Philippines: Arroyo should order ISAFP chief to appear before CHR’s Jonas probe — Bayan

Jun. 06, 2007

MANILA, Philippines — The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today assailed what it called the stonewalling tactics of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) in the ongoing probe of the Commission on Human Rights into the abduction of activist Jonas Burgos.

The ISAFP chiefs non-attendance in the hearings fuels public suspicion that the military is trying to cover up its involvement in the Burgos abduction. At the minimum, Bangit should be cited for contempt by the Commission, said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

There is circumstantial evidence pointing to the military as being behind the abduction of Burgos. There is reasonable ground to believe that the 56th Infantry Battalion is involved in the disappearance of Burgos, Reyes added.

Reyes also wanted to know if Malacanang has instructions to the ISAFP not to attend the probe conducted by the CHR. Bangit was formerly the head of the Presidential Security Group which served under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Despite pronouncements by Malacanang that it supports the investigation of the Burgos abduction, the AFP remains uncooperative. Do Bangits actions have the blessings of Malacanang? President Arroyo herself has the moral responsibility as commander-in-chief to compel her officers to appear before the inquiry being conducted by a constitutional body such as the CHR, Reyes said.

Arroyo should give a categorical order to Bangit to appear before the probe. She should give the same order to all elements and officers of the AFP being investigated by the CHR for cases of extrajudicial killings and abductions, he added.

Bayan also called the attention of the CHR to the case of Pastor Berlin V. Guerrero who was abducted and tortured by Naval intelligence before being turned over to the Philippine National Police in Cavite. Guerrero is now facing trumped up murder charges before a Cavite court.

The cases of Burgos and Guerrero both show military involvement in the abductions. It is high time that the AFP be made accountable for these dastardly deeds. These atrocities are continuing with greater frequency. The Arroyo governments resolve to stop the killings and abductions is again being exposed as a sham, Reyes said.

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