Statement on the Declaration of Martial Law in Maguindanao

The human rights alliance, KARAPATAN, condemns the Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo regime for declaring a state of Martial Law in the province of Maguindanao in the aftermath of the Ampatuan massacre.  Not only is Presidential Proclamation 1959 highly unconstitutional; it is NOT the solution to bring the perpetrators of the killings of 57 individuals, which included lawyers and journalists, to justice.  

The declaration is very reprehensible in that the massacre is being used to justify a more draconian measure which will greatly affect more people and again allow an opportunity for the masterminds of the gruesome crime to eventually escape punishment.

As history has shown us, martial law is open for abuse. The declaration of Martial Law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Maguindanao can and will lead to more human rights violations and atrocities in the province.  Even without placing the province under military control, the paramilitary groups such as the CAFGU, CVO and CAA controlled by Arroyo’s warlord ally, the Ampatuans, prevailed in the province which sowed fear in the hearts of and disrupted the lives of the civilian population.  Placing the province under direct military control would not differ much and in fact, might aggravate the already volatile situation.  As it is, after the massacre, and before the declaration of martial law in the province, the government has already deployed a large number of troops in the area.

Arroyo's actions show her desperation to bury her crimes against the people, and to escape from her accountabilities for gross human rights violations in the country.

As martial law can only be declared in an invasion or rebellion, the martial law declaration in Maguindanao only brings a way out for the masterminds to go scot-free from their crimes as rebellion cannot be established in what the Ampatuans did to the massacred victims.  The carnage was pure and simple murderous, savage impunity and one cannot in anyway discern an iota of nobleness in it as in the political offense of rebellion.

The martial law declaration also shows GMA's frantic moves to cling to power. With the 2010 elections just a few months away, and with Arroyo still in Malacañang, we can expect more violence and human rights violations in the country as elected criminals attempt to secure their place in the government.

We reiterate our call for justice for the victims of the Ampatuan massacre and all victims of human rights violations of the Arroyo regime.

We call on the public to join in the call for the withdrawal of the declaration of martial law, and to continue to be vigilant against further atrocities that this regime and its cohorts will commit against the Filipino people.

Never again to Martial Law!

Oust Gloria Arroyo NOW!