Press Release | July 14, 2017
Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580
Duterte’s martial law extension will bring more rights abuses
“President Duterte’s call for Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2017 is like exhorting a mad cabal of harbingers of impunity to inflict and applaud further grave violations on people’s rights and civil liberties,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, on Malacanang’s announcement that Duterte has asked Congress to extend martial law until December 31 of this year.
A special session of Congress is set to be convened on July 22, a month after Proclamation 216 and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus was put into effect in Mindanao. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has expressed optimism that Duterte’s call will be heeded by Congress.
In a letter submitted on July 19 to Secretary Silvestre Bello III, as chairperson of the negotiating panel of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines in the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, Palabay stated that from May 23, 2017 to July 16, 2017, covering the less than two months of the martial law imposition, Karapatan documented ten (10) victims of extrajudicial killing and 335 illegal arrests in Mindanao. She stated that the situation in Marawi, as a combination of the result of the firefight and mostly airstrikes of the Armed Forces of the Philippines aided by the US military, had displaced at least 400,440 individuals or 84, 855 families.
“These violations, which are direct consequences of Proclamation 216 that worsened the impact of implementation of counter-insurgency programs, belie reports and views that there are no human rights abuses under Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law. Sinister efforts to extend the martial law period and the geographical scope of such declaration ultimately means the furtherance of such abuses. State militarist solutions to terrorism or rebellion, at the expense of people’s rights, are not solutions at all, as these only magnify the problems at hand. What is direly needed are comprehensive economic and political reforms that address the root causes of social problems,” Palabay said.
The documented cases, Palabay added, are serious violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), which was reaffirmed by both the GRP and NDFP peace panels during the first round of formal peace talks and during the recent back channel talks under Duterte.
“Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statements challenging human rights organizations and victim of rights abuses under martial law to work with the military in resolving these cases are words of a fork-tongued devil. The AFP simply has no credibility to speak of human rights protection nor of meting out accountability of its troops, with its long list of rights violations since Marcos martial law to Duterte’s martial law,” Palabay said.
Karapatan instead urged Duterte and the GRP Peace Panel “to look into these violations and heed the calls of affected communities, the victims and their families to lift martial law and to revoke the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, to stop the killings, illegal arrests, forcible evacuation and bombing of communities, to pull out the AFP and paramilitary forces in civilian communities and to respect and implement the CARHRIHL.”
“We continue to support the Filipino people, especially the people of Mindanao, in resisting martial law and all forms of fascist attacks. Only through the people’s struggle can a just and lasting peace be achieved,” Palabay concluded.
*Attached is a copy of the letter sent to the GRP peace panel and the data on the human rights violations from May 23, 2017 to July 16, 2017.
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
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.