Melo Commission Report: Presentation of Witnesses/Resource Persons

Feb. 23, 2007

B. AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon:

1. Opening Statement: AFP Policy and Practice

Gen. Esperon sternly declared that the AFP does not condone or employ summary executions as a matter of policy and practice. Neither does it tolerate abuses, crimes, or summary executions. The AFP is a professional institution, which does not engage in summary executions. The AFP, in fact, operates on the basis of the Constitution and thus holds the value of human life to the highest degree. Several publications have been made to educate AFPs soldiers:

a. AFP Standing Rules of Engagement
b. Protection of Non-Combatants in the Philippines
c. The Philippine Army Soldiers Handbook on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law
d. Primer on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Restrict for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law
e. Rules of Behavior on Combat
f. Love of Country/Pagmamahal sa Bayan
g. Code of Ethics

Gen. Esperon further said that it is unfair to link the AFP to all political killings just because the political inclination of the victims is toward the left. He stated that the AFP has been stereotyped as the perpetrator of the extra-judicial killings of journalists and militants. Subjecting the AFP to a trial by publicity is a modus-operandi by the CPP-NPA.

However, Gen. Esperon refused to categorically state that the AFP has absolutely nothing to do with the killings of activists, as such statement might be too presumptuous.

2. Reaction to Gen. Jovito Palparans Statement Bayan, Karapatan, Anak ng Bayan are all front organizations of the CPP-NPA with Bayan Muna as the umbrella organization.

Gen. Esperon agreed that there is truth to the said statement. He claimed that the CPP-NPA uses as a shield the National Democratic Front (NDF), which is an aggrupation of legal organizations that are infiltrated with members of the CPP-NPA. For example, Bayan Muna, while being a legal organization has elements that are also members of the CPP-NPA. These members are conveniently hiding under a legal organization to serve the ends of the CPP. Therefore, these organizations become the front organizations of the armed struggle of the NPA. What is meant by the term front organizations is that many members of the legal organization are identified members of the NPA. These members, who are identified with the CPP-NPA, are fooling these (legal) organizations to be the umbrella of the CPP-NPA and work ultimately, wittingly or unwittingly, for the cause of the CPP-NPA.

3. Presentation entitled Knowing the Enemy

Gen. Esperon confirmed the existence of an AFP Briefing presentation entitled Knowing the Enemy which explicitly accuses progressive leftist organizations of being front organizations of the CPP-NPA.

4. AFP considers the CPP-NPA as enemy of the state

The CPP-NPA is treated as an enemy of the state because the Philippines is a democratic state. The CPP-NPA wants to supplant our democratic way of life with a communist ideology.

However, Gen. Esperon was quick to clarify that it does not follow that the AFP similarly treats some left-wing organizations (which are considered front organizations of the CPP-NPA) as enemies of the state because these are legal organizations and serve a function in a democratic way of life. He added that Gen. Palparans statement that Congressmen Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casio are enemies of the state might have been prompted by the fact that the former was a known member of the CPP.

5. Reaction to Gen. Palparans statement, Even though they are in government, as Congress representatives, no matter what appearance they take, they are still enemies of the State, as reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 16, 2006 issue.

Gen. Esperon said he has not been given a manuscript that contained the said statement. He added that there could be truth to the matter in light of a narration made by a certain Mr. Piedad, a former NPA Commander and a witness to the mass graves in Inupakan, Leyte. According to Mr. Piedad, the orders for the mass killings came from NPA personalities which are known in the filed as Ka Gres, Joma Sison, Ka Louie and Ka Satur. In another incident at Aurora, a letter was uncovered which mentions the name Ka Satur as responsible for the purchase of Five Million Pesos (P5,000,000.00) worth of explosives. Though the real identity of Ka Satur is unknown, it seems to be a popular name in the underground. Thus, this could be the basis for Gen. Palparans statements.

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