On the recent NPA operations in Masbate resulting in the deaths of Nolven and Kieth Absalon

Karapatan expresses our condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of Nolven and Kieth Absalon. Nolven was a 40-year old chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Masbate Electric Cooperative Employees Union, while his 21-year old cousin, Kieith was a former football player of the Far Eastern University.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) have claimed responsibility for the military operation which resulted in the deaths of the two civilians. We expect the CPP and NPA to live up to their pledge to ensure prompt investigation, to hold accountable the NPA unit and elements directly involved in the deplorable and lamentable incident, and to indemnify the victims through their families.

We take to task the CPP and NPA for the woeful and tragic incident and expect them to make sure that it does not happen again. The parties to an armed conflict should always distinguish civilians from combatants and adhere to “the principles and rules which limit the use of violence in times of armed conflict.” (UNHR Fact Sheet No. 13)

At the same time, we take notice of the prompt acceptance of responsibility by the CPP and NPA for the violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and specifically of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law signed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. It is a welcome respite from the knee-jerk denials and victim blaming (“nanlaban”) we get from the government’s security forces when confronted with accusations of human rights and IHL violations.

We admonish the Duterte government and its military and police arms not to use this recent incident as an excuse to make worse their already dismal human rights record as shown by the unabated cases of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, and military operations in rural communities resulting in forcible evacuations.

Cristina Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General