By IAN IRVING BAZARTE
MANILA – Various progressive groups today, July 7, continued to protest the Supreme Court (SC)’s affirmation of martial law in Mindanao, as they warned of its possible extension, not only in Mindanao but in other parts of the country.
The groups said they will keep staging protests, with a major gathering on July 24, in time for President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (Sona), as the Mindanao martial law expires on July 22.
In a landmark decision passed on July 4, the SC upheld the validity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao, junking the consolidated petitions filed by several opposition lawmakers, four women residents of Marawi City, and progressive groups’ leaders. The petitioners have spoken out against the decision, saying that the SC has “reneged on its role.”
“Tayo’y magsama-sama. Hindi lang tayo ngayon magpoprotesta; hanggang hindi binabawi ni Presidente Rodrigo Duterte yung martial law sa Mindanao, hindi tayo titigil,” he added.
Protesting at Welcome Rotonda, Quezon City were members of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (Karapatan), League of Filipino Students, and Migrante International.
The group emphasized that martial law has only added to the people’s problems instead of resolving anything.
Kilusang Mayo Uno-Southern Mindanao Region (KMU-SMR) secretary general Carl Anthony Olalo reiterated earlier calls that martial law in Mindanao must be lifted because it has resulted in naught but ever-increasing amounts of human rights abuses perpetrated by members of police and military, particularly abuses against workers.
He cited as an example the military’s violent dispersal of striking workers of the Shin Sun fruit factory in Compostela Valley on June 2, which led to around 14 workers being beaten up and arrested.
“Wala po tayong makukuhang benepisyo nitong martial law. Lalo lang titindi yung kahirapan at yung mga nagaganap na kaharasan sa Mindanao at posibleng sa buong bansa,” Olalo said.
Migrante International Spokesperson Arman Hernando said that, contrary to widespread public belief, not all Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) support Duterte’s martial law.
“Ayaw na ayaw ng mga migrante ang karahasan na nagaganap sa ating bayan ngayon,” Hernando said.
Hernando also hit what he referred to as ‘fake news’ of Marawi City residents fully supporting martial law in Mindanao.
“Sinong mamamayan ng Marawi ang gugustuhing bombahin ang kanilang bahay, ang gugustuhing mag-bakwit, at gugustuhing ang kanilang mga pamamahay ay pasukin ng mga militar at kunin ang kanilang mga kagamitan,” he said.
LFS Spokesperson JP Rosos added that a military-based solution to the problems of Mindanao is counter-intuitive and would eventually push Filipinos further and further away from the government.
Meanwhile, in a statement, another youth group said the SC ruling practically gave the license to the military and police to commit more rights abuses. “It has also made it easier for the Duterte administration to declare martial law nationwide, even on questionable grounds,” said Mark Vicent Lim of the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP).