By Chito Chavez
Human rights group Karapatan has deplored the recent bombing at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Jolo, Sulu but at the same time reminded the government never to use it as an excuse to commit violent and abusive acts against critics of the Duterte administration.
The group was specifically pointing to the imposition of martial law and the “Oplan: Kapayapaan’’ being enforced in Mindanao.
“We caution politicians and the AFP to refrain from making mindless accusations, so as to serve their own agenda of peddling more militarist policies as these would possibly aggravate the situation and result to endangering more civilian communities,’’ Karapatan said.
The group asserted the strong possibility that “this tragic incident may be used as pretext to railroad the insidious and pernicious amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007 or the Anti-Terror Law, which will increasingly jeopardize the Filipino people’s civil and political rights.”
The group insisted the timing of the said incident is suspect, just when both the House of Representatives and the Senate are deliberating the proposed amendments.
“Is this incident meant to create the political justification for increased iron-fisted rule? Only the perpetrators and masterminds can know,’’ Karapatan said.
At least 27 persons were killed while 80 others were injured.
Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay said the group sympathizes with the victims of the “horrible incident’’ as they are in one with the “people of Sulu in calling for justice.”
“We condemn the said bombing as a dire violation of international humanitarian law, which specifies protection for civilians and places of worship from such attacks. We likewise demand an immediate and impartial investigation on the incident, beyond the groundless accusations of political vultures eyeing this tragedy for political gain and mileage,’’ Palabay said.
Palabay noted that “the people in Mindanao continue to face unabated killings, arrests and forces evacuation amid military operations, while the people of Marawi have yet to recover and attain justice for their displacement and the violations they have endured.”
She asserted the parading of more militarist solutions “will no doubt create a fertile environment that will make civilian communities more vulnerable to such attacks and atrocities.”