Bongbong, Duterte and Biden ‘guilty,’ tribunal declares

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(Photo grabbed from FB post)

By Marvyn Benaning

The 2024 International People’s Tribunal (IPT) has issued a symbolic guilty verdict against the Marcos Jr. and Duterte regimes as well as US President Joe Biden and his administration for massive human rights violations in the Philippines.

IPT issued the verdict on May 19, 2024, to the delight of the Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu), the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the human rights alliance Karapatan and a host of other organizations advocating environmental defense in the Philippines and respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples (IPs.)

“We extend our profound gratitude to the IPT for providing a platform for the Filipino peoples’ voices. The IPT has been instrumental in hearing the testimonies of victims who are frequently ignored and silenced by domestic legal systems and subjected to judicial harassment. In an environment where civic space is rapidly shrinking, the IPT listening to marginalized voices and providing justice is invaluable,” Katribu national convenor Beverly Longid said.

(Photo credit to APRNetwork)

The Philippines has witnessed grave human rights violations targeting Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples (IPs) and this year’s IPT tackled the Tumandok Massacre, the bombings in Kalinga, the killings of Chad Booc and his colleagues, the desecration of the remains of Jevelyn Cullamat, enforced and involuntary disappearances like those of Dexter Capuyan and Bazoo de Jesus, the assassination attempt on Brandon Lee and killing of Mariam Uy Acob, Katribu added.

These incidents prove the systematic use of violence and repression against those who stand in defense of the Indigenous and Moro Peoples rights to lands and self-determination. Nine IP leaders were gunned down in the Tumandok Massacre while the bombings in Kalinga terrorized IP communities. The Tumandok and the people of Kalinga are fighting destructive dam projects and by bombing these communities, the military denies them their right to secure humanitarian aid.

The tragic killings of Chad Booc, Gelejurain “Jurain” Ngujo II, and their companions, all known advocates of Lumad education, and the abduction and enforced disappearance of Dexter Capuyan and Bazoo de Jesus, underscore the parlous environment faced by IP rights defenders. The desecration of Jevelyn Cullamat’s remains, used as a trophy by state forces, is a gross violation of human dignity and a blatant disregard to the fundamental principles of respect and humanity that should be upheld in any conflict.

The assassination attempt on Chinese-American Brandon Lee, who served the Ifugao communities, and the killing of Mariam Uy Acob, a Bangsamoro woman human rights defender, highlight the grave risks faced by those who steadfastly oppose militarization of Indigenous and Moro communities, Longid argued. “The current situation in the Philippines necessitates full adherence to international humanitarian law (IHL). Upholding international humanitarian law is essential in safeguarding the rights of combatants and civilians alike, especially vulnerable populations such as Indigenous and Bangsamoro communities, who frequently endure the harsh consequences of state-sanctioned aggression, Longid said.

Katribu urges national and international bodies, particularly the Philippine and US governments, to recognize and address these violations, ensuring that such atrocious acts do not go unpunished and that the dignity and rights of Indigenous and Moro Peoples, and the whole of Filipino people, are upheld, Longid concluded.###