International fact-finding mission: Dire rights situation as Martial Law continues in southern Philippines : Page 2 of 3
Numeral, a farmer and peasant leader, also denounced the increasing number of false charges against farmers in the region. “Thirty-nine farmers have been so far imprisoned and over 200 trumped-up cases have been filed,” he said in Tagalog.
It is impossible that he committed the murders he was accused of, Numeral said, for these would have had to occur within a ten-minute interval on two different Mindanao provinces. He claimed that the false charges were filed against farmers to weaken people’s organisations that assert their land rights.
The findings of the International Solidarity Mission echoed this, saying that “peasant and indigenous people’s leaders, Lumad [indigenous peoples’] school teachers and other human rights defenders face trumped up criminal charges which were initiated by the military, police and the Department of Justice to harass and malign defenders, in an attempt to silence them into passivity.”
Martial Law until December 2018
Philippine President Duterte has put Mindanao under Martial Law on May 23, 2017, amidst clashes between the ISIS-inspired Maute group and military forces in the city of Marawi.
Martial Law was extended twice, the last time in December 2017. This was two months after the President declared Marawi “liberated” from the Maute group. The Congress decision extends it even further for another year, including the suspension of the need for warrants in arrests.
Julie Jamora of Gabriela USA recounted how Martial Law was used to arbitrarily restrict the movement of the international solidarity delegates. The ISM was done from February 18 to 25, 2018, and went to the four regions of Caraga, SocSKSargends, Northern and the Southern Mindanao region.
“It is really the intentional harassment of the fact-finding mission and international delegates that showed the true intent of the US-backed Duterte regime to hide all of these human rights violations from the international community,” Jamora said.
Recently, a United States’ operation, called Pacific Eagle, was revealed to have been at work since September 2017. Operation Pacific Eagle is a “contingency operation” to support the Philippine military in its “counter-terror” work, [v]which will only “terminate when the AFP no longer requires US military assistance to address its internal terrorist threat.” [vi]
Seventy-five percent of the Philippine military is now deployed in Mindanao, according to the peasants’ organisation Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas [vii]. In December 2017, the Philippine government deployed additional troops and checkpoints in the island after classifying the Maoist New People’s Army as “terrorists” within the same month. [viii]
"Duterte is Marcos plus" | Peter Murphy of ICHRP presents the booklet "Duterte Killings Continue"
For peace based on social justice
Rights advocates and defenders stress the continuing need for peace talks that address the social and historical roots of armed conflict. They also continue to assert the need for the immediate lifting of Martial Law, ending the war on drugs in the urban areas and the state harassment against indigenous peoples and farmers in the countryside.
During the Monday forum, Peter Murphy, Chairperson of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), also presented a new book by ICHRP and