Press Release 
August 1, 2017

Reference:  Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
                        Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580

Duterte’s AFP and PNP manufacture enemies to justify martial law in Mindanao

Karapatan joined Kalinaw Mindanao, Gabriela, and other national and local organizations, in the 2nd National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission among Marawi evacuees last July 27-29, 2017. Aside from conducting psychosocial intervention programs, medical missions, and relief distribution, the team also documented human rights violations under the context of martial law’s implementation. “In the said mission, information gathered indicate a worrisome trend wherein State forces start rounding up evacuees in evacuation centers to wrongfully present them as ISIS members,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Arafat Lala, a 38-year-old mechanic, evacuated to Saguiaran Poblacion evacuation center with his family on May 24, 2017. According to an affidavit issued by his wife, Noraidah, he was arrested on July 23, 2017 by elements of the Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) based on mere suspicion that Arafat is a terrorist. Noraidah, however, denied such allegations, claiming her husband is not an ISIS member and was even chosen as among the leaders in the evacuation center to help systematize distribution of relief goods. Local DSWD officials and fellow evacuees in Saguiaran can attest to his identity and work in the evacuation center. In fact, hours before he was arrested, Arafat and several volunteers just came back from bringing in boxes of relief assistance from Iligan City.

​(IDs of Arafat Lala shown to Karapatan by his wife, Noraida Lala) 

As of this writing, Arafat is believed to be in the custody of CIDG Region X in Cagayan de Oro.

On the evening of June 1, 2017, elements of the military arrived in Saguiaran evacuation center, accused a father and his two sons of being ISIS members, handcuffed them and brought them to a precinct to be interrogated. Junar Abas, 36, and his sons Jabbar, 20, and Jeber, 18, were placed in separate rooms for investigation. During questioning, soldiers dropped hot candle wax on their hands while they were being forced to admit to being ISIS members.

They were detained for a week and were interrogated everyday. All throughout the week, they were not untied. Junar had scars in his left wrist due to the tight handcuffs. They were eventually released after being “cleared.” The military gave them canned goods.

On the second week of June, Jahmaral Dimaampao, 27, and 20 other evacuees staying in Lumundot Compound, Toril, Iligan City, were rounded up by police and SWAT elements. They were taken to the PNP station in Tubod where they were detained for a day. According to Jahamral’s father, Lomala, his son’s mugshots were taken despite the lack of charges against him.

‘This is martial law’s new phase — the phase of manufacturing enemies to justify the extension of martial law. The level of repression is further heightened as military elements are seen loitering around in evacuation centers, becoming defensive and even aggressive when the word ‘justice’ is so much as spoken by either the mission team or the evacuees,’ said Palabay.

‘We seriously question information about the numbers presented by the military, and about the real security situation in Marawi. The Duterte regime cannot forever hide behind the veil of ‘national security’, especially with the evacuees’ own perceptions that civilian casualties are far worse, the numbers sanitized and re-calibrated to appease public discontent. The growing number of illegal arrests and other forms of human rights violations inflicted against those already displaced by the conflict are proof of State terror. Such brazen abuses ought to be condemned, stopped, and their instigators brought to justice,” concluded Palabay.

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties.  It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.