Bayan Muna: Duterte’s P2M bounty for Red leaders is human rights violation

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    Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite on Wednesday double down President Rodrigo Duterte’s P2-M bounty offer for every Red leader’s head saying it would only result in more human rights violations.

    Duterte two days ago said he would give P2-M to anyone who could kill an NPA commander or could give information where the NPA is hiding. His speech came after NPA members tried to hijack goods and funds intended for indigents.

    Gaite said the bounty will result in more human rights abuses and violations such as fake arrests, surrenders, encounters, and killings.

    Gaite cited the killing of five farmers who were tagged as suspected communist rebels in Sorsogon last May 8 as well as the case of 16 workers who were reported “forcibly taken” to Camp Vicente Lim and were later presented as rebel returnees.

    “And who would forget the infamous picture of alleged surrenderees released by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) last December 2019 which turned out to be edited, and poorly edited at that,” Gaite said.

    “These staged encounters and surrenders clearly reveal that military officials just abuse the bounty and reward system in the government’s counter-insurgency drive and are making a ton of profit at the expense of their civilian victims,” the lawmaker added.

    Gaite said that under the AFP’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), each rebel returnee is set to receive more than P160,000.

    “That’s why military officials and their men are on a bounty rush, but their targets are innocent civilians and not real combatants which are harder for them to pursue,” Gaite said.

    Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Rep. and Lumad lawmaker Eufemia Cullamat expressed fears of more incidents of red-tagging against members of leftist organizations because of the bounty.

    “Sa deklarasyon niya nito, madaming madadamay na sibilyan, lalo na ang mga katutubo na nakatira sa mga kabundukan sila ang magigipit nito (With this declaration, a lot of civilians will be involved, especially our natives who live in the mountains),” Cullamat said.

    Cullamat cited an alleged incident where 26 Dumagats were presented as communist rebel surrenderees in April this year.

    “Hanggang sa ganitong paraan, inaabuso at pinagkakakitaan kami ng mga militar. Lalo itong palalalain ng reward na ito (Even in this manner, the military abusing and making money out of us. This will worsen with this reward),” Cullamat said.

    The government did not release the data on how many more NPA commanders are still living all over the country, but the recent encounter in Zamboanga where 10 NPA members were killed was a big loss to the group according to the military.

    Since the beginning of conflict between the NPA and the military in 1968, more than 10,000 civilians have been killed through atrocities committed by the New People’s Army.

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