Duterte, martial law are the threats to public safety – Karapatan

“Duterte and his anti-people policies such as martial law are the real threats to public safety. Policemen loitering around in urban poor communities and conveniently using the ‘nanlaban’ excuse to justify the murder of poor people are threats to public safety. Soldiers and paramilitary elements conducting operations in indigenous and peasant communities while mouthing their ‘martial law ngayon’ narrative to escape accountability are the real threats to public safety. This regime, which has been inching the country closer to a full-blown dictatorship with little to no checks and balances, is the real threat to public safety,” said Karapatan secretary general in response to Solicitor General Jose Calida’s statement that martial law in Mindanao is required by public safety. 
Palabay also countered Calida’s assurances that there were constitutional safeguards that protect human rights under martial law, citing Republic Act No. 7438 and Republic Act No. 9372. “The reality on the ground is that these laws remain ink on paper, as violations and abuses continue. Who is there to check and monitor State security forces when they are accorded extraordinary powers to continue abuses without hindrances, especially with the Duterte regime acting as active proponents and champions of State-funded murderers?” she asked.

Martial law in Mindanao was extended for another year, approved by Congress on December 13, 2017. The imposition of martial rule in Mindanao will continue despite the government’s declaration of “victory” following the crisis in Marawi. Progressive organizations and lawmakers, including Karapatan and the Makabayan bloc, have contested the said extension at the Supreme Court. Unsurprisingly, the AFP supported and recommended the extension, citing that Mindanao is an “insurgency-plagued” area.  

“Throughout various counter-insurgency programs, not one has effectively solved the armed conflict in Mindanao and the whole country. The continued use of militarist measures is a tired formula that is proven to be ineffective. An age-old maxim proposed that repeating the same thing and expecting different results is the work of an insane person. No doubt that insanity plagues this government,” said Palabay.

The Karapatan secretary general added that “addressing the roots of the armed conflict, an objective set by the peace talks, would have made significant strides had the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reform (CASER) been finalized and actualized.”

Karapatan had supported the peace talks between the NDFP and the GRP, which was terminated by the government with the issuance of Proclamation No. 360.

“Try as Calida may, martial law is not equatable to public safety. History has taught us that with the military’s framework and the government’s disregard for people’s rights, martial law is tantamount to abuse of power, human rights violations, plunder and corruption. It is uncumbent for us to ask who will benefit out of this one-year extension? Who will benefit in a setting where civilian supremacy is set aside for military rule? Who will benefit from the lack of accountability? Definitely not the Filipino people,” Palabay concluded.