With martial law extension in Mindanao, Lake Sebu massacre is a carnage waiting to happen again – Karapatan

Amid the escalation of human rights violations, Karapatan assailed the Duterte regime’s move to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year. The group cited the “cold-blooded massacre” of eight indigenous people in Brgy. Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato on December 3, 2017, which also resulted in the enforced disappearance of six other T’boli and Dulangan Manobo farmers, and the forcible evacuation of at least 15 families. The massacre was perpetrated by elements of the 27th and the 33rd Infantry Battalions of the Philippine Army.




 “This latest massacre is a vivid picture of the indignity of martial law. This is a sample of how such policies can gravely affect indigenous communities fighting and asserting their right to self-determination. Instead of addressing these communities’ concerns, the Duterte government’s response is brutal repression,” said Karapatan deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor during a press conference on December 15, 2017 held in Quezon City.

Clamor noted that “Duterte's state security forces are blatantly sowing terror in indigenous and peasant communities. Not only has Duterte goaded the Armed Forces of the Philippines and paramilitary forces to intimidate, harass and threaten the indigenous peoples’ communities, this regime even gave the green light to run after those whom it perceives as hindrances to so-called "development projects" to pave way for the local and foreign companies to wreak havoc on people’s lives in Mindanao. All forms of resistance, in the eyes of this fascist regime, merits the term ‘enemy of the State.’ With the extension of martial law, violations against the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of indigenous communities will undoubtedly intensify.”

Karapatan criticized the recent decision of the Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year, with the government normalizing the idea of a nationwide martial law.

“The collusion of the super majority in Congress to approve the extension of martial law in Mindanao is all part of the Duterte regime’s grand design to propagate its murderous rule. Directing his minions in Congress and the Supreme Court to railroad and legitimize measures that run against the people’s welfare is part of an elaborate scheme to install a full-pledged dictatorship. Such a set-up would allow the easy infringement of  foreign corporations in the ancestral lands of indigenous peoples; it would allow 100% foreign ownership of land, resources and enterprises; it would enable the uninhibited selling off of the entire country to imperialist exploits,” added Clamor.

Under the Duterte regime, from July 2016 to November 2017, there were already 27 victims of extrajudicial killings of indigenous peoples, out of the 113 victims of political killings in the country. “The Lake Sebu massacre is a carnage waiting to happen again, especially with martial law and the Duterte regime’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan in tow.  The enraging thing is that all this need not have happened, if only this President chose to resolve the socioeconomic roots of the armed conflict,” concluded Clamor.