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Human Rights Group Urges Marcos to Address Allegations of Violations

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The Australia Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ACHRP) has issued a pressing call to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., urging him to address and rectify alleged human rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) violations attributed to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). This call comes at a critical time as President Marcos Jr. attends the ASEAN Special Summit in Melbourne, Australia, from March 4 to 9, 2024.

A Commitment to International Standards

In their statement, the ACHRP reminded the Philippine government of its obligations under international law, stating, “The ‘ASEAN Human Rights Declaration’ signed by the Philippines and other ASEAN States on November 19, 2012, reaffirms the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the Charter of the United Nations, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and other international human rights instruments to which ASEAN Member States are signatories.” As a signatory to the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, the Philippines has bound itself to implementing the United Nations International Humanitarian Law.

A Troubling Picture of Human Rights in the Philippines

The ACHRP’s statement paints a troubling picture of the human rights situation in the Philippines. It reports that there are “795 political prisoners languishing in jails” and “22,931 civilians have been victims of aerial and artillery bombings in rural communities.” Recent incidents in Escalante, Negros Occidental, and Campago, Bohol, have further underscored the severity of the situation, with the latter incident followed by the extrajudicial killings of five arrested persons. The ACHRP’s spokesperson, Patricia Fox, emphasized, “Evidence contradicts AFP claims that this was an ‘encounter’ with the New People’s Army,” highlighting allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings.

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Calls for Immediate Action

The ACHRP has outlined several steps for the Philippine government to address these grave concerns. These include addressing the root causes of the armed conflict with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, abolishing the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), releasing all political prisoners, and stopping the practices of killings, red tagging, and terrorist tagging, as well as aerial bombings.

A Global Watch

As the international community watches, the ACHRP’s call to President Marcos Jr. to “implement the principles embodied in those United Nations Charter and other International Human Rights Instruments” is a critical reminder of the ongoing struggle for human rights and accountability in the Philippines.

The ACHRP believes that the response to their appeal could influence the Philippines’ standing on the global stage, particularly regarding human rights and international diplomacy.

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