Like the State of National Emergency, Martial Law in Mindanao, Overkill
Following clashes between government troops and alleged members of the Maute Group in Marawi City, President Rodrigo Duterte has made good his earlier threats to declare Martial Rule over the region.
The 60 day declaration came as the Maute group was said to have “set ablaze establishments” and the firefight with government troops which started 3:20 pm, Tuesday, May 23.
A closer perusal of the news brings up critical questions.
Four minutes (9:56PM) before the ten pm declaration by President Duterte, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra was reported to have been pleading with authorities, especially the AFP to send reinforcements despite assurances that “help was on their way.”
Another report featuring Mayor Gandamra said that by 7:32 PM, the local government still has all control of the government establishments and the streets are quiet.
Mayor Gandamra’s statement is consistent with that released by AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Marine Colonel Edgard A. Arevalo in social media, declaring that “the situation (in Marawi) has stabilized” and there is “no truth to the earlier reports that Amai Pakpak Hospital has been occupied and that the people there were held hostage,” the “City Hall was not occupied” and that the “sporadic firefight heard was harassment actions by terrorist sympathizers.”
In the same statement, the AFP pointed out that reports linking ISIS to Maute are “spurious” and characterized them as a “ small, local terror group,” which is opposite to the statement made in the impromptu Press Conference in Moscow by government officials announcing the 60 day Martial Law of Mindanao.
Like the unjustified declaration of a State of National Emergency following the bombing in Davao Market last year which have yet to be lifted, the declaration of Martial Law for an entire region is another overkill move as the clash cannot be imagined to be either invasion or rebellion, the necessary Constitutional Basis for declaring Martial Law.
In more than a dozen instances, the President himself has articulated his preference to impose Martial Law for varying reasons, the latest of which was in the event that the conflict in Mindanao will spiral out of control. The situation has already stabilized says the AFP, logically the declaration is superfluous.
In fact, no armed group is posing a threat against government and one cannot help but think that the Maute threat is being blown up way out of proportion.
What it does show is that the Duterte government will readily grasp at any reason to clip and undermine the democratic freedoms of Filipinos to further its own narrow interests. Never mind breaking the law, while he is at it.
Is there a link between the declaration by some legislators that the recently-inked deals with China should be placed under closer scrutiny, most of which involves the beleaguered region of Mindanao? Regardless, business and investment which the government has been funneling into Mindanao may also be adversely affected by this overkill move.
Besides, his declaration of Martial Law in a way undermines the capabilities of his own security forces, whom he is supposed to be their Commander-in-Chief. It is as if he has little faith in his troops who have already said they are on top of the situation.
We are certain that the declaration will only further the culture of fear and impunity already besetting the nation and are anticipating rights abuses that would befall the citizens of Mindanao.
The declaration is uncalled and cannot be justified. It must be immediately lifted. ####