PRESS STATEMENT

Reference: Father Herbert Fadriquela, Jr. email: chairperson@migrante.eu

28 May 2017

Migrants in Rome with Ma Jai, Global Council member ICHRP.

Migrante Europe today expressed alarm on the declaration of President Rodrigo Duterte of a 60-day Martial Law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole island of Mindanao, after deadly armed clashes erupted between the troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the terrorist Maute group on Tuesday, 23 May 2017.

Under military rule, the just and lasting peace we aspire for shall recede farther away,- more human rights abuses and violence would reign in our land!” decried Migrante Europe Chairperson Father Herbert Fadriquela, Jr.

Filipinos will never forget the dark ages of Marcos’ Martial Law. Church leaders, lay persons, student activists, human rights advocates and innocent civilians were subjected to numerous human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests, imprisonment, forced disappearances and torture. The violations were rampant, carried out with impunity, with the perpetrators remaining unpunished to this day.

Military abuses in Southern Mindanao

According to a research by Protection Cluster, a United Nations-supported initiative of government and non-governmental groups, military offensives under the guise of anti-insurgency operations] have resulted in numerous alleged serious human rights abuses, and that military operations in the Mindanao areas are “one of the main driving factors of displacement amidst armed conflict.”

In 2016, tens of thousands of families have been displaced in Mindanao because of high levels of militarization in the area in pursuit of the AFP´s counter-insurgency operations. Women, children, and the elderly who have fled their homes and communities have been enduring very poor living conditions in makeshift evacuation camps with inadequate food, medical care, and sporadic electricity supply. Many have been sick, one child has died from dehydration.

Hence, the imposition of Martial Law in the midst of the government counter-insurgency program “Oplan Kapayapaan,” shall only aggravate the already critical condition of human rights in Mindanao.

Since President Duterte came into power in July 2016, KARAPATAN has already documented 55 victims of political killings, and numerous illegal arrests and detention of human rights defenders and peace advocates, with the most recent arrest and detention on 11 May 2017 of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church) Bishop Carlos Morales along with his wife Maria Teofifina Morales, driver Sadome Dalid, and NDFP Peace Consultant Rommel Salinas at a military checkpoint in the village of Gango in Ozamis City.

Salinas was later identified as a rebel leader and consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the ongoing peace negotiations with the Duterte government. He was arrested on trumped up charges of destructive arson, murder, frustrated murder, attempted murder and robbery. Meanwhile, Bishop Morales has been charged with “illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.”

Migrante Europe, church organizations and global peace advocates groups condemned the unjustifiable arrest and detention of Bishop Morales and called for the unconditional release of Morales and all political prisoners.

May 28 call to “Global day of action against Martial Law in Mindanao”

The recent attack of the terrorist Maute group in Marawi City that killed and injured security forces, and held a priest and several people hostage is condemnable.

But placing Mindanao under military rule cannot be seen as a justifiable nor a proportionate action in relation to the circumstances. Putting the entire island under the authority of known human rights violators Gen. Eduardo Año and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will only escalate more the violations and abuses against women, children, political activists, indigenous leaders, and human rights defenders.

Migrante Europe is one with the people of Marawi and Mindanao in condemning terrorists like the Maute group and in aspiring for just and lasting peace in the entire country. We call on peace loving Filipinos, migrant organisations, friends and allies to join us in our appeal to President Duterte to withdraw his suspension of habeas corpus and lift his declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao,” concluded Father Herbert.###

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