CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Reports of human rights abuses continues to pile up as mass actions were held to commemorate the 70th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Monday, Dec. 10 while the extension of martial law in Mindanao looms.
Groups who opposed the imposition of martial rule in Mindanao have criticized government for its claim that there were no human rights violations committed by state agents in the island.
But Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) has reported that in the Northern Mindanao region, for instance, hundreds have been victims of human rights abuses.
MAT noted that since the martial law was declared in Mindanao by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte following the siege in Marawi City last year, cases of abuses have gone up.
The group said there were four victims of killings, seven cases of frustrated killings, four victims of enforced disappearances, 47 victims of trumped-up charges, 43 victims of illegal arrest and detention, 32 victims of arbitrary arrests, 567 victims of threat, harassment and intimidation, and 927 victims of fake or forced surrenders just this year alone.
MAT point to the government’s security forces as the perpetrator of these alleged violations of human rights mostly in the provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.
The marginalized sector, especially tribal people and peasants are usually the ones who suffered from these abuses, the group said.
“Notably, the victims are farmers and indigenous peoples whose lands are red-flagged and whose communities are vilified as [New People’s Army] members or supporters. They are the farmers and Lumads (Mindanao’s tribal minorities) whose communities stood to protect their lands and ancestral domains against developmental aggression of large foreign corporate miners, loggers and plantations and of state ‘development’ projects,” said Fr. Rolando Abejo, an Iglesia Filipina Independent priest and MAT regional chairman in Northern Mindanao.
Abejo said the Duterte government has been consistent in going after those who oppose his policies.
“The Duterte administration shows no sign of remorse and is hell-bent on taking down all its ‘enemies’ at the expense of human rights. While the government is harassing, killing and jailing critics, it is consolidating its political strength from the ranks of plunderers and murderers,” he added.
For his part, Datu Armando Bravo, founder and executive director of Lumad Mindanao Movement for Peace and Development Inc., said some of their members were also victims of human rights committed not by state forces but by the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.
“That’s why we are asking the Commission on Human Rights to help us attain justice for some of us who were killed by the NPA,” Bravo said in an interview Monday.
“If there are no NPA rebels, our communities will have been peaceful,” the tribal leader said.
“What we want is for our human rights to be respected, as lumad, as human beings,” he added.
City Mayor Oscar Moreno, meanwhile, said he supports the extension of martial law in Mindanao as the situation has remained the same.
“The threat is still there, terroristic activities,” he said during the meeting of the Regional Peace and Order Council, which he chairs. (davaotoday.com)