Int’l NGO raises concern over PH martial law
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P), a New York-based nongovernment organization advocating protection against mass atrocities, has aired serious concern over President Duterte’s pronouncement that he may declare martial law in the entire Philippines as terrorists aligned with the Islamic State (IS) group ravaged Marawi City.
GCR2P—backed by Nobel laureates Kofi Annan and Desmond Tutu, as well as former President Fidel V. Ramos—was also disturbed by Mr. Duterte’s comments “that appear to endorse rape by soldiers deployed to retake Marawi.”
Mr. Duterte had recently said that if any of the soldiers assigned in Marawi were to rape three women, he would personally claim responsibility for it.
As this comment drew ire from critics, the President said he was not even joking but was just being “sarcastic.”
In its publication “Atrocity Alert” dated May 31, GCR2P cited the clashes that erupted on May 23 in Marawi after government forces attacked a group of militants said to be protecting Isnilon Hapilon, the declared “emir” of IS in Southeast Asia.
The militants, primarily the Maute group, raided the city, burned several establishments, kidnapped a priest and executed people believed to be Christians. Over 180,000 residents have fled from the ensuing violence.
Mr. Duterte ordered airstrikes and declared martial law on Mindanao, adding that he would consider expanding martial law to the rest of the Philippines.
Civilians at risk
“Given President Duterte’s so-called ‘war on drugs,’ which has resulted in the killing of almost 9,000 people since June 2016, the expansion of martial law could put more civilians at risk of arbitrary detention, sexual violence or extrajudicial killing at the hands of security forces,” GCR2P said.
“While the government of the Philippines has sovereign authority to maintain law and order within its borders, including defending its population from the threat of terrorism and illegal drugs, they are obligated to do so with respect to international human rights law,” the organization said.
GCR2P said that under the current administration, Filipinos were “at growing risk of extrajudicial killings that may amount to crimes against humanity.”
“By openly calling upon armed vigilantes to join the ‘war on drugs,’ President Duterte has actively promoted an atmosphere of impunity,” the organization said.
“Governmental bodies are dominated by President Duterte’s allies, allowing human rights violations and abuses to continue without the prospect of accountability under the justice system,” it added.
End extrajudicial killings
GCR2P said national authorities in the Philippines must restore the rule of law and immediately halt widespread extrajudicial killings.
The group also called on the UN Human Rights Council to continue closely monitoring the situation in the Philippines.
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