Amnesty International Philippines alarmed at the return of vigilantism in
"The Philippine government should take responsibility in protecting all
civilians in Mindanao, whether they are Christians, Muslims, Lumads or
coming from any ethnicity or religion. Protecting civilians does not mean
arming them. Security forces of the Philippine government already have that
role. We do not want to return to a period in our country when vigilante
groups attacked civilians with impunity." Said Dr. Aurora Parong, Amnesty
International Philippines Section Director
The director cited an Amnesty International report on the Philippines in
1988 titled "Unlawful Killings by Military and Paramilitary Forces" which
documented unlawful retaliatory killings that violated the human rights of
civilians where community-based vigilante groups were involved. The report
also stated that killings by "vigilantes" were reported in Luzon, Visayas
and Mindanao in the 2 years post-martial law.
"Historically, vigilantism in the Philippines resulted to massacres and
bloody killings of civilians. The vigilantes, including Alsa Masa (mass
revolt), Tadtads (chop-chop) and Ilagas (rats), committed gross human
rights abuses, during martial law and in the few years post-martial law."
Dr. Parong further said.
AI also emphasized the experiences from around the world which showed that
the deployment of civilian militias, paramilitary groups and vigilantism can
set off a chain of reprisals and only increase the danger faced by
civilians. AI noted that the paramilitary groups in Colombia (South America)
have committed systematic human rights violations against the civilian
population; armed civilians in Rwanda and Sudan resulted to bloody massacres
AI notes that security forces have to be trained on human rights and
international humanitarian law as well as UN Standards for Law Enforcement
Officers and for the Use of Force and Firearms.
"Government forces should strictly observe Article 8 of the UN Code of
Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials which states that officials shall, to
the best of their capability, prevent and rigorously oppose any violations
of law and human rights. And if they have reason to believe that a violation
of the Code of Conduct has occurred, they must report the matter to their
superior vested with reviewing or remedial power." added the director.
"All sides to this Mindanao conflict should go back to the negotiating table
and ensure that no civilians are attacked in their operations. Those who
violated international law, from all sides of the conflict, must be held to
account." Parong concluded.
Love, rage, fire and flames,
Maria Edilyd P. Orias
Media, Communication and Publications
Mobile nos. +639178858634
Amnesty International Philippines