BAYAN-USA, GABRIELA USA, and Anakbayan-USA decry the Philippine government’s extension of martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018. In this blatant act of fascism, 240 members of the Philippine Congress, proving once again to be blind followers of President Duterte, approved Duterte’s request based on unconstitutional grounds. Duterte, along with Defense Secretary and warmonger Delfin Lorenzana by his side, cited vague “justifications” for the extension: alleged ISIS recruitment, reconstruction of Marawi, criminality, economic growth, and offensives launched by the New People’s Army. Their reasons are nothing but a facade for the escalation of the U.S.-Duterte regime’s war against the people, which has continued to massacre, displace, and curtail the rights of communities in Mindanao and beyond. In the face of increased repression, the people have no other option but to build the mass movement, demand the lifting of martial law, and resist the imposition of open dictatorship in the Philippines.
Duterte imposed martial law in Mindanao on May 23 after a botched military operation against Maute Group leader Isnilon Hapilon led to the Group’s siege of Marawi City. Originally set for a period of 60 days, the declaration was extended to the end of December 2017. Duterte’s request for a second extension until December 31, 2018 comes despite the government declaring Marawi clear of the Maute Group in October.
The Philippine army’s self-proclaimed “victory” in Marawi has spelled disaster for the people. Over 1,000 people have died from the conflict in Marawi, which involved indiscriminate aerial bombings by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) under the framework of the U.S.-instigated “War on Terror.” Over 400,000 people were also forced to evacuate, with dozens reported to have died in evacuation centers awaiting aid which the government never delivered. Numerous women in evacuation camps have reported their husbands either killed or missing, last seen in the hands of state forces who had wrongly accused the men of being affiliated with the Maute Group. Once a culturally and commercially vibrant city, Marawi itself is in ruins, a literal ghost town of flattened buildings and tattered streets flooded with puddles of empty mortar shells and bullet casings. While residents plead to be allowed to return to Marawi to rebuild their homes and lives, the government has forbidden them from going home. Instead, evacuees in the bordering towns see tanks roll by each day, as the military moves forward with its plans to establish a military camp on the now-vacated land–no surprise since Duterte appointed Defense Secretary Lorenzana to lead the government’s “rehabilitation” efforts. At the same time, Duterte is seeking investments from the Asian Development Bank and World Bank for the rebuilding of Marawi, thus opening the door for foreign interests to profit as much as possible from the people’s suffering.
Outside of Marawi, martial law has only emboldened the military and paramilitary to terrorize the people with impunity. Indigenous peoples, peasant activists, and workers rights activists have been gunned down, and other human rights defenders and community organizers have been put on fake “wanted” lists as an intimidation tactic. “Many of the victims of the military’s fascist rule in Mindanao have been youth, including Lumad student Obillo Bay-ao [19 y/o] and cultural worker Bernardo Clarion [24 y/o],” emphasized Adrian Bonifacio, Chairperson of Anakbayan-USA. “Duterte himself–who once vowed to protect the youth of the Philippines–has the blood of the country’s future on his hands.”
Under martial law, Duterte has also openly encouraged the AFP to flex its power against women, feeding the military’s macho-fascist mentality and emboldening them to systematically use rape as a tool of war. “We must continue to demand an end to martial law because with further military operations, women and children will be victims of crimes such as harassment, sexual abuse, rape, and murder promoted by Duterte’s war on the people,” asserted Irma Shauf-Bajar, Chairperson of GABRIELA USA.
“During our annual Peace Mission to the Philippines this November, we saw first-hand how Trump’s warm endorsement of Duterte directly emboldened the fascist attacks of his regime,” stated Rhonda Ramiro, Vice Chair of BAYAN-USA and a leader of the mission. “The frequency and intensity of repression against workers, indigenous people, peasants and human rights defenders increased with each day of our mission. Such repression is paving the way for Duterte to impose a full-fledged dictatorship to safeguard the Philippines as a puppet state of U.S. imperialism. This is all while Trump seeks to secure the Philippines as ‘prime real estate’ for U.S. military offensives, as well as push a neoliberal economic offensive against struggling Filipinos through the forging of a new bilateral Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines.”
The extension of martial law will mean another year of repression against the Filipino people. As we celebrate International Human Rights Day, let us celebrate through fierce resistance. We call on all people who seek justice and genuine peace to join the mass movement against fascism in the Philippines, and demand the U.S. government end its explicit support for this state repression. We encourage organizations to show their solidarity by joining the newly formed International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – United States (ICHRP-US), and by engaging in the “Stop The Killings!” campaign. As the people chanted on the streets under Marcos’ martial law, we must do the same: “Makibaka! Huwag matakot! Struggle without fear!”
Stop the Killings!
Never Again to Martial Law!
Never Again to Fascist Dictatorship!