A year since Duterte’s MO No. 32, Karapatan blasts de facto martial law in Negros, Eastern Visayas, Bicol

Human rights group Karapatan strongly criticized the de facto martial law situation in Negros, Eastern Visayas and Bicol that has resulted in human rights violations in the said regions, after a year of implementation of Pres. Duterte’s Memorandum Order (MO) No. 32, a directive which deployed more troops in the regions to “suppress lawless violence and acts of terror.”

“In just a year of implementation, alongside that of other counterinsurgency campaigns and Executive Order No. 70, State terrorism has turned them into an area of bloodbath with no less than the military and the police serving as mercenaries,” Karapatan Vice Chairperson Reylan Vergara said.

From November 22, 2018 to November 21, 2019, Karapatan has documented 46 victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) while 62 individuals were arrested and imprisoned. At least 28 of the EJK victims and 60 arrested were documented in Negros. 

“A few months before the implementation of MO No. 32, President Rodrigo Duterte declared a deadline to ‘crush’ rebel movements, thereby providing a blanket justification to suppress initiatives of people’s organizations against social injustices. This directive led to a drastic increase in the figures of murders of human rights defenders and peasant leaders and other human rights violations in the said regions,” he said.

According to the Karapatan official, alongside the implementation of EO70 establishing the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict, the President’s order has put the lives of Filipinos at risk with intensified red-tagging and harassment, as precursor to these violations. 

“The continuous State-sponsored harassment of various individuals and communities has intended to normalize and legitimize repression against those who assert and fight for people’s rights,” Vergara said.

As the killings and other human rights violations remain unsolved, with most of the cases carried out without due process, Karapatan joins the victims in seeking justice and accountability.

“As the unabated violations perpetrated by the Duterte regime and its cohorts show that people’s rights and civil liberties are now considered subject to the whimsical decisions of a fascist government, Karapatan calls on everyone to raise the alarm and to call for an end to the numerous militarist policies of this administration. As we mourn and sympathize with all the victims of this regime, we shall remain steadfast in our commitment to desist any effort to rob us of our rights,” he concluded.