PRESS STATEMENT | December 3, 2017

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +63917-3162831
Karapatan Public Information Desk, +63918-979058

Martial law extension in Mindanao will result in more rights violations – Karapatan

“With martial law still in full effect in Mindanao, the human rights situation has already worsened due to the continuing implementation of Duterte’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, but this is all the more compounded by Duterte’s termination of the GRP peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the recent verbal threats by the President. With Malacanang poised to extend the martial law declaration in Mindanao and, possibly, to expand the coverage nationwide, the situation is set to become much more urgent and dangerous,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, citing the recent spate of violations in Mindanao, including a smear campaign against leaders of progressive organizations in Southern Mindanao and the forced evacuation of Lumad communities in Caraga due to intensified operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

On November 26, 2017, 12 Lumad communities, composed of at least 244 families in Brgy Diatagon, Lianga and Brgy. Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur evacuated due to military operations in their area. Karapatan Caraga reported initially that 406 students and 51 teachers from 9 Lumad schools were affected by the incident. The evacuees are currently in Simowao, Diatagon. On December 1, 2017, a food blockade was imposed in Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga as the 75th IBPA checkpoint refused entry to the Lianga local government and other humanitarian groups.

On November 30, 2017, “Wanted” posters bearing the pictures and names of leaders of progressive organizations in Davao, including Karapatan’s Hanimay Suazo and Bayan’s Sheena Duazo, were once again being circulated. The leaders, collectively known as “Haran 15” were charged with trumped-up charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention. The case was filed in 2015, after human rights advocates helped facilitate the evacuation of Lumad evacuees at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran compound. The case was already dismissed last July 2016.

Palabay said that “the Duterte regime seem to be concocting more and more maneuvers to further curtail people’s rights. From the use of the Human Security Act of 2007, the formation of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA), the threats to crackdown on progressive groups, to possible extension of martial law, the Duterte is hell-bent on finding ways to usurp power and destroying all mechanism for checks and balance, thus laying the pretext for a fullblown dictatorship. He is relentless, just as all dictators are.”

Duterte has earlier said that his decision to extend martial law in Mindanao will depend heavily on the recommendations of the AFP. Yesterday, on December 2, 2017, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the AFP is ready to submit its recommendation to the executive next week. Roque added that a decision regarding the extension of martial rule will more likely also be available next week. Martial law in Mindanao is set to expire on December 31.

“The military will have greater powers under martial law, thus it is absurd that its extension depends on the institution that will most benefit from it. If we gave all the decision-making to the military, the level of State-perpetrated violations will undoubtedly intensify. The AFP has in its top ranks known human rights violators rewarded for perpetrating rights abuses. They are an institution that perpetuate impunity and merely uses human rights and ‘security sector reform’ initiatives as a money-making scheme, without any substantial change to their orientation and framework,” Palabay added.

“As Duterte is acting like a crazed suitor trying to consolidate his fellow fascists in the military and the police, he betrays his regime’s insincerity in pursuing a just and lasting peace in the country,” 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.