GRP forces commit human rights violations with ceasefire in effect–Karapatan

ROME, Italy—Human rights violations victimized 28,890 civilians throughout the country while the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP)’s unilateral ceasefire declaration is in effect, Karapatan in a 50-page report said.

The group, an independent observer to the ongoing peace talks, submitted its collated reports of 17 types of human rights violations committed by GRP forces and agents from August 21 to December 31, 2016.

The GRP received the report at a plenary discussion of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Friday morning.

The cases  included the killing of 24 peasants and indigenous peoples; the enforced disappearance of two lumad activists; at least 14,659 incidents of threats, harassment and intimidation; and 4,170 incidents of indiscriminate firing and bombings by troops who have occupied communities in the countryside despite the ongoing ceasefire.

“We urge the GRP peace panel to look into the violations and heed the calls of affected communities, the victims and their families to stop these violations, to pull out the AFP and paramilitary forces in civilian communities and to respect and implement the CARHRIHL,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

“Just and lasting peace can only be achieved if there are sincere efforts to abide by previously-signed agreements and human rights obligations and people’s rights and welfare are upheld and protected at all times,” Palabay said.

GRP Response

GRP will look into the complaints, its negotiating panel chairperson Silvestre Bello III told reporters.

“We accepted the report by Karapatan as a signatory of the CARHRIHL and we will study it closely,” Bello said.

Bello said the GRP in turn has submitted a list of human rights violations committed by NDFP forces, but declined to give details.

“I also have yet to look at the report we gave the NDFP,” Bello said.

NDFP Panel senior adviser Luis Jalandoni said they “would have to see if GRP’s report were human rights violations at all.” (Raymund B. Villanueva)