On Esperon’s recommendation to extend martial law in Mindanao

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. recently recommended another 1-year extension of martial law in Mindanao.

“Hiding behind spurious claims and fear mongering, NSA’s Esperon is at it again. He is floating the idea to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year without satisfying any of the prerequisites provided for in the Constitution. Expectedly, his defense would be anchored on spreading fear and paranoia to justify continued and unchecked repression and abuses in Mindanao,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Karapatan reiterated that after two years of martial law in Mindanao, all the government has nothing to show for it is but a list of human rights violations and worsening impunity. “This government has a penchant for ineffective and repressive policies. It refuses to address the root causes of the armed conflict and instead responds with guns and bullets. Truly, the mark of militarist and fascist minds. The Duterte regime and its state forces ride on the lack of transparency to peddle more myths about the “need” for martial law, as well as to cover-up crimes, corruption and human rights violations.”

From May 23, 2017 to May 23, 2019, Karapatan has documented 93 cases of extrajudicial killings, 136 cases of frustrated extrajudicial killings, 35 cases of torture, 1,450 cases of illegal arrests, 28,813 cases of threat, harassment and intimidation, and 423,538 victims of forced evacuation in Mindanao. “On top of this, the progress of Marawi’s rehabilitation remains stagnant and the root causes of unrest in our country are unresolved,” Palabay added. 

“Military rule is used to quell all forms of political dissent in Mindanao. It boosts the power of the military and renders the entire population vulnerable to attacks. This is a regime of piecemeal dictatorship, where the most brutal policies are handed out one at a time, proposed repeatedly, and renewed yearly. Despite the safeguards and the reassurances of state forces, these are mere lip service from the foremost violators of human rights,” she emphasized.

The Karapatan official expressed the possibility that a Duterte-allied Congress and a Supreme Court with a majority of Duterte and Arroyo appointees would fast-track the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

“We enjoin everyone to reject the extension of martial law in Mindanao for another year, and call for its immediate lifting. Martial law has normalized militarization in many communities and has endangered the lives and security of individuals,” Palabay ended.