PEACE advocates and other sectoral groups in Mindanao on Tuesday, June 13, initiated the National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission (NIHM) to highlight the continuing crisis in Marawi City as well as alleged cases of human rights violations since Martial Law took effect in Mindanao.
The Kalinaw Mindanao and Mindanao Ecumenical Peace Platform said they received reports of human rights violations due to the "continuing military offensives including of domicile, threat, harassment and intimidation of Muslim civilians who are suspected of being Isis/Maute members or supporters."
Fr. Antonio Ablon of Kalinaw Mindanao said "the declaration of Martial Law encouraged and justified the indiscriminate artillery and aerial bombardments that resulted to loss of lives and properties.”
Ablon blamed the continuing bombardment of Marawi City as the "primary reason" for the enforced evacuation of more than 200,000 Maranaos and Christians from the city.
The Karapatan-Northern Mindanao human rights group has led the fact-finding on the different human rights violations perpetrated by the government forces for over two weeks now.
Ablon said Karapatan has recorded massive human rights violations including killings and destruction of properties as a result of the aerial and indiscriminate bombardments by the government troops.
The group said displaced individuals in different evacuation centers have repeatedly expressed their sentiments and opposition to air strikes and martial law.
"Nasuta namo nga kining indiscriminate aerial bombardments maoy pinakadako nga rason ngano nga namakwit ang mga residents tungod sa ilang kasinatian," Ablon said.
The group also condemned air strikes as the government's response to threats of terrorism.
"Dili maayo nga nga tilimad-on nga ang tubag sa threat to terrorism ang aerial bombardments. Dili maayo nga ang gobyerno naay air strike policy towards terrorism," Ablon said.
"Ang aerial bombardments by itself is indiscriminate. Gisusi ba nila nga walay sibilyan maigo? Kung moigion ang gobyerno nga walay human rights violation, dako kana nga bakak," Ablon added.
The NIHM set on June 13 to 16 include relief, medical, psycho-social interventions and inter-faith initiatives to the least-served internally displaced persons in Iligan City, Marawi City and the whole town of Lanao del Sur.
The mission also aims to document and collate human rights cases in Marawi and nearby areas to demand accountability and indemnification.
“The martial rule has catalyzed the deterioration of human rights situation in Mindanao particularly in Marawi City. The propaganda of AFP and PNP mouthpieces that government armed forces uphold human rights and international humanitarian law despite Martial Law declaration clearly undermines the gravity of existing human rights violations and reduces the victims to mere ‘collateral damage’ of its all-out war," Ablon said.
"The most important voice at this point is the voice of the victims. And many of them are calling to stop the indiscriminate bombardment of their homes, to end martial law so they can go home," Ablon added.