Solons slam DND-DILG ‘hit list,’ ‘organized racket’

Asked for an official definition of “neutralization,” DND officials, citing another joint DND-DILG memorandum, said that it is “any counteraction intended to render any subject ineffective or inoperative using reasonable force such as physical restraint and similar acts.” DND said that the term “render ineffective” might include killing if it is “reasonable.”

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Progressive lawmakers castigated officials of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for issuing what they call as a hit list.

Memorandum Circular 14-2012 of DND and DILG authorizes the payment of rewards to anyone with information leading to the “arrest or neutralization” of 235 persons alleged to be high-ranking leaders of the CPP-NPA-NDF. The list has not been made public despite a formal request by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) for a copy.

During the budget deliberations of the two government agencies, ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares criticized the memorandum circular as a go-signal for human rights violations.

“What is more worrisome is that this order is practically a death warrant for those alleged as communists in the hit list, allows extrajudicial killings to be committed by police and military, and is patently illegal,” Tinio said in a statement. “Nowhere is ‘neutralization’ found in the country’s laws. It is certainly banned by the Constitution, which guarantees the right to life and does not provide death as a penalty for crime.”

Asked for an official definition of “neutralization,” DND officials, citing another joint DND-DILG memorandum, said that it is “any counteraction intended to render any subject ineffective or inoperative using reasonable force such as physical restraint and similar acts.” DND said that the term “render ineffective” might include killing if it is “reasonable.”

Organized racket?

Both Tinio and Colmenares pointed out that the memorandum circular is being used by state security forces as an “organized racket.”

They said that in exchange for reward money, authorities arrest innocent civilians and activists and file trumped-up charges.

They cited the cases of arrests, torture and detention of security guard Rolly Panesa and farmer Olegario Sebas, who the military maintains are “Benjamin Mendoza” and “Felimon Mendrez,” respectively.

Recently, the Fifth Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) ordered the release of Panesa, citing mistaken identity.

“This is what is difficult in this list because anyone can be arrested like Panesa. He was beaten, tortured and detained for several months,” Colmenares, senior deputy minority leader, said.

“What is worse is that the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] does not want to admit its mistakes and refuses to surrender the P5.6 million reward money they got for the arrest of Panesa,” Colmenares said.

“It is obvious that this list is just a money making venture for officials of the police and the military,” he added.

Tinio said the DND agreed to “seriously study” the revision of the joint order if necessary, but did not commit to revoke the kill list, or delete “neutralization.”

“This refusal demonstrates that the Aquino administration speaks with a forked tongue on the issue of human rights violations. The existence of this hit list exposes Aquino’s black-and-white endorsement of extrajudicial killings,” Tinio said. “It is an abomination in any democratic society. In any democratic society, death warrants such as the one signed by Roxas and Gazmin are unacceptable,” he said, referring to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

Tinio moved for the deferment of the budget of DND and DILG.

He also lambasted DILG officials for the arrest and detention of Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap last Sept. 17.

Hicap, who joined a fact-finding mission in Hacienda Luisita, was manhandled by Tarlac City police headed by OIC Chief Bayani Razalan and around 10 armed men in plain clothes, then dragged to Camp Gen. Francisco Macabulos. Hicap and 10 land reform advocates were arrested in Barangay Cutcut.

Tinio demanded that the arresting officers and officials having command responsibility be present before Congress and publicly apologize to Hicap for the violation of his constitutional immunity from arrest while the Congress is in session. DILG and PNP refused the demands, insisting that Hicap was not arrested and that the arrest of his companions was legal. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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