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2 progressive party-list reps press for end of martial rule in Mindanao

/ 11:53 AM May 23, 2018

FIREPOWER Local and military officials in Mindanao say the declaration of martial law on the island has boosted the government’s campaign against unlicensed firearms. —JULIE ALIPALA

Progressive party-list lawmakers on Wednesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to end martial law in Mindanao amid reports of “mounting human rights abuses” in the southern island.

A year after martial rule was declared in Mindanao, Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago and Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao called on the Duterte administration to put an end to martial law and give justice to victims of human rights abuses in Mindanao.

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Casilao, in a statement, belied government reports of the return of normalcy in Mindanao as fake news as realities on the ground depict a totally different picture.

“There is no such thing as humane martial law. It is akin to the military rule of Marcos in the 1970’s. Martial law targeted civilians then as it is now. Thus, it should be immediately lifted and ended and those responsible for the abuses against the people should be held accountable,” the lawmaker added.

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For her part, Elago cited a report of Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights (Karapatan), an alliance of human rights activists who have constantly and consistently recorded human rights violations before and during the period of martial law in Mindanao from May 23, 2017 to May 23, 2018.

She said Karapatan has recorded at least 49 extrajudicial killings, 116 frustrated extrajudicial killings, 22 torture cases, 89 illegal arrests and detention, 9,738 cases of threats/harassments/intimidations, 336,124 cases of indiscriminate firing and bombings, 404,654 cases of forced evacuation, and 979 forced surrenderees.

“Twice hurriedly extended, with a defense secretary and army chief denying or feigning ignorance about the rampant human rights violations — martial law was used as an excuse to deploy more army battalions in Mindanao — not for the safety and security of the people in areas of armed conflict, but for the safety and security of mining firms and private and foreign corporations who are too eager to exploit the rich natural resources in the provinces,” Elago added.

Both lawmakers asserted that with the proliferation of fake news about the situation in Mindanao, the “public should be more critical.”

“The lives of ordinary people in Mindanao especially the farmers and indigenous people are not fair game. We call to an end to the implementation of martial law and hold accountable those who pushed for it will give not only the dignity stripped from them but also justice against various rights abuses,” Casilao underscored.

Upon Duterte’s request, Congress, during a special joint session on December 2017, approved the extension of martial law in Mindanao until Dec. 31, 2018.

Duterte said this move was aimed at “totally eradicating” insurgency in the region given the apparent threat of terrorism and rebellion there. /muf

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TAGS: Anakpawis, human rights abuses, Kabataan, Martial law, Mindanao
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