DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A peace advocate group here expressed doubt if the the newly-appointed Armed Forces Chief of Staff Brigadier General Eduardo Año would be able to pursue a genuine peace with the communist rebels given his track record of gross human rights violations.
“Gen. Año casts a dark light on the ongoing peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front especially with the complaints of human rights violations filed against the general at the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) on CARHRIHL,” the Exodus for Justice and Peace said in a statement on Wednesday.
Rev. Jurie Jaime, spokesperson of Exodus for Justice and Peace, said with Año’s appointment it shows that “the Duterte administration’s track on the military remains the same as previous presidents.”
Jaime, for instance, feared that militarization and attacks on Lumad and peasant communities, leaders would continue under Año’s watch without ever resolving the roots of the decades-long armed conflict.
Año has been implicated in the abduction and forced disappearances of political activists in 2006. He was tagged by human rights group to be responsible for the abduction of Jonas Burgos, son of the late journalist Joe Burgos.
The group also believes that the military is the “chief instrument of the state ruled by oligarchs that perpetrate impunity on the people and plunder on our natural resources.”
It further urged the Duterte administration to pursue the peace tract by “resolving the root cause of the armed conflict, and reject the tract of militarization.”
“We urge the people to be aware and vigilant in following the developments and the discourse in the peace process in our pursuit for just and lasting peace,” Jaime said.
He also vowed to continue their peace advocacy for the public on the pursuit of peace and justice, and that includes calling for justice to the victims of the military counter-insurgency campaigns, among others.
Meanwhile, partylist lawmakers Antonio Tinio and France Castro of ACT Teachers Partylist urged Duterte to “reconsider” Año’s appointment.
“We urge President Duterte to reconsider this appointment and to reassess his recent decisions involving the military and their implications. The government should uphold, protect and defend the fundamental human rights of Filipinos, especially the marginalized and oppressed,” the solons said.
They said his appointment is a “mockery to human rights.”
“Appointing Año as AFP chief is to pardon grave human rights violations. It is a slap on the face of victims their families and supporters whose outcries for justice remain unanswered,” Castro said.
Año will replace AFP chief General Ricardo Visaya who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56. Both of them are from the Philippine Military Academy “Matikas” Class of 1983.
He previously led the 10th Infantry Division. During his stint, prominent New People’s Army commander Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao was killed in a military operation in Paquibato district. (davaotoday.com)