A survivor of the Marcos-era martial law recalls how he was wrongfully accused as a rebel and suffered because of it during the 45th year commemoration of Martial Law in Cagayan de Oro on Thursday, September 21. (Jigger J. Jerusalem/davaotoday.com)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – More than 300 members of the militant groups from Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon joined the protest action held nationwide Thursday as the country marked the 45th year of the declaration of Martial Law by former President Ferdinand Marcos.

A mix of “millennials” or today’s youth and older generation converged at the Magsaysay Park in the Divisoria plaza to renounce the martial law atrocities during the Marcos era and the present administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte placed the entire island of Mindanao under military rule following the conflict between a group of ISIS-inspited militants and military forces in Marawi City on May 23.

Ivy Salamanca, 18, an out-of-school youth, from Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, said she had learned that the young people, especially the women, during the Marcos-era martial law were raped, detained and tortured.

“I am also a young person and I could not imagine the horrors that the youth at that time experienced,” Salamanca said.

Nizza Dekit, 19, a civil engineering student at Xavier University, said she was told that during the martial law school publications were closed and the rights of the students to express themselves were suppressed.

Nowadays, Dekit said, the detrimental effects of martial law are also felt, although its impact is more glaring in the countryside than in urban areas. In rural communities, there were also reports of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by state agents against civilians.

At the Magsaysay Park here, the protesters from Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon held an indignation rally against the Duterte administration as they remembered the atrocities of the Marcos-era martial law.

“Marco” (not his real name), 69, and a port worker, recalled how he was arrested by authorities and was accused of being a member of a rebel group. He said he was imprisoned and abused during his detention.

He also renounced the Duterte government’s war on drugs as the era of truth-twisting.

“Nowadays lies are spread and the truth is suppressed. People who had not been tried before the court of law are getting killed, and these victims were accused of being drug addicts or pushers,” Marco said.

He added: “If the police are really sincere in going after the killers, why can’t they arrest the shooters?”

Wildon Barros, regional secretary general of the progressive group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), said Duterte’s version of martial law is no different from what had been implemented decades ago by Marcos in that human rights violations are still being committed by state agents.

“In fact in Marawi city, most of those killed are civilians. Where are their rights?” Barros said.

Aside from that, the indigenous peoples in Bukidnon are being displaced due to the violence being perpetrated by paramilitary groups in their communities, he said.

Cases of extrajudicial killings have also been reported in Bukidnon, he added.

In a separate interview, Bishop Felixberto Calang, of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) and co-convenor of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, has doubted the authenticity of the basis for proclaiming martial law in Mindanao as it might be an excuse for the continued presence of American troops in the country.

“There is credence to reports that the [United States] is behind the Marawi siege to justify further US military intervention in the country. Martial Law is therefore effective in creating a miniature Syria situation,” Calang said.

He said a nationwide martial law is being used as a threat.

“We should see this in perspective. With a rubber stamp congress, the possible impeachment of CJ Sereno, and the daily occurrence of extrajudicial killings of drug offenders and activists, [military rule] should now be seen as an instrument of suppression and not as a tool for peace and security. We have all the signs of Marcosian Martial Law in our midst,” he added.

Meanwhile, Robertino Pizzaro, president of the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., said Duterte’s martial law has worked in that it quelled the threats of terrorists.

“Martial law is effective because we need to take out this terrorism,” Pizzaro said, adding that terrorism is a big obstacle to the plans and programs of Duterte.

“It was good move. I don’t think any other President could handle it better than him,” he added.(davaotoday.com)

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