On Another Martial Law Extension

Press Statement
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan
December 8, 2018

There is no legal nor factual basis for another extension of Martial Law in Mindanao. Absent any basis, the planned extension pushed by Duterte is nothing more than another instrument of naked terror and repression against the people.

Like the previous year-long extension approved by Congress, the upcoming extension is devoid of any factual basis as the situation in Mindanao now is different from the time of the Marawi crisis when Martial Law was first declared. Even at the height of the Marawi siege, placing the entire island of Mindanao was unjustified. Extending it even after the Marawi conflict ended moreso.

In true fascist form, Malacañang has sought to “normalize” the Martial Law regime by invoking it as a solution to all problems of law and order. Instead of using Martial Law only for extraordinary situations of rebellion and invasion and only when the public safety requires it, the Duterte regime has made Martial Law the norm. The dangers of imposing Martial Law nationwide, on flimsy pretexts, has thus become very real.

The fact that Martial Law needs to be extended for another full year raises questions regarding its effectivity. What is actually being accomplished by this repeated extension other than the institutionalization of warrantless arrests, the militarization of communities, extrajudicial killings, and other abuses? The extension of Martial Law also threatens to undermine the 2019 elections in favor of the administration. Administration critics may be subject to harassment and other forms of abuses.

If the goal is to end the armed conflict in Mindanao, Martial Law will fail as it had failed in the past. Without addressing the socio-economic and socio-political roots of the armed conflict, there can be no just peace.

Let it be known that lawmakers who vote to extend Martial Law for another year are complicit in the abuses that will take place in Mindanao. Human rights violations have been well-documented including extrajudicial killings of farmers, the recent forced closure of Lumad schools and the arrest of a humanitarian mission led by former representative Satur Ocampo and ACT representative France Castro. Lawmakers sympathetic to human rights must now show strong objection to the Martial Law extension.

We call on the people to join the nationwide actions on December 10, International Human Rights Day and express outrage over the Duterte regime’s continuing and escalating attacks on the people. We call on human rights defenders and freedom-loving Filipinos to protest the December 12 joint session of Congress and oppose another extension of Martial Law in Mindanao. ###

Photos by Katrina Yamzon