Karapatan welcomes UN experts’ statement on “spiralling rights violations” in PH
On July 31, 2017, three independent experts from the United Nations Human Rights Council released a joint statement* calling for government action on increasing rights violations in the Philippines. “Karapatan welcomes the statement of the UN experts and supports the urgent call for the investigation and immediate resolution to the myriad cases of human rights violations in the country,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
Palabay said that “Duterte’s pronouncements have served as State policy and an enabling factor for State security forces to continue aerial bombardments, militarization, killings and other rights abuses with impunity, including attacks against Lumad schools and human rights defenders. It is thus more urgent that efforts to amplify calls for justice, accountability, and just peace, especially with the martial rule in Mindanao.”
On the ground, State security forces are relentless. On July 20, 2017, elements of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6 (MBLT 6) arrived in Sitio Lumoton, Brgy. Hinalaan, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat. The marines torched thirty-five (35) houses of the Dulangan Manobo residents, and burned the make-shift structure of the Lumad community school in the area. The school and the community have been targeted under counter-insurgency programs. The community of the Dulangan Manobos have also been struggling to defend their ancestral domain from the encroachment of the David M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI) mining company.
On separate incidents, environmental activist Sherwin de Vera was reportedly tailed by suspected military elements on July 19, while Palabay received a phone call from an anonymous number on July 20; the number was later traced to a number belonging to the AFP Safety Battalion.
Karapatan, in consultation with different sectors on the ground, also received information on the renewed use of Order of Battle (OB) lists by the military, detailing activists, human rights defenders and local leaders as targets, and branding them as ‘enemies of the State’.
In efforts to highlight different incidents of rights violations in the country, Karapatan, on April 10, 2017, submitted a letter of allegation to UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Agnes Callamard, along with documentation of forty-seven (47) victims of political killings in the Philippines under the current administration, in line with Oplan Kapayapaan, the continuing counter-insurgency program of the Duterte regime. Karapatan also submitted another letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Michael Forst, with regard to attacks and arrests involving human rights defenders. Callamard, Forst and Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Special Rapporteur on the sale and exploitation of Children released the July 31 statement.
“Karapatan continues to call for the immediate end to these attacks, and an end to the systematic policies which have allowed the perpetuation of rights abuses. We thus call for the withdrawal of the US-driven counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, the lifting of martial law in Mindanao, an end to the filing of trumped-up charges against human rights defenders and to the repressive and brutish drug war campaign, and all other repressive legislation and policies,” Palabay concluded.