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PH military on year-old claim of Aeta torture in Zambales: It didn’t happen

MANILA, Philippines—The military branded as falsehood a year-old report quoting two Aetas accusing troopers of torture in their ancestral land in Zambales, saying troopers should not human rights violators and had already come a great distance as professionals who observe the rule of legislation.

“We stand by our troops. We do not do such violations. If they do, we do not tolerate. We value our service as protectors of the people,” Army spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala stated.

Zagala was requested to answer revival of studies of the alleged torture by troopers of two Aetas in Zambales province in retaliation for the dying of a soldier in a supposed conflict with New People’s Army (NPA) in 2020.

The two Aetas, based on the report, have been the primary to be charged with violating the brand new anti-terrorism legislation and, with the assistance of National Union of People’s Lawyers-Central Luzon, had sought Supreme Court intervention to cease the enforcement of the controversial legislation. They had joined dozens of different people and teams with petitions in the excessive tribunal in opposition to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

Aetas Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos had been accused of killing a soldier and of working alongside NPA. The two denied the accusations, saying they have been arrested as they tried to flee from elevated military operations for concern of getting caught in the crossfire. The Aetas dwell on ancestral land in the city of San Marcelino, the place the military operations have been launched.

In their petition in opposition to the brand new terror legislation, the Aetas claimed that they had been tortured by troopers for six days and compelled to admit they have been NPA members which the 2 stated could be normalized if the legislation was enforced.

Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), stated officers in the sector had reported the Aetas’ claim however discovered that the accusers couldn’t substantiate or show their accusation in opposition to troopers.

“The act that our soldiers are accused of is a serious allegation that is neither a policy nor practice,” stated Arevalo. “As a matter of fact, AFP regulations mandate that we respect human rights and abide by the law on armed conflict,” he stated.

The military had reported in late August 2020 that it arrested 5 Aetas suspected to be NPA guerrillas throughout a conflict on the village of Buhawen in San Marcelino.

The Army’s seventh Infantry Division, in a report in 2020, stated the 5 Aetas “mixed themselves with minors but were later identified as NPA members.”


But the Army denied allegations of abuse and stated these have been simply meant to “intentionally mislead the public.”

A rating military officer described the torture allegations as “fake news” and turned to non-public assaults in opposition to the journalists who wrote the studies.

TSB

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