Friday, September 21, 2018
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At Large

Staking their all

The number of petitions being filed in the Supreme Court questioning the grounds for the declaration of martial law in Mindanao is growing by the day.

About the latest of these is the petition filed by four Maranao women represented by former Commission on Elections chair Christian Monsod and members of the Alternative Law Groups—the fifth such petition to challenge Proclamation 216 and to demand that Congress be compelled to meet in joint session to debate the matter.


Most interesting—and touching—is the reason cited by the four women from Lanao del Sur, of which Marawi City is the capital. They cited, not legal principles or constitutional provisions, but simply their own feelings. An online report quotes them as saying that they are “exhausted” and “weary” over the “uncertainty of returning home,” posing the “transcendental question that begs to be asked of the government.”

And the question is: “At any time from the declaration of martial law (on May 23) to the present, was Marawi much more any part of Mindanao, occupied in a permanent manner by the ‘rebels’ and removed from allegiance to the Philippine State?”

The government says that forces of the Maute group, said to have allied with the terrorist Islamic State, along with the Abu Sayyaf made incursions into Marawi with the intention of establishing the city as the capital of a burgeoning “caliphate” in the country. But at the start of the crisis, government spokesmen said the fighting was triggered by resistance from the Maute forces when government troops attempted to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a top-ranking officer of the Abu Sayyaf who has become the leader of the Maute faction of the Islamist rebels.

Now Hapilon, whom government agents believe is still holed up in Marawi, is hardly mentioned at all. The military is focused for now on the Maute brothers, proof of which is the arrest of their father who is being tagged as the financier, or chief conduit, of the terrorist group. (Their mother has also since been arrested.—ED.)

The first of the five (so far at this writing) petitions filed in the Supreme Court was filed by opposition lawmakers and joined shortly by various civil
society and sectoral groups questioning the validity and constitutionality of the martial law order.

Common among them are the respondents: President Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año, and PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.

Certainly noteworthy is that most of the petitioners are themselves Mindanao residents, since after all they are the ones most directly affected by the impact of the declaration. But by signing their names on the petitions, they are
also surely aware that they are opening themselves to added scrutiny and hostility, especially among the numerous Duterte supporters who number the most in Mindanao, as well as from military and police operatives.

I raise my hat—or my shawl to the Marawi women—to all the Mindanaoans who found the courage to put themselves at great risk and stake their futures for their home island and for the nation!
Meanwhile, Sen. Risa Hontiveros has come under fire from mostly trolls for her supposed comments “in support” of the Maute group. The critics even had the chutzpah to post a video of an interview with the senator which purportedly showed her acknowledging the validity of the Mautes’ actions.

What few realize is that the video interview was heavily edited, someone privy to the arrangements said, and spliced to “prove” her support for the Mautes.


But Hontiveros emphasized that what she was saying was that the actions of the Maute forces constituted neither rebellion nor invasion, the sole basis for a legal declaration of martial law. “I have always said the [Mautes] are terrorists,” she said.

For her pains to frame the debate in a sober, legal manner, the senator has come under fire from netizens, many of whom say they now “regret” voting for her. To their mind, the only way to go is to follow their “Tatay Digong’s” every word and claim, even if a lot of this is said tongue-in-cheek and in sarcasm.

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TAGS: Maranao women, martial law, Mindanao, Supreme Court
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