Karapatan calls for continuation of GRP-NDFP peace talks, lifting of martial law declaration

"This delay would mean the prolonged finalization of the agreement on socio-economic reforms, and will possibly put to halt the further advancement of substantial progress already achieved. The GRP’s decision to opt out of participating in the fifth round of formal talks on the basis of the lack of a conducive environment is ironic, considering the disabling environment of continuing rights abuses in communities made worse by the martial law declaration on May 23, 2017,” said Karapatan secretary general  Cristina Palabay on the announced cancellation of the 5th round of talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and National Demicratic Fromt of the Philippines in The Netherlands.

Attacks against persons and communities have intensified as Mindanao was placed under martial law, alongside the AFP’s continuing implementation of counterinsurgency programs.


Photo taken on May 29, 2017, during a rally outside the Department of National Defense (DND). Delegates from Mindanao, along with Bayan, Karapatan, Suara Bangsamoro, and other progressive organizations called attention to the worsening rights abuses in Mindanao in light of the martial law declaration and ongoing implementation of counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan. (c) Christian Yamzon​

On May 25, 2017, six (6) bombs were dropped in areas in Brgy. Salat, President Roxas, North Cotabato. The 39th and 72nd IBPA, continuing with its military operation, also strafed the villagers from its helicopter and launched six (6) 105 cannons. This resulted to the death of Abdullah Mamansag who was hit by a shrapnel in his spine. Two others were injured and rushed to the hospital, including a 14-year-old boy. A total of 260 residents from different sitios were also displaced by the aerial strikes.

In Brgy. Tangkulan and Angaan in Damulog, Bukidnon, elements of the 39th IBPA damaged the homes of residents by indiscriminately firing at civilian structures with 50 caliber machine guns. Also, on May 28, 2017, two farmers were illegally arrested by elements of the 66th IBPA for still unknown charges, while another farmer remains missing.

In a report by the Department of Social Welfare and Development – Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DSWD-DROMIC) dated May 28, 2017, the situation in Marawi has already displaced 54, 335 individuals in Marawi City. In Regions X and ARMM, a total of 59,149 persons have evacuated. “The martial law declaration is on its first week and it is already giving credence to the fears of massive rights violations. The bombings have primarily affected civilians and their properties, left to rely on the power of a white flag signifying surrender to save them from the artilleries of the State,” said Palabay.

Palabay added that such a situation on the ground where State security forces continue to commit violations not just in Marawi but in the entire of Mindanao will remain a weight bearing down on the entire peace process.

“If the GRP is truly serious in creating an enabling and conducive environment for the talks to proceed, then it must enjoin its security forces to immediately stop attacks against communities and it must work towards the immediate lifting of martial law, as well as strict adherence to their obligations under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which includes the release of political prisoners and redress for victims of violations,” concluded Palabay.