DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Region 12 considered the massacre of eight members of the T’boli-Dulangan Manobo in Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato last month as a “martial law-related case”.
“This is the first case that we will docket a martial law-related case in Region 12,” CHR-12 Director Erlan Deluvio said in a radio interview.
Deluvio along with forensic experts personally went to the incident site to investigate the death of tribal chieftain Datu Victor Danyan and seven others.
He added that the military “might” had killed the eight in the course of their operation under the implementation of martial law to pursue communists rebels.
The Alliance for Genuine Development, a loose alliance of environmental advocates, welcomed the result of CHR’s investigation, saying it reaffirmed the result of their independent probe.
AGD, along with Karapatan, conducted an on-site fact-finding mission on December 16-17 last year.
“With the CHR’s statement, the result of our probe was affirmed, confirmed that what happened was a massacre versus the claims of the 27th IB and 23rd IB of the Philippine Army and Governor Daisy (Avance-Fuentes) that it was a legitimate encounter,” said Arleen Alonzo, campaign officer of AGD.
Not the first case
However, Alonzo also belied CHR’s claim that it is the first human rights violation recorded since the implementation of martial law in May 2017.
Alonzo said Karapatan-Soccsksargen recorded 13 cases of extrajudicial killings in Region 12 since the declaration of Martial Law on May 23, 2017.
She also cited the aerial bombing incidents that caused massive evacuation of Lumad communities in Lake Sebu, Malapatan, and Sultan Kudarat last year.
Karapatan also reported that more than 200 families have been displaced due to aerial bombings in Carmen, Magpet and Makilala in Cotabato province last November.
“We urge CHR Region 12 to act and investigate other human rights violations perpetrated by the military and its paramilitary groups in the region,” Alonzo said.
Lift martial law
Alonzo called for President Rodrigo Duterte to end martial law in Mindanao as this “worsens the human rights situation in the island.”
She pointed out that cases of human rights violations are rampant in areas where there is resistance against “plunder activities” by big companies.
Alonzo shared that the main reason for killing Datu Victor was due to his stand in defending their ancestral land against mining and the Department of Environment and Natural Resource’s Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) with the Consunjis.
Datu Victor, she said, refused to sign an agreement allowing the coal mining as well as to renew the IFMA.
“With the escalating number of human rights violations, I hope the President will see that the extension of Martial Law until the end of the year is not doing good especially to the toiling masses,” Alonzo said.
The environmental activist also urged the government to resume peace negotiation with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as “a venue to talk on socio-economic reforms and address the roots of the armed conflict.” (davaotoday.com)