By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – The national minorities alliance Sandugo slammed the Duterte administration for abuses on the rights of Moros and indigenous peoples, which are also violations of the human rights pact between government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) – the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law or Carhrihl.
Earlier today, Sept. 18, human rights workers and victims trooped to the office of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and filed complaints of violations of Carhrihl committed by government forces in the Cordillera region, Negros island in the Visayas, and in Mindanao.
Sandugo filed the complaints amid concerns of President Duterte’s drift to militarist rule. Last week, Duterte’s allies in the House of Representatives drastically cut the budget of the Commission on Human Rights to only P1,000 ($20). But the shrinking space to redress grievances makes it even more urgent to point out abuses and assert the people’s rights.
“We are filing the cases of violations of Carhrihl against the GRP to continue to compel them to their obligations,” said a statement by Windel Bolinget, chairperson of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and Sandugo convener.
Carhrihl was signed by the GRP and NDFP in 1998. In 2004, the Joint Monitoring Committee was formed to monitor violations of Carhrihl by the two sides. The JMC, composed of the respective offices of the GRP and NDFP, is based in Cubao, Quezon City.
Sandugo reiterated the call for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace talks, which, it said, is urgently needed to address the worsening crisis and attacks, specially against national minorities. In January this year, the two panels signed the Supplemental Guidelines of the JMC, which was never convened since it was formed. This was hailed as a major accomplishment in the peace process. However, the peace talks had been suspended since May, following the government panel’s “non-participation” in the fifth round of talks.
Among the complaints filed by the CPA is that of Marcos Aggalao, the 74-year-old ailing Kalinga leader who died last week, after a year in detention based on trumped-up criminal charges.
The complaints include 14 cases of extrajudicial killings, including that of Lumad youth Obello Bay-ao of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, who was shot and killed by paramilitary men on Sept. 5. His parents, Benjo and Genia Bay-ao, were among those who filed complaints.
There were also cases of illegal arrest and detention, harassment, threat and intimidation, violation of domicile, physical and mental torture. Also included are violations committed in the Consunji mining areas in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
The CPA filed 13 cases of illegal arrest and detention committed this year, including that of five residents of Malibcong, Abra and Kalinga, and Sarah Abellon-Alikes, a Kankana-ey human rights defender from Mountain Province.
CPA and Tindeg Ranao, the Marawi evacuees’ group, both filed cases of forced evacuation and destruction of properties due to indiscriminate airstrikes in Malibcong in Abra, and in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
CPA said the AFP dropped phosphorous bombs in Malibcong, accompanied by ground operations of the 24th infantry battalion, and the 50th IB in Kalinga, which resulted to cases of “divestment and destruction of properties, and physical assault of civilians and village officials.”
Meanwhile, Tindeg Ranao spokesperson Aida Ibrahim said they will also file complaints against the Duterte administration to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which will begin its Universal Periodic Review this month.