|Military admits existence of 'order of battle'|
|Written by Ronalyn V. Olea|
|Monday, 01 June 2009 14:35|
The 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army practically admitted the existence of a so-called “order of battle” (OB) in its recent statement to the media.
Lt. Col. Kurt Decapia, the division’s spokesman, blamed Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo for allegedly “twisting” the data in the PowerPoint presentation titled “JCICC AGILA 3rd Quarter 2007 OB Validation Result.”
Ocampo, along with other human-rights groups, exposed the said OB to members of the media in Davao City two weeks ago. The legislator participated in the three-day International Solidarity Mission (ISM) held at New Bataan, Compostela and Monkayo towns in Compostela Valley province; Paquibato district in Davao City; Sta. Cruz town in Davao del Sur; and Tampakan, South Cotabato.
“Here are gung-ho AFP division officers publicly affirming what UN [United Nations] Special Rapporteur Philip Alston has specified in his reports, that military officers openly vilify legal personalities and organizations as enemies of the state, making them fair game in the counterinsurgency operations that they conduct with impunity based on inaccurately packaged as intelligence,” Ocampo said in a statement reacting to Decapia’s accusations.
Alston, who visited the country in February 2007, said in his report to the United Nations Human Rights Commission that “the government should immediately direct all military officers to cease making public statements linking political or other civil society groups to those engaged in armed insurgencies… They must be based on transparent criteria, and conform with the human rights provisions of the Constitution and relevant treaties.”
In the same report, the special rapporteur also deemed that transparency must be introduced to the “orders of battle,” “watch lists,” and similar list of individuals and organizations maintained by the AFP, Philippine National Police (PNP), and other elements of the national security system.
The document presented by the ISM contains 110 names of individuals and organizations including church workers, journalists, lawyers, human-rights advocates, health professionals, trade unionists and farmers.
Included in the list are Reps. Luzviminda Ilagan (Gabriela Women’s Party) and Joel Maglunsod (Anakpawis), Former Rep. Joel Virador (Bayan Muna), Bishops Felixberto Calang (IFI) and Anacleto Serafica (UCCP), Sr. Luz Mallo, Davao City councilors Angela Librado and Peter Lavina, journalist Carlos Conde, lawyers Beverly Musni, Carlos Zarate and Noreen Manatad, trade unionists Omar Bantayan and Rudy Aranjuez, among others.
Also named in the document was Celso Pojas, spokesman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) in Southern Mindanao and chairman of the Farmers Association of Davao City (FADC). Pojas was gunned down in May last year.
However, Major General Reynaldo Mapagu, commander of the 10th ID, said Ocampo only “took advantage of the possession of the alleged military document to mar the image of the military forces, gain media mileage and regain the support of the masses and local executives.”
While Mapagu denied the existence of the document, Decapia even explained the terms used in the said list. “…Ocampo insinuated names [in the list] as targets of the AFP/10ID when in fact these are targets (for infiltration) by the CPP/NPA [Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army].”
Ocampo took Decapia explanation to mean as an admission of the existence of the OB. “In the process, these military officers unwittingly affirm the existence of the document I exposed,” he said.
Ocampo said the 10th ID has no basis for filing a libel case against him. He said that all the reports published in regional newspapers Sun.Star Davao, MindaNews, Mindanao Mirror or Mindanao Times regarding the OB are generally accurate and fair.
“It is Colonel Lysander Suerte, 10th Infantry Division chief of staff, who has made distortions of what I said and has attributed statements to me not shown in the news reports that should be condemned,” Ocampo said.
As to the charge of espionage, Ocampo said that it “implies that I actually managed to get through the military’s notorious blankets of secrecy to obtain what the 10th ID would want the public to believe is a harmless briefing paper.”
In a privilege speech, May 27, Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglunsod said his inclusion to the OB is political harassment and a direct threat to his life.
Maglunsod’s name appeared on page 15 of the document, under the “Industrial Labor” section of a so-called WACOM or White Area Committee Organizational Report, 4th Quarter, 2007.
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan is also on the list. Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano was also mentioned in the document.
“This kind of document from the military is extremely alarming, listing down names of innocent civilians who are already considered as criminals! This is alarming in the context of continuing cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances,” Maglunsod said in Filipino. “Civilians named in the document were not afforded due process.”
Maglunsod told his colleagues in the Lower House that “we are going back to the era of barbarism where violence prevails.”
Meanwhile, Mariano said “it is clear that my movements are being closely monitored by the military.”
Mariano was cited in pages 59-60 of the document, noting his attendance to the Farmers’ Association of Davao City’s 8th Congress in October 2007.
The document read, “…Mariano presented the CARP which he claimed to be not truly implemented by the govt as farmers are still working for landlords. Mariano announced that they will protest to scrap the joint projects of Japan & Phils (JPEPA) since it will affect the trade of the farmers.”
“Such document and vilification by the Arroyo government and the AFP’s 10th ID puts the lives of those listed in danger,” Mariano said.
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) also condemned the inclusion of lawyers in the OB.
Based on the own monitoring and documentation of the NUPL and Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL) from 2001 to 2008, two lawyers previously listed in similar military OBs have already been killed.
Lawyer Norman Bocar was gunned down, Sept. 1, 2005, in Borongan, Eastern Samar. He was among those listed in the OB called Oplan Ligpit (Operation Plan Exterminate) of the 8th Infantry Division. Juvy Magsino, meanwhile, was shot dead on Feb. 13, 2004 in Naujan, Mindoro Oriental. In 2002, then Col. Jovito Palparan Jr. of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, labeled Magsino as a communist and supporter of the NPA. Palparan even told the media that the army would be monitoring Magsino.
Besides those listed in the most recent OB, 15 lawyers and two lawyers’ groups have been told that either they are included in the military’s OB or have been openly labeled as rebels, according to the NUPL and CODAL.
Threat to press freedom, human rights
In a separate statement, journalist Carlos Conde responded to the 10th ID’s recent statement. “I am alarmed that the 10th ID continues to insist that I am a stooge of the Left who can be manipulated to spread falsehood about the military. The implication of this is that, journalist or not, I am aiding the enemies of the state and, thus, fair game.”
Conde added that “the 10th ID’s denials and innuendos are not only damaging to my person and my profession — it flies in the face of so much evidence, already presented by many human-rights groups and such institutions as the United Nations Human Rights Council, that OBs are being used by the military not only as a hit list — it uses these to harass and intimidate civilians, noncombatants and critics.”
Conde said he views the OB as well as these recent statements from the 10th ID as “a threat, a warning to other journalists to stop writing about human-rights violations attributed to the military.”
The NUPL also asserted that the inclusion of human rights lawyers in the OB is also “an act of harassment against lawyers providing legal services to victims of human rights violations.”
“This is not only an attack on the independent practice of the legal profession but also on the right of the people to access to courts as it sends a chilling effect on lawyers taking up cases of human rights abuses by the military,” the lawyers’ group said.
The NUPL urged lawyers listed in the OB to file the necessary cases against the Philippine Army including a petition of writ of habeas data both for themselves and the other victims of “communist labeling.”
The group also called on members of the legal profession including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to take action on what it perceives to be as an attack on lawyers.
Mariano called on the House Committee on Human Rights to immediately conduct a probe on the said document.
The NUPL said it would immediately report the incident to Leandro Despouy, the United Nations special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) with a request for these international bodies to conduct a fact-finding mission in the Philippines.
Mariano asserted that the latest OB “clearly shows that extrajudicial killing is an official policy of the Arroyo government.”“Once again, the Arroyo administration is showing its utter lack of respect for the civil and political rights of the people, and its willingness to commit acts of repression if only to preserve the present dispensation and to perpetuate itself in power,” the NUPL said. Bulatlat.com