Martial law in Mindanao and intensifying rights abuses mark Duterte’s 1st year

Press Statement - June 29, 2017

Victims of human rights violations and their families, human rights and peace advocates, leaders and members of people’s organizations and communities joined the National People’s Summit yesterday, June 28, 2017, at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City and forwarded their one year assessment* of their proposal for the Duterte administration’s peace and human rights agenda. The assessment of the Peace and Human Rights situation under the Duterte administration was led by Karapatan, Promotion for Church People’s Response, Hustisya, SELDA and Pilgrims for Peace.

“A year into the Duterte administration, we are faced with greater challenges. Fascist attacks on people’s rights brought about by increasingly militarist policies of Pres. Duterte, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and the United States government have plagued the country, violating the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ own laws and signed peace agreements, as well as international human rights instruments. Initial optimism on his promises and pronouncements to release political prisoners, to seriously address the roots of the armed conflict through the resumption of the formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and Moro revolutionary groups, and to pull out US troops in Mindanao was dampened by the cases of extrajudicial killings in line with the war on drugs and the continuing counter-insurgency program, the intensified militarization of communities through all-out war, the imposition of martial law in Mindanao and the non-reversal of economic policies that continue to benefit landlords, oligarchs and imperialists,” they said, as reported by Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, who presented the one-year assessment to the summit participants.   

“Duterte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao on May 23, 2017 has aggravated the already worsening human rights situation, as the military was given more power to bomb and harass communities, kill and arrest civilians and members of progressive groups, and commit human rights violations with impunity. Martial rule, which included the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, is now being used as a legitimate pass by soldiers to violate peoples’ rights and target leaders and members of peoples’ organizations,” they continued.

The groups also said that “Duterte has obstinately stuck with his drug war campaign despite criticisms. Duterte’s war on drugs, concretized through Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel, has claimed the lives of thousands, mostly from urban poor communities. This deliberate disregard for the right to due process and against torture, illegal arrest and detention has spiraled into an ineffective campaign which has merely enabled police brutality and impunity.”

“We will continue to press for the respect, promotion and protection of people’s rights and forward the struggle for just and lasting peace,” they said. “We will continue to call for the continuation of the GRP peacetalks with the NDFP, alongside a substantial and meaningful peace platform with the Moro revolutionary groups. The GRP should fully adhere to peace agreements such as that on human rights and international humanitarian law and on safety and immunity guarantees, including its commitment to release political prisoners. Fascist and anti-people policies such as Oplan Kapayapaan, the all-out war against the people, martial law in Mindanao and the war on drugs should be halted, and comprehensive and relevant socioeconomic and political reforms for the people should be undertaken.” 


 *Full assessment attached. It can also be accessed through: 

http://www.karapatan.org/THE+PEACE+AND+HUMAN+RIGHTS+AGENDA+DURING+THE+FIRST+YEAR+OF+RODRIGO+ROA+DUTERTE%E2%80%99S+PRESIDENCY

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580 

 

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