MANILA, Philippines — Civil society organizations on Wednesday called for resistance to martial law in Mindanao and any attempt to expand its coverage as some groups took to the streets a day after the Supreme Court upheld President Rorigo Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said the high court decision “provides the basis for the extension of martial law in Mindanao beyond 60 days” and also “makes the nationwide declaration of martial law by President Rodrigo Duterte that much easier.”
“The bar has been set very low. An incident in one area can be used as basis for martial law in an entire island region,” it added.
Duterte declared martial law over the whole of Mindanao on May 23, hours after fighting broke out between extremist gunmen and government forces in Marawi City. The fighting is still continuing.
Late Wednesday morning, several organizations will stage a protest action, marching from the Peace Bell at the Quezon Memorial Circle to PHILCOA for a program.
Among the groups joining the protest are the Freedom from Debt Coalition and IDefend.
Should Duterte decide to extend martial law, Bayan predicted it would “no doubt bring about more abuses by State security forces,” citing reports it said it had received of “illegal arrests, arbitrary detention, filing of trumped-up charges and militarization of communities in Mindanao.”
It added that the high court decision is likely to “take its toll in the ongoing peace talks” between the government and communist rebels.
Bayan said the government “must deal with the ISIS-inspired groups without resorting to martial law and with full respect for human rights” because its “scorched-earth tactics only fuel resentment of State forces and further armed resistance by the Moro people.”
“The government must address poverty and injustice in Mindanao as the only means of attaining a just and lasting peace,” it added.