People unite, and fight against the Duterte regime’s extension of Martial Law in Mindanao

Press Statement | 22 June 2017

Thousands of protesters, mostly from the poor and oppressed sectors, march towards the Batasang Pambansa to manifest their anger and disillusionment with Duterte who failed to fulfill his promises to deliver more employment, solve landlessness, hunger, environmental destruction, corruption, patronage politics, and respect for human rights and commitment to peace talks. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Mindanao (NDFP-Mindanao) urges all revolutionary forces, the Bangsamoro and the entire Filipino people to fortify their ranks and fight against the Duterte regime’s martial law, whose extension in Mindanao until the end of the year will lead to the escalation of the reactionary state’s wars of death and destruction.

With an extended martial law, the Duterte regime’s naked fascism will target not just the Maute group but also the revolutionary movement led by the CPP-NPA-NDF, other armed Moro groups as well as the struggling peasants, workers and other sectors in the island. There will be more aerial bombardments and shelling that will pulverize other areas in the island beyond Marawi City. It will further intensify the AFP’s brutal combat operations in both rural and urban areas.

It will prolong the agony of the Moro people, particularly the Maranaws, who now strongly demand the immediate cessation of AFP/PNP attacks and that they be allowed to return to their homes. Pressed by the need to save their lives and livelihood, they even plan to collectively march back to Marawi City on the day of Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). Four hundred thousand (400,000) evacuees from Marawi City and adjacent towns continue to suffer from degrading conditions in evacuation centers and other areas all over Mindanao and the country. They are also subjected to discrimination and unspeakable human rights abuses, which will only worsen as martial law drags out.

In their dogged loyalty to Duterte’s brand of militarism, the AFP/PNP will be further emboldened to violate basic freedoms and civil liberties of Moro and non-Moro alike. It will serve to quell Mindanao farmers’ anti-feudal mass movement, the workers’ fight for higher wages, better benefits and humane working conditions, and the Lumad people’s struggle to defend their ancestral domain against destructive imperialist mining and plantation.

The AFP’s fake news propaganda machine has repeatedly claimed that state security forces did not commit any human rights abuses since martial law was declared on May 23. But this is not true simply because right before the very eyes of the Filipino people, the AFP razed to the ground the entire city of Marawi, killed hundreds of civilians, looted houses deserted by residents, and committed abuses against Moro women. Numerous civilians have been harassed, intimidated, forcibly searched and detained in the hundreds of AFP/PNP checkpoints in the island. Extra-judicial killings perpetrated by death squads, reportedly run and funded by the police and military, continue to victimize leaders and members of progressive worker, peasant and youth organizations. All these will heighten in the next five months of martial law.

Duterte’s martial law has indeed become akin to that of Marcos’s, and is proving itself to be far worse. It is to the great dismay of the people of Mindanao that the first president from Mindanao has the proclivity to bombard the island with so much death and destruction unlike any other.

In his upcoming second State of the Nation Address, Duterte will surely highlight martial law as the ultimate answer to the country’s problem of “terrorism and insurgency.” He will spew out reasons not only to justify its extension in Mindanao but also widening the coverage to the entire country. Having failed to fulfill his promises of sweeping changes for the Filipino people, he will instead give much credit to his three brutal wars of death and destruction — Oplan Kapayapaan against the revolutionary movement, Oplan Double Barrel and the all-out war against the Moro people. All of these have already killed and maimed thousands of civilians not only in Mindanao but in the rest of the country as well.

He will also boast about his grandiose debt-fueled multi-billion infrastructure projects, such as the Mindanao railway, as well as the entry and expansion of imperialist plantations (oil palm), which serve, on the one hand, to favor the unbridled profit-making of local ruling classes and foreign monopoly capitalists and, on the other, the further exploitation of the nation’s toiling classes.

While the NDFP-Mindanao vehemently condemns terrorist groups and their anti-people acts, the AFP and PNP have proven to be more terroristic as shown in their utter destruction of Marawi City through direct attacks, bomb runs and shelling, which will only worsen with martial law’s extension. These attacks against the Moro people ignited the ire not only of the Mautes but several other Moro groups whose only choice to counter the carnage was to wage an armed resistance. Duterte has virtually led his troops into a war they could not easily get out of because of the renewed armed resistance of the Moro people.

On the part of the New People’s Army, which is one of the main targets of Duterte’s martial law, it mobilized its units in the five regions of Mindanao, namely Southern, North Eastern, North Central, Far South and Western Mindanao, to launch more and more tactical offensives to defend the revolutionary forces and the masses from the continuing onslaught of martial law and Oplan Kapayapaan’s all-out war. Thus, the NDFP in Mindanao calls upon the NPA in the island to do everything in its capacity to counter the atrocities of Duterte’s martial law.

The NDFP Mindanao calls upon the people to unite and strengthen its ranks for a prolonged fight against Duterte’s martial law and militarism. On the day of Duterte’s SONA, all sectors of the Filipino people, especially the religious sector and the academe, must gather by the thousands in order to demand the concretization of his promises to the people and to hold him accountable for the massive deaths and destruction brought about by his unjust and bloody wars.#

Ka Joaquin Jacinto