Never again to Martial Law! Resist and Fight Tyranny!

The 37th anniversary of the declaration of martial law today is not a reason to celebrate but to remember the dark period of our Philippine history when tyranny and oppression seemed never-ending. Victims of the Marcos dictatorship and those under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo remind the nation to be always vigilant and struggle against those who attempt to crush the people's civil liberties and will for genuine social change.  This is also a day to honor the memories of those who laid down their lives fighting for the people’s democratic rights.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a new dictator, who along with her cohorts, has put the nation under an undeclared martial law for almost a decade. The same human rights violations -- the extrajudicial killings, the abductions, the enforced disappearances, the torture, the numerous forcible evacuations, the stifling of the people's voices -- are reminiscent of the Marcos' era, but made worse with the disguise of booming economy, peace and democracy which the Arroyo regime tries to project.

KARAPATAN calls on the people to be vigilant.  Similar conditions that exist prior to Marcos’ imposition of martial law are present today. A failure of elections or no election scenario seems to be an obvious solution for the Arroyos to stay in Malacanang and to further hinder the people's will for change.  Former Marcos' defense minister and now Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has already declared that the military and police are the institutions "of legitimate violence of the State" that will be the only mechanism to take up control of the country should the 2010 elections fail.

The people must be vigilant! The present activities of these "institutions of legitimate violence," the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police, already took the lives of 1,093 victims of extrajudicial killing, 209 victims remain missing, there are more than a thousand victims of torture, and hundreds of thousands of victims of forcible evacuation under Arroyo’s counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL). With the OBL's 2010 deadline to supposedly crush the insurgency, more lives of civilians are being put in danger. We must not allow the numbers of victims to increase.

The recent killings of Higaonon datu Mampaagi Belayong of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur, peasant activist Romulo Mendoba of Basey, Samar, and human rights advocate and priest Fr. Cecilio Lucero in Catubig, Northern Samar, the abduction of youth Noriel Rodriguez in Cagayan Valley and the surveillance of national artist and educator Bienvenido Lumbera are proof that the AFP is stepping up their operations to meet their quota.

With the thousands of victims, no perpetrator was jailed nor punished. We must also unite to end the impunity that has blanketed our nation for almost a decade now. We must not allow Gloria Arroyo and her henchmen go unpunished.  Arroyo, as commander-in-chief, should be held accountable for the lives of the victims of human rights violations under her regime.

We must remain vigilant!  Never again to martial law in our country!  We call on the Filipino people to resist and fight Arroyo’s tyranny!