Karapatan hits GMA, Malacañang officials on proposals to extend martial law in Mindanao, after Sultan Kudarat bombing

Karapatan slammed the pronouncements of Malacañang officials and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the proposal to extend martial law in Mindanao, as the human rights group conveyed its condolences to the families of those who were killed in the bombing in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat on August 28, 2018.

“While the bombing that resulted to the death of at least three civilians is a deplorable act, it is equally appalling that Duterte and his minions are now using the said situation to justify the intensification of military attacks on communities in Mindanao through the extension of the martial law declaration,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Karapatan reported that intensified military operations in peasant and Lumad communities in Mindanao continue, such as the ongoing harassment and other rights violations in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.

At around 10 in the morning of August 25, 2018, while students of Salugpongan Ta 'Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Incorporated (STTICLC) in Sitio Tibucag, Brgy.Dagohoy, Talaingod, Davao Del Norte were playing outside their classrooms, they heard a series of gunfire, the source of which is just about 500 meters away from their location, which lasted for 30 minutes. This incident caused deep distress among the teachers and students of the said school.

At around 4 p.m. of August 27, a helicopter hovered above Sitio Malid, Brgy. Dagohoy, Talaingod, Davao del Norte. Thereafter, bombs were dropped. As of this writing, community members are still trying to ascertain the number of bombs dropped and the extent of the damage.

On August 28, at least 156 individuals (38 families) from a Higaonon community in Sitio Bulac, Brgy. Olave, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte fled from their homes, after around 30 soldiers arrived in their community. In a report by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines - Northern Mindanao, the residents recounted that the soldiers forcible entered and illegally searched the Lumad’s homes, while guns and bullets were planted in at least two houses. The residents were prevented from using their mobile phones, which they had hoped to use to document the soldiers’ acts. 

“Mindanao has been a target of state terror because of the communities’ staunch opposition to landgrabbing and plunder of their land and resources. Duterte exacerbated the situation by declaring martial law in the whole of Mindanao,” Palabay said.

Since the declaration of martial law on May 23, 2017 to May 23 this year, 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.

The Duterte regime, Palabay said, “remains the largest threat to the lives of the people, as what has been witnessed in its campaigns on the war on drugs, its counter-terror operations and most of all, its relentless pursuit to suppress political dissent.”

“If the Duterte regime, through its military, is bombing schools and communities, who knows how far can they go in purporting their own stories of terror, to justify martial law and all their attacks against the people? This regime is endangering the lives of more people, yet it says the very policies that have killed and endangered so many are necessary to protect the lives of people. That’s complete madness, courtesy of this mad president,” said Palabay.

The group called out on the people to raise their voices against the Duterte regime’s grand recipe for terror.

Walang pinagkatandaan si Duterte. All fascist dictators go down, crumbling against the weight of their crimes and the marching of people demanding justice and accountability,” Palabay ended. ###