On Malacañang’s refusal to lift martial law in Mindanao

The Duterte regime’s adamant defense for the continuing imposition of martial law in Mindanao speaks of its militarist and ineffective approach in addressing the root causes of the social problems that spawned the armed conflicts in Mindanao and elsewhere.

Martial law is among the regime’s tools to suppress the exercise of legitimate dissent and of people’s direct actions to uphold basic rights and democratic interests. This is evidenced by the cases of intensified human rights violations in Mindanao during the one-year implementation of martial law. (Please refer to Karapatan’s report on civil and political rights violations during the said period: http://www.karapatan.org/Mindanao+Under+Martial+Law%2C+A+Year+of+State+Terror)

Instead of outrightly dismissing these complaints as mere propaganda, we advise Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to make an accounting of the efforts done by government officials and agencies, as duty bearers, on the several complaints of human rights violations by state forces during the period of implementation of martial law in Mindanao. What have been they doing, in the first place? Or are they so busy covering up these abuses?

Roque should know that several of these complaints have been filed by victims and their kin in courts, before the Commission on Human Rights and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Negotiating Panel in its peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. With the military’s misinformation campaign and the climate of impunity that exists in Mindanao, akin to the prevalent climate during Marcos’s martial law, efforts to speak out, document, and file complaints should be lauded as acts of courage.

We call on the CHR, the Human Rights Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives and international human rights organizations and mechanisms to conduct onsite independent investigations on these violations.

For reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 09173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 09189790580