Rights groups de­cry bid to ex­tend mar­tial law

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - —MARIEJO S. RAMOS, MART SAMBALUDANDLEILA B. SALAVER­RIA INQ

Rights groups con­tin­ued to slam the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion’s at­tempt to ex­tend mar­tial law in Min­danao and de­cried the use of chil­dren caught in the cross­fire as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion.

In fact, the Chil­dren’s Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ter (CRC) claims mil­i­tary ac­tions have en­dan­gered the lives of at least 1,028 chil­dren since Mr. Duterte as­sumed the pres­i­dency in 2016.

“All over the Philip­pines, Duterte’s tyran­ni­cal rule vic­tim­izes Filipino chil­dren, prac­ti­cally ev­ery re­gion of the coun­try,” said Frances Bon­doc of the CRC.

“From July 2016 to Oc­to­ber 2018, CRC has doc­u­mented nine po­lit­i­cal killings of chil­dren, 17 [mi­nor] vic­tims of frus­trated killings, five tortured and hun­dreds of chil­dren co­erced to sur­ren­der as ‘rebels,’” Bon­doc said.

More rights vi­o­la­tions

“Mar­tial law has been ex­tended twice in 2017 and has trans­lated into [more] hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, not only in Min­danao but also in [other] re­gions,” she said.

The group also protested the is­suance of Mem­o­ran­dum Order No. 32 that placed Ne­gros, Bi­col and East­ern Visayas un­der a state of na­tional emer­gency in ad­di­tion to the mar­tial law in Min­danao.

The Save Our Schools also op­posed the ex­ten­sion of mar­tial law and said the gov­ern­ment’s “hid­den agenda” and “de­vi­ous­ness” ac­tu­ally im­per­ils more tribal folk.

The group has doc­u­mented 535 cases of at­tacks on “lumad” schools un­der mar­tial law in Min­danao.

More blood­baths

Mus­lim rights ad­vo­cates also scored the pro­posed ex­ten­sion of mar­tial law and ex­pressed fear it will only lead to more “blood­baths.”

Jerome Suc­cor Aba, spokesper­son of the Mus­lim group Suara Bangsamoro, said at least 154 ac­tivists have been sum­mar­ily killed in Min­danao since mar­tial law was de­clared in May last year.

Aba said the 154 per­sons killed dur­ing mar­tial law amounted to one per­son be­ing killed ev­ery week.

“The Pres­i­dent knows this,” Aba said. “We in­formed him about this through dif­fer­ent chan­nels. And yet, he de­cided to ex­tend mil­i­tary rule in Min­danao. Duterte is blood­thirsty.”

Ryan Am­per, spokesper­son of Barug Katun­god Min­danao, said the “blood­bath” can only worsen with Lt. Gen. Ben­jamin Madri­gal Jr. as Armed Forces of the Philip­pines chief of staff.

Am­per said Madri­gal would only repli­cate the atroc­i­ties that were com­mit­ted in coun­terin­sur­gency op­er­a­tions in Com­postela Val­ley when he was as­sis­tant divi­sion com­man­der of the Army’s 10th In­fantry Divi­sion.

“Madri­gal’s reign as [East­ern Min­danao Com­mand (EMC)] chief was marked with dozens of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings,” he said. “Most of the 154 vic­tims were killed within the EMC’s area of re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

Con­gres­sional de­bate

The Se­nate and the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives are set to meet and tackle Mr. Duterte’s re­quest for the ex­ten­sion of mar­tial law next week.

At least two se­na­tors—Manny Pac­quiao and Richard Gor­don—said they would sup­port the ex­ten­sion.

“We have peace of mind in Min­danao. We have no prob­lem with mar­tial law,” Pac­quiao said over ra­dio sta­tion dwIZ. “Maybe he still has to fix some things so that our coun­try­men in Min­danao would have peace of mind.”

Gor­don also sup­ported the ex­ten­sion of mar­tial law in Min­danao, although he said he also ad­mit­ted that the Abu Sayyaf ter­ror­ist group con­tin­ued to be ac­tive.

“The mil­i­tary should have a grand plan to put a stop to the prob­lem once and for all. Is this the new nor­mal?” he said.

The Pres­i­dent put Min­danao un­der mar­tial law for 60 days in May last year af­ter Is­lamic State-al­lied mil­i­tants laid siege to Marawi City.

This was ex­tended up to the end of 2017, and then ex­tended anew up to the end of 2018.

NIÑO JE­SUS ORBETA

CON­SIS­TENT For­mer Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo joins “lumad” lead­ers from Talain­god and staffers of the lumad school net­work Salug­pun­gan in de­nounc­ing a re­quest by Mala­cañang for a spe­cial ses­sion of Congress to ex­tend mar­tial law in Min­danao.—

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