CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Opposition to the proposed extension of martial law in Mindanao continues to persist as both houses of Congress voted in favor of stretching it for another year.

Some sectoral leaders on Wednesday, December 13, said they are apprehensive of the looming extension. Martial rule, according to them, is not a necessity to combat extremist movements in Mindanao.

Iglesia Filipina Independiente priest Fr. Rolando Abejo, who also chairs the Promotion of Church People’s Response and the spokesperson of the Movement Against Tyranny in Northern Mindanao, said the military rule in the southern Philippines has been proven “unjustified and a disguise.”

Abejo said the implementation of martial law in Mindanao, specifically in Marawi City, has only worsened the plight of the affected civilians as reports as evidenced by the mounting reports of human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated by government troops during and after the conflict in that city.

He noted that as reported by national and international fact-finding mission in Marawi and in Lumad communities across Mindanao, violations during this period has skyrocketed.

“ML (martial law) has legalized (human rights violations) committed by state forces notably the aerial bombing in Marawi. It has been used to quell defenders and advocates of Lumad and peoples organizations fighting for their right to land, life and rights,” Abejo said.

In effect, he added, martial law extension will only exacerbate drug related and political extrajudicial killings, forced evacuation of Lumad, illegal arrest and detention, harassment, among others.

“Not in the name of peace, not in the name of security, not in the name of development, not in our name,” Abejo said, in reference to the martial law extension.

Drieza Lininding, chairperson of the Moro Consensus Group, said the military rule was not actually implemented to quell terroristic activities but to suppress the rights of the Maranao people, especially those who were driven away from their homes and communities when the war in Marawi erupted on May 23.

Lininding likened the situation of the present-day Maranaos to that of the Jews in Hitler-era Germany who were subjected to all kinds of harassment and harsh treatment under the hands of the Nazi authorities.

“We are like the Jews during Hitler’s rule in Germany. The only thing missing is the profiling of our pet cats,” he noted, saying that even Maranaos who are not living in Marawi and the Lanao provinces have been required register with the local government units and law enforcement agencies.

“Also, why was martial law only declared in Mindanao? Why not make it nationwide? The truth is, ML (martial law) is only for Marawi and Meranaws,” he said.

Lininding added now that the military rule is extended Marawi residents whose properties were damaged or looted during
siege can no longer file complaint against the perpetrators.

But for Zia Alonto Adiong, assemblyman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, supports the extension, saying that it is necessary.

The actual threat to terrorism, he said, is not imaginary nor distant.

“What we observed for the past five months of intense armed-conflict and the humanitarian crisis it resulted following the liberation of Marawi from the terrorist group creates and atmosphere of insecurity,” he said in a statement.

Although he supports for the extension of martial law, he said it is now the government’s challenge to normalize the peace and security condition on the ground in relation to the ongoing efforts to respond to threats against the whole province is still “a work in progress.”

President Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao when war against the Daesh-inspired group started on May 23. It was first extended to December 31 when it almost expired in July. (with reports from Divina M. Suson /

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