On December 30th, during a joint police and military operation at Capiz, Panay Island and in Iloilo province 9 leaders of the indigenous Tumandok were killed, and 17 residents were arrested.
Prior to the massacre, the Philippine police and military authorities had been issued 28 search warrants against supporters and party members of the Communist Party of the Phillippines and the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels suspected of illegally possessing firearms and explosives.
Based on this, the police and military broke into the residence of the Tumandok, killed 9 Tumandok leaders who were sleeping and threatened the residents.
According to local activists, the wife of one of those killed refuted that her husband was neither a member of the communist party or NPA, nor carried a weapon.
For whatever reason, such extrajudicial killing by government authorities of sleeping and unarmed residents should never be allowed to occur. This is not the first time civilians were made victims of extrajudicial killings by authorities. The Duterte government has been known for committing extrajudicial killings of people that oppose the government throughout the Philippines.
The international community has been calling on the Duterte government to put an end to extrajudicial killings defining them as a serious violation of human rights. Nevertheless, the extrajudicial killings have been ongoing, leading to this massacre of indigenous people of the Philippines.
Korean civil society has also denounced the Philippine government’s extrajudicial murders and the anti-terrorism legislation that encourages such actions.
The reason why Korean civil society is paying attention to the massacre of Tumandok indigenous people is because Tumandok residents have been opposing the “Jalaur Mega Dam project (Phase 2)”.
The “Jalaur Mega Dam project (Phase 2)” began in 2012, when the Export-Import Bank of Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) decided to provide concessional loans in the amount 250 billion Korean Won.
Local residents who suffered both direct and indirect damage from the dam project have been opposing the construction, citing the risk of earthquakes, forced evictions, damage to ancestral graves, and violations of Philippine domestic and international laws.
Activists and local residents of the “People’s Action for the Jalaur River”, formed by Tumandok indigenous people and Filipino activists who have long opposed and resisted the Jalaur Dam project, visited Korea in April and December 2018 to provide information on the problems of the Jalaur dam and the damage done to the indigenous people. In particular, they explained that the activists and indigenous people opposed to the dam project are suffering human rights violations due to the Duterte government’s “Red-Tagging”, and that there were even incidents of extrajudicial killings. They also stated that human rights violations pertaining to the project were serious, and called on the South Korean government to address the issues.
The South Korean government and companies involved in the project should be aware of and take seriously the present situation in which severe human rights violations by the Philippine police and military, including extrajudicial killings, are taking place. Under the pretext of protecting the dam project armed troops have been stationed in the indigenous people’s residential areas, and the leaders of the indigenous people who opposed the project are being killed, causing the residents to leave their villages out of fear.
In 2017, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has expressed its concern at the documented cases of human rights violations resulting from operations of Korean companies at home and abroad, and recommended that public financial institutions link the provision of loans and grants to companies and projects to human rights requirements. The Export-Import Bank of Korea’s International Economic Cooperation Fund (EDCF) established a “safeguard” to prevent adverse impacts of large-scale development aid projects and protect the rights of local residents, and applied it to the project, but the EDCF safeguards failed to prevent such tragedy from occurring.
South Korean civil society deeply mourns the murdered residents and extends its most sincere condolences to the residents who had to start the New Year in fear. Above all, we are seriously concerned about the current situation in which the indigenous people who opposed the massive dam development project in Panay, including the Jalaur Dam project, are being killed and threatened by Philippine authorities.
It is an established human rights principle of the international community to seek prior consent from the residents for a development project and respect the tradition and culture of the indigenous people.
We strongly condemn the Duterte government’s continued enforcement of anti-human rights policies, and urge the Korean government to implement fundamental measures such as conducting human rights impact assessments on Official Development Assistance (ODA) projects.
We demand as follows.
The Philippine government should immediately cease extrajudicial killings in violation of human rights.
The Philippine government should immediately stop military operations on Panay Island and release the arrested residents.
The South Korean government, the Export-Import Bank of Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF), and construction company Daewoo E&C should suspend the construction of the Jalaur Dam. The governments, companies and institutions involved should immediately take steps to assess the human rights impacts of the project and address them.
Jan 6 2020
Signatories (Total 45 Organizations)
Asian Dignity Initiative
Association of Korea Minjung Theologians
Catholic Human Rights Committee
Churh and Society Committee of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea(PROK)
Ecumenical Youth Council in Korea
Freedom, Dignity and Asia
Green Party Korea
Human Rights Center of the National Council of Churches in Korea
Human Rights Education Center ‘Deul’
Human Rights Movement Space ‘Hwal’
Imagination For International Solidarity
Incheon Human Rights Film Festival
Incorporated Organization Silcheon Bulgyo
International Migrants Cultural Institute
Joint Committee on Freedom of Expressions and Press Suppression
Korea Alliance For Progressive Movement
Korea Christian Action Organization
Korea Civil Society Forum on International Development Cooperation(KoFID)
Korea Philippines’s Human Rights Nework
Korean House for International Solidarity
Korean Transnational Corporations Watch
Life & Safety Network
Media Christian Solidarity
Migrants Trade Union(MTU)
MINBYUN – Lawyers for a Democratic Society International Solidarity Committee
National Clergy Conference For Justice and Peace
OSAN DASOM CHURCH
OSAN MIGRENT CENTER
Pax Christi Korea
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy(PSPD)
People’s Initiative for Development Altermatives(PIDA)
Presbysterian Church of Republic of Korea
Refugee Rights Center, NANCEN
Supporters group for migrant workers movement
The fellowship with sufferers
The National Youth Association of The Presbyterian Church in the RepublicOf Korea (PROKY)
Ulsan Solidarity for Human Rights
Won Buddhism Human Rights Committee
*Originally published by FreedomDignityAsia on January 7, 2021.