CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – On Monday’s State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte harped back on criticisms on his declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, claiming no human rights violations happened in that period.
A Marawi survivor, Drieza Lininding who is chair of the Moro Consensus Group, reminded Duterte that thousands of Marawi residents like him remain displaced three years since Martial Law, and that is proof enough that there are violation of human rights.
Most parts of Marawi were reduced to rubble when government troops launched a five-month long battle from May to October 2017 with a group called Maute that claimed allegiance to ISIS.
The attacks include airstrikes that destroyed homes of Marawi residents, which forced more than 350,000 residents to flee the city.
Lininding said Maranaos living in Marawi lost properties that would amount to billions of pesos. Aside from that, he said there were cases of looting of money and properties, and torture and disappearances of residents who were trapped in the city.
Three years after the incident and thousands are still barred from returning to the city.
“That we are deprived to access our properties is a human rights violation,” Lininding said.
Duterte pushed Congress to extend Martial Law, which Constitutionally is set only for 60 days, to two more years, citing threats from other groups.
But Lininding said government extended Martial Law to intimidate the affected Maranao people from filing cases of human rights abuses against the government.
“You did not allow human rights groups to enter Marawi to probe these reported human rights violations,” he said.
In spite of all the attempts of the national government to sweep these accusations under the rug, Lininding said, “these will not be lost in our history, it’s all documented.”
The Marawi Crisis was raised to an international tribunal in 2018.
More violations throughout Mindanao
The human rights group Karapatan also debunked Duterte’s statement, saying they documented .815,734 victims of civil and political rights violations in the duration of Martial Law from May 23, 2017 up to May 23, 2019.
“Mr. President, you propagate fake news when you say that there are no abuses during martial law in Mindanao,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.
The group highlighted the killings of lumad including Bello Bayao, a student of Salugpongan school in Talaingod, Davao del Norte in 2018, who was killed by the paramilitary. Then there was the killing of Datu Victor Danyan and seven Tboli Dulangan Manobos in their defense of their ancestral territory from logging expansion Lake Sebu on December 2017.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Region 12 considered the Lake Sebu Massacre as a “martial law-related case”.
In Davao Region, Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region reported 66 political killings during the period of Martial Law, while 133 activists and rights defenders in communities were arrested with trumped-up charges.
The Movement Against Tyranny in Northern Mindanao Region also said the martial law in Mindanao was “clearly used as a weapon of the government for ‘counter-terrorism’ or ‘peace-building,’ against its perceived enemies.”
Leaders and members of progressive groups in Northern Mindanao were arrested on what they said are trumped-up charges. (davaotoday.com)