Manila, Philippines – “This is clearly state terrorism in action. The entire institution of the armed forces should own up, and take full responsibility over the massacre of three Lumad farmers in Mindanao. There should be no let up on the investigation and pursuit of soldiers directly involved in the gruesome massacre of civilians,” according to the joint statement of the militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) and Anakpawis Party-list, challenging the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to “own up, present, and hold responsible” the soldiers who massacred three Lumad farmers, including a 12-year-old student, in Lianga, Surigao del Sur last June 15.
The victims Willy Rodriguez and Lenie Rivas were members of local organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog alng sa Sumusunod (Mapasu) while 12-year-old Angel Rivas was a student of Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS), an alternative learning school for Lumad.
In a statement, Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson and former representative of Anakpawis Party-list, said the AFP “is guilty of violating” the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) for the protection of civilians and non-combatants in an armed conflict.
“The recent massacre of civilians further exposed the AFP as ill-reputed war criminals which stemmed from state policy to carry out brutal and indiscriminate anti-insurgency campaign. It’s a punch to the moon to expect that the AFP would take responsibility or even show remorse on the massacre because the entire institution itself never regards human life and dignity,” the fisherfolk leader and former solon said.
Lastly, Anakpawis and PAMALAKAYA seek international human rights bodies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) to intervene. Just recently, the ICC sought to investigate the extrajudicial killings in the context of the drug war.
“This is an addition to the long list of human rights violations perpetrated by the Duterte regime. The massacre shows the heightening political killings perpetrated by the Duterte government against activists and critics and should be investigated by the ICC among other human rights bodies as well,” ended Hicap. ###