The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is alarmed by the recent attack against an indigenous community in Kapalong, Davao Del Norte by alleged members of the New People’s Army. The said assault occurred early Tuesday morning, 24 March 2020, in the remote village of Sitio Tapayanon, Barangay Gupitan of the said town.
The Commission denounces this act of deliberate violence by the armed group.
Protection of indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples (IPs) in times of armed conflict and prohibition against attacks on non-combatants and civilians are protected rights under Republic Act No. 8371 (or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act) and Republic Act No. 9851 (or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity).
CHR recognises previous efforts by Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of Social Welfare and Development to look into the needs of Sitio Tapayanon, such as civil registration, malnutrition, basic education, health concerns of the elderly and children, registration of IPs political structure, inclusion of ancestral domain, and hygiene and sanitation.
As such, we condemn the violence given that, considering the present coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, atrocities further push indigenous people into vulnerability.
To this end, we call on both parties—government and the New People’s Army—to effect a genuine ceasefire in these communities and work towards a more durable and permanent solution to armed conflict on the ground.
26 March 2020
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