DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The appointment of incumbent AFP Chief Major General Eduardo Año as Department of Interior and Local Government secretary will only aggravate the worsening human rights situation in the country, a militant lawmaker warned on Thursday.
Año will assume the DILG post after his retirement in October. His appointment was announced by President Rodrigo Duterte last May 10, in a press briefing before he left for Cambodia to attend the World Economic Forum on ASEAN 2017.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said that the current AFP chief was involved with the abduction and enforced disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos in April 2007 during his stint as 56th Infantry Battalion commander.
Año served also as the commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division at the height of the Paquibato massacre in this city where three Lumad community leaders were killed.
“Año’s style is a classic authoritarian, he’ll kill or abduct first, then subject them to a massive black propaganda operations such as red-baiting, and in the case of being at the DILG, victims would be easily implicated with the drug war,” Casilao said.
Apart from Casilao, militants and human rights group blasted Año’s appointment as the next DILG chief, saying his appointment is alarming especially for those tribal communities where the AFP’s counter-insurgency program continuously implemented.
Former political prisoners and now peace consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon were arrested under Año’s watch when he served as the former chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces.
With this, Casilao expressed wariness over the growing number of former military officials appointed to cabinet posts. The recent of which was former Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Roy Cimatu as Department of Environment and Natural Resources secretary, and current AFP Chief Major General Eduardo Año as Department of Interior and Local Government secretary.
Other retired military and police officials under the Duterte administration were: Edgar Galvante in Land Transportation Office, Gen. Alexander Balutan in Philippine Sweepstakes and Charity Office, Jason Aquino in National Food Authority, Gen. Ricardo Visaya in National Irrigation Administration, Gen. Ricardo Jalad in National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management, Nicanor Faeldon in Bureau of Customs.
“The president was catapulted to his post due to the democratic aspiration of the people, but his recent appointments involved those who advocate of authoritarianism, militarism, contempt of human rights,” Casilao said. (davaotoday.com)