Philippine Army denies existence of ‘hit list’

-- Artist Randalf Dilla polishes his 8 x18.5 feet oil and acrylic painting “Salvage Memories, Salvage Lives” at Hiraya Gallery in Manila, Friday. The masterpiece, which depicts human rights issues during the Martial Law era, will be exhibited in commemoration of its declaration on September 21.(MNS photo)

— Artist Randalf Dilla polishes his 8 x18.5 feet oil and acrylic painting “Salvage Memories, Salvage Lives” at Hiraya Gallery in Manila, Friday. The masterpiece, which depicts human rights issues during the Martial Law era, will be exhibited in commemoration of its declaration on September 21. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Philippine Army on Saturday denied that the military has a “hit list” of 70 activists in Mindanao and leaders of progressive groups.

“There is no such thing as hit list in the AFP. Everybody knows that only the New People’s Army is making a hit list,” said in a statement released by Col. Benjamin Hao, chief of the Army’s public affairs office.

The Army assured in the statement that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is “the protector of the Filipino people whatever his or her social, political or economic leaning is.”

“The hit list allegation is a figment of the accusers’ imagination,” it added.

On Friday, former and incumbent lawmakers under the Makabayan bloc asked the Supreme Court to issue writs of amparo and habeas data against alleged military and police harassment.

In a 37-page plea, the petitioners said the civil society organizations to which they belong have been tagged by the government forces as “communist front organizations” while their leaders and members have been targets of attack under the government’s counterinsurgency programs.

Among the petitioners were Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emerenciana de Jesus, former Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, former Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño, Cristina Palabay, Mary Francis Anover, Irma Balaba, Jacquiline Ruiz, as well as the heirs of former Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran, represented by Ofelia Beltran-Balleta.

Named respondents were President Benigno Aquino III, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, and other officials of the military and the Philippine National Police.

The petitioners cited in their petition the findings of Prof. Philip Alston, the former United Nations Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Execution, in his Report to the UN Human Rights Council on his February 2007 Mission to the Philippines.

The petitioners said the inclusion of their names on the lists and pictures in the police’s “rogues gallery” provided to them by the local PNP Criminal Investigation Group was considered threats to their life, liberty and security.

“There is no other way by which these information can be obtained than by subjecting the petitioners under undue and malicious scrutiny or surveillance,” read the petition.(MNS)

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