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Bishop Gerardo Alminaza has urged the end of violence in the central Philippines. (CBCP)

A leading human rights group and the Catholic Church have voiced alarm over reported civilian killings and rights abuses brought about by government anti-insurgency operations on Negros Island in the central Philippines. Source: UCA News.

The insurgent group called the New People’s Army “has admitted to have extrajudicially killed at least eight people who they accused of being spies”, Carlos Conde, senior researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch, told UCA News on Monday.

“These executions, carried out after sham trials, violate international law and may constitute war crimes,” he said.

The Philippine military also needs to ensure that its counter-insurgency operations “do not violate the human rights of residents, even suspected rebels. Both parties need to abide by the rules of war,” Mr Conde added.

The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a Maoist-inspired guerrilla war since the late 1960s, the longest-running insurgency in the world.

It has been designated a terrorist group by the Philippine Government, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos has called for the tolling of church bells across Negros Island every evening at 8pm “as a prayer for the end of violence” on the island.

Bishop Alminaza’s pastoral letter, titled “Embracing Our Christian Duty to Work for Integral Peace”, came amid a series of civilian deaths and the alleged May 6 clash between government forces and rebels in an area of Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, which reportedly displaced some 580 residents.

Social teachings of the Church emphasise “the need for us to build bridges of dialogue, to embrace solidarity, and to work tirelessly for peace”, Bishop Alminaza said in the May 12 letter.


Philippine insurgents killing civilians alarm Church, rights group (UCA News)