“The appointment of Clement and impending designation of Sinas are indications of how the Duterte government rewards butchers who have instigated unspeakable terror in many communities.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – A human rights group warned of more bloodshed with the appointment of new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief and National Capital Region police chief.
In a statement, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay bared that Lieutenant General Noel Clement, the newly appointed AFP chief of staff and Central Visayas police chief Brigadier General Debold Sinas have bloody records during their stint in the Visayas region. Sinas is set to replace National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief Major General Guillermo Eleazar.
Palabay said Sinas and Clement have made Visayas their “bloodbath laboratories.”
“It is in Cebu where reported killings in relation to the government’s anti-narcotics campaign have been conducted. It is in Negros where tokhang-style killings and arrests have been applied to activists, human rights lawyers and entire communities. Instead of such promotions, both should be held accountable for the human rights violations they have actively perpetrated,” said Palabay in a statement.
She added that the appointment of Clement and impending designation of Sinas are indications of how the Duterte government “rewards butchers who have instigated unspeakable terror in many communities.”
Clement was the military commander in Central Visayas where a spike of extrajudicial killings were reported.
Clement was also a protege of convicted General Jovito Palparan during President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s administration.
In 2002, Palabay said, Clement was former officer of the Philippine Army’s 204th Infantry Brigade which was responsible for the killing of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog Secretary General Eden Marcellana and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy in Oriental Mindoro. The two were on a fact-finding mission to look into the reported extrajudicial killings in the area when they were brutally killed by soldiers under the 204th IB. During that time, the commanding officer of the said brigade was Palparan.
Clement was also implicated in the enforced disappearance of peasant organizer Jonas Burgos in 2007. He was also with the 10th Infantry Division in Mindanao where human rights violations were massive. As chief of the AFP’s Central Command in Cebu, Clement also led the militarization of Negros and Bohol, Palabay added.
Palabay also said that under Clement’s command of the 10th ID, several leaders were also gunned down, including peasant leader Jimmy Saypan, union leader Danny Boy Bautista, and several other members of the Compostela Farmers Association (CFA).
Palabay added that the same unit was also responsible for the massacre of eight Lumad in Sultan Kudarat in December 2017, an incident investigated by the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) and declared as a human rights violation under martial law in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, Sinas has also been implicated in the killings under the government’s campaign against illegal drugs and in the mass murder of farmers including the killing of the Negros 14 and widespread arrests of residents. He is also allegedly associated with masterminding and implementation of Oplan Sauron, the anti-insurgency operations which resulted in extrajudicial killings of farmers and activists in Negros island.
“Clement and Sinas are dangerous butchers who succeed a long line of criminals who have built their careers on the massacre and killings of civilians. The least we need in this already repressive climate are Palparan-wannabes. These killers are further enabled by an equally merciless Commander-in-Chief who does not grasp due process, let alone human rights,” said Palabay.