Philippines accused of human rights violations

Posted By Karapatan –

14 June 2014

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / June 14, 2014)- International human rights  group Civicus and the Philippine-based rights group Karapatan issued an  appeal the other day to the 47 member states of the United Nations Human  Rights Council (UNHRC) to urge the Philippine government to stop the  attacks against indigenous peoples and environmental activists in the  country.

In an oral intervention delivered by Karapatan Secretary-General
Cristina Palabay before the UNHRC and the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights during the 26th Human Rights Council
sessions in Geneva, she cited the forcible evacuation of indigenous
Manobos in Talaingod town in Davao del Norte province on Mindanao Island  due to military bombings and operations against the New People’s Army  rebels.

Palabay also indicated that the Manobos’ refusal to allow mining
companies to encroach on their lands exposed them to threats and
harassment. “They have become victims of the Aquino government’s
counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, and they are tagged as
members or supporters of the New People’s Army,” she said.

“Mining companies, including Indophil Resources, have applications
covering the land where the indigenous Manobos live, for gold, silver,
copper, and other minerals. Their plight is akin to the situation of the
indigenous communities where SMI Glencore/Xstrata has mining projects.
Anti-mining activists, indigenous leaders and children were killed by
military and paramilitary groups, and justice remains elusive for them,”
she added.

Both human rights groups appealed to the UN Human Rights Council to urge  Manila to recognize and respect the rights of communities and human
rights defenders, who bear the full adverse impact of business,
especially big mining, activities. They asked the Council to call on the
Philippine government to adhere to international human rights standards,
including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Palabay also spoke on the issue in a side event on civil society space
and protection of human rights defenders jointly organized by
international organisations Article19, CIVICUS, ICNL, ECNL, the World
Movement for Democracy and the Permanent Mission of Ireland. Mr. Maina  Kiai, UN special rapporteur on freedom of assembly and association, and  Mr. Frank la Rue, UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, were  also in the said panel.

Citing Karapatan’s documentation and reports of London-based
non-governmental organization Global Witness, Palabay said that aside
from extrajudicial killings of indigenous peoples and activists, arrests
based on false charges of environmental and anti-mining activists are on
the rise, including the arrests of physicist Kim Gargar and Tampakan
anti-mining activist Romeo Rivera.

Palabay is among the members of the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human  Rights delegation of human rights defenders and church workers at the  26th sessions of the UN HRC. Others who joined her were Atty. Edre
Olalia, Secretary-General of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers,
Rev. Irma Balaba, Assistant Program Secretary of the Christian Unity and
Ecumenical Relations Program of the National Council of Churches in the
Philippines; and Dr. Angie Gonzales, Atty. Mary Kristerie Baleva and
Julie Palaganas of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the