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Rights abuses in Mindanao continue unabated

The Philippine human rights community has expressed alarm over the series of human rights violations in various communities in Mindanao, where a martial law rule is currently imposed.

Last February 15, 2018, Kenard Barientos was gunned down on his way home in Sitio Kabaohan, Brgy. Bunawan Brook, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. The military claimed that Barientos is a member of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which his family vehemently denied.

Two days later, 24 members of a local group organization Kabataan Ayaw Sa Droga (Youth Against Drugs), along with their community teacher Eugene Laurente, were reportedly abducted by members of the 25th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army. The youth members were participating in a cultural training in New Dalaguit, Montevista, Compostela Valley.

The 10th Infantry Division later released a statement saying that the youth members were “child soldiers.”

Meanwhile, those participating in the International Solidarity Mission were denied entry to Diatagon village, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, where hundreds of Lumad have been displaced due to intense military operations in the region.

Recently, the military has been conducting food blockade against displaced Lumad. President Rodrigo Duterte, for his part, has also repeatedly threatened the Lumad and has also recently asked them to “open up” their lands to allow big corporations to encroach on their ancestral domain.

In a statement, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said President Duterte and the country’s state security forces are using government resources as “main instigator” to sow terror in Mindanao and the rest of the country.

“With the martial law declaration in Mindanao, Duterte and his state forces have become every bit as fascist, every bit as brutal, and every bit as fraudulent and deceptive, concocting new and more atrocious ways to commit rights violations in indigenous and peasant communities,” said Palabay.

The Ramento Project for Rights Defenders, the human rights and advocacy arm of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, has long been calling for the lifting of the martial law rule in Mindanao.

RPRD Executive Director Fr. Jonash Joyohoy said, “President Duterte may have failed to get the memo. The only way to resolve this half a century struggle is to uphold human rights and to address the deeply-rooted poverty besieging the suffering people.” (RPRD News)

Photo courtesy of Bulatlat.com

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