By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan has called for an emergency action for peace and justice in Mindanao on May 24, at 6 pm, to be held at Plaza Miranda in Manila. They called on all sectors and member organizations to mobilize and invite friends, peace advocates and all who want to express solidarity with the people of Marawi and Mindanao.
On the evening of May 23, 2017, while in Russia, President Rodrigo Duterte declared a 60-day Martial Law in all of Mindanao. It would be effective for 60 days subject to congress confirmation. It was reportedly in reaction to Maute attacks in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, which, about the time the Martial Law was declared, was already declared as “under control” by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to place the whole of Mindanao under Martial Law “will create more problems than solutions,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr said in a social media post.
“The declaration of Martial Law will only justify the urban militarization and intensified military operations in Marawi City,” Jerome Succor Aba, National Chairperson of Suara Bangsamoro, said in another statement. He said the declaration of Martial Law also lessens the possibility of resolving the issue through diplomatic and non-militaristic means.
“The Moro leaders should pursue conversations with the Maute group and come up with resolutions on how to resolve the ongoing crisis,” Aba suggested.
Progressive groups are alarmed at the implication on human rights. The Maute group is not the only target of Martial Law. Despite the scheduled peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines later this week their group is specifically named by Lorenzana as one of targets of Martial Law in Mindanao. With Martial Law, Lorenzana said they will be able to control the movement; search and arrest of people.
Even before Martial Law was declared, Moro leader Amirah Lidasan had asked for prayers and help for Marawi from supporters, saying its residents are being attacked both by the armed group who seized a hospital and by the AFP men conducting aerial bombardment. She condemned how Marawi City is being turned into a battleground, how symbols such as the black flag of the ISIS are being used to make the place look like a scene from ISIS-areas in Syria.
Lidasan had warned before in social media that it might be used as a pretext to declare Martial Law, considering that Duterte’s “militarized cabinet has been projecting (it) for many weeks now.”
She called on the public to pray and act with them so the “government (will) be enlightened that their all-out war attacks against extremism are taking its toll on the civilians and not on their targets.”
In another statement, Karapatan also protested Duterte’s Martial Law declaration, and questioned why it covered all of Mindanao when the clashes are just in some parts of Marawi City. Karapatan said Martial Law will not address the circumstances of the current situation in Marawi, but will “aggravate the insecurity in the area.” It called for a deeper investigation into the incidents in Marawi and condemned the acts endangering the civilians.
“The various armed conflicts in Mindanao are rooted in decades-old problems of poverty, inequality, discrimination and violations of the right to self-determination,” Reyes of Bayan said. “These will ultimately require more than just a military solution.”