The Eastern Visayas Chapter of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on 24 August called on the Philippine Commission on Human Rights to investigate “the disproportionate use of force” by units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the airstrikes against a local unit of the New People’s Army in Dolores town, Eastern Samar province, on 16 August.
In a letter addressed to Atty. Desiree Pontejos of the CHR Region 8, the NDFP said, “the AFP committed gross violations of international humanitarian law, particularly provisions regarding the disproportionate use of force against opponent forces, as well as those protecting the rights of hors de combat and civilian communities surrounding the site of attack.”
The 13-hour bombing, indiscriminate firing and shelling, the NDFP said, was “a mere three kilometers away from the nearest village” which could have caused psychological trauma and damages to residents’ properties.
The NDFP Eastern Visayas noted that “the CHR has also been subjected to threats and Red-tagging by the AFP. We urge your office to be steadfast to your primary mandate of investigating human rights violations, especially those committed by state actors.”
The Communist Party of the Philippines has also accused security forces of the Duterte government of violating international humanitarian law in the murder on 16 August of NPA visual artist John Niebres in Polomolok, South Cotabato, and the death on 20 August of NPA literary artist Kerima Lorena Tariman in Silay City, Negros Occidental. The CPP said that Niebres, popularly known as ‘Ka Parts Bagani’, was unarmed in his home when he was murdered by combined elements of the Philippine Army, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and Philippine National Police.
The CPP said that Tariman, renowned as ‘Ka Ella’, was captured alive after her NPA unit had an armed encounter with elements of the Philippine Army. Ka Ella, however, “was not provided immediate medical treatment and was instead finished off or left to bleed to death.”
Philippine human rights alliance Karapatan said an independent investigation should be conducted on Tariman’s death. Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said, “according to a witness, Tariman only had gunshot wounds on her fingers, but apparently the military decided to finish her off.” According to Philippine Army officials themselves, Tariman’s shoulder had been hit by bullets and was severed.
Meanwhile, close to 400 human rights advocates from the Philippines and around the globe signed a joint statement on 13 August, calling on the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Council “to conduct impartial and independent investigations into the human rights crisis” in the Philippines and “to prosecute President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies for their cruel crimes against the Filipino people.”
Recalling murders committed by security forces of the Duterte government since 2016, “August has come to be marked as a month of killings in the Philippines under the Duterte administration… We choose to mark August as a month of remembering and reckoning, a month of taking action and demanding justice.”
They added, “we ring our call to stop the killings in the Philippines and to end all the bloody campaigns and policies that have facilitated these murders.”