Never Again to Martial Law! -- Centre for Philippine Concerns

Communiqué May 28, 2017   capcpc@gmail.com

The Centre for Philippine Concerns/Centre d’appui aux Philippines (CPC-CAP) strongly condemns the imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao, as proclaimed by President Rodrigo Duterte on May 23, 2017.

The pretext was a firefight between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the National police in the town of Marawi, and the Maute group, a small group affiliated with the Islamic State (IS), according to the Philippine government.

Immediately afterwards, the Duterte administration declared martial law on the whole island of Mindanao, the second largest in this island nation of 100 million people. The people of Marawi have faced the brunt of violence and displacement. Civilians are sure to be victims of collateral damage from increased military operations.

Already in the days following the declaration of Martial Law, there have been incident-reports where large groups of people have been detained without warrant, including 250 ¨persons of interest¨ in Davao, the capital of Mindanao and 30 participants of the Ecumenical Women’s Forum in the city of Sultan Kudarat.  Freedom of movement is hampered, media and social media is being censored and people deemed to violate public security through their activities in the media and social media are threatened with arrest.

This is not to mention that people are prohibited from joining public demonstrations and are threatened with mass arrest under Martial Law, effectively muzzling social and human rights activists and removing their freedom of expression to oppose such rule.

We cannot forget the decades of Martial Law under former dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the 70’s and 80’s, when our Centre for Philippine Concerns was formed. Many of us were mobilized to alert our fellow Canadians to the systematic violation of human rights, the thousands of disappearances and extrajudicial killings, and the decimation of an entire generation of youth and progressive forces in those terrible years. We held activities to support those bravely resisting the dictatorship in the Philippines. Many of us were initiated into the world of international solidarity through this movement.

History has shown that Martial Law will never lead to peace, neither in Mindanao or the Philippines overall. Instead, increased military presence will further aggravate the insecurity in the region. It also strengthens the hand of the militarists in President Duterte’s own government, who are notoriously beholden to US imperialism which has huge economic interests in Mindanao, including investments in natural resource extraction. And Canadian imperialism is also involved since Canadian mining companies like TVI are active on the island of Mindanao.

Peace can only come by addressing the root causes of the armed conflict - the poverty, lack of development and the ancestral rights of the Bangsamoro (Muslim minority) and other indigenous peoples.

The current peace process between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines aims to address the roots of armed conflict. The Centre for Philippine Concerns fully endorses this process in the face of roadblocks recently being placed in its path by the Duterte government, and believes it is infinitely more in the interests of the Filipino people than Martial Law!


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