Rights advocates lament appointment of ‘murderer general’ to cabinet position

Sitting down is Gen. Eduardo Año when he failed to get the nod of the Commission on Appointments as Philippine Army chief back in 2015 due to complaints of human rights violations. (Retrieved from Bulatlat.com / Photo by Voltaire Domingo of NPPA)

The Philippine human rights community assailed the appointment of the infamous retired military general Eduardo Año as head of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), one of the key cabinet positions in the country, despite the latter’s pronouncement that there will be no extrajudicial killing under his watch.

“This is an outright lie, one that spits at the bodies of hundreds of farmers, indigenous peoples, and activists killed during his stint in the military. Año is not just a murderer, he is also a seasoned liar,” said human rights group Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Año as his chief of staff back in July 2015. He retired shortly after the supposed liberation of the Marawi City, which suffered heavy destruction after the military launched airstrikes to quell armed elements who claim to have links to the ISIS.

As DILG chief, Año will lead the country’s affairs over the promotion of peace and order, ensuring of public safety, and the strengthening of local government units.

“He may no longer be a formal and active military officer, but he remains a militarist through and through. Año’s brand of leadership is reflected in his bloody record in the military. The people and their human rights are taken out of the equation, as evidenced by his stint as ISAFP chief, 10th ID commander, and AFP chief. Only his position and official designation has changed, but he continues to have access to State resources to be used to implement and mount more repressive policies,” Palabay said.

Año, then intelligence chief of the Philippine Army, was implicated in the enforced disappearance of farmer-activist Jonas Burgos back in 2007. He remains missing to this day. He was also implicated in the massacre of the three indigenous peoples in Pacquibato, Davao City back in 2015.

Karapatan also documented 86 extrajudicial killings under Año’s term as Duterte’s chief of staff.

The Ramento Project for Rights Defenders (RPRD), a human rights advocacy and services arm of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, has also expressed deep dismay over Año’s appointment.

RPRD executive director Fr. Jonash Joyohoy said that given Año’s bloody human rights record, human rights workers must brace for the worst.

He said, “attacks on human rights seem to be coming from everywhere – from daily killings of suspected small drug peddlers and users to those that are politically motivated. But it must be pointed out that these attacks are neither spontaneous nor isolated. It is institutionalized under a government that perpetuates impunity. And this situation will surely worsen with a murderer and a liar general placed in one of the country key cabinet posts.” (RPRD News)

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