OLD and recycled issues.

    This was how newly-installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año described the alleged human rights violations hurled against him by several leftist groups opposing his appointment to the top military post.

    “Those are recycled issues. They were resolved in 2012 and I just want to move on and work silently so I can give the best service to the Armed Forces and to our people,” the AFP chief said on Friday.

    Leftist groups have asked President Rodrigo Duterte to take a second look at Año’s alleged long record of human rights violations and reconsider the appointment.

    “The Army under Año’s command was responsible for various human rights violations, including the Paquibato massacre in June 2014 which killed three indigenous peoples and the pouring in of battalions into Mindanao which caused widespread displacement of IPs. When he signed Año’s appointment papers, the President might as well have signed the death warrant for the search for justice and accountability for these human rights violations,” party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio of ACT said.

    Año is also linked to the forced disappearance of farmer-activist Jonas Burgos, son of the late press freedom icon Joe Burgos who was taken by armed men under his command, among them then-Army Lt. Harry Baliaga.

    Año was exonerated from the charges filed in connection with the disappearance of Burgos, which Karapatan believed is “a form of whitewash” of the case.

    Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate also urged Duterte to reconsider his decision to stop Año and the military “from further wreaking havoc in the countryside.”

    “The continued violation of our people’s human rights will certainly jeopardize the progress of the peace
    process,” he said.

    A seasoned combat and intelligence officer, Año is a known “rebel hunter.”

    He was credited with the neutralization of top communist leaders notably the capture of Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma and Andrea Rosal, alleged New People’s Army commander and daughter of the late NPA spokesman Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal.

    Año was also responsible for the killing of Leonardo Pitao, a top NPA leader who used the nom de guerre Kumander Parago, during an armed clash with government forces in Davao City in June 2015.


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