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Republic of the Philippines HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TWELFTH CONGRESS Second Regular Session

H O U S E R E S O L U T I O N N o . 878 _____________________________________________________________________________ Introduced by Reps. SATUR C. OCAMPO, CRISPIN B. BELTRAN, LIZA L. MAZA and HUSSIN U. AMIN

_____________________________________________________________________________ RESOLUTION OPPOSING THE PROMOTION OF COLONEL ROMEO P. TOLENTINO, FORMER COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE 104 TH BRIGADE IN SULU, TO THE RANK OF BRIGADIER GENERAL W HICH IS NOW AW AITING CONFIRMATION BY THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS ON ACCOUNT OF NUMEROUS CASES OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST THE RESIDENTS OF SULU ALLEGEDLY COMMITTED BY THE 104 TH IB UNDER HIS COMMAND

W HEREAS Col. Romeo P. Tolentino, former commander of the 104 th Infantry Brigade (IB) and now deputy chief of the Southern Command, has been made Brigadier General under an interim appointment pending confirmation by the Commission on Appointments; W HEREAS Col. Tolentino is faced with numerous charges of human rights violations in Sulu which have been attributed to the 104th IB under his command; W HEREAS a fact-finding mission on April 19 to 23, 2002 by the human rights organization KARAPATAN yielded 85 affidavits attesting to various types of human rights abuses that took place in 38 barangays in the towns of Patikul, Talipao, Indanan, Parang and Panamao, all in Sulu; W HEREAS the KARAPATAN fact-finding mission documented, among others, 5 cases of massacres, 7 killings, 50 cases of forced evacuation, 52 cases of divestment of property, 22 cases of indiscriminate firing as well as cases of arbitrary arrest and detention and aerial bombardment, covering the period April 2000 to the present; W HEREAS the victims and their families point to elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, specifically the 104th IB under Col. Tolentino; W HEREAS the KARAPATAN fact-finding mission also discovered that on October 21, 2001, AFP soldiers attacked without provocation an MNLF camp in Upper Tiis, Talipao, Sulu. Over 200 soldiers of the 77 th IB, PA and Scout Rangers headed by one Maj. Ernesto Maniego went to the Jabal Uhod Islamic Force (JILF) Camp of the MNLF and ordered the 20 MNLF members stationed there to surrender their arms. Nusur Gardan, one of the MNLF members present, showed a copy of the 1996 GRP-MNLF Peace Agreement which states that their camp is legitimate and that they are therefore allowed to carry weapons. Maniego, however, reportedly tore up the copy, lined up the 20 MNLF members and asked his troops to fire at the now disarmed members. Five were instantly killed, while the others scampered for their lives; W HEREAS the said documented cases have been the subject of ongoing congressional hearings since March this year; W HEREAS on April 24, 2002, elements of the 104th IB fired 105 mm cannons at a civilian community in Parang, Sulu, resulting in the death of three civilians and serious wounding of 10 others. The said case has


been brought before Sulu representative Hussin Amin who has since endorsed the case to the Commission on Appointments; W HEREAS the authority, control and decision-making over the firing of powerful and highly-destructive artilleries such as cannons rest upon the Brigade Commander, which, in this case, is Col. Tolentino; W HEREAS casualties of this incident were Mohammad Sali Sabdani who died on the spot, Hairun Nihma Sadjail who died a few days later in the Jolo Provincial Hospital, and Kinni Sabdani who expired even before reaching the hospital due to cardio-pulmonary failure and massive blood loss; W HEREAS among those wounded was 12-year old Najib Asril who lost two fingers of his right hand and whose right leg had to be amputated; W HEREAS Sulu residents have since filed a case against Col. Tolentino regarding the incident before the Commission on Human Rights in Zamboanga; W HEREAS upon investigation of the April 24 shelling, Commission on Human Rights Region IX Regional Director Ciriaco Jabido, concluded that “Tolentino had acted with gross negligence when he authorized the firing of their Artillery without verifying first whether or not a community would be affected thereby”; W HEREAS the CHR Regional Director Jabido, in a resolution dated July 19, 2002, has forwarded the case to the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military for “preliminary investigation and institution of charges against Col. Romeo P. Tolentino” and has likewise recommended financial and medical assistance for the victims; W HEREAS these military operations which have bred human rights violations breach the Bill of Rights (Art. III) and contradict other core precepts of the Constitution which mandate the State to value “the dignity of every human person and guarantee full respect for human rights” (Art. II, Sec. 10) and obligate the Armed Forces of the Philippines to protect and defend the people (Article II, Section 3); W HEREAS Col. Romeo P. Tolentino has miserably fallen short of such constitutional and legal standards, including the requirement that military officers, before they can even be considered for promotion, must be free of any charges involving violations of human rights; NOW , THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the promotion of Col. Romeo P. Tolentino, former commanding officer of the 104th Brigade in Sulu, to the rank of brigadier general, now awaiting confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, be opposed on account of numerous cases of human rights violations against the residents of Sulu allegedly committed by the 104th IB under his command; RESOLVED FINALLY that officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines due for promotion be free of any charges of human rights violations in keeping with the AFP’s sworn constitutional mandate to defend and protect the Filipino people. Adopted,

SATUR C. OCAMPO LIZA L. MAZA Bayan Muna–Party-List Muna–Party- List

CRISPIN B. BELTRAN Bayan Muna–Party-List

Bayan


HUSSIN U. AMIN Sulu, 1D


HR 878 - No to Tolentino promotion