Quezon City—Human rights activists slam Aquino government and gave the president’s two years in office failing marks as grave human rights violations committed by eight battalions of state security forces deployed in Quezon province are revealed in a public forum and press conference today.
The public forum and press conference held at 9am today at the CM Recto Hall in the University of the Philippines Diliman are the culminating events of the eight-day Mercy Mission and Peace Caravan in Quezon Province which began on June 25.
The said Mercy Mission provided services such as medical and relief operations, fact-finding, cultural and psycho-social therapy and ecumenical services to about 1,500 residents of South Quezon and Bondoc Peninsula including 100 children who were exposed to military abuses.
The activity was done in response to the alarming increase of military presence in civilian communities and reports of human right violations in the province, which began in March 2012.
Human Rights organization Karapatan explained that the massive deployment of military is part of the implementation of the Aquino government’s “counter insurgency” program Oplan Bayanihan, which has mainly resulted in the violation of rights of farmers and poor residents of Quezon.
Children are also reported to be at the receiving end of brutal human rights violations committed by state forces.
Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) reported in the public forum that about 100 children in Brgy. San Francisco B, Lopez, Quezon, were terrorized by indiscriminate firing of drunken soldiers and encounters between military forces.
These children expressed their fears toward guns and military statures. Several of them also confessed that they were forced to hold guns and ammunitions by military men holding camp in their communities.
Although successful in their conduct of the activity, participants of the Mercy Mission themselves claim to have experienced first hand military coercion and dirty tactics in the stretch of the Mercy Mission and Peace Caravan.
SBPM spokesperson Pedro Gonzales said “the military vilified us, accusing us as members of the New People’s Army. They threatened to kill our beneficiaries if they join our activities. They also attempted to sabotage our activities by conducting parallel medical mission and singing contests on the same date and venue that have been long set for our Mercy Mission.”
Another spokesperson from the group, Orly Marcellana, meanwhile, pointed out the failure of Aquino administration in advancing human rights and raised the challenge of ending the anti-people Oplan Bayanihan.
“The gravity of the human rights violations committed by the military indicates the poor performance of the Aquino administration for the past two years. Now that the public know better, we are confident that the campaign to pull out military troops in Quezon and junk Aquino’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan will succeed very soon,” said Marcellana.
The SBPM announced their plan intensify their campaign against militarization in the coming weeks and months following the gratitude and overwhelming support their received from the people of Quezon who ardently wish for the immediate pull out of the AFP in their villages.
“Having witnessed how people already beleaguered by rural poverty are made to suffer more by military deployment, the convenors and supporters of SBPM vow to bring the issue to the wider public. Our campaign will intensify as we arrange public forum and demonstrations within the next days,” said SBPM in a statement. #
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