Talks also a venue for redress for HR victims - Karapatan

Karapatan secretary general and independent observer to the Joint Monitoring Committee on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), Cristina Palabay, sent a letter to Secretary Silvestro Bello III, Chairperson of the GRP peace panel, to inquire about the actions undertaken by the government on documented cases of human rights violations submitted to them last January 20 and April 1, 2017.

In the said letter, Palabay reminded the GRP of its obligations under the CARHRIHL, including the release of political prisoners, respect and protection of people’s rights and redress for violations perpetrated by State security forces. Given the GRP’s non-participation in the 5th round of formal talks which puts substantive advancements in the past rounds in peril, Palabay also reiterated to the GRP that “the talks is also a mechanism of rights victims to seek redress, and the cancellation of talks will not only be a setback to all that has been positively gained, but in so doing will deprive HR victims another platform to demand justice.”

Today, on May 27, 2017, the GRP peace panel said that they will not be participating in the 5th formal round of talks and are indefinitely waiting for conduct that will be conducive to the talks.  “Human rights violations are continuously being committed by State security forces on the ground, and the martial law proclamation is set to intensify these abuses. When the GRP talks about a conducive environment for negotiations, it should also take into consideration the PNP and AFP’s conduct on the ground. In this light, adherence to CARHRIHL and redress for victims of rights abuses, along with revoking pronouncements such as the martial law which will further endanger the people, are grounds that will facilitate a favorable and sustainable environment for peace,” added Palabay.

In light of recent developments, Palabay called on the GRP panel and Pres. Duterte to lift the martial law declaration, pursue the formal peace talks with the NDFP, address the violations raised with regard to the substantive agenda of the CARHRIHL, and continue towards the forging of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER). “Just and lasting peace is the clamor of the people, and it can be achieved if there are sincere efforts to abide by previously-signed agreements and human rights obligations, and if people’s rights and welfare are upheld and protected at all times,” concluded Palabay.