No actual rebellion, invasion makes Mindanao martial law extension unconstitutional – group
An anti-tyranny coalition appealed to Congress on Wednesday to block President Rodrigo Duterte’s request of a one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“We believe that such an extension is patently unconstitutional, unnecessary, and a threat to human rights, democracy and peace,” the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) said in a statement.
According to the group, the extension of martial law is unconstitutional because no actual rebellion or invasion is present.
“In fact, President Duterte himself declared Marawi liberated from ISIS (Islamic State) in October. This was followed by the end of all combat operations and the start of the city’s rehabilitation,” it added.
One of the bases cited by Duterte in the extension of martial law was the continuing attacks allegedly carried out by members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
But the group said this is nothing new and is better addressed through comprehensive peace negotiations rather than all-out war.
“Ironically, if the President did not arbitrarily terminate the peace talks with the NDFP last month, the fighting would have been significantly reduced, as what happened in the first six months of his term,” MAT said.
“History has proven that martial law and similar militarist approaches have failed to address the roots of the armed conflicts in Mindanao and elsewhere,” it added.
The coalition, composed of incumbent and former legislators, lawyers and doctors, artists and members of the media, academics and religious leaders, representatives of (non-government organizations) NGOs and peoples organizations, as well as prominent individuals, also dreaded that martial law would be used to escalate what they called “Duterte’s bloody anti-illegal drug” campaign.
The group likewise expressed fear that it could trigger worse “counterinsurgency campaigns, crackdown on dissent and intimidate the public into submission.”
“With the failure of his RevGov plot, it is likely that he is now reverting to his original plan to impose martial law nationwide in order to establish a dictatorship,” MAT said.
“For these reasons, we humbly appeal to you to reject the extension of martial law in Mindanao,” it added. /kga