‘81st IB branding Ilocos folks NPAs to justify rights violations’

>> Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ilocos Human Rights Alliance (IHRA) expressed concern over pronouncement of Lt. Col. Eugenio Osias, Commanding Officer of the 81st Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The army officer announced last week over a local radio station in Ilocos Sur they will file charges against those they perceive as New People’s Army sympathizers.
Osias  claimed their troops discovered documents containing names of NPA contacts after a firefight in the municipality of Salcedo last July 23.
 “The AFP is at it again, pointing their fingers and training their guns to civilians every time armed engagement happen, now even threatening to file cases against suspected NPA supporters,” said Zoilo Baladad, IHRA secretary general.
In a prior statement, IHRA said 81st IB forces are quick to accuse residents and officials opposing their encampments in communities and public places as NPA supporters.
“Col. Osias’s pronouncement is nothing new,” said Baladad. “It has been the AFP’s practice in the past to concoct stories of confiscating documents and even storage devices that supposedly contain the names of NPA supporters, using it justify their attacks against leaders of people’s organizations and local officials opposing their programs and encampment,” she added.
“Based on the group’s record, units and elements from the 81st IB are responsible for 18 cases of threat and intimidation. They are also liable for violating International Humanitarian Law for encamping in public places and populated areas from August 2016 to mid-February 2017.”
The group believes these are part of President Duterte’s plan to justify the extension of Martial Law and its eventual expansion in the entire country.
Baladad said they are expecting steep rise of human rights violations in light of Osias’s announcement and the “bully and kill” statement made by Duterte against those government labels as enemies of the state during his second state of the nation address.

“The stage for a dictatorial rule is hastily being set. We must not be cowed by the different tricks and threat formulated by the military. We should expose and fight all efforts to broaden the martial law in the entire country,” said Baladad.  


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