December 4, 2023
The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) vehemently calls for an end to the bombing of rural communities in the Philippines as well as to violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Both are being perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) through the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency program.
These aerial bombings have devastated the lives of tens of thousands of civilians in the rural areas.
From 2017 to mid-2022, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reportedly used at least 591 bombs and 589 artillery shells in 74 rounds of aerial strafing and 56 incidents of bombing under former President Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan.
From July 2022 to November 30, 2023, human rights organization Karapatan has documented 39,769 victims of indiscriminate firing perpetrated by the Philippine military, while at least 22,391 individuals were affected by bombings in rural and indigenous communities. Around 25,000 people have been forcibly displaced from their communities depriving them of their sources of livelihood. Through the NTF-ELCAC’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), more than 500 individuals have been forced to present themselves as “surrenderees”.
Destruction of property and displacements usually happen in cases of aerial bombardments including crops, and livestock. Civilians are also restricted from tending to their farms. In some cases, the repeated bombing of agricultural fields disturbs the soil’s acidity level, which renders it useless for farming, effectively removing farmers’ source of livelihood. The indiscriminate and disproportionate conduct of the bombings which endangers the lives of civilians violates both the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), as well as the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its Additional Protocols of 1977.
Among the recent and prominent cases of IHL violations include the massacre of the Fausto family allegedly carried out by the 94th Infrantry Batallion in Negros Occidental last June 16 2023, and the reported brutal killing of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, along with eight other hors de combat on Samar island last August 2022 by the Philippine Army.
While the signing of the Oslo Communique between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) last November 23 is a significant breakthrough in re-starting the peace process, ICHRP calls on its international allies to amplify calls to stop the bombings, suspend all military aid to the Philippines, uphold international humanitarian law, and support the Filipino people’s struggle for a just and lasting peace.