Immediately lift Martial Law!

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Martial Law will intensify Human Rights violations

Address the root causes of social unrest in Marawi, the entire Mindanao and Philippines

The decision of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in putting the entire Mindanao under Martial Law after the incident in Marawi City is but a wrong prescription to quickly resolve the reign of terror perpetuated by Maute group

Historically, martial rule was imposed by the late dictator as means to preserve his hold in power against the intensifying protest of the people because of the deteriorating condition then of corruption, fascism, plunder, poverty, unemployment and landlessness. Putting the entire Mindanao under Martial Law will only worsens the ill situation of people in Mindanao, which for over centuries suffer from abject poverty, government neglect, landlessness and massive inequality.

Straight from the horse’s mouth, the Armed Forced of the Philippines (AFP) prior to the attack of Maute Group on May 22 already confirmed the whereabouts of Hapilon, the leader of the group as they are on military operation to capture him. The AFP further confirmed that the group is composed of merely 70 or less armed men who are unmatched to the armed strength and capacity of the entire military and police present in the said city.

The Armed Forced of the Philippines (AFP) even bolsters its claim that the situation is already under control. In this regard, the APCCHRP is asking Pres. Duterte, Department of National Defense and the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines headed by Sec. Delfin Lorenzana and Gen. Año if the situation is already under control and there is on-going peace negotiations between the revolutionary movement in the country what necessitates putting the entire Mindanao under Martial Law?

APCCHRP firmly believes that Pres. Duterte compared to the previous presidents of the Philippines knew very well that poverty and social discontent in the island of Mindanao is attributed to government’s long time neglect, destruction of environment through large scale mining and big plantations that disregard the right of national minorities to their ancestral domain and deprivation of the basic rights of peoples. Pres. Duterte even concretely grasp what forced the people of Mindanao like the Moros to take up arms and fight the government, it is because of the abject poverty, government neglect, landlessness and massive inequality suffered by the people.

The reign of terror in Marawi City instigated by Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf that destroyed the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) – owned Dansalan, College and other properties, which many believes created by US in cohorts with the military to advance its political and military interest in Mindanao and the whole country is but a police matter that only through genuine anti-crime efforts devoid of any personal gains and ambition will be eradicated and stopped.

Succumbing to militaristic idea and caprices of warmongers in the AFP and Department of National Defense headed by Sec. Lorenzana, by placing the entire Mindanao under Martial Law and planning it to extend as far as Visayas region, the president is courting an open season of human rights violations that will cause disaster against the already exploited and oppressed Filipinos by despotic elements of the military and police.

Placing the entire Mindanao under Martial Law and extending it as far as Visayas and even Luzon will jeopardize the legitimate struggle of lumads for ancestral domain and against the destructive mining and big plantations. It can bring a chilling effect to the struggle of peasants headed by MARBAI for land and against the Lapanday Food Corporation owned by Lorenzos. It will only intensify attacks against national minorities that have been documented in several parts of Mindanao involving Philippine military and para-military groups.

Moreover, it will permit wanton warrantless arrest and filing of trumped up charges against church people, human rights, justice and peace advocates like what happened to Bishop Carlos Morales of the Philippine Independent Church, his wife, their driver and NDFP consultant for the peace talks, Rommel Salinas.

Most importantly, Martial Law declaration made by Pres. Duterte will have a negative effect to the on-going peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front that aims to address the root-causes of armed struggle in the Philippines as well as with the on-going negotiation between the GRP and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front.

Thus, the APCCHRP joining with the Filipinos is calling the Philippine government to exhaust all possible means—including dialoguing with Moro groups—to resolve the conflict in Marawi and stop the Maute group from attacking the people and destroying their lives and properties.

Joining with the Filipinos, we are reiterating our call for sobriety in the Philippine government. Immediately lift the Martial Law in Mindanao and address the root causes of social unrest until peace based on justice prevails in Mindanao and the entire country. ###

Asia Pacific Coordinating Committee for
Human Rights in the Philippines (APCCHRP)

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