Karapatan on AFP, PNP guidelines on martial law implementation: Words of hypocrites and human rights violators

“Martial law does not equate to peace, nor does it equate to security. No matter how good it is on paper, it is always different on the ground. We cannot be assured by the guidelines released by the Department of National Defense (DND) and Philippine National Police (PNP) on the implementation of martial law simply because they themselves are the violators of people’s civil and political rights. At the end of the day, such guarantees come off as hypocritical when contrasted with the human rights records of the military and police,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, on DND and PNP guidelines in relation to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of Proclamation 216, placing the entire of Mindanao under martial law.  


Karapatan sounded the alarm on initial reports of incidents of harassment following the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao. On May 25, 2017, around thirty (30) women composed of Lumad, Moro, pastors, and ecumenical church workers who gathered for an Ecumenical Women’s Forum were put under interrogation for an hour by the 6th Marine Landing Battalion Team in Brgy. Domulon, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat.

Also on May 25, Task Force Davao and the Davao City police, led by Davao City Police Office Director Senior Superintendent Alex Tagum, reportedly rounded up some 250 individuals without identification papers for questioning. Palabay said that “the authorities have already started playing a semantics game, saying that those rounded up are not “under arrest” but are detained pending verification processes. Nonetheless, such incidents are already a prelude to more abuses.”

“To a police chief like Tagum who led the violent dispersal and shooting of protesting farmers in Kidapawan and many other corrupt and rights violators in the police and military, human and people’s rights are nothing. This country has seen the excesses of too much power handed to the executive and State security forces, and the least we want is a repeat of those abuses. The PNP and AFP said that there would be no warrantless arrests yet it has been among these institutions’ practice throughout regimes,” said Palabay.

From July 2016 to April 30, 2017, prior to the implementation of martial law, Karapatan has documented 55 cases of extrajudicial killings, 101 incidents of illegal arrest and detention, 18, 414 victims of forced evacuation as a direct result of aerial strikes, militarization and harassment against communities, and 30,904 cases of threat, harassment and intimidation, all in line with the counter-insurgency and so-called counter-terrorism campaign of the AFP.

“The AFP and the PNP have been leaving a trail of abuses before, during and even after Marcos’ martial law, establishing a de facto martial law rule, during the succeeding regimes after the Marcos dictatorship, with imprints of martial, marked by the use of laws to justify the brutal repression of the Filipino people by State security forces. These violations continue to this day, with the US-driven counter-insurgency programs and the war on drugs. We have every to protest and to fight back, in all venues and forms that are needed, in defense of people’s rights,” Palabay said.

Karapatan, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Suara Bangsa Moro will lead a protest action against martial law at the Mendiola bridge in Manila today.

“Karapatan continues to stand in solidarity with the people in Marawi and the whole of Mindanao. If it is peace and security we want, providing vast powers to the AFP and the PNP is not the way to do it. Keywords such as ‘human rights,’ ‘peace and security,’ and ‘development’ have been consistently used by fascists in counterinsurgency operations, especially by the Aquino regime, which became the basis for repression and attacks against persons, especially peasants and Lumad, and their communities. Duterte’s declaration of martial law has started an open fascist rule which will be a throwback to the Marcos regime where a false sense of security was floated around at the expense of people’s rights,” ended Palabay.