STATEMENT| Not too late to back down on Martial Law in Mindanao

May. 24, 2017

* Statement of Konsyensya Dabaw on the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao

Martial Law is upon Mindanao and Mindanawons once again. We in Konsyensya Dabaw are alarmed that 31 years after the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship, with which Filipinos resoundingly rejected militarism and authoritarian rule, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte saw it necessary to declare martial rule ostensibly to address the violence that broke out and escalated in Marawi City in military operations against the Maute group.

We believe that while the safety of civilians in Marawi and adjacent areas needs to be ensured, and the problems of lawlessness and ‘violent extremism’ have to be addressed, the declaration of martial law for the whole of Mindanao is unwarranted.

We refuse to believe that the capacities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) would be so inadequate as to require a solution like martial law to deal with what the AFP has described as a security operation and not a terroristic attack, and concerning a group over which they claimed to have an upper hand.

We are also disappointed that the first Philippine president to come from Mindanao, instead of shedding more illumination on the problems of Mindanao, has taken recourse to actions that are reminiscent of the very dark days of martial law under Marcos. We have reasons to worry.

Beginning March 2017, President Duterte has publicly talked about putting in effect martial law in Mindanao in order to “finish” all its problems. He would not be the first to have had such lofty intentions that later turned out awfully wrong. Marcos used Mindanao’s problems as among the justifications for issuing Proclamation 1081. But martial law circa Marcos did not make things better for Mindanao. It made things worse, a key reason being poor understanding of, and response to the roots of the problems.

With past experiences of large-scale repression against Mindanawons, and so much at stake in Mindanao’s present and future, we cannot be trusting and naively believe that martial law under President Duterte would be a better experience. He himself was quoted as saying “martial law is martial law ha. it will not be any different from what the President, Marcos did. I’d be harsh.”

It is tempting but ultimately simplistic to reduce the Maute to one of ‘violent extremism’ and terrorism that deserves a full militarist response. Much of what is referred to as ‘violent extremism’ around the world are rooted on, and aggravated by factors of inequality, exclusion, marginalization, structural violence, and inability to deal with pluralism in societies.

The imperative is for responses that do not simply counter ‘violent extremism’ but prevent it, address root causes, and build new alternatives. Thus, we need to reframe the Mindanao situation, rather than revive the inaccurate narratives and brutal formula of old.

We call on the security sector to rapidly resolve the situation in Marawi, restore order and stability, and take more effective actions against the Maute, Abu Sayyaf, and similar groups heeding past lessons.

We appeal to the President to make a more sober assessment of the situation upon his arrival, resist the influence of the warmongers among his circles, and to back down on martial law in Mindanao. It is not yet too late to avoid the ineffective shortcuts proffered by militarism and strongman rule, and demonstrate leadership grounded on an understanding of the historical and systemic natures of our problems.

We challenge the Philippine Congress to make an independent assessment, and revoke the proclamation. The President has not even accounted to Congress the results of Presidential Proclamation 55 that put the whole country under a “State of National Emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao” and now martial law in Mindanao?

We urge Mindanawons to stay safe, remain vigilant, and keep on asserting our rights. Our safety will not come from being quiet, thus relinquishing our civil and political rights, and allowing a diminishing of public spaces.

We ask fellow Filipinos to not ignore this development, and to refuse to endorse the blanket reasoning of violence and “trouble in Mindanao.” As our painful experiences under Marcos bore out “ang sakit ng kalingkingan ay dama ng buong katawan” and “hindi pagpuputol ng paa ang solusyon sa rayuma.”

Contact Person: Mags Z. Maglana; 09392390498;

  • Janine Anne Juyo

    Paghilom mo oy

  • Tubig Waters

    Funny thing is, people who arguing that President Duterte will do what Former President Marcos did during Martial Law in terms of abuse of power. is like saying that those who rewrote the 1987 Constitution are so stupid that they did not change anything to the clauses of Martial Law which is one of the main reason we had the new 1987 constitution. Also remember who was the President that time.

    The use of martial law this time around is limited and still under checks and balances of the other branches of government. And this time around it is used for the sake of the safety of the citizens. They already think the word Martial Law as an evil thing.

  • Lady Oud

    Stupid people

  • eye

    eh di suggest na lang natin sa mga terrorist to spread terrorism in whole mindanao, para san pa ang national interest kung di gagamitin what’s allowed in our constitution? 😒😒😒

  • onsecondthot

    A military response seems to be a rather simplistic response from someone who is supposed to know the region and its complexities.

  • John Palm

    Hay naku po….decomposed na si Marcos…tan tanan nyu na..pumunta kayu dun sa Marawi at gamitin ang mga payong na sinayang nyu saluin ang mga bala para may silbi. Ang payong para sa init at ulan, hindi sa kaartehan pinturahan para pansinin. …

  • Johannes Uy

    Pag puyo mo oi! Maayo pa mag trabaho mo makatabang pa mo sa inyong pamilya. Samok

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