Karapatan to GRP Peace Panel: Pull out troops in communities, respect and implement CARHRIHL

Rome, Italy - On the second day of the third round of formal peacetalks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), human rights group Karapatan, through its Secretary General Cristina Palabay, submitted collated reports on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by State security forces and agents of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) during the period of the GRP unilateral ceasefire from August 21, 2016 to December 31, 2016.


HRV Table 

In her letter to the GRP, Palabay said the documented reports were submitted to Karapatan by human rights workers, members and leaders of people’s organizations and non-government institutions, and victims of human rights violations and their relatives.


"We are one with them in raising serious concerns on the continuing military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines through Oplan Bayanihan, in the guise of “peace and development operations/activities,” that impact on the civil and political rights of the Filipino people, even during the declared ceasefire period, and on the ongoing peace process between the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),” Palabay said.


"If the new counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan is but a continuum of Oplan Bayanihan, we expect these violations to continue. Even if the military calls revolutionary movements engaging in the peace process with the GRP as “peace-inclined groups,” as long as counter-insurgency objectives through military means exist, genuine adherence to CARHRIHL and international human rights principles remain as rhetoric, and as long as the root causes of the armed conflict are unsolved, people’s rights will always be in danger of being wantonly violated,” Palabay explained.


Karapatan said that the documented cases are “serious violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), which was reaffirmed by both the GRP and NDFP peace panels during the first round of formal peacetalks under the administration of Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte.”


Among the documented cases are the political killing of ten (10) and fourteen (14) victims of frustrated killing of peasants and indigenous peoples defending their right to land and ancestral domain, the enforced disappearance of two Lumad human rights defenders by a paramilitary group, and at least 14, 659 victims of threats, harassment and intimidation and 4,170 victims of indiscriminate firing and bombings as a consequence of the AFP’s continued military occupation of civilian communities during the GRP unilateral ceasefire period.


On November 14, 2016 in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat, Manobo farmers David Mogul, 24, and Maki Bail, 36, were forced by two known assets of DMCI, Onteng Saliling and Bibang Galing, to board the motorcycle that Onteng was driving, as they were on their way back home. To this date, Mogul and Bail have yet to be found.


The two farmers are members of the Kesasabanay Dulangan Manobo (KEDUMA), an organization opposed to the logging and mining projects of David M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI), which displaced peasants and Manobo tribes away from their farms and ancestral land in Sultan Kudarat. On April 30, 2015, KEDUMA public information officer John Calaba, 28, was sitting in front of his house at Brgy. Salangsang, Lebak, Sultan Kudarat when members of the Consunji company guards invited him for a meal. Calaba was never seen since then.


DMCI company guards and assets are part of, and trained by, the AFP as Special Civilian Armed Auxilliary (SCAA). DMCI has employed the AFP’s SCAA as early as 2008 to “secure” its business interests in the different parts of the country such as in Mobo, Masbate, in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, and in Sultan Kudarat. The SCAA, a paramilitary group similar to the CAFGU (Citizen Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit) was created specifically to protect the interests of mining corporations and other similar destructive businesses. BS Aquino openly endorsed the use of SCAA in 2011.


“We urge the GRP Peace Panel to look into the violations and heed the calls of affected communities, the victims and their families to stop these violations, to pull out the AFP and paramilitary forces in civilian communities and to respect and implement the CARHRIHL. Just and lasting peace can only be achieved if there are sincere efforts to abide by previously-signed agreements and human rights obligations and people’s rights and welfare are upheld and protected at all times,” Palabay stated. Palabay also serves as Independent Observer to the GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee on the CARHRIHL and a resource person in the ongoing third round of GRP-NDFP formal peacetalks in Rome, Italy.