Group seeks probe on ‘human-rights abuses’ as martial law ends in Mindanao
MANILA, Philippines – Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has pushed for an independent, third party investigation on human-rights abuses allegedly perpetrated by state forces while Mindanao was under military rule.
According to Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes on Wednesday, the Commission on Human Rights should do an independent accounting especially after martial law was imposed for two long years.
President Rodrigo Duterte did not extend the martial law period, and was effectively lifted on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.
“With the end of martial law in Mindanao, there should be an independent accounting by the Commission on Human Rights of the rights abuses that took place in Mindanao over the past two and a half years,” Reyes said in a message to reporters.
“Various sectors should be allowed to come forward and narrate their experiences under martial law without fear of reprisal from the military. There is a dearth of information on the real impacts of martial law especially in heavily militarized communities where the flow of information is controlled by state forces,” he added.
According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the martial law period has brought a secure climate in the area, which they think will boost progress through investments across the region.
However, several critics believe that the military rule was way overdue, as its primary purpose was to secure the rest of Mindanao while Marawi City in Lanao del Sur was under siege from Maute group, a Muslim extremist group pledging allegiance to the Islamic State.
The Marawi siege started last May 2017, and ended in October of the same year. However, at least three extensions took place, with the last coming on December 2018.
Reyes said that aside from the supposed abuses, the probe could also look into whether the martial law implementation had a positive effect on rebuilding Marawi and maintaining peace and order.
“This fact-finding effort is also important to determine the actual necessity and validity of the Mindanao-wide martial law. Did it aid in the actual rehabilitation of Marawi? How if at all? Did it really address the existence of extremist groups? Were there really no abuses? Were the justifications ever addressed?” Reyes asked.
“Not since the time of Marcos had there been a prolonged state of martial law in the Philippines. We join peace and human rights advocates in opposing the normalization of martial law and its future use in suppressing legitimate dissent,” he added.
Edited by JPV
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