On November 22, Rodrigo Duterte said there is no need to declare Martial Law nationwide. This is the nth time he said this. But his Memorandum Order 32, which is patterned in Martial Law in Mindanao, is not short of a martial rule. Ordered in the memo were redeployment of Armed Forces in the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police Special Action Forces (PNP-SAF) in Bicol, Negros and Samar to quell “lawless violence.”
In 2001, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared a “state of lawless violence” covering the island of Basilan. It resulted to the arrest of 121 people suspected of being members of Abu Sayyaf. Seventy-three of them were brought in Bicutan, Tugig City. Some were already dead and some are still in jail ”despite of overwhelming evidence of innocence.”
His government officials talked of proposing another martial law extension in Mindanao (now 17 months old) and pushed for shutting down of social media accounts which they deem ‘inimical to national interest. Vilification of nationalist and progressive organizations, party lists and churches and church organizations have been part of his breathing.
In addition to all these is the commissioning of the Duterte’s Death Squad (DDS) nationwide to kill suspected New People’s Army (NPA), an order that could endanger the lives of progressive individuals and activists who can be subject for harassment, intimidation and threats. It could be another open season for extrajudicial killings, just like Duterte’s war on drugs.
What he said on that same day was revealing.
“Iyang martial law-martial law. Hindi ako mag-declare ng martial law. Bakit ako mag-declare ng martial law? Puwede man kitang hulihin. Puwede nga kitang patayin eh,” Duterte said in a speech at the 35th founding anniversary of the Philippine Army Reserve Command at the Camp General Mariano Riego de Dios in Tanza, Cavite.
[That martial law, I won’t declare that. Why would I need to declare martial law? I can arrest you. I can even kill you.]
He does not need to declare martial law nationwide. There is de facto martial law nationwide, anyway.
Human rights violations in Mindanao martial law
The recently concluded National Clergy Convocation of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) in Davao City on November 19-23, 2018, clergy listened to the testimonies of our Indigenous People (Lumad) and Moro brothers and sisters, peasant and labor leaders who are the direct victims of human rights violations and abuses of the state forces because of Martial Law in Mindanao.
The Lumad has been uprooted from their communities which violated their rights to live in their ancestral lands and exercise their rights to self-determination as provided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).
Since the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao last year, the indigenous people have suffered forced evacuation, affecting 2,500 students, teachers, and parents of the Lumad schools. More than 700 leaders and activists are facing trumped up cases in the whole of Mindanao—most of these are non-bailable cases to impede their advocacy work or silences dissenting voices.
Extrajudicial killings in Mindanao have claimed more than 150 victims, most of them activists and community leaders who are against large scale mining, agribusiness plantations, mega dams and energy-generation projects, among others. The military has tricked and forced thousands of civilians to be paraded as rebel surrenderees. But, in truth, they were merely victims of deceit, intimidation, and threats.
A Moro resource person testified that a year after President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of Marawi City liberation from the siege mounted by Maute and other ISIS-inspired groups, more than 27,000 displaced Marawi City residents continue to suffer homelessness and landlessness.
The residents of Marawi City are barred by the government from returning to their communities citing various reasons including clearing operations and delays in groundbreaking ceremonies. They are prevented to construct their own houses and deprived them from reclaiming their properties in the ground zero, as the government will not provide resources, to be part of the rehabilitation plan.
The displaced Meranaw residents from its rehabilitation plan of the 27 barangays identified as ground zero or the most affected areas (MAA), leaving most of them living in temporary shelters lacking basic services due to dwindling relief services after President Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi City.
The peasant sector and its organizations in different provinces in Mindanao are crying for justice and genuine and lasting peace. The testimony of the leader of a peasant organization revealed that under Duterte’s Martial Law, political killings in Mindanao have intensified.
The leader of the peasant organization in Southern Mindanao said that Martial Law in Mindanao only brought killings, human rights abuses and unending misery for Mindanaoans. Almost 75 percent of the AFP troops are deployed in Mindanao and are wreaking havoc in urban and rural communities. Mindanaoans are not safe and secured at all from state-sponsored terror and attacks.
The workers were not spared from the attacks of the state forces because of martial Law. A labor leader testified that in Compostela Valley, the banana plantation workers have organized and brought labor issues like contractualization even up to the Supreme Court. They staged a workers strike, but the Department of Labor issued an Assumption of Jurisdiction (AJ) against the striking workers. An AJ is a tool employed against the workers’ right to strike, issued on the basis of an assessment that the industry is vital to the economy of the society so the workers cannot go on strike.
Through the AJ, the local government units and the military forces were deployed to destroy the picket lines of the striking workers. The military also said to the workers that the labor code cannot be invoked because there is Martial Law in Mindanao.
Granting that there is no Martial Law nationwide, the instruments of fascist rules and tyranny are being applied. The people must not forget the gross human rights violations during the Martial Law of Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. Peace-loving church people and Filipino people must oppose these instruments of death. All people must act now before it is too late.