What revolutionary justice? It’s plain murder, HRW tells NPA

MANILA, Philippines – The New People’s Army’s execution of a mayor and his son broke international humanitarian law and is “plain murder,” the New York-based Human Rights Watch said Tuesday, October 29.

The communist guerrillas have claimed responsibility for the killing of Mayor Dario Otaza of Loreto, Agusan del Sur, and his 27-year-old son Daryl, calling the act “revolutionary justice” for Otaza’s alleged close ties with the military.

Posing as law enforcement agents, the rebels raided the Otaza home in Butuan City on October 19 and abducted the mayor and his son. Their bodies were found a day after in a village about 12 kilometers away from the city.

“The killing of the Otazas – like other NPA executions – is just plain murder,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The NPA’s actions and claims of revolutionary justice handed down by people’s courts are flagrant violations of international law.”

Human Rights Watch said that the NPA is “obligated to abide by international humanitarian law, including common article 3 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its Second Additional Protocol of 1977 (Protocol II), to which the Philippines is party.” This law “prohibits killing civilians, mistreating anyone in custody, and convicting anyone in proceedings that do not meet international fair trial standards. Article 6 of Protocol II specifies that criminal courts must be independent and impartial, and the accused shall have ‘all necessary rights and means of defense,’ among other guarantees,” the group added.

The rebels said the Otazas assisted the military in displacing indigenous communities in the region and torturing children, and that father and son masterminded the killing of at least 3 people.

“Claims by the NPA that defendants receive a fair hearing during its people’s court proceedings are not supported by the facts,” Human Rights Watch said. Philip Alston, the former United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions who investigated extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in 2007, described the people’s courts as “either deeply flawed or simply a sham.” 

Human Rights Watch said the NPA is also responsible for the following murders:

“By resorting to vigilantism in the name of justice, the NPA is only serving to harm its own demands for justice for victims of military human rights violations,” Robertson said. “The NPA should end this charade of unjust ‘people’s courts’ and cease all executions.”

The NPA is behind Asia's longest running insurgency. – Rappler.com