Lumad leader’s child tells UN rapporteur about injustices
Lumad leader’s child tells UN rapporteur about injustices
UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst describes the murders of Lumad leaders as 'systematic', no different from the aggressions 'suffered by human rights defenders in rural areas and indigenous communities'

MANILA, Philippines – Michelle Campos, slain Lumad leader Dionel Campos’ daughter, met Michel Forst, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, on March 2. 

According to Karapatan, a group of human rights advocates and organizations, the two met during the ongoing 31st regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland. They also took the time to discuss the Lumad’s plight. 

Campos told Forst of the night of her father’s murder, and railed against the impunity, which she said, is “perpetrated by the Aquino regime and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.” 

She cited an instance where Loloy Tojero, a suspect in the murders, was seen drinking with the members of the Philippine Army’s 75th Infantry Battalion. 

“They do not arrest criminals in their ranks and among paramilitary groups,” Campos told Forst. 

Forst criticized the continuing abuses against the Lumad communities, and urged the government to take action to make sure there is justice for victims of abuses. He explained that the lack of punitive measures encourage perpetrators to commit these acts.

Forst included his meeting with Campos in the report he presented on March 3.

He described the murders of Lumad leaders as “systematic”, no different from the aggressions “suffered by human rights defenders (HRDs) in rural areas and indigenous communities.”

The 47 states of the UNHRC are “responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.”

The council meets at least thrice a year. Its 31st session was held from February 29, 2016 to March 24, 2016.

Lumad, HRDs, impunity 

The deaths of HRDs like Campos and the absence of convictions for these murders have given the Philippines a bad reputation in human rights. 

Amnesty International (AI) included the cases of human rights abuses in their 2016 report and blamed “a climate of impunity” in the country for them.

Cases of torture and enforced disappearances in the Philippines have been made worse by the police being perpetrators themselves.

Armed groups were allegedly behind the deaths of Campos and fellow Lumad leaders Emerito Samarca, Lito Abion, and Juvello Sinzo. (READ: TIMELINE: Attacks on the Lumad of Mindanao)

The Lumad and their advocates blame the Aquino administration’s “Oplan Bayanihan” and the rapid encroachment of mining companies on their native land for their plight. This did not escape Forst, who included these in his report.

He told those present at the session that these violations were “committed in the course of environmentally dubious mining operations, wide-spread development of monoculture plantations, land grabs and territorial disputes.” (READ: ‘Not all is well with globalization’ – Lumad, advocates)

Aside from the Lumad leaders, Karapatan gave Forst a list of cases of killings of HRDs, as well as instances of intimidation.

The Philippines was ranked 2nd worldwide in the killings of human rights defenders. The 31 killings in 2015 make up 60% of the reported deaths in Asia and the Pacific. –

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