Groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and Karapatan marched to Mendiola on Friday, May 26 to express solidarity to the people of Marawi City in Mindanao affected by the armed fighting between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the so-called Maute group and called against the declaration of Martial Law in the whole island of Mindanao.
“Ang deklarasyon ng Martial Law ay kahit kailan hindi makakaresolba sa problema ngayon sa Marawi…malalim ang karanasan ng mamamayang Pilipino sa mga panduduhagi, sa mga pang-aabuso sa karapatang pantao na isinagawa ng militar noong panahon ni Pangulong Marcos (The declaration of Martial Law will never resolve the problems now in Marawi…the Filipino people have a deep experience of abuse and violation of human rights committed by the military during the time of President Marcos),” Palabay said in her speech in Mendiola during the protest.
Palabay cited incidents of harassment of civilians in Mindanao following the declaration of Martial Law including the reported interrogation of some 30 women composed of Lumad, Moro, pastors and ecumenical church workers who gathered for an Ecumenical Women’s Forum for one hour by the 6th Marine Landing Battalion Team in Brgy. Domulon, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat. She also mentioned the reported rounding up of 250 individuals by Task Force Davao and police in Davao City who failed to present identification cards. Both incidents happened on May 25, a day after the declaration of Martial Law.
Karapatan asserts that even without Martial Law, human rights violations perpetrated by state forces have been rampant.
From July 2016 to April 30, 2017, prior to the implementation of martial law, Karapatan has documented 55 cases of extrajudicial killings, 101 incidents of illegal arrest and detention, 18, 414 victims of forced evacuation as a direct result of aerial strikes, militarization and harassment against communities, and 30,904 cases of threat, harassment and intimidation, all in line with the counter-insurgency and so-called counter-terrorism campaign of the AFP.
In a separate interview with Manila Today, Palabay said that the military has the capacity to eradicate the terrorist Maute group without declaring Martial Law.
“Kailangang tumino ang military at police natin, ang laki-laki ng pondong ibinibigay sa kanila para sa intelligence operations, artillery at sa kanilang command conferences. Imbes na ituon nila sa CPP [Communist Party of the Philippines], MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] na nakikipag peace talks na, dapat ituon nila sa mga terrorist groups (The military and police should become serious, they are given big funds for intelligence operations, artillery and command conferences. Instead of focusing on the CPP and MILF, they should focus on the terrorist groups,” said Palabay.
Danny dela Fuente, 68 years old, recalled the horrors of Martial Law under President Ferdinand Marcos. He was a labor organizer under the National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU) when the house where they were conducting their meeting was raided by the Philippine Constabulary (PC) in 1982.
Dela Fuente who was among those arrested and brought to Camp Crame was subjected to torture for three months.
“Mula sa Camp Crame sinimulan akong itorture at inakusahang terorista, tinitira ang solar flexes ko, masakit yun, tapos pinalibutan ng masking tape ang mata ko…dinala ako sa Fort Bonifacio, pagkatapos ay inuumpog ang ulo ko sa pader (I was tortured in Camp Crame and was accused of being a terrorist, I was punched in my solar flexes, it hurt a lot, then masking tape was placed around my eyes…I was brought to Fort Bonifacio then my head was smashed on the wall) ,” recalled dela Fuente.
Dela Fuente also recalled that he was subjected to torture called ‘tea party’ where around ten men surrounded him and he was kicked and made to roll on the other side and was kicked again and again.
The former political detainee was finally released on amnesty in 1986 when President Corazon Aquino was sworn in to office.
Dela Fuente believes that Duterte’s Martial Law will be no different from Marcos’ Martial Law.
“Kinakailangan ang higit na pagkakaisa ng lahat ng mamamayan, hindi ito panahon ng paghahati-hati…ito ang kinakailangang pagkakaisa laban sa tuloy-tuloy at papalalang pasistang atake sa karapatan ng mamamayan Pilipino (The unity of the people is needed now more than ever, this is not the time to sow divisiveness…the unity we need is to fight the continued and worsening fascist attack against the Filipino people),” said Palabay.
Karapatan is set to lead a National Fact Finding and Solidarity Mission to Marawi City next week to gather facts on the human rights violations committed by state forces in the course of the implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao and provide relief to affected residents who evacuated due to the conflict.