Without even a peep, President Duterte’s allies gave their quick nod to martial law.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Progressive groups denounced the two houses of Congress – the Senate and Representatives – for quickly giving the seal of approval to President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in the whole Mindanao, without so much as an investigation into the conflict that beset Marawi city.
Different sectoral groups trooped to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, May 31, as the Committee of the Whole of the House of Representatives convened. As they expected, the House gave its nod, voting viva voce to Resolution 1050, which found “no reason to revoke” the martial law declaration. Also yesterday, the Senate voted 17-5 for Resolution 388, supporting martial law.
Renato Reyes Jr, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general scored the legislators who voted for the said resolutions for failing to do their part in the system of checks and balances to ensure that the president will not abuse his powers and the rights of the people are protected. Instead, they were contented with news they gathered from mainstream and social media and did not dare scrutinize Duterte’s basis of martial law.
The need for investigation
Reyes said there is a need to investigate the role of the United States in the clashes between government troops and the extremist Maute group, which happened while Duterte was in Russia for an official visit. He said the US military had the technology for gathering information and intelligence in Marawi City and has provided these to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“What information do they give to the Armed Forces of the Philippines? Would it be that the US prodded the AFP to conduct an operation allegedly against Isnilon Hapilon in Marawi City while the president and all military officials are in Russia? These are the things that the Congress should investigate,” said Reyes during the program outside congress.
Jong Monzon, Pasaka Lumad Confederation of Southern Mindanao secretary general said that US troops have a barracks inside the 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi City.
He blamed National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for the martial law in Mindanao, as the two have been itching to suppress the Lumad who continue to resist the entry of mining corporations and plantations in Mindanao. That is why the Lumad and their schools were subjected to attacks, many of thei leaders killed.
“Lorenzana and Esperon have been wanting this (martial law) as dictated by the US imperialists,” he said.
Jerome Adonis, Kilusang Mayo Uno secretary general also hit Lorenzana, Esperon and AFP chief Eduardo Año as “peace spoilers” who want to expand martial law to the whole country. He said these generals are being dictated upon by the US to wage war because selling arms and ammunitions is the US’s number one business.
Inconsistencies in report
Reyes said Duterte’s martial law report showed inconsistencies and exaggerated basis, which should be investigated.
He cited the supposed takeover of Amai Pakpak Medical Center, which was denied by the hospital chief who said the Maute members only wanted to be treated. The beheading of the Marawi city police chief was also untrue, as Senior Inspector Romeo Enriquez had surfaced and said that he is safe.
There was also no confirmation that the Benigno Aquino College Foundation and the Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School were burned by the Maute group, as included in martial law report. The killing of faculty members of Dansalan is also yet to be verified.
“Where did the President get these information when he was in Russia?” Reyes said. He added that reports may have been exaggerated leading to Duterte’s decision to declare martial law. He said this was to the favor of “militarists” in Duterte’s Cabinet, who are now the ones who are in power.
However, it is the people and not the Maute group who greatly suffer the effects of martial law in Mindanao, he said. “They are the ones who are being punished because of this small group (Maute),” Reyes said.
Diamond Kalaw, a Marawi vendor and Kadamay leader here in the capital shared the suffering of her relatives who were caught amid the crisis in Marawi City. Two of her cousins were arrested by soldiers because they could not present IDs. She said her cousins were trying to escape the aerial strikes when they were caught by the soldiers.
“They have IDs but they left it (in the house). They are frightened of the clashes and wanted to be in a safe place,” she told Bulatlat in an interview.
Kalaw, a Maranao from Marawi, recalled her family’s suffering under Marcos’ martial law, including the killing of her grandfather. “Soldiers are evil, they will kill whoever they want, children and the elderly included,” she said.
Most of her relatives are in Marawi, and Kalaw is worried as airstrikes by the AFP kills civilians and not the Maute. She appealed to Duterte to stop the aerial bombing and lift martial law in Mindanao. “We have suffered enough. This is not the solution,” she said.
People’s resistance against fascist rule
In these times when the people cannot rely on legislators, Reyes said, they can only rely on their own strength and collective action.
He said they can file a petition in the Supreme Court to question the basis of martial law, but the people’s action is also important. “We need to ferret out the truth, the human rights violations are escalating in Mindanao the whole world needs to know about this,” he said.