[From the web] Philippine President Encourages War Crimes -HRW

Philippine President Encourages War Crimes
Duterte’s Call to ‘Flatten the Hills’ Threatens Civilian Life and Property
By Carlos H. Conde
Human Rights Watch

While attending a memorial service today for four policemen, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte urged the army to “Go ahead, flatten the hills.” In counterinsurgency operations, he said, “anything goes for now. If there’s collateral damage, pasensiya” – using a Tagalog word that can mean either “I’m sorry” or “Too bad.”

His rhetoric,  in response to the officers’ killing the previous day by Communist New People’s Army (NPA) insurgents in the southern Philippines, may cost many civilians their lives.

International humanitarian law, or the laws of war, rejects the “anything goes” approach to warfare and places specific restraints on all parties to an armed conflict to spare civilians and other non-combatants the horrors of war. Armies must take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians.  Attacks against lawful targets cannot be indiscriminate or cause civilian loss greater than the expected military gain.  Were the Philippine military to “flatten the hills” without regard to civilian loss of life and property, those involved would be committing war crimes.

In its several decades of armed conflicts with the NPA and various Muslim insurgencies, the Philippine armed forces have committed numerous laws of war violations in which troops did not distinguish between rebel fighters and civilians. Many farmers and indigenous group members have been targets of attacks. In 2013, when fighting turned Mindanao’s Zamboanga City into a battlefield, Muslim rebels and army soldiers showed little regard for civilian protection, and dozens were killed. Past military offensives elsewhere in the south have been conducted in a manner that has displaced hundreds of thousands, many indigenous peoples.

Duterte’s counterinsurgency rhetoric is frighteningly reminiscent of his praise and encouragement for police killings of suspected drug users and drug dealers, which has instigated unlawful force and incited  violence. He should promptly make clear to the armed forces that counterinsurgency operations are constrained by law, and that those who violate them, from the lowliest private to the commander in chief, will be held to account.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally
published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or
change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and
original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the
tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s