By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Alarmed with the continuing cases of extrajudicial killings and the increasing number of internal refugees under the Aquino administration, human rights group Karapatan will file a complaint through the special procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
As a signatory to several international agreements on human rights, the Philippine government has obligations to these human rights treaties. The UN Human Rights Council is tasked to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights by all member states through various mechanisms and special procedures. Special procedures are either an individual (called “Special Rapporteur” or “Independent Expert”) or a working group.
Karapatan said it will file this month separate information with the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons. The filing will coincide with the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva to which the Philippines will be under review on May 29.
According to Karapatan, there are 76 victims of extrajudicial killings from July 2010 to March 2012 and more than 10,000 victims of forcible evacuation due to intensive military operations.
“We would specifically bring up the recent cases of forcible evacuation, indiscriminate firing, threats and intimidation and other rights violations that happened in the course of intense military operations in Bukidnon province, CARAGA region, and other provinces in the Philippines. The military operations are believed to be the government’s practices of clearing up the areas for, and silencing the people’s opposition against, large-scale corporate mining operations and the construction of a mega-dam project for the consumption of foreign owned corporations,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan spokeswoman and member of the Philippine UPR Watch, a network of rights advocates, said.
During the first quarter of 2012 alone, Karapatan said, some 6,500 individuals forcibly evacuated from their communities and sought temporary shelter elsewhere due to bombings and indiscriminate firing by soldiers who occupied their villages and camped in village halls, day care and health centers and schools.
In a separate submission to the UN Human Rights Council, the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp), the largest alliance of indigenous peoples organizations in the Philippines, said the escalation of military operations in indigenous peoples’ territories had in several cases led to forcible evacuation. From January 2008 to November 2011, the group documented 41 instances of forced evacuations of Lumads in different parts of Mindanao.
Kamp said some indigenous peoples communities evacuate repeatedly, such as in Agusan del Norte where members of the Mamanwa tribe in Kitcharao and Jabonga, Agusan del Norte evacuated four times since May 2010.
The group noted that military operations have intensified in areas where resistance to mining and other “development projects” is strong.
The Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA), in its own submission to the Council, also said that more than 30,000 civilians were displaced when state security forces launched air strikes, ground assaults in Zamboanga Sibugay (ZS) and Al Barka, Basilan in October 2011.
Palabay said the Armed Forced of the Philippines has zero credibility especially in terms of human rights protection and realization. “Its claim that its units have not been involved in any case of human rights violations is a sheer lie that stems from Aquino’s attempt to deodorize the brutality of its counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan and disassociate this from the bloody Oplan Bantay Laya of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The increasing number of cases and victims of rights violations committed with impunity are proof that contradict the government’s claim,” Palabay said.