Karapatan condemns in the strongest terms the growing cases of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) where civilians are increasingly being victimized in the Marcos Jr. regime’s brutal counter-insurgency war.
The latest case that has come to our attention is the killing of two civilians in Barangay Sangay, Palapag, Northern Samar. According to reports reaching Karapatan, Joel Recare and Oscar Alastoy were in the area to work as chainsaw helpers. But the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force reported that they were slain in an alleged encounter on May 5, 2023 in Sitio Ibaliw, Barangay Capacujan of the said town. The village chief of Barangay Capacujan has vouched for the victims, saying they are not armed rebels and were not on any watchlist. The victims’ families likewise complained that the PNP-SAF took more than 24 hours to deliver the decomposing bodies to the Regional Health Unit.
In Negros, a civilian named Crispin Tingal Jr. was reportedly gunned down by elements of the 94th IB in Sitio Ulo-Tuburan, Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City on May 3. According to witnesses, a rain-soaked Tingal had just arrived home with his wife from a local government-sponsored seminar at the Himamaylan City when he was shot by the soldiers, who later claimed that he was a New People’s Army casualty in an alleged 20-minute gunbattle. The incident was witnessed by the victim’s family members as well as several students who had been stranded at a nearby house because of floods caused by the strong rains.
Meanwhile, in another IHL violation, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance received reports on the gruesome mutilation of the body of an alleged NPA member reportedly killed in a firefight with the military in Balbalan, Kalinga on May 3, 2023. The victim’s head and limbs were missing and only the torso has been recovered. International humanitarian law strictly prohibits the mutilation and the desecration of the remains of combatants and even the killing or harming of hors de combat (a combatant who is no longer capable of fighting because he has surrendered, been captured, wounded, unconscious or ill). Mutilation is a grievous violation of IHL whether the victim was decapitated and his limbs hacked off before or after he was killed.
We denounce these war crimes and all other violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. We likewise call on the Commission on Human Rights to conduct throughgoing investigations into these and other reported violations.