More rights violations vs Marawi evacuees documented

In a national interfaith and humanitarian mission (NIHM) launched by Kalinaw Mindanao last July 26-29, 2017, Karapatan, along with several other delegations from various peoples organizations, were able to document human rights violations in relation to the martial law declaration in Mindanao. Apart from the trend where State forces are rounding up evacuees to manufacture enemies used to justify martial rule, grave abuses such as extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances were also noted by the mission team, said Karapatan general Cristina Palabay.


On the afternoon of May 26, 2017, 18-year-old Sakraman Decampong and 15-year-old “Eman” went to a masjid (mosque) just beside their house to worship. After the sambayang, people were on their way out when four bombs were consecutively dropped by the military in the vicinity. Due to the bombings, the imam of the mosque who led the day’s worship, Alim Baser, died inside the mosque. It took four days before Baser’s body was finally recovered from the already destroyed mosque.

Sakraman and “Eman” were also hit by shrapnels. Macud Maambang, their 74-year-old grandfather, immediately arranged a carabao to help transport the two to Saguiaran where they can get medical attention. A female relative accompanied the two wounded brothers, because their 74-year-old grandfather is no longer physically able to help transport them.

When they arrived in Saguiaran, police from the checkpoint said they are taking custody of Sakraman and “Eman. The police said they will instead take the two to the municipality of Pantar, a municipality near Saguiaran, and will have them treated there. The female relative was given no choice so the police took the Decampong brothers. After arriving in Pantar, instead of going to a hospital, the police surrendered the two to the soldiers stationed there. The soldiers also said that they will take the two under their custody because they are members of ISIS. The evacuees at Pantar who knew the children and their grandfather confirmed that the soldiers took Sakraman and “Eman. 

With the ongoing conflict in Marawi, Macud was eventually forced to flee his home. He is now staying at the evacuation center in Sta. Elena, Iligan City. He is still looking for his grandsons. As of this writing, Sakraman and “Eman’s” whereabouts have yet to be determined. Macud Maambang fears that his grandchildren have already been added to the list of casualties presented by the AFP as confirmed ISIS fighters.” 

There is something insidious about a government who allows this level of arbitrary rule at the expense of human rights, more so when the casualties are callously labeled as collateral damage. How many more are missing? How many more are dead? How many civilians have been wrongfully labeled as ISIS fighters to fit the narrative of the government? We reiterate the need to question the government’s narrative in Marawi. Evacuees themselves question the real security threat, as most violations and damages were inflicted by State security forces, Palabay reiterated.

The conflict in Marawi has bred violations of many forms, and has separated families with little hope of reuniting. Under the imposition of martial law, anyone is a suspect, and their rights are subject to authorities’ discretion. This was not remedied by the supplemental guidelines released by both the AFP and the PNP. The only remedy to the spiraling human rights situation in Marawi and in Mindanao is the immediate lifting of martial law, said Palabay.

The extension of martial law until December 2017 will further deepen the historical injustices that has already cut across marginalized sectors in Mindanao. Duterte, by allowing continued abuses through his militarist approach, is not putting an end to the so-called conflict. Instead, State terrorism is intensifying it, concluded Palabay.