Rights group supports int’l tribunal on Duterte’s crimes vs Filipino people

On September 18-19, 2018, the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) will be convened in Brussels to try various cases of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights violations perpetrated by the Duterte government. The IPT is organized by the the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH), Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), IBON International, and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP). The IPT’s verdict will be submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC), European Parliament, and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

“We are maximizing all platforms to exact accountability from this murderous regime. If Duterte is hell-bent on continuing his crimes against the Filipino people, primarily through his counterinsurgency drive and war on drugs campaign, then so are we in pursuing justice. If the government has subverted the courts to be mere instruments of the corrupt and powerful, has turned the law against the people they should protect, and has stripped the Supreme Court of independence and credibility, then it is all the more crucial to look for other platforms both in the country and overseas,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay. 

Karapatan is among the complainants who filed cases of civil and political rights violations at the IPT. Palabay is set to deliver an expert testimony on civil and political rights violations of the Duterte regime. 

Palabay emphasized that rights violations committed by Duterte and his minions are in violation of human rights instruments and agreements with which the government is bound to respect and uphold.

“The IPT will help raise the the real situation on the ground. It seeks to break the oft-repeated lies of the regime pertaining to its repressive policies such as martial law in Mindanao. The Eastern Mindanao Command, for example, recently declared that there are zero violations under martial law. The absurdity of their claims are enraging, given the real faces of victims and their families that have courageously countered their lies,” said Palabay, citing two recent killings under martial rule in Mindanao.

A massacre of 7 Tausug men, including a minor, were also reported on September 14, 2018. Victims were identified as Makrub Diray, 25; Alpadal Diray, 16; Mijar Hairan; Basiluddin Hairani, 30; Issah Hamsan, 21; Benajal Tula; and Maknun Sakirin, 22. The men were said to have sought permission from the 55th IBPA to harvest mangosteen, durian, and lanzones in their farmland in Sitio Bato, Brgy. Kabuntakas, Patikul, Sulu. However, scout rangers from the 32nd IBPA fired on the victims, their bodies recovered riddled with bullets. The military automatically labeled them as “terrorists” who died in an encounter.

On September 15, 2018, Rex Hangadon, a Lumad and resident of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, was shot dead by elements of the 23rd IBPA while he was resting in the hut of the community’s communal farm. He was with his father, Bandi Hangadon, when the incident occured; his father remains missing as of this writing. Witnesses attested that Rex’s body was carried by the soldiers outside the hut. The killing of another Lumad led to the evacuation of 28 Higaonon families.

Palabay reiterated that “crimes such as the recent Sulu massacre and the extrajudicial killing of Hangadon will be veiled under various twisted justifications, with the Duterte regime brandishing its favorite labels - “terrorists”, “enemies of the State”, “NPA symphatizers”, among others. These people have been denied their right to due process, and their perpetrators are terrorizing communities in confidence that they are protected by the government.”

“Duterte is the number one human rights violator in the country, abettor of plunderers and criminals. He does not hesitate to use his regime’s resources to silence people, deny justice, and preserve impunity. The IPT, thus, serves as a legitimate venue for victims and their families to raise the violations done against them. If the government denies them justice by delaying their cases in court, or explicitly favoring criminals, then it is incumbent upon us to maximize other platforms. We will hound the Duterte regime and break down all of its lies - in every avenue that is available to us,” Palabay concluded.

Reference:  Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580