DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the third extension of Martial Law extension in Mindanao until the end of 2019 has drawn flak from various progressive groups, calling it as “outright neglect of human rights.”
With a vote of 9-4, the Supreme Court, on Tuesday junked all four petitions filed by various groups questioning the constitutionality and factual basis of martial law extension.
Among the groups that formally filed a petition for the stop of martial law imposition in Mindanao are the teachers and students of Lumad schools in Mindanao, including the Save our Schools Network (SOS).
The group filed their petition in January this year.
“This shows that majority of the judges do not care for the welfare of children, Lumad, Moro, peasants, and other victims of human rights violations brought about by martial law,” SOS said in a statement on Tuesday.
The group added that martial law extension will only be used by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to justify human rights violations and intensified militarization of Lumad communities.
The imposition of martial law in Mindanao has already resulted to 535 cases of attacks on lumad schools, 111 cases of cases of trumped-up charges against teachers, parents and Lumad leaders, and the forced closure of 73 lumad schools, the SOS said.
The group added that martial law made around 8,000 peasants and lumads and peasants to surrender and forced to admit of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA) while the continuing militarization in the countryside has resulted to the displacement of 11,500 lumad residents and 10 extrajudicial killings.
“The atrocities of martial law in Mindanao should not be neglected. These cases are the concrete manifestation that martial law is not serving its purpose. In the first place, the extension of martial law has no basis and is unconstitutional,” Geming Alonzo, Executive Director of Center for Lumad Advocacy, Networking, and Services, Inc. (CLANS) stressed.
Despite the High Court’s decision, the group still calls for the lifting of martial law in Mindanao.
Members of the Makabayan bloc ACT-Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro, in a statement on Tuesday, denounced what seems to be a never-ending declaration of martial law, blaming it in “terrorizing” civilians, human rights advocates, IP communities, and activists.
Tinio said that people can only expect more human rights violations following the affirmation of martial law extension.
“The creeping nationwide martial law continues to target peasants, workers, and citizens who raise dissent against the anti-people policies of this administration. We oppose any extension and expansion of the declaration of martial law,” Tinio added.
Castro, on the other hand, emphasized that the only terrorism still lurking in Mindanao is state terrorism, brought by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the paramilitary forces, and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
She said that government forces continue to drive Lumad children out of their schools, illegally detain people without warrants of arrest, charge them with trumped-up cases and tag them as terrorists.
But student activists were not surprised with the SC’s backing on the third extension of martial law, saying that President Duterte has “ensured his control over the government’s executive, legislative, and judiciary powers.”
“The incidents of massacres in different regions, political persecutions of activists and outright threats to staunch critics are enough proof that the country is already under a de facto Martial Law,” says Kara Taggaoa, League of Filipino Students national spokesperson.
Taggaoa also acknowledged the growing resistance among the Filipino people that will fail the “Marcosian-style” leadership of the Duterte administration. (davaotoday.com)