Militants to bring human rights cases to UN

LUMAD, peasant leaders, and militant groups have vowed to submit a report on the results of their probe on alleged human rights violations in the region to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee and the international body’s Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples.

Led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), 63 individuals composed of farmers, Lumads, lawmakers, church people, and human rights advocates completed a four-day International Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission (IFFSM) on human rights violations in the provinces of Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon.

The team has documented two victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and frustrated EJKs, one victim of torture, six victims of illegal arrest and detention, seven victims of trumped-up charges, 18 victims of threat, harassment and intimidation, 18 victims of forced surrender and two victims of illegal search and seizure from January to March 2018.

Cases of coercion, threat, harassment and intimidation were also recorded, which includes the 500 residents of Lupiagan and Licoan, Bukidnon who were all summoned last January 28 in the military detachment to supposedly receive a half sack of rice and money.

However they were reportedly asked to sign the attendance sheet and were presented as New People's Army (NPA) surrenderers.

Farmers and Lumads are also being targeted by the AFP's counter-insurgency campaign, according to Winnie Loable, KMP-NMR vice-chairperson in a press conference on Monday, April 9, at Philtown Hotel.

"Crackdown on people's organizations, including fake terrorist lists, threats to people's democratic spaces and curtailment of basic civil and political rights was also recorded by the team," Loable said.

Loable cited the arrest of Aquilino Hilogon, a lumad farmer arrested by elements of the 58th Infantry Battalion, detained for 5 days and allegedly charges with illegal possession of firearms, the trumped-up charges against 7 members of the Pgiyayungaan organization in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon, and the murder of Aniceto Lopez Jr. who was allegedly killed by a member of the Philippine Marines.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate said these violations are further intensified under President Rodrigo Duterte's martial law in Mindanao "which goes beyond targeting individuals affiliated to people's organizations".

"The systematic violations against Mindanawons and the Filipino people have to be confronted through collective action of communities and victims of rights violations," he said.

"The long history of persistent struggle of the people of Mindanao, particularly in Northern Mindanao, is the best defense of the people against attacks on their rights for land, ancestral domain, right to self-determination and attainment of a just and lasting peace," the solon added.

The KMP and Karapatan-Northern Mindanao said that they will be submitting the mission report to seek appropriate actions from national and international human rights entities, legislative bodies such as the Senate and Congress, Joint Monitoring Committee, Church entities, and UN bodies such as the Human Rights Committee and Special Rapporteur on Indigenous People, Committee on Internally Displaced Persons.

"We will intensify our campaign to end martial law in Mindanao, stop militarization of peasant and Lumad communities and seek justice for all the victims of human rights abuses. We strongly support the resumption of peace talks," Loable said.

"We urge the public to join us in our struggle to assert and defend our rights to land, social justice and peace," he added.

The IFFSM which was conducted last April 6-7 was not a walk in the park, the group reports. It experienced delays due to the series of checkpoints, 11 in total by elements of Bukidnon Provincial Public Safety Company Highway Patrol Group, and the 8th Infantry Battalion stationed in Opol, Misamis Oriental and Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.
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