MANILA, Philippines – About 20 young activists who were supposed to join a peaceful protest-rally in Iligan City in time for President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) were picked by the police, the non-government Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM) said Monday.
MPPM said the youth protesters were about to join a demonstration in front of the post office in Iligan when they were suddenly apprehended allegedly by authorities and brought to a police station.
The group said this was the first time that activists joining a demonstration in front of the post office, the usual area where they stage SONA rallies protests in the past, were arrested.
Last Saturday, Congress gave the go-ahead to Duterte to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year to address terrorism in Marawi City.
On Sunday, Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said law- abiding and peaceful citizens should not fear the prolonged military rule in Southern Philippines.
“Those fearful of martial law are the terrorists, extremist groups, law violators, and supporters and sympathizers of these groups,” said Arevalo in Filipino.
He said martial law was implemented not to suppress civil rights but to protect the citizenry from attacks of lawless groups like the Maute terrorists.
“We have, time and again, addressed the apprehensions as regards human rights violations of some quarters opposed to martial law. Our troops have clear orders to enforce martial law in accord with existing laws especially those that pertain to prescriptions and proscriptions relating to human rights,” Arevalo said.
The AFP official added that anyone who feels that his or her rights are violated can come forward to lodge his or her complaints before authorities.
“Because the AFP leadership is serious about ensuring that our personnel uphold the laws and that those who will be found guilty of violating them will be meted commensurate penalties,” Arevalo said.