“The imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao has only caused an influx in human rights violations and displacements among the ordinary people,” said Charles Jimenez, University of the Philippines Manila University Student Council’s (UPM-USC) Vice-Chairperson and member of Anakbayan-UP Manila.

As part of the Black Friday protest, students from various Metro Manila schools, under the youth support network KALINAW (Kabataan Para Sa Kapayapaan Sa Mindanao), conduct a simultaneous candle-lighting protest along Morayta and Taft Avenue to call against the continuous military operations in Marawi City as well as the ongoing imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao last June 16, 2017.

Earlier in the day, KALINAW also launched a black ribbon tying along Morayta as part of their symbolic protest against Martial Law.

A Moro student from Far Eastern University (FEU) joins the Black Friday Protest on June 16, 2017 to call against Martial Law. (Manila Today/Kathy Yamzon)
A Moro student from Far Eastern University (FEU) joins the Black Friday Protest on June 16, 2017 to call against Martial Law. (Manila Today/Kathy Yamzon)

Intensified oppression

Sa pagdeklara ng Martial Law sa buong Mindanao, patuloy at lalo pang dinadahas ng mga pasistang Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) hindi lang ang mga sibilyan kundi pati na rin ang mga aktibista na nagpapanawagan para sa batayang karapatan,” (Following the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, there has been a continuous and enforced harassment made by the fascist Armed Forces of the Philippines not only to civilians, but also to activists who call for basic rights,)  said Jonalyn Balome, a Mindanaon hailing from the UP Manila School of Health Sciences (UPM SHS) Koronadal.

Balome was part of the Taft contingent of the protest, wherein several organizations from UP Manila, as well as nearby Taft schools led by Technological University of the Philippines-Manila (TUP-M), and youth organizations such as Anakbayan-Metro Manila (AB-MM), College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines-Metro Manila (CEGP-MM), and National Union of Students of the Philippines-Metro Manila (NUSP-MM) held their protest in front of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Oblation Plaza.

The youth students further manifested that the Martial Law in Mindanao will not resolve the ongoing conflict in Marawi and will only exacerbate the crisis due to the intensified military operations within the island.

Karapatan reports that the three weeks of the imposition of Martial Law further increased the number of human rights violations, which entailed 22 civilian deaths, 60 civilians missing, and more than 250,000 internally displaced residents of Mindanao due to the continuous aerial bombings conducted by the AFP within and outside of Marawi.

On June 2, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) reported that 12 workers from Shin Sun Tropical Fruit Corporation conducting a picket in Compostela Valley were violently dispersed, mauled, and forcibly arrested by the combined elements of the 66th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police (PNP). Labor leaders manifested that the state forces now use Martial Law as a way to meddle with labor disputes.

Meanwhile, Kilab Multimedia reported that around a thousand Maguindanao residents from six barangays in Shariff Aguak and Shariff Saidona have fled due to heavy bombardment by the military since June 3. Affected barangays are Bialong, Tina, Posao, Makings, Diate and Look. Most residents have evacuated to Mamasapano.

Proposed alternative

Other than condemning the imposition of Martial Law, the youth students have also pushed for the resumption of peace talks.

While the declaration of Martial Law has caused the suspension of the fifth round of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), several groups have asserted for its resumption.

In the candlelight protest, Jimenez expounded on the necessity for the peace talks to continue. “There’s a crisis in this society that cannot be resolved with Martial Law. Will Martial Law provide lands to the farmers? Will Martial Law ensure job security to workers? Will the Martial Law provide free education to students? The Martial Law has failed to address the root cause of armed conflict because it does not recognize the basic rights of the citizens.”

The protest ended with the youth’s call for the lifting of Martial Law, the continuing of peace talks, and the cessation of aerial bombings in Mindanao.

On June 23, the group will lead #WalkForMindanao, one month after the Duterte administration declared Martial Law. #WalkForMindanao is a multi-sectoral unity walk organized by the youth geared to call against human rights violations and terrorism and to assert for just and lasting peace.

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