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Esperon accuses Alston of ignoring AFP side

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 01:43pm (Mla time) 11/29/2007

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — United Nations Special rapporteur Philip Alston was “wrong” to link the military to the wave of extrajudicial killings and “intentionally” ignored the side of security forces on the issue, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Thursday.

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“If he says that it is our strategy, he is wrong. The violation of human rights is not the policy of the AFP as an institution,” Esperon told reporters at the Edwin Andrews Airbase here, before proceeding to a command conference at the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

“I’ve never given such instructions, even our senior commanders have not given such instructions to violate human rights,” he added.

In his final report on his fact-finding visit to the country in February, Alston blamed the wave of murders that have swept the ranks of activists on a military counterinsurgency strategy he said focused on dismantling legal organizations suspected of being “front” of the communist rebel movement.

An advance copy of the report, to be submitted to the 8th session of the UN Human Right Council, has been posted at the web site of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights.

Esperon said he presented the UN expert with figures showing that many of the killings were part of a “purge” within the communist movement.

“It looks like he did not want to look at that when he made the report,” Esperon said. “He was intentionally not looking at the other side.”

Alston dismissed the “purge theory,” calling it a “cynical attempt to displace responsibility” by the military.

Of the 836 extrajudicial killings listed by the human rights group Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) since 2001, Esperon said a police investigation verified only 114 as “valid.”

Of these, he said only seven involved military men, four involved persons “affiliated” with the military, and one involved a policeman. He said 57 cases have been brought to the courts.

He added that the Karapatan count included 23 Abu Sayyaf members who were killed in encounters.

During one of his conversations with Alston, Esperon said the UN representative was skeptical of some of his data on the killings perpetrated by the Left, calling these “old.”

“Sabi niya sa akin, luma na figures mo [He told me that my figures were old].” Esperon said.

But Esperon pointed to the killings of communist leaders Romulo Kintanar, Sotero Llamas, Arturo Tabara, and Felimon “Popoy” Lagman.

“Are these cases not recent? He did not include that in his report,”
Esperon said.

Of the four cases, the New People’s Army has owned up to only two — the killings of Kintanar and Tabara.

Proof that the military was moving against human rights violations within the ranks, Esperon said two Army men, an officer and an enlisted man, will face court martial over alleged human rights abuses.

Both men have been charged with violating Article of War 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline), he said.

The two are the first to be tried under the five special courts martial created specifically to try cases of human rights abuse, said AFP spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002007-11-29T15:47:47+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Thu, 29 Nov 2007 15:47:47 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm11

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. […] What’s wrong with Philip Alston? According to Malacañang chief of staff Eduardo Ermita, he could shed crocodile tears and blood before the UN special rapporteur on human rights and still fail to convince the expert of the country’s sterling record on human rights. The blind can probably see better than Alston, Ermita said in a press briefing in Malacañang yesterday. […]

    Philip Alston:The blind and pesky Australian « The Philippine Onion

    Fri+00:002007-11-30T04:10:11+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Fri, 30 Nov 2007 04:10:11 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

  2. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

    Idetrorce

    Sun+00:002007-12-16T06:00:42+00:00+00:0012b+00:00Sun, 16 Dec 2007 06:00:42 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am12


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