DAVAO CITY: Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, commander of the 10th Infantry Division, has denied allegations that he ordered the assassination attempt on a peasant in Tagum City.
Año, who formerly headed the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), said there is no truth to allegations the Army was behind the attack on Dexter Ian Serebrado.
“That is not true,” said Año, one of top military officials implicated in the abduction and disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos. “We deny those allegations and we also condemn the incident. We are saddened by this incident, in fact, but definitely we do not have any involvement in this.”
Human rights group Karapatan believes that Año was behind the September 29 attack on Serebrado, who sustained gunshot wounds in his nape and pelvis. The farmer was attacked by an unidentified gunman just a few minutes after attending a forum that gathered groups opposing the controversial government pork barrel system.
Año said the military is even willing to cooperate with the police in the investigation.
“We also want to see that the perpetrators are arrested,” he said.
Sheena Duazo, secretary general of Bayan-Southern Mindanao, said the victim has been actively campaigning against the presence of soldiers in peasant and indigenous peoples communities in Davao del Norte.
The group Pagbabago People’s Movement for Change condemned the attack. The police said they are still investigating the incident.
“Serebrado, like those who attended the launch, is a simple and steadfast activist who believes in the power of mass movement to affect genuine change,” said the Aya Ragrario, the group’s focal person.
“This belief is what he carried with him as he organized peasants and indigenous peoples, and as he campaigned against the militarization of their communities,” he added.
Last year, the Department of Justice dropped Año from the list of suspects in the abduction and disappearance of Burgos for lack of probable cause.
“I have never violated any human rights of anybody. In fact, I am an advocate of defending the rights of people,” he said.
Karapatan secretary general Hanimay Suazo said Año’s “claim that the military is adhering to human rights is a mere stale rhetoric”.