DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A member of the House of Representatives (HOR) has urged the Duterte administration and Communist guerillas to support the United Nations (UN) Security Council’s call for a 90-day “humanitarian pause” in conflicts worldwide amid the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Lawyer Carlos Isagani Zarate, HOR’s Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Party-list Representative, said the Philippines, being a member of UN, “should readily support this call especially that the country is reeling from the grave effects of the COVID-19 crisis”.
He added the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) should also support this call “since it has also previously acceded to the UN’s call last March for a ceasefire among parties in conflict in this time of pandemic.”
From an initial 30-day pause, the UN resolution revised on Monday, April 27, now “calls upon all parties to armed conflicts to engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 90 consecutive days.”
According to the said draft, the “humanitarian pause” was adopted “in order to enable the safe, unhindered and sustained delivery of humanitarian assistance, provisions of related services by impartial humanitarian actors.”
On rights violations
Zarate said that it must be ensured that violations by parties to the conflict would not occur or that the same will be used as a pretext for even more repressive measures or violations of human rights.
He called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to conduct an independent probe on the supposed armed encounters between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the New People’s Army during the lockdown ceasefire period.
Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte cited the alleged attacks of the communist rebels against the government’s relief efforts and threatened for a possible imposition of Martial Law amid the pandemic.
The Communist Party of the Philippines responded to Duterte’s allegations, saying guerillas were on active defense against AFP attacks during their extended ceasefire.
Zarate also urged the CHR and UNHRC to investigate the “reported indiscriminate military aerial bombings and other violations in the course of its counter-insurgency operations against the NPA rebels.”
Bayan Muna noted that there had been unreported cases of police and military violations of human rights across the country. Other rights advocates have expressed alarm over reports of violence during the enforcement of the extended enhanced community quarantine.
“It is therefore imperative that an independent probe body will look into all of these reported violations while we are at the same time calling for a wider support of this ongoing UN initiative so that affected countries, the Philippines especially, will concentrate its resources in solving the COVID-19 pandemic with medical and socio-economic measures rather than militaristic ones,” Zarate added. (davaotoday.com)