“We should all unite to call for lifting of martial law.”
MANILA – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) criticized the recent decision of the Supreme Court (SC) affirming the third extension of martial law in Mindanao.
On Tuesday, Feb. 19 SC Public Information Chief Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka announced the decision of the high court. Nine justices voted in favor of the extension while four others dissented. It was supposed to end last Dec. 31, 2018 but the military and the police recommended once again the extension for another year or until Dec. 31, 2019. Before the year ended last year, Congress, in a joint session, voted in favor of the extension.
With the decision, the CPP said the SC is “again legitimizing and providing legal cover for the Duterte regime’s fascist and lawless reign in Mindanao and elsewhere in the country.”
The CPP believed that the third extension will only embolden the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police that will result to more human rights abuses.
“The Supreme Court refused to acknowledge the widespread gross violations of human rights that are being committed by abusive AFP and PNP personnel under martial law and failed to heed the people’s widespread clamor for justice,” they said in a statement.
“With this decision, the Supreme Court has once again demonstrated its servility to the tyrannical Duterte regime. By rubberstamping Duterte’s fascist policies, the Supreme Court is actually proving that there indeed exists de facto martial law and authoritarian rule in the Philippines,” it added.
Many progressive groups also opposed the implementation of martial law since the beginning not only in the streets but also questioned its constitutionality in SC. For the third extension, four groups filed petition against martial law.
‘Martial law not serving its purpose’
For the Lumad schools and its students, martial law has has only resulted to more cases of forcibly closed schools which hinders their dream to have an education.
Geming Alonzo, executive director of Center for Lumad Advocacy, Networking and Services, Inc. (Clans) said dismissing the petitions is an outright neglect of human rights. She said that the decision only showed that majority of the SC associate justices do not have concern about the welfare of children as well as the indigenous people, peasants, and other victims of human rights violations brought about by martial law.”
Save our Schools Network, which is among the petitioners, has recorded rights violations in almost three years of martial law implementation.
At least 535 attacks on schools, 8,000 peasant and Lumads were forcibly paraded as New People’s Army surrenderees, 111 cases of trumped-up charges against teachers, parents, and Lumad leaders, 73 schools forcibly shut, 11,500 Lumads displaced, and 10 extrajudicial killings under martial law in Mindanao.
She said these atrocities should not be neglected as “it serves as concrete manifestation that martial law is not serving its purpose.” Alonzo added that the extension is government’s justification of rights violations committed by the military.
“The government is not really targeting terrorists but targets Lumad communities that strongly opposes the land grabbing of their ancestral lands.” Alonzo said.
For ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio, the martial law in Mindanao has only been used to terrorize and harass innocent civilians, human rights defenders, humanitarian workers, Lumad communities, environmental advocates and activists.
“We can only expect more human rights violations and more accounts of legitimate struggles for land, education and social services criminalized and tagged as terrorist acts,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Alonzo called for people’s unity and denounced the SC decision to together call for the lifting of martial law in Mindanao.
“The public should be concerned with the martial law extension in Mindanao because a de facto martial law is already happening in the country due to increasing human rights violations. We should all unite to call for lifting of martial law,” Alonzo said.