Network on Thursday evening, Tutaan said the AFP received only 96 complaints from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) from July 1, 2010 to June 30 this year.
While the military official did not make a point of comparison, he said the military’s record is moving on a “downward trend.”
Tutaan contributing to the reduction of human rights cases is the AFP's zero-tolerance policy implemented for any military misconduct.
“The first and foremost policy is the zero-tolerance policy. The AFP has taken steps to look into all reports, complaints, or allegations of human rights [violations] and we take actions of the matter in accordance with the due process and rule of law,” Tutaan said.
The AFP official also cited as an improvement the advocacy and information dissemination campaign on “building or enhancing the culture of human rights” among soldiers and within the military.
He also feted the establishment and replication of human rights offices or desks in all major AFP units and in all operational and tactical units on the field.
“With this, we now have an open communication with each other from my point here at the general headquarters of the (AFP) to the tactical units on the ground,” said Tutaan.
He added that the AFP is deeply concern on the soldiers’ education and training on new laws that promote human rights such as the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.
“These now are being brought down to our units on the ground so that they would be compliant and they would be aware,” said Tutaan.
“The idea of our education and training program is not for our soldiers to merely comply. What we desire is for our soldiers to understand why we have to comply,” he added.
Militants and progressive groups have since accused the military and the government's counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan of killing members of leftist organizations and of committing other human rights violations.
Human rights group Karapatan recorded 99 cases of extrajudicial killings in the first two years of the Aquino administration. The group also noted other human rights violations such as the 19,325 cases of threat, harassment, or intimidation from June 2010 to July 2012.
Meanwhile, the group Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance said there are currently 12 alleged victims of disappearances under the two-year old Aquino administration.
Last May, the AFP Human Rights Office created a Board of Inquiry (BOI) to conduct investigations that would validate reports of alleged human rights violations involving military personnel that were referred to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
The BOI findings revealed that all of the referred cases of human rights violations tagging military personnel were only “accusation” and “did not produce sufficient evidence” against soldiers.
But Tutaan assured that those who would be proven guilty of human rights violations will face the consequences of their misdeeds.
“If there are perpetrators, most especially if they are members of the military, they will be given the full strength of the law and they will be given the necessary punitive measures,” said Tutaan. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Sunnex)