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Double trouble: NUSP calls with Año’s appointment as AFP chief an ‘assault’, passage of death penalty bill ‘an affront’ to political prisoners

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The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) has expressed outrage with two developments which occurred in the Duterte administration in one day: the appointment of Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the House justice committee’s passage of the bill reinstating death penalty.

In a statement released Wednesday (Dec. 7), the militant student group slammed Año’s promotion as a “direct assault” to slain activists because of his alleged involvement in human rights violations.

Año has been linked to the enforced disappearance of farmer-activist Jonas Burgos who was taken by armed men under his command, among them then-Army Lt. Harry Baliaga.

It was also under Año’s command that the Philippine army got involved in the Paquibato massacre in June 2014 where three indigenous peoples were killed.

NUSP said the initial passage of the death penalty bill is also an “affront” to political detainees who are wrongly accused of crimes since the current justice system favors the rich.

The group said of the measure: “This is a death sentence to the innocent Filipinos who are accused of charges they did not do. While those who are in guilt are running free from their accountability to the Filipino people, the accused masses are kept from living their lives, to eventually facing untimely death itself.”

NUSP said Año’s appointment and the imminent reimposition of the death penalty all point to the Duterte administration’s emergence as “a fascist government that is geared to eliminate those who are valiantly fighting for the interest of the Filipino people.”