Philippines: We condemn extension of Martial Law in Mindanao


Martial Law Has Failed in Mindanao. Martial Law in Mindanao is a Prelude to Martial Law Nationwide.

The extension of martial law in Mindanao to the end of 2018 by Congress comes as no surprise to Laban ng Masa (Fight of the Masses). Over the last year and a half, the Senate and the House of Representatives have been completely transformed into pliant tools of President Rodrigo Duterte, with the vast majority of the members of these two chambers surrendering their remaining shred of self-respect to become accomplices to Malacanang’s authoritarian agenda.

Martial Law Has Failed in Mindanao

Martial law has not worked if we measure its outcome by its avowed objectives of defeating terrorism and bringing peace and stability to Mindanao. The application of the military solution may have resulted in a victory in Marawi against the Mautes, but at a heavy cost. This was a case of winning the battle but losing the war. A whole generation of Muslim youth has been alienated by the government’s reliance on force and discarding a political solution to the grievances of their people, with many of them now even more attracted to extremist groups like the Mautes and ISIS, whom they regard as heroes instead of villains. Indeed, as many observers have noted, Western Mindanao is now ripe territory for ISIS’s expansion in Southeast Asia.

Martial Law in Mindanao is a Prelude to Martial Law Nationwide

But martial law was never just about pacifying Mindanao. To Duterte, martial law in Mindanao was always a prelude to the imposition of martial law nationwide, with its timing dependent on the emergence of favorable circumstances to justify its imposition. The extension of martial law has brought us closer to this moment. For among the reasons cited by the administration for its extension is to “stamp out the terrorists,” among which it has now included the Communist Party (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA). Since the CPP and the NPA operate across the length and breadth of the archipelago, Duterte’s loudly proclaimed aim of destroying them is likely to provide the pretext and rationale for extending martial law to the rest of the country.

The Decisive Factor: People’s Resistance

Some say that the declaration of martial law nationwide is not a question of if but when. We understand why Duterte’s determined drive towards authoritarian rule makes them fatalistic. But we in Laban ng Masa do not agree that martial law is inevitable. There is one factor that would make Duterte hesitate, and this is the people’s resistance. A strong people’s movement that says no to Duterte, no to martial law, no to dictatorship is the force that can and will make the difference.

Laban ng Masa is committed to building this movement. We urge all Filipinos to be vigilant of their democratic rights. But beyond that, we ask them to join us in the streets, in their places of work, in their homes in a constant mobilization to oppose martial law and act as a brake on the slide towards dictatorship. We must link arms and act together to tell Duterte we will not tolerate a repeat of the martial law dictatorship that his hero, Ferdinand Marcos, imposed on our country for 14 bloody years, from 1972 to 1986.

No to the extension of martial law in Mindanao!
No to the imposition of martial law on the whole country!
Stop the slide towards #Dutertedura!
#SagotSaDiktadura: #LabanNgMasa!


December 10 reminds us of our nation's commitment to human rights. The Philippines is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that, together, form the International Bill of Human Rights. Thus, our government is mandated to respect, protect, and fulfill our civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are inherent in all of us. However, today, we are also reminded of a president who has little regard for our rights.

President Duterte has put the country under a climate of impunity, and of fear. In less than a year and a half in office, he has overseen a government that has waged a war on the poor. Over 13,000 people, mostly poor, have already been killed under his government's so-called War on Drugs. With the recent murders of Catholic priest Fr. Marcelito Paez in Nueva Ecija, Pastor Lovelito Quinoñes in Oriental Mindoro, and human rights activist Elisa Badayos in Negros Oriental, Duterte's war has expanded to critics and activists alike.

Duterte's shoot-to-kill order of suspected rebels of the New People's Army is the latest example of his encouragement of extra-judicial killings, in direct violation of the Philippines' commitment to human rights. With the unbridled use of iron hand methods, it is obvious that the president is not interested in respecting, protecting or fulfilling our rights. What he is interested in is consolidating absolute power unto himself, whether through martial law, revolutionary government, or charter change along the lines of "federalism."

But Duterte underestimates the Filipino People. We have once ousted a dictator. We are not afraid to do so again. We have no patience for tyranny nor for anyone who makes a mockery of our rights. We call on our compatriots, especially our youth, to oppose all the anti-people policies of this administration, starting with its attempt to impose a dictatorship through whatever form. Let us unite and resist the forces that want to bring the country back to its dark past.

However, let us not end there. Just as we cannot fully enjoy our rights in a climate of fear, we also cannot fully enjoy them in a state of want. Today, about one in four Filipinos live in poverty, while the gap between the lives of the one percent at the top -- the big capitalists and landlords -- and the 99 percent of the population continues to widen. Standing up for human rights also means standing up to the social and political system that condemns millions of Filipinos to poverty, inequality, and powerlessness.

Join us in changing the system dominated by political and economic elites, and their anti-people policies. Work with us in building a government of the masses, the true holders of state power and of the economy, and the pillars of society. March with us towards the socialist path of genuine, participatory democracy, and economic and social equality.


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