Mindanao Under Martial Law, A Year of State Terror - Karapatan

Days before the first year of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2018, Karapatan received reports on the killing of an industrial worker of a banana plantation and the arbitrary arrest of a trade union organizer, both in the Southern Mindanao region.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that “these two latest reported cases are emblematic of the type of human and people’s rights violations perpetrated by state forces in Mindanao under martial law - brazenly committed with impunity targeting civilians considered ‘enemies of the state.”

Bayan Muna member Ariel Maquiran, 33, an industrial worker of the Continental farm in Panabo City, Davao del Norte was shot dead by suspected agents of 16th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army on May 17, 2018. According to initial reports received by Karapatan Southern Mindanao, Maquiran was driving his motorcycle on his way home to Brgy. Maduaw, Panabo City at around 9:30 a.m. of May 17, after his morning shift in the plantation when a men onboard a motorcycle followed and shot him multiple times.

Maquiran accelerated his driving speed but when he reached the intersection in Brgy. Little Panay, he fell down from his motorcycle. Two (2) other assailants stationed in Brgy. Little Panay again shot Maquiran multiple times, resulting to his death. He sustained 9 gunshot wounds. The victim's kin recalled that on May 16, Maquiran was heading to his workplace onboard his motorcycle when men on a motorcycle followed him. Maquiran sought refuge in one of his relative’s house in a nearby village to evade them. Also on March this year, the victim was summoned by the military allegedly for the investigation regarding the Lapanday incident in 2017.

On May 21, at 7 p.m., Kilusang Mayo Uno organizer Daniel Remeticado was arbitrarily arrested by elements of the 71st Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army while inside his house. He was brought to the military camp in Nueva Visayas, Mawab, Compostela Valley.

“Through his own brand of war-on-terror with the imposition and extension of martial law in Mindanao and the continuing implementation of government’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, Duterte has promoted State terrorism and violence in the Southern Philippines and has worsened the climate of impunity in the Philippines,” Palabay said.

Since the declaration of martial law on May 23, 2017, Karapatan documented at least 49 victims of extrajudicial killings in Mindanao, with an average of one victim killed every week. Most of the victims are indigenous peoples and members of local peasant organizations targeted for their local campaigns for genuine agrarian reform and against militarization.

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Karapatan also documented 22 cases of torture, 116 victims of frustrated extrajudicial killings, 89 victims of illegal arrest and detention, and 336,124 victims of indiscriminate gunfire and aerial bombings. At least 404, 654 individuals have been displaced, largely because of these bombings. There were also 979 civilians who were forcibly portrayed as rebel surrenderees and whose “surrenders” were staged/faked by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. 

Karapatan released a report on civil and political rights violations during the one-year implementation of martial law in Mindanao. The report can be accessed through: Mindanao Under Martial Law, A Year of State Terror

“These cases are in dire contrast to what the Duterte regime sells as fictional tales of a rights abuses-free martial law implementation in Mindanao to justify its spree of murder, illegal arrests and other rights violations. Military authority has trumped civilian authority, while the presence of soldiers is the new normal in Mindanao. Those who dare investigate and expose these violations are threatened and harassed,” Palabay said, citing several cases of harassment against members of fact finding and solidarity missions in Mindanao this year, including the case of Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Fox who joined the April 2018 solidarity mission.

“If the Duterte regime has nothing to hide, why stifle independent probes and other forms of exercise of people’s democratic rights? If it is intent on looking into reports of reported rights violations, why harass the victims and their relatives when they file charges and complaints before courts and other redress mechanisms?” Karapatan said.

The human rights group reiterated its calls for “the immediate lifting of martial law in Mindanao which has been used by Philippine State security forces as license to further perpetuate rights violations, the immediate investigation and prosecution of perpetrators which include the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and elements of the police; and an end to counter-insurgency programs like Oplan Kapayapaan which encourage the use of ‘hit lists’ that target activists and civilians.”

For reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 09173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 09189790580