Punish rights violators, GRP urged

Rights group Karapatan urged the Rodrigo Duterte government to investigate and prosecute human rights violators instead of engaging in “token gestures” following the opening of a monitoring station in Davao City Friday.

Saying that while the opening of a Davao station to receive reports of rights violations is welcome, Karapatan added the government should do more than “superficial moves” to respond to and address the numerous complaints against State security forces.

“It should investigate, establish accountability and punish State actors who have committed human rights violations,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

“In short, it should do its job, instead of [engaging] in token gestures,” she added.

Officials led by Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza attended the opening of the first Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) compliance monitoring station under its Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRHIL) with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The station, to be housed at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines building in Davao City, is the first to be opened by the Manila government since it signed the CARHRIHL in March 1998.

It will receive reports and complaints of “non-compliance” of the provisions of CARHRIHL in 10 conflict-affected regions across the country and endorse it to the Joint GRP-NDFP Monitoring Committee (JMC).

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) did not mention the nine other regions in their statement on the event.

It also failed to identify the source of funding of the stations.

GRP Panel Member Antonio Arellano said the setting up of monitoring stations is a “unilateral action” on the part of the Philippine government.

“The document (CARHRIHL) promotes the rights of the Filipino people.  It humanizes the ongoing armed conflict.  It seeks to protect both combatants and civilians against violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” Arellano explained.

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili for his part said they were invited to co-sponsor and attend the event, but refused.

“[The monitoring station] is not mentioned in the CARHRIHL. What the CARHRIHL mentioned was a Joint Secretariat (JS) office, which is the one we have in Cubao,” Agcaoili said.

“The monitoring station is strictly a GRP initiative,” he clarified.

A JMC-JS Office opened in July 2005 at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cubao, Quezon City which the GRP has practically abandoned after several years of operations.

The Teresita Deles-led OPAPP under the Benigno Aquino government petitioned the Royal Norwegian Government to stop funding its operations but failed after the NDFP rejected the move.

The NDFP Nominated Section of the JS still actively holds office there, keeping 6,397 complaints of human rights violations, 4,471 against the GRP and 1,926 against the NDFP as of May 23, 2016. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP-GRP human rights monitoring committee meets today

THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) pushed their human rights mandate forward as the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) on the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) held its third meeting in as many months today.

GRP Monitoring Committee chairperson and negotiating panel member Hernani Braganza earlier announced their meeting at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Taguig City on his Facebook wall.

The JMC was convened for the first time in 12 years last September 20 and again during the second round of formal NDFP-GRP talks in Oslo, Norway last October when they agreed to finally undertake joint activities.

In Oslo, the GRP and the NDFP agreed to develop a JMC monitoring system and jointly promote human rights through forums, trainings and the introduction of human rights and international humanitarian law in school curriculums.

Both parties also discussed and clarified the documentation and investigation of complaints and agreed on the need to finalize the coverage of joint education and capacity building activities by the joint committee’s Joint Secretariat (JS).

Both the GRP and the NDFP have yet to respond to Kodao’s request for statements on their third meeting today.


Karapatan secretary general and JMC independent observer Cristina Palabay said her group welcomes current efforts to continue JMC’s revitalization.

“Karapatan hopes that the JMC can pursue the complaints on violations of the CARHRIHL by State security forces, especially those in relation to the implementation of the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,” Palabay said.

Formed as a CARHRIHL mechanism in 2004 after at least five years of delay, the JMC has received 6,397 complaints of human rights violations, 4,471 against the GRP and 1,926 against the NDFP as of May 23, 2016.

The NDFP however said that 96 per cent of the complaints against them are “nuisance complaints” filed wholesale last November 8, 2006 by the Judge Advocate General’s Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Most complaints against the GRP and its forces on the other hand were filed by human rights organizations or directly submitted by the victims or their families.

Previously, the GRP Monitoring Committee under the Gloria Arroyo and Benigno Aquino administrations refused to meet with its NDFP counterpart to discuss thousands of complaints of human rights violations against both parties and undertake joint activities as per their agreement in 2004.

The NDFP also revealed that former Aquino peace adviser Teresita Quintos Deles asked the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG), third party facilitator to the talks, to stop funding JMC’s JS that holds office at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral compound in Cubao, Quezon City.

The RNG reportedly refused Deles’ request as JS’ dissolution is only possible after agreement by both the GRP and the NDFP.

The JMC is again expected to convene during the third round of formal NDFP-GRP negotiations in Rome, Italy on January 19-24. (Raymund B. Villanueva/Featured image from Nani Agsalud Braganza’s Facebook wall.)