Rights group alarmed over reports of int’l humanitarian law violations

Groups demand justice for New Bataan 5 in a protest in front of the Commission on Human Rights on Saturday, Feb. 26. (Photo by UMANI Productions)


MANILA – Human rights group Karapatan reiterated its demand for the Philippine government to stop violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) as the group continues to receive reports of civilians and hors de combat (combatants who are unable to fight) being killed in the implementation of the government’s counterinsurgency program by state forces.

On April 14, Karapatan said National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Manuel “Ka Dodie” Tinio was shot seven times after he was arrested while driving a motorcycle between San Miguel City and Ubay town in Bohol.

“To conceal their heinous act, the military falsely claimed that Tinio ‘fought back’ and planted a .45 cal pistol on his person to complete their fictitious version of events,” Karapatan said in a statement.

Also arrested on the same day was former student activist turned New People’s Army guerrilla Arthur Lucenario. He was reportedly arrested by elements of the 47th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and was presented as a casualty in an alleged encounter on May 12 in Barangay Tabuan, Antequera, more than 70 kilometers away from San Miguel.

Karapatan said Lucenario’s remains bore marks of severe torture.

In Negros Occidental, three civilians were reportedly killed by troops of the 15th IBPA who have been conducting focused operations in Sipalay City and Cauayan since April 23.

On May 21, Gusting Mapos was on his way to his farm when he was killed by soldiers in Sitio Bajay, Barangay Caliling, Cauayan town in Negors Occidental, Karapatan said.

“To justify the killing, the 15th IBPA claimed that Mapos was an NPA casualty in a supposed encounter. The soldiers even planted a cal .45 pistol, a command-detonated explosive and blasting cap, two magazines, ammunition and a backpack on the victim,” the group said.

The group said that local residents denied that an encounter had taken place in the area.

The supposed encounter was reported by various media outlets, however, the name of the fatality was not disclosed in several news reports.

Meanwhile on May 21, Jonel Bayno, a resident of Barangay Manlucahoc, Sipalay City was arrested by troops of 15th IBPA. Days later, on May 25, the group said his body was found at Crossing Tanduay in Barangay Camindangan.

The group added that a few days later, the same troopers arrested Rogelio Lacton, a resident of barangay Camindangan. He was later found dead in sitio Sadlum of the same barangay on May 27.

Karapatan reiterated that the international humanitarian law prohibits the killing or harming of both civilians and combatants who have been rendered hors de combat (out of combat) “because they have been captured, wounded or surrendered, or otherwise incapable of participating in hostilities due to illness or some other disability.”

“These continuing reports of IHL violations targeting captured or incapacitated NPA members as well as civilians in communities considered to be hotbeds of insurgency underscore the hollowness and the evident hypocrisy of the Philippine government’s formal acquiescence to several IHL protocols, as well as its enactment in 2009 of Republic Act No. 9851, or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity,” Karapatan said.

The human rights group added that the Philippine government “has likewise showed contempt for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”

Karapatan also called on the Commission on Human Rights to conduct a “thoroughgoing investigation of both the grave breaches of IHL, of the international human rights instruments to which the Philippine government is a signatory as well as applicable local laws.” (RTS, RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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