Philippines’s military commanders should be investigated — Bayan

Jun. 25, 2007

MANILA — The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today called for a congressional inquiry into the role of military commanders assigned in the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) and Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines after a general again linked the AFP to the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country.

The anonymous general said that a meeting took place wherein the policy of extrajudicial killings of activists was discussed openly.

Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr. said that the statements of the anonymous general can be confirmed simply by looking at the available data on the number of activist deaths that have taken place in the areas of jurisdiction of the Nolcom and Solcom.

Reyes said that available data shows a high concentration of activist deaths in key areas in Luzon where the Nolcom and Solcom operate.

If it is true that a command conference of Luzon commanders took place, then the number of deaths will show that the conference indeed adopted the policy of extrajudicial killings. Regions like Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol and even the Cordilleras have the highest number of deaths in the entire country, Reyes said.

A congressional inquiry is in order. The issue is too important for the AFP top brass to invoke EO 464. Among those who should be investigated are the previous commanders of the Nolcom including Gen. Romeo Dominguez, Gen. Romeo Tolentino, division commanders such as Gen. Jovito Palparan as well as the commanders of the Solcom including Gen. Pedro Cabuay, Reyes said.

Reyes said that the numbers of recorded deaths were highest during the term of these officials, which is why they have to explain. No other known investigation has been carried out against the area commanders of the Nolcom and Solcom.

Recall orders

Tolentino was the superior of Palparan during the latters so-called reign of terror in Central Luzon. Tolentino did not conduct any known investigation into the actions of Palparan whom the Melo Commission described as liable for the killings.

President Arroyo, as commander in chief, must recall any standing order or directive from the military that authorizes extrajudicial killings of activists. Arroyo must now make a statement to the AFP and to all its units to cease and desist from conducting these assassinations or face severe sanctions. Arroyo must make these orders even to her cabinet officials, Reyes said.

Failure to act on the revelations of the generals makes Arroyo equally liable for the killings under the internationally accepted principle of command responsibility. Her failure to issue a clear and categorical recall of any standing orders already makes her liable, Reyes said.

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