CHR calls for prevention of rights abuses, as martial law extended in Mindanao


Posted at Dec 15 2017 10:29 PM

MANILA—The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday called on the government to ensure the prevention of rights abuses by law enforcers following the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Although the CHR said it believes threats of lawlessness can be addressed even without military rule, it said it respects the decision of the president and lawmakers to implement martial law until the end of 2018. 

"However, in respect of legislative concurrence, we are hopeful that the intent of the extension will not be tarnished by human rights violations. It is now incumbent upon the government to observe and ensure the safeguards of the Constitution and our laws to prevent abuses," the commission said in a statement.

Lawmakers on Wednesday approved President Rodrigo Duterte's request to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year to quell the threat of terrorism.

Duterte had sought the extension of martial law arguing that it would help state forces better deal with lawless armed groups in Mindanao and ensure public safety.

The fresh extension was the second one of Duterte's initial 60-day martial law declaration in May when firefights between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists erupted in Marawi City.

The CHR also called for an investigation into allegations of looting and harassments said to be perpetrated by the military.

"There is also a need to investigate allegations of looting by the military, unlawful/arbitrary arrests, military presence in (internally displaced persons) camps, cases of profiling, military harassment, enforced disappearance, torture, and extrajudicial killings," the commission said.

"We also urge the government to hold to account both state and non-state actors responsible for the atrocities committed against the local residents."

The commission also committed to help in rehabilitation efforts in Marawi and in monitoring the implementation of military rule.

"The commission, for its part, will closely monitor its implementation and denounce any form of abuses, consistent with our mandate and oath of service to the Filipino people," it said.