Grow­ing op­po­si­tion to Mar­tial Law in Min­danao

Sun.Star Davao - - OPINION -

ON De­cem­ber 13, 2017, Philip­pine Congress ex­tended un­til De­cem­ber 31, 2018 Mar­tial Law and the sus­pen­sion of the priv­i­lege of the Writ of Habeas Cor­pus in­Min­danao. This was the sec­ond ex­ten­sion of Procla­ma­tion 216, which cited law­less ac­tiv­i­ties in Min­danao that prompted the dec­la­ra­tion of a state of na­tional emer­gency in Septem­ber 2016 un­der Procla­ma­tion 55 and the May 2017 vi­o­lent acts of the Dawla Is­lamiyyah/Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf in Marawi City.

That the 17th Congress re­sound­ingly ap­proved a full-year ex­ten­sion of Mar­tial Law in Min­danao was hardly sur­pris­ing. It is known for be­ing dom­i­nated by a “su­per ma­jor­ity” com­mit­ted to back­ing the agenda of President Ro­drigo Duterte. Only 27 law­mak­ers op­posed the mea­sure, four from the Se­nate and 23 from the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives (HOR).

What mer­its at­ten­tion are public re­ac­tions to the ex­ten­sion by the fourth quar­ter of 2017 and a for­mal pe­ti­tion against the sec­ond ex­ten­sion filed with the Supreme Court (SC).

A De­cem­ber 8 to 16, 2017 So­cial Weather Sta­tions (SWS) sur­vey in­di­cated that 62% of re­spon­dents agreed that ex­ten­sion was un­called for “be­cause the war in Marawi City is over.” Those who dis­agreed were at 26% and 12% were un­de­cided.

While dis­agree­ment with the sec­ond ex­ten­sion was high­est in Metro Manila (67%), the rest of Lu­zon, Min­danao, and Visayas were not far be­hind, where those who op­posed the ex­ten­sion be­yond De­cem­ber 2017 were at 63%, 62%, and 55%, re­spec­tively.

The ar­gu­ment that op­po­si­tion to Mar­tial Law was po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated be­cause it came from quar­ters con­tra­dict­ing Pres. Duterte does not hold wa­ter. The same sur­vey showed twothirds (71%) of Filipinos were sat­is­fied with Pres. Duterte’s per­for­mance. These re­sults were even an im­prove­ment on the pre­vi­ous quar­ter’s sur­vey, show­ing an in­crease by 5 points in gross sat­is­fac­tion.

More sig­nif­i­cantly, the Fourth Quar­ter 2017 So­cial Weather Sur­vey re­sults were a big change from the Third Quar­ter 2017 Sur­vey that probed agree­ment with the first ex­ten­sion of Procla­ma­tion 216.

The Third Quar­ter Sur­vey, con­ducted from 23 to 27 Septem­ber 2017, showed that 54% of Filipinos agreed while 30% dis­agreed with Mar­tial Law’s ex­ten­sion be­yond the 60 days set by the Con­sti­tu­tion. At that time, net agree­ment with the ex­ten­sion un­til end of 2017 was high­est in Min­danao (+41 or very strong us­ing SWS cat­e­gories). There was also more sup­port for the first ex­ten­sion from the ABC class (ex­tremely strong +51) com­pared to the D class (mod­er­ately strong +26). The E class net rat­ing was a neu­tral +4.

The net agree­ment score (sub­tract­ing % dis­agree from % agree) of the first ex­ten­sion was at +24 or mod­er­ately strong. But net agree­ment to the lack of need for the sec­ond ex­ten­sion was at +36 or very strong.

Cer­tain so­cial me­dia in­flu­encers have been ped­dling the mes­sage that Pres. Duterte “re­de­fined” Mar­tial Law, mak­ing it an in­stru­ment of or­der and a weapon against ter­ror­ism.

But more peo­ple are see­ing through the smoke. Filipinos who are con­fi­dent that the AFP can sub­due the Maute and Abu Sayyaf even with­out Mar­tial Law in­creased from 57% in June 2017 to 66% in De­cem­ber 2017.

In­ter­est­ingly, those who crit­i­cize the SWS De­cem­ber 2017 Sur­vey for fram­ing the ques­tion on sup­port to ex­ten­sion in re­la­tion to the end of the Marawi war seem to have for­got­ten that it was the orig­i­nal ba­sis for Procla­ma­tion 216.

An on­line cam­paign en­join­ing Min­dana­wons to op­pose the post-De­cem­ber ex­ten­sion gar­nered more pro­nounced sup­port from dif­fer­ent ar­eas and sec­tors com­pared to the first months af­ter Mar­tial Law had been de­clared. Many were from Davao City.

The Mak­abayan Bloc of leg­is­la­tors and BAYAN lead­ers filed a pe­ti­tion on Jan­uary 8, 2018in­vok­ingSCju­di­cial re­view pow­er­sand ask­ing it to nul­lify Con­gres­sional ap­proval of the ex­ten­sion be­cause of ques­tion­able suf­fi­ciency of fac­tual ba­sis.

Five pe­ti­tion­ers are Min­dana­wons—a Lu­mad wo­man, a farmer, a youth leader, and two partylist rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Four of the 23 HOR mem­bers who dis­sented against the sec­ond ex­ten­sion­are from Min­danao.

In sum­mary, by Jan­uary 2018 an in­creas­ing num­ber of Filipinos have be­come un­con­vinced of the va­lid­ity of con­tin­u­ing Mar­tial Law in Min­danao and its ne­ces­sity for deal­ing with ter­ror­ism and se­cu­rity prob­lems. More Min­dana­wons are pub­licly ex­press­ing op­po­si­tion to it. The poor seems to have a wait-and-see at­ti­tude to Mar­tial Law. All these within the first eight months of its dec­la­ra­tion. Mar­tial Law in Min­danao is not the un­chal­lenged new nor­mal as some would have us be­lieve.

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