Karapatan denounces Arroyo order to speed up Cafgu recruitment, deployment

Oct. 06, 2007

DAVAO CITY Human Rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao condemned in the highest possible terms today the recent order of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Department of National Defense (DND) to speed up the recruitment, training, equipping and deployment of Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGUs) as this aims to replace transferred paramilitary troops in the hinterlands.

“As advocates of peace and defender of human rights, we express our utmost condemnation on the recent order of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to speed up the recruitment and deployment of the state’s paramilitary groups. In fact, majority of the documented cases of human rights abuses are favored to occur in “highly-militarize” areas. This only shows that the mere physical presence of the paramilitary groups such as the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGUs) continuously sows fear and terrorized the populace in the hinterlands,” Karapatan Secretray general Kelly Delgado said.

“CAFGUs are one of the many executioners of human rights violations in the hinterlands. They constitute a pattern of politically targeted extrajudicial executions and involuntary disappearances. Majority of their victims are mostly members of the progressive groups, church, peasant and community leaders and those who vocally criticize the government and this is taking place within the broader context of a continuing counter-insurgency campaign in the hinterlands. Undeniably, this adds up to the escalating political killings and involuntary disappearances,” Delgado said.

“So long as the scale and intensity of armed conflict is not diminished and the continued deployments of CAFGUs in both rural and urban areas were not stopped, we are certain that the numbers of reported human right abuses will not declined. True to say, in the wake of efforts of the government to end human rights abuses , persistent reports of “disappearances”, torture and extrajudicial executions, often occurring within ‘militarized zones’ are regular, Delgado said.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the Administrative Order (AO) 197 on Sept. 25. This order likewise directed the AFP and DND to take a speedy actions on cases of extra judicial killings and disappearances, and adopt effective measures to avoid military abuses.

The rights group believes that the order of GMA is just a mere ‘rhetoric’ drama to win over the sympathy of the public to say that her administration is doing measures and actions that will put an end to human rights abuses in the country. The tandem of Human Security Act and the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya will definitely put the human rights advocates into peril and further quell democracy.

“If GMA is sincere to solve issues on human rights abuses, she should scrap the Human Security Act,” Delgado said.

Karapatan remains gravely concerned at repeated credible reports that members of the security forces such as the CAFGUs have been directly involved in the attacks, or else have tolerated, acquiesced to the influx of human rights cases. ###

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