Militarization behind sugar-coated promises of “peace and development”

Fr. Santiago Salas, spokesperson of the NDFP in Eastern Visayas Region. File photo.By NDFP-Eastern Visayas

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Eastern Visayas joins the people today in observing International Human Rights Day and said militarization remains rampant in the region amidst the Aquino regime’s lip service to human rights and the sugar-coated promises of “peace and development.”

“The military still holds sway with its impunity for human rights violations through Oplan Bayanihan,” said NDFP-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago Salas.

“In fact, the worst is yet to come because the Aquino regime is unleashing state brutality against the people in lieu of peace talks to discuss the root causes of the armed conflict. The people must stand up for their rights because the regime is bound to become more vicious and desperate as the last half of Aquino’s term of office shapes up.”

The NDFP-EV spokesperson explained that the human rights stance of President Benigno Aquino III makes it impossible to punish violators as well as further emboldens the impunity of the military.

“Aquino has recently made two much-ballyhooed pitches for human rights: the creation of an Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) to investigate human rights violations, and his signing of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. But the IAC is not an independent body because the chiefs of the military and police are part of it, making the whitewashing of human rights violations a virtual certainty.

“Moreover, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration is much more inferior than the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the basic rights of all individuals. The ASEAN Human Rights Declaration demotes human rights to ‘regional and national contexts’ as well as political, economic, social, and other particularities. Human rights are also put at the mercy of other requisites such as national security, order, health, safety and public morality. In other words, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration gives license to the repressive governments in this region of the world.”

Fr. Salas noted that the Aquino regime’s lip service to human rights justifies the militarization in the region jointly committed by state security forces, civilian bureaucrats and big business and foreign interests.

“The situation of Northern Samar under the Daza dynasty exemplifies the bitter reality of militarization behind the sugar-coating of ‘peace and development’. Throughout this year, the military has committed state brutality against the people, such as the bombing of civilian communities, extrajudicial killings and harassment of alleged supporters of the New People’s Army, and the occupation of schools and other civilian structures.

“Meanwhile, the provincial government led by the Dazas participates in militarization through the Local Social Integration Program’s forced and fake surrenders of alleged NPA members, and in pushing for the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams to support ‘counterinurgency’. The Daza-led provincial government also received PhP225 million for the so-called Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan, a government program to cover up militarization with public works projects and other cosmetic changes. Militarization is leading to continuing impunity while rewarding the corrupt Dazas, who are also heavily involved in plundering the HCAAP infrastructure project.”

Fr. Salas said the people must still prepare for the worst by standing up for their human rights and struggling for a better future.

“The Aquino regime cannot keep up the pretense of ‘peace and development’ under Oplan Bayanihan when the people suffer under militarization and socio-economic hardships. The people are roused to fight for their rights in the face of continuing human rights violations under Oplan Bayanihan.

“If the Aquino regime pursues state brutality through Oplan Bayanihan in lieu of peace talks, it is prompting the people more and more to intensify their armed and unarmed struggles. As there can be no end to impunity without respect for human rights, no peace without social justice, the people must struggle for the full range of their human rights.”

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