Robredo sees need for mechanism to hear out human rights grievances in military ops | Inquirer News
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Robredo sees need for mechanism to hear out human rights grievances in military ops

/ 11:01 PM December 03, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo said that there should be a way to hear grievances about possible human rights abuses in the conduct of military operations amid recent claims that the military operations in Iloilo were in violation of international human rights laws.

Robredo on Friday said this after being asked about a local rights group’s assertions that the military operations in Miag-ao, Iloilo last Wednesday was a carnage, as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) supposedly used airstrikes and excessive force against communist rebels.

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According to the Vice President, if there are such complaints, these should be heard through a platform and not merely brushed aside — as disregarding them may lead to more insurgents fighting against the government.

“Ako kasi, ang mahalaga sa akin, kailangan kasing merong platform para ‘yong mga reklamong ganyan ay pinapakinggan,” Robredo, who coincidentally was in Iloilo, told reporters there.

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(For me, what’s important is that we have a platform so that complaints like that are being heard.)

“Hindi puwedeng bina-brush aside, kasi kung iba-brush aside natin ‘yong gano’n na mga complaints, baka lalong ma-fan ‘yong mga dahilan ng poot,” she added.

(We cannot simply brush that aside because if we do that to the complaints, this may only fan the anger within people.)

According to Robredo, should abuses happen during military operations, those who were behind it should be held accountable so that it would also set a standard that abuses are not tolerated.

“So para sa akin kailangang merong mechanism para kung merong human rights abuses, kung merong mga ibang klaseng pang-aabusong nangyayari, kung merong nag-exceed sa necessary means, kailangan mapag-usapan kung sino ‘yong nagkamali kasi kapag hindi siya maging accountable, ay magiging pamantayan siya para sa mga susunod na engagement,” she explained.

(So for me, there should be mechanism so that if there are human rights abuses, if there are other forms of abuses that were done, if there is an excessive use of force beyond necessary means, we should talk about these issues so that those who erred would be held accountable, and it would be a standard in subsequent engagements.)

Details about the military operation in Miag-ao’s Sitio Burak in Barangay Alimodias are still sketchy, but on the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Facebook page, the task force said that at least eight New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed in the firefight.

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Army Maj. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division which has jurisdiction over the area, said that the huge encounter between communist rebels and government troopers happened after the latter launched an operation in reaction to the public’s report that armed groups were spotted in the area.

“Ito ay nangyari dahil nga persistent ‘yong report na natatanggap natin na merong mga armadong nakikita sa lugar na ‘to, at sa tulong na rin ng taumbayan, sa kanilang impormasyon, ay na-aksyonan ‘to ng ating mga tropa,” Arevalo said in a video posted by NTF-ELCAC.

“Ang initial na natanggap nila ay nagko-consolidate nga itong mga grupo na ito, around 70 armed terrorists NPAs ang report, at accordingly nagpa-planong atakehin ‘yong ating mga detachment, at plano na rin nilang pag-usapan kung papaano sila mangi-ngikil sa ating mga kandidato sa susunod na eleksyon,” he added.

Earlier, Robredo maintained that the way to end the insurgency in the countryside is by addressing the root problems that prompted people to rebel against the government, which includes rural development, land reform, and job opportunities.

A whole-of-nation approach, which means not relying on purely militaristic action, is something that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) agreed with, Robredo said.

For the past 50 years, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing NPA have been waging a war against the government, on claims that it is pushing for reforms and advocacies.

But there are sectors who have accused the CPP-NPA as terrorists for its various violent activities, such as torching establishments and ambushes which not only killed members of the military but also involved innocent people.

READ: Duterte vows to crush NPA and CPP’s all ‘legal fronts’

On the other side, the military and the NTF-ELCAC are also accused by some rights groups of using their mandate to go against activists and tag them as NPA rebels.

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TAGS: AFP, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Armed Struggle, communist rebels, Human rights, Iloilo City, Insurgency, Miag-ao town, militaristic action, Office of the Vice President, Philippine news updates, Vice President Leni Robredo, whole-of-nation approach
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