Roque to activists: Prove military violated rights in Mindanao under ML
Prove it or shut up.
This was the message of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to human rights activists who claim that rights violations were committed by members of the military in Mindanao under martial law.
“Nasaan po ang ebidensiya niyo? Otherwise tumahimik na lang po kayo hindi po naman kayo nagpapakamatay para sa Inang Bayan,” Roque said on Thursday in a press briefing in Marawi City.
(Where is your evidence? Otherwise, just shut up because it is not you who sacrifice your lives for the Motherland.)
Roque said activists should not simply accuse soldiers, whom he said have risked lives and limbs in clashes with extremist fighters, without the filing of formal complaints against them.
According to the Presidential Spokesperson, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has a mechanism to hold accountable soldiers who have violated the rules of war.
“Ilabas po nila ang mga reklamong yan at patunayan nila na kung mayroong reklamo ay binalewala po ng ating hukbong sandatahan,” Roque said.
(They should back their complaints, prove that they have filed a complaint and was dismissed by our armed forces.)
“Kinikilala po natin ang pagiging bayani ng ating mga sundalo, binibigyan po natin sila ng presumption of good faith at nasa accusers po, sa mga nagrereklamo, ang burden of evidence o proof,” he added.
(We recognize the heroism of our soldiers, we give them presumption of good faith and it is upon the accusers, to those complaining, the burden of evidence or proof.)
According to the human rights group Karapatan, from May 23, 2017 to May 23, 2018, at least 49 incidents of extrajudicial killings, 116 frustrated extrajudicial killings, 22 torture cases, 89 illegal arrests and detention, 9,738 cases of threats/harassments/intimidations, 336,124 cases of indiscriminate firing and bombings, 404,654 cases of forced evacuation, and 979 forced surrenderees had been recorded.
Karapatan also called for the immediate lifting of martial law in Mindanao which they said has been used by Philippine security forces as “license to further perpetuate rights violations.”
The rights group also called for an immediate investigation of the AFP and the prosecution of perpetrators. /muf