MANILA - Human rights group Karapatan on Sunday lashed out at Malacañang for chiding 2 United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs who criticized the impact of martial law on Lumad communities in Mindanao.
"It is infuriating that instead of taking note of and acting on the reported violations, the Duterte government resorts to ad hominem attacks to deflect accountability, in addition to its adamant refusal to be subjected to independent investigations," Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said in a statement.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday accused the UN officials, both Filipinos, of attempting to embarrass their country before the international community.
Tauli-Corpuz, UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, and Jimenez-Damary, UN special rapporteur on internally displaced people, earlier said thousands of Lumads have been displaced and have seen their livelihood destroyed due to Mindanao's militarization.
Their statement helped bring to the public’s attention the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines, amid the government efforts "to deny the existence of extrajudicial killings and rights violations in the country," Palabay said.
"We are one with the UN experts in expressing concern on the further deterioration of the human rights situation in Mindanao, especially with the extension of martial law this 2018 and the continuing implementation of the government’s counter-insurgency program," she added.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed all of Mindanao under military rule after Islamic State-linked fighters attacked the southern city of Marawi. Congress has extended martial law there until the end of 2018.
Karapatan said it has recorded at least 29 cases of extrajudicial killings, 15 cases of torture, 23 victims of frustrated extrajudicial killings, 58 victims of illegal arrest and detention under martial law.
The group said it has also documented the forced evacuation of 401,730 individuals, and 335,686 victims of indiscriminate gunfire and aerial bombings.
The military has said it will not tolerate rights abuses during the expanded martial law.