‘Gov’t that relies on military hubris is afraid of the people’
The special session of Congress on President Duterte’s call to extend the martial law declaration in Mindanao to Dec. 31, 2017, had only one intended outcome: to normalize open fascist rule.
The public is witness to the nauseating, disgusting and twisted logic of national security officials like Eduardo Año, Delfin Lorenzana and Hermogenes Esperon justifying the virtues of martial law. It was almost like a recording of previous statements of Ferdinand Marcos and his military generals during the first martial law period. They peddled the big fat lies over and over again. It is important to repeatedly contest these lies, lest these pervade as sordid truths, especially in the age of “alternative truths.”
Mr. Duterte’s martial law is no different from Marcos’ martial law. The factual bases of both declarations have been proven as outright lies, if not products of the military’s creative imagination. As long as the main implementers are the inherently fascist institutions and mercenaries in the military and police, any militarist action such as martial law will only lead to the further violation of people’s rights.
On July 19, Karapatan submitted to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III as head of the government panel to the peace talks, and to Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Jose Luis Gascon a letter urging them to investigate human rights violations during the martial law period in Mindanao, specifically the cases of at least 10 victims of extrajudicial killings, 335 victims of illegal arrests and more than 400,000 victims of internal displacement largely due to military airstrikes in Marawi City and several provinces in Mindanao. On that same day, Karapatan Southern Mindanao submitted complaints about at least 56 cases of illegal arrest and detention and six cases of political killings documented under Proclamation No. 216 to the CHR Region 11 office.
Before that, there have been numerous complaints aired before the public—through statements of human rights organizations published by the media, through testimonies of victims like the Surigao del Sur lumad and the striking workers of Shin Sun Tropical Inc., and through countless features on internally displaced persons of several media outlets, especially alternative media groups. Lorenzana dismissed them all as mere propaganda of “communist fronts.” The CHR, to date, has done nothing.
Año has zero credibility in dispelling fears and allegations that perpetrators of human rights violations under President Duterte’s martial law will be dealt with. He is living proof that the military gets away with its crimes at all times, with his highly questionable exoneration in the Jonas Burgos disappearance case. It doesn’t really matter if the AFP had one million human rights modules or if it had thousands of soldiers and police trained in human rights and international humanitarian law, because the fact remains that the military and police are the primary purveyors of human rights violations in the country. The modules and trainings are just for show, for money or for nothing.
A government that uses military hubris to allegedly quell terrorism or armed revolutionary rebellion is one that is most afraid of a people driven to terrorism or rebellion by years of oppression, exploitation, poverty and mendicancy to foreign interests. Securing the public is the least of its interests.
Lawmakers and executive government officials are more concerned with mercenaries and big business interests than with the plight of the thousands of “bakwit,” and the people killed and arrested by the military and police.
Karapatan vehemently condemns the extension of martial law in Mindanao. It will continue to struggle alongside the Filipino people against all forms of fascist projects, and for a just and lasting peace.
CRISTINA PALABAY, secretary general, Karapatan, firstname.lastname@example.org
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