Friday, September 17, 2021


Ghost of Marcos stalks Philippines as martial law declared

Fighting between government troops and rebels allied with the so-called Islamic State (IS) saw the Philippine government unleash airstrikes on the southern city of Marawi on Thursday.



The army reports that 11 of its soldiers and 31 militants have been killed since the jihadist Maute Group launched their attack on Tuesday. The violence has sent shock waves across the country, heightened in many quarters by President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to declare martial law on the southernmost island of Mindanao. These fears are not, as some Mindanao-based supporters of Duterte claim, shared only by people from the north’s Luzon. One of the first to issue a statement against the president’s declaration was a group based in Duterte’s hometown of Davao. 
This 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 expressing concern about the declaration of martial law 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 Maute Group militants. 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 terrorist means. Their campaign to become an official IS offshoot is merely an ideological cover. The government must pursue these thugs mercilessly until peace is restored and justice is done.
The roots of Mindanao’s longstanding problems lie in two historical aberrations: the centuries-long marginalisation of the indigenous Lumad along with the island’s Muslims, and the massive Christian resettlement programme in the mid-20th century. The results are plain: Pervasive poverty, a revitalised communist insurgency and Moro secessionist movement, outside plunder of the island’s rich resources, and lack of adequate participation in national decision-making. We join the many who see the first Mindanawon president as a key to finally begin resolving these problems.
But martial law in the whole of Mindanao cannot be the whole answer. Duterte already has the necessary power to combat the bandits-terrorists – a constitutional mandate to “call out armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion”, along with widespread political support for a war against the Abu Sayyaf and Maute, plus a military motivated and equipped to do battle.
Duterte also identified a handful of provinces where a 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 to be resisted, then, is that martial law is the answer to Mindanao’s problems. In truth these can only be addressed if all of us – government, civil society, the business community, citizens – join forces and work together.
The fourth untruth: The notion that military law can be used to solve criminality in Mindanao. The constitution provides only two situations that allow for martial law: invasion or rebellion. Those who support its blanket imposition to fight crime on Mindanao 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 constitution. From painful experience we learned that by reform, he meant rape of the country.

Published : May 26, 2017

By : Philippine Daily Inquirer Asia News Network