Mindanao Under Martial Law, A Year of State Terror

 This section shares stories of human rights violations perpetrated in the implementation of martial law in Mindanao under the Rodrigo Duterte presidency.



Institutionalized torture

Emboldened by martial law in the whole island of Mindanao, soldiers can accost anyone they fancy, especially if they are poor peasants or small scale miners. These soldiers can bring them to the police station on trumped-up charges of thievery. If the “suspects” don’t interest the police, the soldiers can bring the “suspects” to their military camp, under the nose of their commander, and unquestioned by their superiors. The soldiers can tie them up, beat them up and put them up in an unused, broken down ambulance for nine days, but only feed them six times.

After which the soldiers can now get rid of the “suspects.” They make them wear military uniforms, and, escorted by twenty soldiers, the “suspects” are brought to another town on a 6x6 military vehicle. On a forested area, the “suspects” can be made to dig their own graves. As a send-off, the soldiers can rain blows on the suspects’ bodies before strangling them to death and throwing their bodies in the pit. Not content with their deed, they can pour crude oil on the bodies and throw in wood chips to initiate the fire, and proceed to watch their bodies burn.

Massacre of Lumad in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato

On December 3, 2017, just minutes after the village chief of Sitio Bonglaon, Brgy. Ned, Lake Sebu and his companions left, a hail of bullets came from the hilly side of the community’s day care center.

Instinctively knowing the sound of gunfire, the children stopped playing, and their mothers and their teachers cried out. Everyone heeded the call of Datu Victor Danyan to go to his house for safety. In the corn fields nearby, Pato Siralbo, Samuel Angkoy and Datu Victor’s two sons, Artemio and Victor, Jr. - all members of the all members of the T’boli Manubo Sdaf Claimants Organization (TAMASCO) - fell in the first volley of fire. Datu Victor, attempting to rescue his sons, was himself felled by bullets as soon as he stepped out of his house.

From noon to up to 4:30 in the afternoon intermittent gunfire sought out the Lumad. In the end, eight T’boli and Dulangan Manobo farmers were dead, and five persons, including children, were shot at but survived. The whole of Sitio Bonglanon evacuated to other places, and two Lumad were later arrested on trumped-up charges.

Bombs and bullets rained on Moro communities outside Marawi

Two days after the declaration of martial law, on May 25, 2017, from 5:30am to 10pm, around 240 elements of the 39th and 72nd IBPA conducted a series of aerial bombings and fired at the Moro communities in sitios Pedtobawan, Campo, Apulan, and Centro Salat in Brgy. Salat, and in sitio Libpas in Brgy. Tuael, President Roxas, North Cotabato.

Aerial strikes were also reported in the barangays of Tangkulan, Anggaan, and Damulog in Bukidnon. These areas are at least 100 kilometers away from Marawi City. 105 howitzer cannons were mounted at Brgy. Kisupaan, Pres. Roxas, North Cotabato. More than 1,000 residents fled due to fear.

Soldiers killed civilians in Marawi

On May 23, 2017, Abol Amatonding, left their house in Basak, Malutlut, Marawi to go to his relatives in Binidyang, Marawi. Abol’s mother, Racma Amatonding, decided to evacuate the next day, on May 24. Racma, unaware of the whereabouts of her son, assumed he had also evacuated with their relatives. 

It was on May 25 when reports surfaced that a picture of Abol’s body was circulating in social media; the body was found in Basak, Malutlut, in the area where the family lived. Abol wore a black shirt and brown pants. Wearing black automatically aroused suspicion from the military, as their initial reports stated that members of the Maute group were wearing the same color. The body of Abol was recovered by their relatives in Binidyang, but the family was not able to bury their son because they could not afford the trip. Abol’s family is in an evacuation center in Baloi, Lanao del Norte. 

On May 24, 2017, the body of Ramos Malik, 35, was found at the Banggolo bridge in Marawi. His family – father Mangod Malik, 63; siblings Jabbar Malik, 30, Aida Malik, 25, Esnairah Malik, 20, and Montiya Malik, 10 – evacuated on May 26, 2017 from their residence in Brgy. Cameri, Marinaut, Marawi. 

Mindanao Under Martial Law, A Year of State Terror - Karapatan

Days before the first year of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2018, Karapatan received reports on the killing of an industrial worker of a banana plantation and the arbitrary arrest of a trade union organizer, both in the Southern Mindanao region.



a report by Sandugo, Suara Bangasa Moro, Karapatan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan


On May 23, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Proclamation 216 that placed the whole of Mindanao under Martial Law, including the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. This was in reaction to reports that a small band of armed men identifying themselves as Dawlah Islamiya, had staged attacks around the Islamic City of Marawi while President Duterte was in Russia for an official visit.


a report by Sandugo, Suara Bangasa Moro, Karapatan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan