MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says his threat to launch airstrikes against tribal schools because they allegedly teach subversion would apply only when the buildings are empty, a clarification that still raised concern he was advocating a war crime.
Critics had asked Duterte to retract his earlier threat, saying government troops may use it as a pretext to attack indigenous, or Lumad, schools and communities. He had claimed the schools were teaching students to become communist rebels and were operating without government permits.
Duterte responded to a question about his threat at a news conference late Thursday by saying the bombings will be done at night.
Carlos Conde of Human Rights Watch says bombing unoccupied schools still violates International Humanitarian Law and is a war crime.