Mil­i­tant group dis­mayed on pos­si­ble mar­tial law ex­ten­sion

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Mil­i­tant group Move­ment Against Tyranny in North­ern Min­danao (MAT-NMR) said it is dis­mayed how­ever un­sur­prised with the mil­i­tary and po­lice’s rec­om­men­da­tion to ex­tend mar­tial law in Min­danao for an­other year.

Rev. Fr. Rolando Abejo of the MAT-NMR said the mar­tial law has brought noth­ing but fear, hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, and de­struc­tion of the com­mu­ni­ties of the Indige­nous Peo­ples and the Moros.

It has been 560 days since the mar­tial law was de­clared, and rights group Kara­p­atan said it noted an in­crease of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions.

In North­ern Min­danao, it has doc­u­mented 16 in­ci­dents of fake and forced sur­ren­der of about 927 per­sons, 43 mass il­le­gal ar­rests, and 47 vic­tims of trumped-up charges.

“It is clear as broad day­light that mar­tial law is nei­ther about coun­terin­sur­gency nor about war against ter­ror­ism. Rather, it has been the state’s gatepass for fur­ther plun­der of the re­sources in the land of prom­ise at the ex­pense of its peo­ple,”

Abejo said.

“While this ad­min­is­tra­tion pre­tends to be con­cerned with the armed re­bel­lion, it de­lib­er­ately does not take care of the root causes of the prob­lem- the so­cioe­co­nomic needs of the peo­ple,” he added.

Abejo also ex­pressed worry that the pub­lic’s sen­ti­ment is lean­ing to­wards sup­port­ing mar­tial law ex­ten­sion say­ing there has been no abuses.

Even some me­dia out­let, he adds, seems to de­pict mar­tial law as good.

“But this is be­cause what we usu­ally hear is state­ments from pow­er­ful peo­ple, from busi­ness­men who of course do not ex­pe­ri­ence abuses. Those who are usu­ally op­pressed are those lumads and farm­ers whose sto­ries we do not hear ev­ery­day,” Abejo said.

Abejo said the group is chal­leng­ing Pres­i­dent Duterte and the Armed Forces of the Philip­pines (AFP) to face the peo­ple and ad­dress the peo­ple’s con­cerns.

“We have had enough of this ad­min­is­tra­tion’s blood­thirsty witch­hunt and swin­dling. We chal­lenge them to not be cowards who at­tack the civil­ians be­hind the guise of pro­tect­ing Min­danao,” Abejo said.

Jerry Basa­hon, chair­per­son of the Misamis Ori­en­tal Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (MOFA) said the mar­tial law ex­ten­sion could mean more ac­tivists will face in­ten­si­fied at­tacks, and could even mean jail time, like what hap­pened to him.

Basa­hon was ear­lier jailed for al­legedly be­ing one of those re­spon­si­ble for the at­tack of the Bin­uan­gan po­lice sta­tion, a charge he de­scribed as ‘ridicu­lous’.

“Nangutana sila nga­nung niapil ko ug kahibalo ba daw ko nga NPA ning akong or­gan­isas­yon. Ako si­lang gi­ing­nan nga dili pasabot nga kung pareha mi ug panawa­gan sa NPA, re­belde na pud kami. Mga mag-uuma lamang kami nga nanawa­gan sa tin­uod nga re­porma sa yuta ug paub­san ang presyo sa palali­ton,” Basa­hon said.

Basa­hon is now out on bail but will con­tinue to face the charges in the court.

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