‘No evidence of 84 HR violations during Aquino admin’

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 13 2012 06:05 PM | Updated as of May 14 2012 03:13 PM

MANILA, Philippines - There is no evidence to substantiate 84 alleged human-rights violations (HRV) in the hands of government soldiers starting when President Benigno Aquino III took office, a military spokesman said.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos said the military’s Human Rights Office (HRO) created a Board of Inquiry to look into the 84 complaints received earlier by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Not one has been substantiated so far, but the board is still investigating all 84 cases, he said.

"To address these circumstances, the AFP-HRO created a Board of Inquiry which was also replicated down to the battalion levels to conduct investigations that would validate the reports of the CHR," said Burgos.

"The findings of the [board] revealed that all of the referred HRV cases tagging military personnel were only accusations and did not produce sufficient evidence against AFP soldiers," added Burgos, citing the initial result of the probe.

Of the 84 complaints, the CHR has also dismissed 15 cases.

Burgos stressed, however, that the board continues to acquire case information from the CHR.

Col. Domingo Tutaan Jr., the chief of the AFP-HRO, said they are already cross-checking data received from the CHR with what his office has obtained so far. "We may have data that they don't have because I also monitor on my own…We are cross-checking," he said.

“The AFP, at the same time, will not tolerate human-rights violation within its ranks, and will continue to apply the rule of law towards any soldier at all times whether on duty or off duty," Burgos added.

He said the AFP continues to educate and train soldiers on human rights and international humanitarian laws. He said any soldier found to have violated the laws will be dealt with under the military justice system.

Nonetheless, Burgos noted that the AFP is not a prosecutorial body. He said the AFP can only impose disciplinary actions.

"Once an involved soldier goes outside military bounds, the final say will come from the higher civilian court, which will undergo due process of law," he said.