Group on Int’l Human Rights Day: Kickout military from campuses
THE youth group Anakbayan commemorated the 2012 International Human Rights Day by joining thousands of other protesters today, many who came all the way from Mindanao, in a march to Mendiola Bridge.
The group expressed support for the protesters, many from Mindanao and the Southern Tagalog region, and their condemnation for the massive human rights violations committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines under President Noynoy Aquino.
Meanwhile, Anakbayan called for a ban on military personnel on all schools at all levels across the nation, following a resurgence of various forms of ‘campus militarization’.
“In the more remote areas, the AFP has been violating international laws and agreements by using schools for their camps, deliberately putting children and teachers in harm’s way as their ‘human shields’” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan.
“In urban areas, especially in colleges and universities, the military presence takes on a more insidious form: through their so-called forums where they threaten and harass youth activists, and through the re-activation of the ‘Student Intelligence Network’” he added.
Last July, students from the Cordillera region and the province of Cebu complained of military forums in their schools where the AFP warned students not to join groups such as Anakbayan and engage in ‘other forms of anti-government activity’ such as protesting tuition fee increases.
“This is a blatant violation of the students’ rights to organize, free speech, peaceful assembly, and redress of grievances to the government” said Crisostomo.
The ‘Student Intelligence Network’ (SIN), a relic of the Marcos era, continues to be maintained by the military as part of their operations to kill and abduct youth activists. Last May, Kitt Muralla, a political science student from the University of the Philippines Cebu, admitted being a SIN agent last May. He said that he received his orders directly from the AFP’s Central Command to ‘collect information’ on student activists in the Visayas region.
CHR a ‘lame duck’ in solving human rights violations
Anakbayan also called for a change in the leadership of the Commission on Human Rights, saying that CHR head Etta Rosales suffers from ‘conflict of interest’.
“Zero. That is the number of human rights violation cases solved under Rosales and Aquino” said Crisostomo.
“There is a conflict of interest: the person tasked to investigate abuses by the military and the government comes from a partylist group allied with the military and the president” he added, alluding to Rosales, which belongs to the partylist Akbayan.
Akbayan, which has recently come under fire for its close ties to the President, was also praised by the military back in 2007 as a ‘good Leftist party’ for its assistance in harassing legitimate activists and targeting them for military death squads.