27 July, 2017
Human Rights Watch (HRW) slammed the president's comments on Tuesday in the wake of his threats to call for airstrikes on schools for indigenous Lumad children on the southern island that he alleged are teaching "subversion" and "communism". "By allowing this, he will victimize more people especially your children and other Chinese", Duterte said.
Rights groups say they are concerned that Duterte's rhetoric may give tacit approval to the military to abuse civilians.
The declaration involves an inter-governmental commitment to the protection of students, teachers, schools and universities from violence during times of war.
Rights groups have repeatedly taken issue with Duterte's statements threatening abuses or condoning atrocities.
"Instead of blaming the AFP for the collapse of the peace negotiations, Mr. Sison should manifest his leadership and control of the CPP-NPA-NDF and rally them into halting the extortion and the attacks on soldiers that are on peace and development endeavors and to show their group's sincerity to and trustworthiness for the peace talks", he added.
Left-wing Rep Emmi de Jesus, of the Gabriela Women's Party, urged the president to retract the threat, saying government troops may use it as a pretext to attack indigenous, or Lumad, schools and communities in the country's south which have come under threat from pro-military militias in recent years.
Duterte asked to retract threat
Conde urged Duterte to sign a 2015 worldwide political statement, the Safe Schools Declaration, that commits governments to supporting the protection of students, teachers and schools in times of armed conflict. If Duterte was to go after Lumad schools, he could very well find himself in front of an global tribune. "I will use the armed forces, the Philippine air force".
"They are mere bandits and terrorists posing as communists".
Junance Fritzi Magbanua, an administrative officer of the Mindanao Interfaith Foundation Inc. which runs indigenous schools in the south, said Duterte's threats have heightened fear among Lumads already affected by attacks by the military and the security forces of big mining companies due to their resistance to mining.
"It's basically the President simply expressing his frustration regarding the apparent biases of the Commission", Abella said.
Regional offices in Mindanao also declined to release data on the list of schools that supposedly operate without a permit. It likewise did not respond to inquiries on the information about the information cited by the President on schools operating without DepEd permit.