Militant group dismayed on possible martial law extension
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,”
“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.