TAGUM CITY, Philippines — The appointment of former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Eduardo Año as head of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) would only intensify the human rights abuses across the country, Karapatan warned on Tuesday, January 9.
“The consistent promotion and assignment of Año in key government positions are indicative of the Duterte regime’s design to intensify its repressive policies and its lack of intent to prosecute human rights violators,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
Palabay criticized the Duterte administration for giving high-ranking officials like Año, of top government posts despite being implicated in various human rights cases.
According to Palabay, Año was among those charged in a criminal complaint for the disappearance and arbitrary detention of activist Jonas Burgos in 2011, among other rights violations
Prior to his appointment as AFP chief, he served as the commanding officer of the 10th Infantry Division in President Duterte’s hometown Davao City
Año’s notoriety was made known when, under his term, the Paquibato Massacre happened back in 2015 which resulted in the killings of three Lumad people in Davao’s Paquibato District, said Palabay.
“Once again, we are reminded that high-ranking officials of the country’s biggest organized crime syndicate – the government – are awarded for abuses and rights violations. This is a classic case of how impunity prevails in our country,” Palabay said.
The former AFP chief took the helm of DILG in a ceremony held on Tuesday, January 9 after Catalino Uy, the agency’s officer-in-charge, turned over his position to Año.
In his message, Ano said he relies on the support of DILG to rally behind President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his battle against illegal drugs, criminality, corruption, violent extremism/ terrorism, and communist threats.
But Karapatan has also warned that Año may use his DILG post to target government dissenters which would result to further “arbitrary arrest, torture, and detention of activists and civilians” wrongly tagged as either members or supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The group claims that previous administration had employed a bounty scheme targeting political activists.
For instance, in 2012, the DILG, along with the Department of National Defense (DND), set out a P466 million bounty for individuals accused as communists.
But Karapatan said the 235 names listed were merely resulted in a series of arbitrary arrests under alias warrants and civilians jailed for mistaken identity. (davaotoday.com)