Sorsogon human rights hits back General Paralde’s “conspiracy theories” on killing witch-hunt

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SORSOGON CITY — Progressive groups in Sorsogon hit Lt. General Parlade for his irresponsible remarks linking their groups in “conspiratorial collaboration” with the NPA for the killing Saturday of a ex-NPA turned military asset in Casiguran, Sorsogon Province.

“Here in Sorsogon, red-tagging, guilt-by-association, trumped up charges, EJKs and the threat of EJK are daily fare for activists of the national democratic movement. And now, Lt. General Antonio Parlade is accusing us for the death of NPA surrenderees.” human rights group KARAPATAN said in a statement Monday.

KARAPATAN Sorsogon reacted sharply to Lt. General Parlade’s statement as reported in government-run Philippine News Agency [PNA] that “legal organizations Karapatan, Gabriela, Bayan, lawyers group NUPL, and other militant organizations are accountable for the killing of a military asset by the NPA.”

Lt. Gen. Parlade, Jr., chief of the Philippine Army’s Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) in a statement released to PNA last Sunday, February 23, following the shooting-to-death of a certain Antonio Benson, aka “Hazel” and “Pita”, by the NPA, named “Karapatan, NUPL, Gabriela and others” accountable for the actions of the NPA.

Parlade also said that “the government will do everything in its authority to give justice to former NPA rebels who were mercilessly killed by their comrades”.

KARAPATAN lashed out to Parlade for stating menacingly that “it is only a matter of time before justice will catch up against . . .who are the brains behind these atrocities”.

KARAPATAN vowed: “By “justice” in the context of Parlade’s view means the killing of activists of the legal democratic organizations. To this we say: activists will be killed not for the reason that Parlade and his minions allege but because of their advocacy to fight for a Philippine society that is peaceful, humane, democratic, just and free.

Accuser, judge, executioner: this is the core doctrine of all despotic regimes in the history of governments and societies, the same doctrine that guides the Duterte regime in its implementation of MO 32 and EO 70. Lt. General Antonio Parlade, Jr. is, presently, the accuser, judge and would-be executioner of the activists in the Province of Sorsogon.”

KARAPATAN continued:

“Is Parlade talking about a government that is in accord with the precepts of democracy, or the tyrannical dispensation that President Rodrigo Duterte and the military have instituted in this country? It is obvious in the words of Parlade that he is referring to the government of Duterte which is contemptuous of decency and existing laws of society. And what a perverted sense in seeking justice for the death of NPA surrenderees? General Parlade is holding Karapatan, NUPL, Gabriela, et al, responsible for an offense committed by the NPA! Can justice be truly served if it is not anchored on our constitutional justice and penal system? The Bill of Rights of our own Constitution speaks of procedural due process and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. But Parlade had already declared Karapatan and the rest guilty for the death of “Pita” and other NPA surrenderees! Is this the kind of justice that he wants to pervade?”

On tagging as “communist front”, KARAPATAN explains:

“The General also tattled about the oft-repeated propaganda lie of the police and military tagging Karapatan and the rest of progressive organizations as “fronts” of the CPP-NPA-NDF. We vehemently deny this baseless and malicious accusation that is intended to condition the mind of the people to justify hideous acts that the police and military may bear upon us in the future.

WHO are WE, KARAPATAN clarifies:

“Like the mass organization of peasants who are fighting for genuine land reform, of workers who are fighting for higher wages and security of tenure, and of women fighting for women’s rights, etc., Karapatan has also an advocacy to fight for, like the promotion, respect and defense of human rights and the pursuit of a just and lasting peace. There is no rhyme and reason to call these organizations fighting for their own sectoral interests and advocacies as “fronts” of the CPP-NPA-NDF or any organization. Further, Parlade accuses us of providing the NPA information about the location and activities of NPA surrenderees. How can we do that? Our hands are full with fact-finding missions looking into extrajudicial killings, physical injuries, warrantless arrests and searches and other serious human rights abuses of the AFP and PNP in the province making it impossible for us to perform sleuthing or detective work for the NPA apart from the fact that providing information to the NPA is not, and will never be, a part of our task. We emphasize categorically that we do not have any hierarchical, organizational or integral relations with the NPA.”

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