Duterte says only empty tribal schools would be bombed

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses thousands of protesters following his state of the nation address in Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines on Monday. (AP photo)

MANILA -- The Philippine president said 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.

President Rodrigo Duterte responded to a question in a news conference late Thursday that the bombings will be done at night and maintained that the schools were teaching students to become subversives and were operating without government permits.

Still, Carlos Conde of the US-based Human Rights Watch said Friday that bombing even unoccupied school buildings is still a violation of international humanitarian law and constitutes a war crime.

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