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Solon proposes “no impunity” provision in AFP budget as nation marks Martial Law anniversary

20 September 2011 No Comment

PRESS RELEASE
September 20, 2011

 

A party-list representative called for the inclusion of a “no
impunity” provision in the proposed budget of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines as the country commemorated the 39th anniversary of the
declaration of Martial Law.

“Impunity for human rights violations remains one of the most
troubling legacies of Martial Law,” said ACT Teachers Representative
Antonio Tinio. “No one has been criminally prosecuted, convicted, and
jailed for human rights violations committed during the Marcos
dictatorship.”

President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972,
ushering in a period of dictatorial rule that lasted until 1986, when
Marcos was finally removed from office by the People Power uprising in
1986. Thousands were victims of extrajudicial executions, involuntary
disappearances, torture, and illegal detention under Martial Law.

Tinio pointed out that civilian officials and military officers who
allegedly had a hand in gross human rights violations under Martial
Law not only went scot-free, but have gone on to serve in high office
under subsequent administrations, including that of President Aquino.
“It’s no wonder that the pattern of military involvement in human
rights violations enabled by the climate of impunity continues to
prevail up to the present.”

He noted that of the hundreds of cases of extrajudicial killings,
involuntary disappearances, torture, and other serious violations of
human rights linked to state security forces and primarily targeting
activists, from the Arroyo administration to the present, only 26
cases have been filed in court. “Meanwhile, the killings continue.
Since Pres. Aquino came to power, at least 45 activists have been
killed.”

To address this situation, the ACT Teachers representative is calling
for the inclusion of a provision that ties the release of funds of
military units to their human rights record.

“The ‘no immunity’ provision will make use of the budget as a powerful
tool in ensuring that AFP units respect human rights at all times in
the discharge of their duties, especially during counterinsurgency
operations,” said Tinio. “Furthermore, it will encourage AFP
commanders to promptly identify perpetrators and make sure that the
proper charges are filed.”

During last week’s plenary debates on the proposed 2012 national
budget, the party-list representative asked his colleagues in the
House to support a provision that would authorize the withholding of
the operational funds of an AFP unit if the Commission on Human Rights
finds “credible evidence” of its involvement in a gross human rights
violation. The funds will only be released when the CHR reports too
the President that the Secretary of the DND and law enforcement
authorities have taken effective measures to identify the responsible
members of the unit and ensure that the appropriate charges are filed
against them.

“The provision is intended to incentivize commanders in the field to
adhere to humanitarian law, and to underscore the responsibility of
the Secretary of National Defense in ensuring that charges are filed
against individual perpetrators. The CHR is given the role of vetting
complaints and weeding out spurious allegations,” explained Tinio.

He acknowledged that the proposed “no immunity” provision drew some
inspiration from the Leahy Law in the United States. “That’s a
provision in US foreign aid appropriations legislation, introduced by
Senator Patrick Leahy, that prohibits the granting of US military aid
to foreign security forces units with a known track record of gross
human rights violations.”

Tinio noted that the approval of the proposed provision would mark
this administration’s commitment to effectively addressing the problem
of impunity, using all means at the government’s disposal. “The
release or non-release of funds has always been a powerful tool for
pushing reforms and modifying behavior in government. Why not use it
to promote human rights?”

The text of the proposed special provision is as follows:

Withholding of operational funds of AFP units involved in gross human rights violations. Upon a determination, by the Commission on Human Rights, of credible evidence that a unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has committed a gross violation of human rights, the MOOE, including combat expenses, of the unit concerned shall be withheld until the CHR determines and reports to the President that the Secretary of the Department of National Defense and law enforcement authorities have taken effective measures to identify the responsible member/s of the unit and ensure that the appropriate charges are filed. #

 

References:

ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (0920-922-0817)

Julie Anne D. Tapit, Media Officer (0915-762-6522)


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