NUPL: Martial law is Duterte’s ‘ultimate scare tactic’
Martial law in Mindanao is nothing but a tactic being used by President Rodrigo Duterte to scare his administration’s detractors, according to the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).
In a 38-page memorandum filed with the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday, the NUPL said that the Duterte administration had only been taking advantage of the declaration’s “partly psychological” effect on the populace.
“Clearly, another extension – this time for a much longer period – would result in an increase in human rights abuses. But why the uncontrollable desire for the extension? What is with the insatiable appetite for martial law powers?” the group stressed.
“Martial law is the President’s ultimate scare tactic,” the NUPL said. “Martial law has a chilling effect and as Respondent AFP Chief admitted during the oral arguments, the declaration is ‘partly psychological’ as it pictures and embeds in the minds of the populace that a ‘strong authority is in charge’.”
Gen. Rey Guerrero, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), had recommended to Congress the extension of martial law for its “psychological impact” on law enforcement in the region.
According to the NUPL, the impact the AFP wants to sustain unequivocally frustrates and circumvents the constitutional safeguards against human rights abuses and the unbridled exercise of presidential powers.
“These safeguards were borne out of the lessons and experience as a nation and a people under the Marcos dictatorship,” the NUPL said.
“Historical and contemporary experiences indubitably prove that the monster of martial law has targeted and will target civilians who have no participation at all in any armed uprising or struggle,” the group said.
The petitioners said the inclusion of alleged “coddlers,” “supporters,” and “financiers” in quelling the reported rebellion would open the floodgates to further attacks against anyone.
“The vagueness and ambiguity of said pronouncement sends a chilling effect that violates the people’s right to exercise vital freedoms and liberties,” the NUPL said.
Moreover, the NUPL asserted that martial law was not intended for armed groups but for those opposing the government.
The petitioners noted how Duterte showed a lack of tolerance against those who openly criticized him such as the Church, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Commission of Human Rights, the media and the courts.
“It is this factual context and concrete situation that the constitutional and bounden duty, not only of the whole Court as an institution but also for each and every individual honorable member of this Court, to exercise judicial review to check on abuse of power, protect and defend freedoms and liberties, and breathe life, guidance and inspiration to its role as a supposed last bastion of democracy instead of allowing it to be an empty shibboleth to the delight and pleasure of fleeting tyrants of any time,” the NUPL said. /atm
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.