The human rights records of the Philippine Army in Negros continues to improve as shown by its record of zero “human rights violations” in the past six months of this year, compared to previous years, Commission on Human Rights records showed.
Romeo Baldevarona, CHR provincial officer, yesterday attributed this to the implementation of the Oplan Bayanihan campaign plan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that calls for strict adherence to human rights and International Humanitarian Law from its members.
Baldevarona, however, said the CHR has recorded a complaint against two members of the 61st Infantry Battalion, who were linked to the death of activist Benjie Bayles in Himamaylan City, last year.
He said they have noted that the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade, from its commander down to its ordinary soldiers, are strictly abiding with the provisions of the IHL.
He also said they have not received any complaints of abuses against the Philippine Army despite so many encounters between government soldiers and New People’s Army rebels in the northern and southeastern parts of Negros.
In the same period, CHR recorded six complaints against the NPA, like the murder of civilians, an unarmed soldier, and destruction of properties in northern Negros.
Major General Emmanuel Bautista, 3rd Infantry Division commander, said the improvement in human rights records of the AFP, especially Army infantry units in Negros and Panay, is due to their adherence to the rule of law and the IHL.
“It is a marked improvement over what we had experienced in the past” Bautista said.
The military has been at the receiving end of accusations by leftist organizations and human rights advocates that it is behind the rash of extra-judicial killings, mostly of leftist personalities.
Frank Fernandez, spokesman of the National Democratic Front-Negros, in a statement, said the heightened “psywar campaign” of Col. Jonas Sumagaysay and the 303rd IB that included an alleged infighting and intense disagreements among local NPA leaders, is aimed at covering up human rights violations committed by the AFP.*GPB