Bayan opposes martial law extension
A militant group criticized the move of President Rodrigo Duterte to extend his martial law declaration in Mindanao, asking if his administration will become another “military dictatorship.”
“Is the Duterte regime on its way to becoming a military dictatorship? This is our greatest fear now that Pres. Duterte wants martial law extended in Mindanao and possibly elsewhere,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said in a statement on Tuesday after Duterte said he wanted martial law in Mindanao extended until the end of the year.
No need for draconian measure
Bayan said the martial rule brought human rights violations, repressive measures like curfews, checkpoints and blockades of food and medicines for affected communities, and military interference on labor and land disputes, among others.
“Neither the situation in Marawi nor the entire Mindanao calls for such a drastic and draconian measure. On the contrary, we have been repeatedly told that the fighting in Marawi is coming to a close and that the Maute group is trapped and dwindling in number,” Bayan said.
Duterte, in his letter to Congress read by Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, said that “public safety” requires the extension of martial law amid the continued rebellion in Marawi, which he said, “will not be quelled by 22nd July 2017, the last day of the 60-day period provided under Section 18 Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution.”
‘Bent’ on extending
The militant leaders met with Duterte for two hours on Tuesday evening to discuss issues of national interest, including the martial law extension and the stalled peace talks.
Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said Duterte is “bent” on extending his martial law declaration.
“The President is bent on extending it. We have consistently opposed it. He said it was not intended to target the left. The Mindanao activists said that that was not reality on the ground,” Reyes said in a separate statement on Wednesday.
Citing Mindanao activists, Reyes said that martial law was being used “to militarize communities and attack Lumad schools.”
Reyes said Duterte, however, gave no commitment on the issue of militarization of communities, saying this was a reality in the ongoing civil war.
“For our part, a condition of extended Martial Law can only mean that military abuses and attacks will increase,” Reyes said.
On July 22, Congress will convene for a special session to consider Duterte’s request for martial law extension.
Bayan is set to stage a protest on the same day to halt the special session.
“We call on Congress not to be a party to this dangerous ploy. We call on the people to resist such moves to impose a military dictatorship on the country. We say, never again,” Bayan said. IDL
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