Duterte emboldens armed troops to commit war crimes

Karapatan today scored the recent spate of violations of international humanitarian law committed by state forces under the Duterte administration, as the human rights organization received reports on the massacre of nine members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in North Cotabato last May 25, 2018, and the continuing ill-treatment of hors de combat Zaldy Cañete, an injured member of the New People’s Army.

According to reports, BIAF members Dadting M. Hassan, Muhamidin A. Hassan, Konne A. Hassan, Burrah S. Salping, Muhalidin S. Salping, Tiyo Mantik, Orom Mantis, Deng Malunok and a certain Abu were killed in a joint anti-drug operation of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines in Sitio Biao, Brgy. Kilada, Matalam, North Cotabato. The nine allegedly surrendered already and have been disarmed by state forces, when they were deliberately fired upon resulting to their deaths.

Meanwhile, wounded combatant Zaldy Cañete, reportedly an official of the New People’s Army Pulang Bagani Command, was recuperating at the Don Carlos Doctors Hospital in Bukidnon, when he was taken by police and elements of the 3rd Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army last night, May 28, at 6:48 p.m., from the hospital, despite a pending court motion by his legal counsel for his hospital arrest. Cañete had undergone a major head surgery, necessitating hospital confinement for a period of time for him to fully recuperate.

This morning, Karapatan Southern Mindanao paralegals, who are assisting Cañete’s family, learned that he was brought to and detained at the Don Carlos Municipal Police Station, despite his condition.

“The AFP and the police have long been constant violators of human rights and international humanitarian law. But with Duterte’s public incitement of such violations and his commitment to absolve state forces from such crimes, they are more emboldened to commit one war crime after another,” Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor said.

Karapatan said these are but the latest incidents of violations under international humanitarian law under the Duterte Administration.

On March 15, 2018, Alfredo Merilos, a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines and rendered hors de combat due to illness, and companion Liz Ocampo, a former overseas worker and local government employee in Camarines Sur, were brutally killed by combined elements of the 9th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) and the Philippine National Police in Cararayan, Naga City, Camarines Sur.

According to the autopsy report of the PNP Scene of the Crimes Operatives, Merilos’ body sustained three gun shot wounds affecting his heart, liver, spine and large intestines, while Ocampo sustained seven gunshot wounds.

Karapatan also cited the killing of Victorino Tesorio and Lolito Rasa on February 6, 2018 by elements of the PNP Regional Office Region 3 in Cagayan Valley. Tesorio, 70, and Rasa, 58, were both former members of the New People’s Army at the time of their killing.

Their bodies bore signs of torture and cruel treatment. Tesorio was shot and hit in his right eye. His fingers were broken, his fingernails were removed – signs that the victim was subjected to torture before he was shot. Rasa, on the other hand, was shot on the left side of his head, and there were indications that he was shot at close range. Reports from neighbors also disputed the PNP’s claim that an encounter ensued as residents attested there was no exchange in gunfire, despite police reports claiming otherwise.

Karapatan called on the Commission on Human Rights, as well as the Government of the Republic of the Philippines Negotiating Panels in the peace processes, to investigate on the various violations of international humanitarian law. “Justice should be accorded to the victims,” Clamor said.

Jigs Clamor
Deputy Secretary General

Karapatan Public Information Desk

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.

KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights