MANILA, Philippines – The human rights group Karapatan is questioning why the National Food Authority is “affiliating” itself with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and requiring its personnel to fill up forms in relation to this.
The rights group raised the alarm following reports from the public sector union Confederation for Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees, or COURAGE, about a January 18 memorandum — HRMD-MSBD-REC-2K18-A-0062 — issued by lawyer Anna Karina Coronel, manager III of the NFA’s human resource management department, asking officials and employees to fill up a lengthy “Personal History Statement” on such information as one’s personal background, work history, location of residence, countries visited, and even credit reputation, and to submit these by January 31.
Aside from this information, the form also requires five character references, the names of three neighbors, and asks if one is “willing to undergo periodic lie detector test.”
The forms are also downloadable (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiCjuC4x4vZAhVDe7wKHVJHAXcQFggoMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fadroth.ph%2Fafpmodern%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2011%2F11%2FPHS-Form3.doc&usg=AOvVaw3zYGNZ4cO9kN1ZgkMsxc0N) from theAFP website.
A similar downloadable form, this time from the Philippine Coast Guard (http://www.pcgauxiliary.com/uploads/1/7/6/3/17630795/annex_iii_personal_history_statement_form_.pdf), is called an “applicant’s personal history statement form.”
There is also a separate “security declaration” supposed to be “read and signed by all military personnel, civilian employees, foreign students and research contract personnel,” that binds them to confidentiality regarding any classified information during and after their tenure in the AFP.
COURAGE president Ferdinand Gaite said this is the first time NFA personnel have been required to fill up such forms.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said the form “is, in essence, conscription to military service, either as part of the military’s reserve force or its auxiliary. This takes militarization of the civilian bureaucracy to a whole new level.”
“We do not know what Duterte and his cohorts in the military and Cabinet are up to, but this suspicious move merits proper investigation,” Palabay said. “If this is forced conscription of government employees, imposed and especially without due consent, the people behind this memo should be held accountable.”
She also worried that “this could be happening in other agencies as well,” adding that “the effect of such a scheme is chilling, especially for a government that is already threatening a crackdown on legitimate organizations and its citizens.”
“Turning entire agencies and government institutions into intelligence networks would have an inevitable, adverse effect to people’s freedom of assembly and their right to organize,” she said. “There is a need to map out where else this is happening, as well as to investigate the motive behind this.”
“In the context of continued political persecution, killings, illegal arrests and harassment among the ranks of activists, members of progressive organizations, human rights defenders and civilians, such a memorandum raises many red flags,” she added.