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Rights group bucks budget hike for paramilitary groups.

Human rights watchdog Karapatan chided the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) for seeking bigger appropriations for the paramilitary units tagged in the harassment and murder of Lumad leaders in Mindanao.

"Each year, more than P2 billion is allocated to the AFP for its force multipliers. The DND wants more next year," Cristina Palabay Karapatan Secretary general said.

"The AFP definitely wants to strengthen paramilitary groups, instead of heeding the call to disband them, because they serve as cover to military atrocities in Lumad communities," she pointed out.

As of August 30 this year, Karapatan has documented 77 cases of extrajudicial killings involving paramilitary groups.

The number includes the killing of Italian priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio, Lumad leaders Datu Jimmy Liguyon and Henry Alameda, and anti-mining activist Juvy Capion and her two children.

"The number of victims will definitely increase, if the AFP is given more funds for this," Palabay warned.

Palabay scored the Aquino administration's practice of forcibly recruiting Lumads into the paramilitary groups such as the Barangay Defense Force and the Alamara paramilitary group as shown in the case of Barangay White Culaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon and in Talaingod Davao del Norte, respectively.

Those who refused to be recruited, the human rights watchdog said, were automatically considered as New People's Army rebels.

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Title Annotation:Provincial
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Oct 10, 2015
Words:222
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