[EDITORIAL] Martial law untruths

May 29, 2017 at 11:37

Martial law untruths

/ 12:28 AM May 26, 2017


A nation’s thoughts turn to Marawi City, even as fears about the possible consequences of the declaration of martial law rise in the hearts of many. These fears are not, as some Mindanao-based supporters of President Duterte claim, shared only by people from Luzon; one of the first  to issue a statement against the President’s declaration was a group based in Davao City. The first legal challenge against the declaration might come from a group of Muslim lawyers. For the exact same reason that Mindanawons came together to donate to the victims of Supertyphoon Yolanda in Leyte and other provinces in the Visayas in 2013, Filipinos from all over the country care about the imposition of martial law in Mindanao in 2017.

That is the first untruth we must all resist: That martial law in Mindanao is of concern only to the people of Mindanao. To be blunt, this kind of thinking is un-Filipino.

The second untruth: That those who have expressed or are beginning to express their concerns about the declaration of martial law in Mindanao do not care about the very real problems exposed by the fighting in Marawi City, or the large-scale problems that persist in Mindanao. We share the view of many who fully support military action against the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group, whether they are part of the Islamic State or mere sympathizers. The new clan-based Maute Group is similar to the Abu Sayyaf: They pretend to be motivated by religion, but are in fact mere bandits using terroristic means. Their campaign to become an official part of the IS is to provide them religious and ideological cover. The government must pursue these bandits and terrorists to the very ends of the earth, to see that justice is done.

The long-standing problems of Mindanao trace their roots to two historical aberrations: the centuries-long marginalization of the lumad and the Muslim people, and the massive Christian resettlement program in the mid-20th century. The result has been stark: Continuing poverty for many in the so-called Promised Land, a revitalized communist insurgency and a Moro secessionist movement, exploitation of the island’s rich resources, lack of adequate participation in national decision-making. We join the many who see the first Mindanawon presidency as an opportune time to finally begin to resolve these problems.

But martial law in the whole of Mindanao is not and cannot be the whole answer.  To pursue the bandits/terrorists, the President has already all the power he needs: a constitutional mandate to “call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion,” without declaring martial law; widespread political support for a war against the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group; a military motivated and equipped to do battle.

The contradictions in the rationale for imposing martial law in all of Mindanao are clear: The idea, for instance, that martial law would allow government agents to perform warrantless arrests wholesale is contrary to the Constitution’s own assurance. It was left to the Department of National Defense to issue a “Guidance” to the AFP, which included a reminder that “any arrest, search and seizure executed or implemented … should comply with the Revised Rules of Court and applicable jurisprudence.”

The President also identified a handful of provinces where a nightly curfew may be imposed; if the threat is limited to these provinces, why impose martial law on the entirety of the country’s second-biggest island?

The third untruth then that we must all resist: Martial law is the answer to Mindanao’s problems. Rather, these can only be fully addressed if all of us — government, civil society, the business community, each citizen in our individual capacities — join forces and work together.

The fourth untruth: The notion that martial law can be used to solve criminality in Mindanao. The Constitution provides only two situations that allow for the declaration of martial law: invasion or rebellion. Those who justify the imposition of martial law in the whole of Mindanao as a means to help fight crime are not only going against the Constitution;  like Ferdinand Marcos, they are using martial law to meet unconstitutional ends. Marcos imposed martial rule in part “to reform society,” a purpose not found in the martial law provisions. From painful experience we learned that by reform he meant rape.

Source: http://opinion.inquirer.net/104305/martial-law-untruths#ixzz4iR2ODHbL

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