The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday insisted it will never support or tolerate any form of abuse by military personnel, ensuring that all soldiers are trained to operate within the limits and bounds of the Constitution.
AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo issued the statement reacting to H.R. 8313, or the Philippine Human Rights Act, filed before the US Congress by Democratic Pennsylvania Representative Susan Wild seeking to “suspend the provision of security assistance to the Philippines until the Government of the Philippines has made certain reforms to the military and police forces, and for other purposes.”
One such issue being targeted by the proposed US legislation is the alleged human rights violations committed by the military and police.
While the AFP does “not deal with policies and inclinations of foreign governments,” Arevalo said the accusation “is something vehemently denied” by the Philippine military.
“In many instances in the past, we have been empathic about human rights. The AFP has no record of abuses,” Arevalo said in his virtual presser.
He then challenged Wild and other American legislators to “bring their matters to prove their allegations” so that the AFP can conduct its investigation against soldiers who purportedly committed such dastardly acts.
“We will bring them before a court-martial. That is not allowed, that is not supported by the AFP,” stressed the AFP mouthpiece. “We ensure that all our soldiers are operating within limits and bounds of the Bill of Rights. “We say it is unfair to accuse the AFP of being a violator of human rights.”
If passed into law, the measure stopping US public funding for the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) will set the following conditions before it may be lifted:
· Investigate and prosecute members of the military and police found to have violated human rights;
· Withdraw military involvement from domestic policy;
· Establish the protection of the rights of labor leaders, journalists, human rights defenders, indigenous persons, small farmers, LGBTI activists, and critics of government;
· Take steps to guarantee a judicial system that is capable of investigating, prosecuting, and bringing to justice members of the police and military who have committed human rights abuses; and
· Fully comply with any and all audits or investigations regarding the improper use of security aid