MANILA, Philippines — Communist rebels and human rights advocates accused President Rodrigo Duterte of encouraging the commission of war crimes through his recent statements, including one in which he urged soldiers to shoot female guerrillas “in the vagina.”
This comment runs afoul of Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Cleo del Mundo, spokesperson of the New People’s Army’s Apolonio Mendoza Command in Quezon province, pointed out in a statement.
Article 27 says:
“Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity.
“Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault.
“Without prejudice to the provisions relating to their state of health, age and sex, all protected persons shall be treated with the same consideration by the Party to the conflict in whose power they are, without any adverse distinction based, in particular, on race, religion or political opinion.
“However, the Parties to the conflict may take such measures of control and security in regard to protected persons as may be necessary as a result of the war.”
Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said in a separate statement that Duterte “incites the worst violations of international humanitarian law, aside from his exhortations to his State forces to disregard basic human and people’s rights.”
Even before he formally terminated peace negotiations with the communists last Novembe, Duterte had regularly threatened the NPA and even organizations he accuses of being “legal fronts” of the rebels.
Among Duterte’s most recent was an offer of P20,000 to indigenous people for each NPA member they kill. Last year, he also threatened to bomb lumad schools and, in a speech to troops engaged in the fighting in Marawi City, appeared to offer them protection if they committed rape.
His “shoot them in the vagina” quip was made in a speech before “rebel returnees” in Malacañang on February 7.
“It is thus no wonder, that his foot soldiers in the military to his minions in the executive branch, the police, and in both houses of Congress have shown the same kind of braggadocio, which is but a mere expression of the Duterte regime’s cowardice to account for its crimes against the Filipino people,” Palabay noted.
On the other hand, Del Mundo contrasted Duterte’s attitude towards women and human rights in general with that of the NPA, which she said “advances a just people’s war that has a high regard for the welfare of civilians, especially children and women.”
“Ang ganitong mataas na respeto sa kababaihan ang dahilan kung bakit nananatiling ang sektor ng kababaihan ay balon ng mga mandirigma, kumander at kadre ng CPP-NPA sa limang dekadang pakikidigma nito (This high respect for women is the reason why the women’s sector remains a well for fighters, commanders and cadres of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA in five decades of fighting),” she said.
On a personal note, she said this recognition of women’s rights “ang humikayat sa kagaya ko na mag-NPA at buong panahong maglingkod sa mamamayang Pilipino (is what convinced those like me to join the NPA and serve the Filipino people full time,” in her case, for more than a decade.
“Bilang ina at NPA na babae, nananawagan ako sa kababaihan ng bansa na mapagpasyang magbalikwas laban sa rehimeng US-Duterte. Madilim ang kinabukasan ng kababaihan sa rehimeng ito (As a mother and a female NPA, I call on th women of the country to turn their backs on the US-Duterte regime. The future for women is dark under this regime),” she said.
Del Mundo pointed out that the NPA’s code of discipline explicitly prohibits taking advantage of women and harming or verbally abusing others, especially prisoners, “the exact opposite of the policy pushed by the macho-fascist Duterte.”
She also urged soldiers and police personnel “to stand against your commander-in-chief” for “insulting the mothers who gave you the lives that Duterte is now gambling with in his demented war on drugs, martial law in Mindanao and Oplan Kapayapaan.”