“The consistent promotion and assignment of Año in key government positions is indicative of the Duterte regime’s design to intensify its repressive policies and its lack of intent to prosecute human rights violators.”
By RUTH LUMIBAO
MANILA — Despite the clamor for the current administration to respect human rights, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Eduardo Año as officer-in-charge of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on January 5, 2018.
“The consistent promotion and assignment of Año in key government positions is indicative of the Duterte regime’s design to intensify its repressive policies and its lack of intent to prosecute human rights violators,” said Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (Karapatan) Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.
“Once again, we are reminded that high-ranking officials of the country’s biggest organized crime syndicate — the government — are awarded for abuses and rights violations. This is a classic case of how impunity prevails in our country,” she added.
When he was chief of the Intelligence Security Group (ISG), Jonas Burgos was abducted by military agents and remains missing. As commanding officer of the 10th Infantry Division in Davao City, the military mercilessly killed an ailing Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao and his medic. The same division of the military is also known for the Paquibato massacre, which resulted in the killing of three indigenous peoples in 2015.
As AFP chief, Año spearheaded a witchhunt of communist rebels, promising a bounty of P100,000 ($2,000) per head. Local government units would, later on, implement this program — among the victims, Rolly Panesa, a security guard arbitrarily arrested and tortured for being accused as high-ranking Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leader, Benjamin Mendoza.
Related story: Arrested security guard, tortured by the military
In 2012, it was exposed that the DILG and the Department of National Defense (DND) had a joint resolution to arrest individuals accused as communists, funded with a P466 million ($9 million) bounty. According to the Karapatan, 235 were listed in the resolution, resulting in a series of arbitrary arrests and cases of mistaken identities.
“Such policies have added millions to the pockets of the military and the police, at the expense of those wrongfully accused. This is a likely scenario of Año’s DILG, with more similar schemes that would intensify this witch hunt, and is ultimately intended to fatten those in position while people’s rights are trampled upon and ignored,” said Palabay.