No respect for the living and the dead | KMP slams Parlade’s heightening of military terror in South Luzon

Farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) castigates Major General Antonio Parlade’s sowing of terror against rural poor organizations in South Luzon. “In just a matter of days after being appointed as new South Luzon Military Commander, General Parlade wasted no time in terrorizing indigenous and peasant organizations in Southern Tagalog,” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos says.

Ramos claims that “other than the killings and arbitrary arrests, the AFP Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) under Parlade has began employing a another gruel crime against the rural poor: the denial of a victim’s body.” Recent reports from Karapatan Southern Tagalog reveal this alarming trend. “Parlade has no respect for the living and the dead!” Ramos laments.

General Parlade was appointed as new SOLCOM Commander just last January 17.

On January 19, peasant leader Emerito Pinza of PUMALAG (Pinagkaisang Ugnayan ng mga Magsasaka sa Laguna) and another yet unidentified civilian were allegedly killed and buried in what the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 4A claimed as an armed encounter in Kalayaan, Laguna. In what appears to be another case of peasant killing misattributed as an encounter, Pinza’s relatives and Karapatan Southern Tagalog disputed the military’s claims and demands the surfacing of the bodies.

On January 25, Jay-ar Mercado of indigenous people’s group BALATIK (Bigkis at Lakas ng mga Katutubo sa Timog Katagalugan) was killed by suspected members of AFP’s 4th Infantry Battalion. Mercado was then doing community organizing work in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro. Relatives searching for his remains were informed at a local funeral home that the military had already claimed and buried Mercado’s body on January 31. Wanting to see him the last time and fearing that he was tortured before he was killed, Mercado’s relatives tries to have the body exhumed. 

Government officials have so far prohibited the release of both the bodies of Pinza and Mercado, disregarding the violation of their family’s right to have them properly buried.

Condemning Parlade, Ramos says that “the military have already violated the right to life of hundreds of rural poor, now they violate even their right to a proper burial. SOLCOM is killing unarmed civilians and employing psywar tactics against their relatives and friends, this is state terrorism.”

Parlade is a key person behind the NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict) which has utilized state machinery to red-tag and attack legal personalities and organizations under the guise of counterinsurgency. NTF-ELCAC was mandated by President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70. The general gained notoriety last November 2019 for attempting to hijack a peace forum with his red-tagging antics. February that year, Parlade joined the PCOO (Presidential Communications Operations Office) in a publicly-funded tour around Europe to vilify various legal organizations.

“This emerging practice by the SOLCOM under Parlade is rabidly inhumane. It must be thoroughly exposed and ultimately stopped. Such attacks against civilians fuel the raging armed conflict in the countryside. President Duterte, if he is serious in attaining a just and lasting peace as he is wont to proclaim, must rein militarist peace spoilers around him such as Parlade. Genuine peace is built upon justice, not hidden graves and terror.” Ramos concludes. #

(Featured image from Southern Tagalog Exposure)

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