Martial law (ML) extension in Mindanao, an inch closer to nationwide ML

Karapatan, on December 11, 2017, questioned President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to extend martial law for another year, following the AFP and the PNP’s recommendation. This is despite the AFP’s declaration of “victory” in Marawi.

“What, then, is the basis for extending martial law for another year? This is a dangerous precedent that inches the entire country closer to a nationwide declaration of martial rule. Martial law in Mindanao has paved the way for the intensification of rights violations – both within and outside of Marawi. We cannot expect the institution to benefit most from another year of martial law to decide against it. If this is allowed in Congress, speculation will be enough to put the entire country under martial law, creating an environment for State security forces to continue violations without accountability,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Since the declaration of martial law on May 23, 2017, human rights group Karapatan recorded at least 29 victims of extrajudicial killings in the Mindanao – 15 were in the Southern Mindanao Region. Many of the victims were members of local peasant organizations and affiliates of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) who were targeted for their local campaigns for genuine agrarian reform and against militarization. Karapatan also documented 15 cases of torture, 23 victims of frustrated extrajudicial killings, 58 victims of illegal arrest and detention, and 335,686 victims of indiscriminate gunfire and aerial bombings. 

The rights group also attested to the forced evacuation of 401,730 individuals; 16,612 were documented outside of the Marawi siege, mostly in the regions of Caraga, Southern Mindanao, and SOCKSARGENDS.

On December 8, 2017, the Public Affairs Office Chief of the AFP, Col. Edgard Arevalo, promised that there would be no martial law abuses should it be extended. The public affairs office added that martial law does not target any particular group.

“This is all hogwash, of course. Aside from being expert spin doctors, the AFP has also been consistent in denying their atrocities despite witnesses to their crimes. Many organizations in different regions in Mindanao, particularly local peasant and indigenous organization, are targeted for their campaigns against militarization and for agrarian reform. Members of Compostela Farmers Assocation (CFA) in the Southern Mindanao Region (SMR), for example, were targets of illegal arrest and political killings. These attacks merely escalated after the declaration of martial law, what with the military’s red-tagging of the group as symphatizers. The latest member of the CFA extrajudicially killed by State forces is Rodrigo Timoteo on November 28, 2017,” Palabay said.

“Activists and progressive groups have long been targeted by State security forces in line with the implementation of the US-backed counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan. This was worsened by the declaration of martial law which further endangered individuals, groups, and entire communities who have struggled and fought for various advocacies. Another year of martial law will not be beneficial to anyone, except the fascist military dogs and their equally proudly fascist leader,” concluded Palabay.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580