On December 11, the the day after International Human Rights Day, Philippine Congress voted to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2019. The extension — which will continue the suspension of habeas corpus and further enable the gross human rights violations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police — comes a full year and a half after Duterte’s initial declaration of martial law in May of 2017.
The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines-United States, a broad network of organizations concerned about the human rights situation in the Philippines, denounces the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Duterte’s martial law has proven to be far more than just an attempt to fight terrorism in Marawi City. The destruction of Marawi City, where over 450,000 were displaced from their homes, has shown the intention and character of the Duterte regime, whose growing militarization of the country has only brought destruction and misery. Instead of providing sanctuary and justice, the Duterte regime has only replaced the homes in Marawi with shady business deals benefiting foreign entities, lenders and businesses. Evacuees are still living in inadequately equipped evacuation centers while their lands are being sold off. Additionally, Martial Law in Mindanao has not only increased repression of activists, illegal arrests and extrajudicial killings in the Southern Philippines, but has set precedent for the militarization of the whole country and a nationwide declaration of martial law.
This extension of martial law took place just a day after Duterte signed Executive Order 70 (EO70), another measure that will increase militarization of communities under the facade of peace-building. After scrapping the possibility of much needed social and economic reforms with his rejection of peace talks with the National Democratic Front, President Duterte created EO70, which claims to address root issues of armed conflict in local communities through basic services administered by the Armed Forces. Yet, given the many opportunities to pursue peace talks with the National Democratic Front at the behest of the masses of the Filipino people, along with the 23,000 killings under his leadership, Duterte has no credibility in developing peace programs. Rather, Duterte’s peace programs, EO70 or the deadly counterinsurgency program, Oplan Kapayapaan, have only resulted in further slaughter and exploitation of landless peasants, indigenous people, union leaders and the Moro people struggling for self-determination.
Behind Duterte’s militarization is the intelligence, support and interest of the United States, who created and orchestrated Operation Pacific Eagle in the backdrop of the Marawi crisis and the declaration of martial law. Despite the well recorded human rights abuses of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police, the United States has not wavered in its support of the Philippine military and police, providing the former with 184.5 million dollars in training, tactical guidance, drones and other forms of military equipment. Further, when Jerome Aba, a Moro peace activist from Mindanao, came to the United States at the invitation of United Methodists in April 2018 to speak on the human rights situation in Mindanao, U.S. customs detained, tortured and barred Jerome from entering the United States. In the context of Trump’s repression of migrants, activists and oppressed people in the United States, along with his war-mongering around the world, the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao is also an extension of Trump’s tyranny abroad.
We forge ahead in solidarity to demand: End Martial Law in Mindanao! End U.S. Support of the Duterte Regime! Cut U.S. Aid to the Philippine Military and Police!