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PHILIPPINES: Martial Law is Not the Answer!
Statements on the imposition of martial law in Mindanao
Yes to peace, no to martial law
Akbayan grieves with the people of Marawi, thousands of whom were displaced by the continuing clashes in their home city while many others are still trapped amid the crossfire. The death toll is now at 97, while the airstrikes continue to damage property and livelihood of Marawi residents. In the face of clashes between the Maute group and the government troops, it is the people who suffer most the consequences of violence.
We also applaud the bravery of many who have opened their homes to the exodus of people and the people from all around the country who have initiated donation drives to help our fellow Filipinos in Mindanao.
We however condemn the far-reaching Martial Law declaration of the President and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus as a disproportionate and extreme response to the Maute group; instead of ending terrorism and promoting peace, such extreme response to the Maute group threatens to further escalate violence in the region. Peace, more often than not, is the casualty of Martial Law.
It is also important to point out that Duterte’s martial law is not the martial law that is envisioned under the 1987 constitution. It is akin to Marcos’s 1972 martial law that recognizes no checks and balance. The President not only blatantly boasts of how harsh his martial law will be, as inspired by Marcos’s bloody rule, he further threatens to ignore both its co-equal branches, the Congress and the Supreme Court.
We in Akbayan do not doubt his capacity to keep true to his bloody promise, we only need to look at the more than 8,000 dead in his equally terrifying war on drugs.
We therefore call on both houses of Congress to band together in providing the needed safeguards to the President’s reign of terror and convene a joint session immediately.
We remind Congress that there are no shortcuts to peace. Fighting terrorism is not the only ingredient to lasting peace in Mindanao. They must be at the forefront of scrutinizing any policy measure that masquerades as a silver bullet for peace, especially if this silver bullet will serve to spill more blood on the soils of Mindanao.
No to Maute terrorism, but in equal measure, we also say no to authoritarianism! Never again to martial law!
PLM statement on the imposition of martial law in Mindanao
Party of the Laboring Masses (PLM)
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao through Proclamation 216 issued while he was still visiting Russia on May 23, 2017. This was in reaction to the attacks made by the Maute Group, a Moro group supposedly inspired by or with links to Isis (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
According to the proclamation, the Maute Group took over a hospital in Marawi, set up several checkpoints within the city, burned down government and private facilities, inflicted casualties on the government forces, and flew the flag of Isis in several areas – acts which purportedly constitute rebellion, a basis for the declaration of martial law in Mindanao. The Maute Group has been identified by the government as a terrorist group responsible for a number of attacks, bombings, and killings in Lanao del Sur. It was also responsible for the mass jailbreak in Marawi which freed their jailed comrades and other detainees in August 2016.
On May 23, when the military and police forces conducted an operation in Marawi to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the Abu Sayyaf forces fought back and called reinforcements from the Maute Group. About 50 came and engaged the government forces in a shooting spree. At least one policeman and two soldiers were killed, while 12 other government troops sustained wounds. Many members of the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute were also reported killed.
Many have observed that the declaration of martial law is an overkill response. The night of the attacks, the military declared that the situation had been under control. Hence, the government could have just responded with more police and military operations to hunt down the terrorist groups.
The PLM sees the declaration of martial law an indication of the failure of the Duterte government to solve the conflict in Mindanao through the peace process it supposedly initiated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The Maute Group, the Abu Sayaff, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and other groups used to belong to the MILF and probably have connections with them till now. Most have become bandit groups but some espoused Islamist convictions founded on perceived national and religious oppression.
Martial law will only fan the flames of war in Mindanao. It is not a solution to the long-festering insurgency in the area. The solution has always been the eradication of the roots of poverty and national oppression of the Moro people and the various indigenous groups in Mindanao.
Duterte’s declaration of martial law also confirms the drift of his administration to the Right. Just recently, Duterte allowed anti-mining activist Gina Lopez to be removed by his cabal from Congress as DENR secretary and replaced by an ex-general associated with mining interests. He has also appointed several ex-generals and military men to government posts, making his administration the most “militarized” one since the Marcos period.
The martial law regime, with Duterte as the commander-in-chief, will have the military and police as its main implementors, therefore its main beneficiaries. When Duterte explained that his martial law will look like martial law under Marcos, it is also to spite the limitations and safeguards put forth by the Constitution in declaring martial law today.
Martial law will only induce violence from various groups engaged in armed resistance. Today, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) called on its army, the New People’s Army, to intensify guerrilla actions in Mindanao. The declaration of martial law clearly puts to risk even the peace talks with the CPP which has a large number of its forces in Mindanao. As long as the climate of martial law persists, and the political negotiations are stalled, the insurgency will continue unabated.
As a response, we call on various progressive and democratic forces to unite in the broadest coalition possible against the declaration of martial law. If Duterte is testing the waters in his open longing to declare martial law all over the country, we have to ensure that today’s declaration will not prosper if ever there is a Congress review on this matter, and during the deliberation in the Supreme Court once the cases against it have been filed by various groups. The only assurance to this is our capacity to unleash massive mobilization that will reverse the tide of authoritarian rule in the country.
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)
Workers group sees danger in unqualified declaration of martial law for entire Mindanao
NAGKAISA Labor Coalition
The Philippine Constitution under Article 7 Section 18 granted the President the power to declare a state of martial law. But such a declaration should meet certain requirements to justify suppression of lawless violence, invasion or rebellion and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
We condemn and will continue to oppose any act of terrorism perpetrated by any group in any part of the country. And while we recognize the power of the President to address security emergencies like this one, we also will not disregard the danger posed by unqualified use of military power to deal with security threats at the expense of democracy and basic human rights. Filipinos will never forget the dark days under fourteen years of martial law.
In line with this, we find the Moscow declaration of President Duterte placing the entire Mindanao under the state of martial law as worrisome as it came with yet to be qualified basis except for the pockets of violence that erupted yesterday in Marawi City between the military and the combined forces of Maute and Abu Sayaff groups. Why place the entire Mindanao under a state of martial law when the military itself claimed it is in full control of the situation?
Even the fire and storm of Misuari in Zamboanga nor the firefights in Ipil were not sufficient cause for a declaration of Martial Law. Indeed, if there is any lesson, Mindanaoans have demonstrated in the last 40 years, is that they best cooperate, cohabit and interact with each other WITHOUT Martial Law. The historical memory of the Filipino race has been so foreshadowed by the totalitarian menace that even now, we feel more threatened than secured by the State under Martial Law. Workers will never forget, especially when workers’ rights to organize, to bargain and to strike occupy such a low level of political esteem from the powers that be. We ask all to step back from the totalitarian temptation.
Furthermore, the Filipino people deserve the right to be properly informed on matters of national security especially when their rights and welfare are affected by executive decrees, including military actions that reign supreme over civilian authority during a state of martial law.
Lastly, we call on the Congress and the Supreme Court to exercise their oversight powers over the President on the issue of martial law, and for the Filipino people to remain vigilant during these difficult and challenging times.
We condemn the declaration of Martial Law
On Tuesday night, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law on the entire Mindanao Island while on a state visit in Russia, following the fighting between the military and the Maute group.
It has to be clarified that the clashes were triggered by law enforcement operation in Marawi. This is a situation started by the government itself. Similarly, the Maute group is a local terrorist group, and not ISIS, even as the former tries to ally itself with ISIS.
We condemn the violence perpetrated by the Maute group to advance their political interest. Attacking civilian population not party to the conflict between government forces and the Maute violates duly recognized human rights of the people and violation of International Humanitarian Law on armed conflict.
While the fighting has endangered the life of civilians in the area, Martial Law does not alleviate this danger nor ensure the resolution of conflict and achievement of peace. Note that the National State of Emergency Due to Lawless Violence, declared after the Davao bombing, is still in place nationwide.
Martial Law adversely affects civilians as this would curtail many of their rights. Without Martial Law, the military has engaged and fought terrorist groups in Mindanao and can continue to do so as their obligation and mandate.
With Martial Law, the civil and political rights of the civilians, and their lives, are endangered more than ever. Confusion and insecurity among communities may be taken advantaged of by different armed groups, furthering the violence in Marawi, and the rest of Mindanao. Human rights abuses are bound to happen, especially under a presidency which has openly shown no respect for human rights. It could potentially endanger striking workers and other protesting activists in Mindanao.
The public has the right to be informed of the situation in Mindanao and as of the declaration of Martial Law, a lot of questions remained unanswered. Defense Secretary Lorenzana himself told media that “there is intelligence” about the situation in Marawi, but that this intel has been wrongly interpreted. If the situation in Marawi had to do with weaknesses in the execution of its job, Martial Law, and over the entire Mindanao Island, is NOT the answer to this shortcoming or failure.
The 1987 Constitution has limited the President’s powers to place the country or any part of it under martial law to two situations – invasion or rebellion – and only when the public safety requires it. Clearly, only compelling reasons must justify martial law. The current situation does not constitute sufficient factual basis for the proclamation of martial law or the potential suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
WE CALL ON THE CONGRESS TO REVOKE THE DECLARATION OF MARTIAL LAW!
Our call on the Emergency Crisis in Marawi City Condemn Violence! Protect Civilians! Uphold Human Rights at all times!
Around 2 o’clock in the afternoon of 23 May 2017, gunfight between armed men (suspected Maute Group allegedly ISIS sympathizer) and the elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) erupted in public places in Marawi City putting civilian population hostage in the situation. As the violence intensifies, civilian population are exposed to higher risk of being killed or injured. In fact, reports have noted that the gunfight has already claimed 3 lives, wounded 12 other individuals, abducted church leaders, held civilians hostage, occupied hospital and burned and destroyed properties as of midnight of May 23.
We, in the tri-people peace and human rights movements express our strong condemnation of this violence. We are deeply saddened that this atrocity has happened especially in times like this when our Muslim brothers and sisters are about to observe in three (3) days’ time the Holy Month of Ramadhan.
In this regard,
We call on all parties involved to stop the hostilities and atrocities in Marawi City;
We call on the warring groups not to use civilians as shields and free all public places from hostile actions and armed confrontations; avoid indiscriminate firing, bombing and shelling; observe compliance to the international humanitarian law and the rules of engagement in the conduct of the operations;
We call for the government to exert all efforts to ensure the safety and protection of the civilians now trapped in the midst of the current emergency crisis; involve and make civilian communities, not just mere passive recipients, but, as part and integral in coming up solution to end this crisis;
Particularly, we ask the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to maximize the existing peace processes and mechanisms to help arrest the emergency situation;
We call on the religious leaders, council of elders, community leaders and all state and non-state peace actors to intervene and demand for the protection of lives, properties and communities; to lead in maintaining sobriety, critical mind, and prevent inciting religious and cultural biases out of this situation;
We call on humanitarian organizations and agencies to immediately respond to the needs of affected populations;
The current government’s response in Placing Mindanao under Martial law will not solve the current situation instead it will only further the violence and curtailment of civilian and community rights to peace and life. Suspension of the legal remedies specifically the Writ of Habeas Corpus would further put the communities and civil societies in a vulnerable situation- a lesson we have learned from the terror of Marcos era. Thus, we demand to the Philippine Congress not to support the declaration of Martial Law and must uphold the supremacy of civilian and the Philippine constitution instead;
As peacebuilders and human rights defenders, we viewed this direct violence as result of governments’ neglect in fulfilling the rights and entitlements of its peoples which can be responded to without using arms and violence.
Despite this situation, we appeal to the general public to continue building the infrastructure of peace by strengthening solidarity towards each other, intensify our efforts to build harmonious relationship between and among peoples, strengthen our convictions to build communities of justpeace where respect, social justice and co-existence inspire us all. Let us continue propagating the seeds of understanding and mutual respect we have nurtured for quite some time already.
Alliance of the Tri-People for the Advancement of Human Rights (ALTAHR)
Alyansa ng Kabataang Mindanao para sa Kapayapaan (AKMK)
AKMK Young Women
Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan para sa Karapatang Pantao (AMKP)
Association of OFW Children-Maguindanao-Cotabato
Coalition of Lanao Utility Transport for Change (CLUTCH)
Convergence of NGOs and POs in Zamboanga del Sur for Rural Development, Inc (CONZARRD)
Demokratikong Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (DKMP) – Lanao
Electoral Reforms and Development Assistance Center, Inc (ERDAC)
Erumanen Ne Menuvu Kamal
Federation of Democratic Labor Organizations (FDLO)
Interfaith Movement for Clean and Peaceful Election (IM4PeaCe)
International Institute for Research and Education
Kaagapay OFW Resource and Service Center, Inc (Kaagapay OFW)
Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma ug Mamumuong Kababayen-an alang sa Kalambuan (KASAMMA KA)
Kagkalimwa OFW Federation
Kahugpungan sa mga Mangingisda sa Kolambugan (KASAMA KO)
Kilusang Maralita sa Kanayunan (KILOS KA)
Kilusan ng mga Mamamayan para sa Pagbabago ng Bayan (Kilos Bayan)
Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (LAHRA)
Lanao Aquatic and Marine Fisheries Center for Community Development, Inc (LAFCCOD)
Lanao Fisheries Advocacy Network (LFAN)
Liga ng Makabagong Kabataan (LMK)
Lig-ong Hinisuang Kusog sa Kabus sa Dakbayan (LIHUK)
Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM)
Mindanao Tri-People Women Resource Center, Inc (MTWRC)
Mindanao Tri-people Women Forum (MTWF)
Mindanao Tri-People Youth Center, Inc (MTPYC)
MindanaOne Tri-peoples Movement for the Advancement of Democratic Rights (MindanaOne)
Multi-Stakeholders Initiative for Humanitarian Action Network against Disasters (MiHANDs)
Nagkahiusang Mag-uumang Organiko (NAMAO)
Nagkahiusang Mangingisda alang sa Kalambuan (NAMANGKA SND)
Nangkahiusang Organisasyong Mangingisda sa Tubod ug Baroy (NOMaTuB)
Patido Manggagawa (PM)
Ranao Disaster Response and Rehabilitation Assistance Center, Inc (RDRRAC)
Ranao Women and Children Resource Center, Inc (RWCRC)
Sumpay Mindanao, Inc.
Sustainable Alternatives for the Advancement of Mindanao (SALAM)
Timuay Justice and Governance (TJG) of Teduray and Lambangian tribes
Tri-Peoples’ Organization against Disasters Foundation (TRIPOD)
Tri-People Youth for Change (TryChange)
Teduray-Lambangian Youth and Student Association (TLYSA)
Umpungan Nu mga Babai sa Bagua 2 (UBB2)