Filipino urged to re­tract schools threat

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

MANILA, Philip­pines — Hu­man-rights groups asked the Philippine pres­i­dent Wed­nes­day to re­tract a threat of airstrikes against tribal schools that he ac­cused of teach­ing stu­dents to be­come com­mu­nist rebels, warn­ing that such at­tacks would con­sti­tute war crimes.

U.S.-based Hu­man Rights Watch said in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law “pro­hibits at­tacks on schools and other civil­ian struc­tures un­less they are be­ing used for mil­i­tary pur­poses,” adding that de­lib­er­ate at­tacks on civil­ians, in­clud­ing stu­dents and teach­ers, “is also a war crime.”

Rep. Emmi de Je­sus of the Gabriela Women’s Party asked Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte 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 that have come un­der threat from pro-mil­i­tary mili­tias in re­cent years.

An­gered by re­cent com­mu­nist rebel at­tacks on gov­ern­ment forces, in­clud­ing a gun­bat­tle last week that wounded five mem­bers of his elite pres­i­den­tial guards, Duterte has called off peace talks with the Maoist guer­ril­las and threat­ened their per­ceived sym­pa­thiz­ers.

In a news con­fer­ence late Mon­day, af­ter de­liv­er­ing his an­nual state of the na­tion ad­dress, Duterte con­demned the in­sur­gents for de­stroy­ing bridges and torch­ing schools in the coun­try­side.

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