Maute, Marawi, and Martial Law


Why am I speaking against the declaration of Martial Law over the whole of Mindanao by President Rodrigo Duterte?

Yes, perhaps you are right. His Martial Law declaration last night is not the same as that declared by then President Ferdinand Marcos, simply because his basis is no longer the 1935 Constitution, but the 1987 Constitution that carries with it several so-called safeguards and limitations. But are these safeguards and limitations enough to protect the rights of people whom the government deems as a threat?

But I don’t want to really dwell with that argument. I would simply like to point out very practical reasons based on my very limited knowledge on the issue.

  1. The declaration of Martial Law after the isolated terror attacks of the Maute Group will only boost the confidence and pride of the terror group, and reinforce the illusion that they are a force to reckon with when they are but mosquitoes that causes minor irritation. They might just get their much coveted recognition from ISIS because of this unwarranted and misplaced declaration. We are unnecessarily scratching the small bites of the mosquitoes and too much scratching could result to some serious wounds and probably an infection. The AFP have reported earlier that they have the situation under control, and even the Mayor of Marawi issued statements reassuring the country that the City is under government control. But when Duterte declared Martial Law, and in the whole island of Mindanao at that, he is like saying that we have no control over the situation and that it is widespread. It’s not, and as officials have continuously asserted, they are not in any way connected with ISIS, its just that they are trying to align themselves with ISIS for the group’s infamy. Perhaps, they would want people to believe that they are a group to reckon with, a group that we should fear, when they can simply be eliminated by a simple swat. The question is, why hasn’t the government neutralized them yet? Are all the investments and the money and military equipment loaned to us by the US and other foreign countries useless, for them to be outsmarted and outmaneuvered by a small band of bandits who are not even trained professionally or has no proper equipment?
  2. Martial Law could spoil the peace talks between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front and Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and even with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
  3. Martial Law will pave the way for more abuses against peace advocates, human rights workers, activists, and development workers. Already, even before Duterte declared Martial Law, there have been several incidents of harassments and abuses against peace advocates, human rights workers, activists, and development workers, how much more with this declaration that suspends the writ of habeas corpus, giving the military free reign to arrest anyone they want to arrest in the pretense of rebellion or terrorism. A few weeks ago, IFI Bishop Carlo Morales was arrested without a warrant and charged with carrying illegal explosives. A leader of a church with around a million members. And there was no martial law at the time, how much more with the martial law in place. We pray for the safety of our peace advocates, human rights workers, development workers, and activists.
  4. Peace will never be achieved by militaristic means, including martial law. We can never achieve peace by terrorizing innocent civilians and communities in the guise of eliminating the enemies. Addressing the root cause of the problem on peacelessness will bring peace, and this means exerting every effort to push for the peace talks, for both parties to come together, dialogue, and come up with a win-win solution with the welfare of the Filipino people and the country in mind. Martial law surely would not solve this.
Truly, there is no argument when it comes to neutralizing the Maute group, but through Martial Law? 

Definitely, no.


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