Duterte’s ML “every bit fascist, every bit brutal” - Karapatan

“With the martial law declaration in Mindanao, Duterte and his state forces have become every bit as fascist, every bit as brutal, and every bit as fraudulent and deceptive, concocting new and more atrocious ways to commit rights violations in indigenous and peasant communities,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, citing recent cases of abductions, killings, and harassment in different regions in Mindanao.

On February 15, 2018, elements of the 75th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) gunned down Kenard Barientos in Sitio Kabaohan, Brgy. Bunawan Brook, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. The victim was on his way home when he was shot. The soldiers then claimed that Barientos was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA), an allegation disputed by the victim’s family and neighbors.

Two days later, on February 17, 2018, the Save our Schools (SOS) Network reported that 24 youth and children delegates who participated in a cultural training in New Dalaguit, Montevista, Compostela Valley, were abducted by elements of the 25th IBPA. The participants are members of the Kabataan Ayaw sa Droga. The workshop’s trainer and a community teacher, Eugene Laurente, was also taken by the soldiers. The 10th IDPA thereafter released a statement claiming that those abducted were child soldiers.

“In an attempt to dismiss the fact that they have just abducted children and minors, the military is once again weaving their favorite narrative of branding anyone as an NPA member, though this time adding a twist that their victims are child soldiers. These fake news peddlers know no shame at all. Now, emboldened further by martial law, the military has also set their sights on kidnapping children and maliciously framing them to fit their own twisted narrative. The military’s consistent modus operandi to justify its atrocities is simply to brand everything and everyone as “terrorists”, “NPA”, or “enemy of the state” as exemplified by these cases,” she added.

The Karapatan secretary general also raised the issue on the restriction placed on groups and organizations who are initiating missions to investigate cases of rights violations in Mindanao, particularly under the context of martial law.

On February 19, 2018, delegates of the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) were refused entry to Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Ten ISM delegates, including four human rights advocates from other countries, were held at a checkpoint manned by elements of the 75th IBPA. Soldiers asked the participants to write their names in a logbook, but still prohibited the entry of the mission team who were on their way towards communities in Lianga to investigate reports of rights violations in the Caraga region, particularly the militarization of communities, forcible evacuation of residents, and food blockade conducted by soldiers.

Palabay commented that “martial law has arbitrarily targeted groups, organizations, and individuals who have taken the initiative to investigate the impact of the Duterte regime’s fascist policies on the ground. Unsurprisingly, military rule has constricted mechanisms for redress, platforms for protest, and initiatives that petition the government for immediate action. In keeping a deaf ear, the government is keen on brushing over the fact that its state forces have been the foremost perpetrator of human rights abuses.”

“With the imposition of martial law and the continued implementation of counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, the conclusion is clear: the Duterte regime and its security forces, using the resources of the Filipino people, have been the main instigators of terror in in Mindanao and the rest of the country,” ended Palabay.


Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580