May 22, 2018
QUEZON CITY – In letters to at least seven UN independent experts and special procedures, to Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon and to Sec. Silvestre Bello III, in his capacity as Chairperson of the Negotiating Panel in the Government of the Republic of the Philippines Peace Negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, Karapatan submitted a report on the civil and political rights violations during the one-year implementation of martial law in Mindanao under the administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.
“The report outlines how the Duterte administration, through his own brand of war-on-terror with the imposition and extension of martial law in Mindanao and the continuing implementation of government’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, has promoted State terrorism and violence in the Southern Philippines,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
Since the declaration of martial law on May 23, 2017, Karapatan documented at least 49 victims of extrajudicial killings in Mindanao, with an average of one victim killed every week. Most of the victims are indigenous peoples and members of local peasant organizations targeted for their local campaigns for genuine agrarian reform and against militarization.
Karapatan also documented 22 cases of torture, 116 victims of frustrated extrajudicial killings, 89 victims of illegal arrest and detention, and 336,124 victims of indiscriminate gunfire and aerial bombings. At least 404, 654 individuals have been displaced, largely because of these bombings. “Many more reported cases reveal a much graver magnitude of the effects of martial law. The dangers of ensuring security in traveling across the area prevent news gatherers and documenters from looking into field conditions so as to fully report on the human rights situation,” Palabay stated.
Karapatan called on the officials and UN experts to conduct an independent investigation on the rights violations during the imposition of martial law in Mindanao, the immediate lifting of martial law in Mindanao which has been used by Philippine State security forces as license to further perpetuate rights violations, the immediate investigation and prosecution of perpetrators which include the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and elements of the police; and an end to counter-insurgency programs like Oplan Kapayapaan which encourage the use of ‘hit lists’ that target activists and civilians.
The human rights organization also reminded the Philippine Government to pursue its commitments under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), and to adhere and respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all major human rights instruments that is a party and signatory.