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[box type=”default” size=”large”] Aquino’s recent promotion of 4 AFP generals protested [/box]

CHICAGO – The Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines based in Durham, North Carolina has urged the United States government to withhold release of its Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to the government of President Aquino.

The group is protesting the promotion of four military generals who allegedly committed human rights violations.

In a 10-page report, “The Path to Promotion in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Vilification Campaigns, Human Rights Abuses and Impunity,” emailed to this reporter, EANP identified the four generals promoted by Aquino as Lt. General Aurelio Baladad, and Major Generals Jorge Segovia, Ricardo Visaya and Eduardo M. Ano.

The document describes how several of these generals who have led units that are at the center of widespread human rights violations, in some cases in charge of units that committed abuses, were rewarded with promotions by President Aquino in 2014.

Each was promoted to key command positions to head combined Infantry and Air Force Divisions, “where troops under their command continued to engage in gross violations of human rights of both individual civilians and local communities more generally, or otherwise engaged in activities with a flagrant disregard for fundamental human rights of those in the area of their operations.”

The advocacy group, some of its members are married to Filipino women, said that under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 as amended under the Fiscal Year 2015, since 2008, the U.S. Congress has imposed human rights conditions on Foreign Military Financing in response to reports of the escalation of extra-judicial executions, enforced disappearances and torture committed by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or security forces under their command during  the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

For fiscal year 2015, one of the conditions directs that funds under Foreign Military Financing Program should be obligated for assistance for the Philippine Army if the government of the Philippines is implementing a policy of promoting army personnel who demonstrate professionalism and respect for human rights. The promotion of military officers, who commit human rights violations, contradicts that condition, the report said.

For fiscal year 2015, Sec. 7043 (f) of PL 113-235, the U.S. Secretary of State is  obligated to extend assistance to the Philippine government only when the U.S. Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of the Philippines is –

  1. investigating and prosecuting army personnel who are credibly alleged to have committed, or aided or abetted extra-judicial executions, forced disappearances, and other gross violations of human rights, and strengthening government institutions working to eliminate such crimes;
  2. implementing a policy of promoting army personnel who demonstrate professionalism and respect for human rights; and
  3. taking steps to ensure that the Philippine army and paramilitary groups under its control are not engaging in acts of intimidation or violence against journalists or human rights defenders.

“To date, the AFP has not been certified by the State Department to have met those conditions, primarily due to continued record of human rights violations committed by the Philippine Army,” the report stated.
It claimed the four generals “have been promoted very rapidly over the last five years with and an average time in rank of about 18 months. Each has risen to leadership positions through service in units responsible for a campaign of extra-judicial killings, disappearances and illegal detentions.”

All of these generals are now serving, or have served, as commanders in the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), whose area of responsibility is the center of gravity for anti-insurgency operations against the communist New People’s Army.

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Joseph is a former reporter of the Manila Bulletin, former president of the Rizal-Metro Manila Reporters Association and former president of the Chicago chapter of the National Press Club of the Philippines. A prolific reporter, Lariosa writes a column and news stories for the Filipino Star News and other Filipino community newspapers in the US as well as for GMA News and the Manila Bulletin.


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