‘Dirty war’ report unfair — AFP

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Armed Forces described as “one-sided and unfair” the report of a US-based watchdog saying that the former has been waging a “dirty war” against left-wing activists.

“We categorically deny the allegations that there is a dirty war being waged by the Armed Forces, particularly against the leftist groups,” according to AFP public information chief Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro.

He told a news conference held yesterday at the military general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo that there was no clear proof that military personnel were among the 50 resource people who were interviewed by Human Rights Watch.

Bacarro bewailed the report saying it was one-sided and unfair at the same time because the military establishment has never been invited or asked about the issues before it came out with such conclusion. “I would categorize it as unfair reporting because we have been collaborating with any investigative body relative to extra-judicial killings.”

A few months back, United Nations special reporter Philip Alston and the Palace-formed Melo Commission had linked the military to the spate of killings and other forms of violence against militant activists and members of the Fourth Estate (journalists) .

Bacarro acknowledged the fact that there could be military personnel who were involved in the extra-judicial killings but he explained that they were not sanctioned by the AFP. “It is not a military policy to commit extrajudicial activities.”

Bacarro accused the NPA and communists fronts of vilifying the military to divert the blame from their comrades.

Karapatan, a Human Rights group, said it has recorded more than 860 extrajudicial killings and more than 200 abductions since 2001.

Bacarro said the AFP is open to any probe that will be conducted by the newly created Presidential Task Force against Media Harassment specifically on the abduction of Jonas Burgos. “It our policy to cooperate in any investigation involving military men. We will be more than willing to present individuals who will be implicated so that they will have time to defend themselves and also face their accusers.”

The task force headed by Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco said it would investigate the snatching of Burgos allegedly by Army personnel once the Commission on Human Rights finished its probe and could not come up with a satisfactory recommendation.