The Save Our Schools Network criticized President Benigno Simeon Aquino III on quick defense for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) allegedly implicated in the new spate of killings of lumads in Mindanao. “It is very early for the president to jump into conclusions without even listening to the accounts of direct victims of military and AFP-backed paramilitary forces atrocities, especially women and children”, said Kharlo Manano, Save Our Schools Network spokesperson.
“Aquino gives blanket of protection and impunity over the AFP and its paramilitary forces, instead of helping the victims of their atrocities,” continued Manano. Manano said that the president continues to claim that his administration’s policies are aimed to ‘serve the people’ while, on the other hand, gives all-out support to Oplan Bayanihan, his administration’s counter-insurgency program which resulted to numerous killings, encampment and attacks on schools and communities as well as the massive exodus of civilians.
Manano linked the violations to the strong resistance of lumads communities against the incursions of giant and multinational corporations of mining, logging and plantations in their ancestral lands. “Aquino’s oplan bayanihan is nothing but a license for the state forces to commit worst forms of violations against lumad communities in order to weaken their resistance. If this is his definition of serving the people, then it is clear whose interest he is serving, that of his own people – the rich landlords and foreign capitalists” ended Manano. ###