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PRESS RELEASE: Lawmaker had DILG, DND budgets deferred

27 September 2013 No Comment

September 27, 2013

Reference: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (0920-9220817)

Lawmaker had DILG, DND budgets deferred

The approval of the DILG and DND budgets were deferred by ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio for the refusal of these agencies to respect basic human rights and parliamentary immunity.

Upon Tinio’s inquiry during plenary deliberations Thursday afternoon, DILG officials insisted that Anakpawis Rep. Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap was merely “invited” by PNP Tarlac on September 17. This, despite the account of Ka Pando himself that he 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, where police read them the Miranda rights.

Ka Pando and 10 land reform advocates were violently arrested in Barangay Cutcut while on a fact-finding mission on economic and civil rights abuses against farmer beneficiaries. During the 30-minute altercation, Ka Pando’s aide (among those arrested) heard one of the police saying, “Hulihin si Congressman!” while pointing at the solon.

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.

“Hindi pa nakuntento ang PNP Tarlac sa paglabag sa parliamentary immunity ni Ka Pando, tinawag pa siyang sinungaling,” Tinio noted.

For DILG’s refusal to be accountable for the violation and illegal arrest, Tinio had that the approval of the DILG budget deferred. As of writing, Congress has yet to reopen deliberations for the DILG budget.

Human rights violations are also the ground for the deferment of the budget of DND, which issued Memorandum Circular 14-2012 jointly with DILG. Said order 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.

Tinio argued that the order allows an “organized racket,” citing 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.

The Court of Appeals has ordered the release of Panesa on the ground of mistaken identity. AFP has yet to explain what happened to the P10.8 million bounty it paid out to “confidential informants.”

“What is more worrisome is that this order is practically a death warrant for those alleged as communists in the hitlist, allows extrajudicial killings to be committed by police and military, and is patently illegal. 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.”

DND said that it will “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 hitlist exposes Aquino’s black-and-white endorsement of extrajudicial killings,” Tinio observed.

“It is an abomination in any democratic society. Kahit sa anong demokratikong lipunan, hindi katangap-tanggap ang death warrants na gaya ng nilagdaan ni Roxas at Gazmin.” ###

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