Dispatch from Crame No. 566: IS THERE AN AFP DEATH SQUAD? Statement of Sen. Leila M. De Lima on the Negros Killings


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Ever since the implementation of Memorandum Order No. 32 on Nov. 22, 2018, deploying additional troops to Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Bicol Region supposedly to suppress lawless violence, lawless violence has actually escalated in Negros Island. The latest victims are lawyer Anthony Trinidad, school principal Arthur Bayawa, barangay captains Romeo Alipan and Ernesto Posadas, city councilor Ramon Jalandoni, and former town mayor Edsel Enardecido.

None of the victims are combatants. Some of them are actually public officials. The killings of civilians and officials only became rampant in the area after MO 32. More and more, it is becoming apparent that this is a different war being waged by the Duterte regime, but with the adoption of the same bloody method utilized in the drug war – summary executions. If there are police death squads for suspected drug offenders, are there now AFP death squads for red-tagged civilians and officials, roaming around Negros Island?

It is no secret that Duterte has long wished to involve the AFP in his EJK campaigns, most probably to give them a taste of the blood and to share in the atrocities. It is also no secret that the AFP resisted being involved in the extra-judicial killings of drug offenders. It did not want its hands dirtied in the drug war going after common criminals. Now it appears that Duterte has found a way on how to involve the AFP in his EJK campaign. He found an enemy and a target for them – red-tagged civilians and public officials and human rights defenders.

If Duterte succeeds in making the AFP complicit in his murderous campaign, the latter can no longer wash its hands in the ongoing crimes against humanity orchestrated by their commander-in-chief. If the AFP becomes complicit, Duterte would have succeeded in turning the entire security forces of the Philippines into a vigilante force operating outside of the law and with impunity.

If the AFP death squad is now a reality and operating in Negros Island and other parts of the country with an active insurgency, this is a most alarming development. The AFP will now be in the same boat with Duterte, all the more reason for them to protect him and keep him and his corrupt allies in power. The AFP cannot be that naive to allow itself to be hostaged by Duterte by sharing in his crimes against humanity.

With PNP and AFP death squads carrying out executions of civilians, the people no longer have anyone to turn to. Their protectors have become their attackers and oppressors. This is a slippery slope being traversed by our security forces, especially the AFP, the erstwhile protector of the people. Are they allowing themselves to be Duterte’s PAG or private armed group, instead of the people’s armed forces? ###

(Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 566, here: https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatch_566)

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