By Roy Mabasa
The government will conduct its own fact-finding investigation against the members of the Maute terrorist group for alleged war crimes and violations of the international humanitarian law.
In a press briefing, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the government is taking the initiative since the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will not be of any help in according justice to the victims of the Maute group in Marawi.
“We’re not waiting for their (CHR) initiative because clearly they have other priorities,” the Palace spokesman said, adding they will be coordinating with the Department of Justice which has already created a special committee tasked to prosecute individuals for violations of the International Humanitarian Law in connection with Marawi.
Roque also lamented that he has not heard of any investigation conducted by the CHR on the atrocities committed by the Mautes.
“It is always atrocities allegedly committed by state agents and their (CHR) position has been consistent. Their role is to document abuses of human rights committed by state agents which is wrong, because international humanitarian law punishes everyone even non-state actors,” said Roque, who was a former human rights defender even before he became a party list representative.
Citing the case of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Roque argued that “majority of the accused are non-state actors.”
Regarding the country’s armed forces, Roque said the military has already said that they will investigate complaints filed against their own soldiers.
“I leave that to the Armed Forces. I’m taking up the cudgels for those whose rights, unfortunately, are not being espoused by the CHR,” he said.
He pointed out that, under the Geneva Convention, it is always a treaty obligation for the state to ensure that its troops are in full compliance with the law and that includes the duty to investigate, punish, and prosecute.
Tags: CHR, Commission on Human Rights, Harry Roque, human rights, International Criminal Court, International Humanitarian Law, investigation, Manila Bulletin, Marawi city, Maute terrorist group, terrorist group, war in Marawi