The Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) condemns the atrocious attack on the people of Marawi perpetrated by a local terrorist group. We solidly stand with them in this tragic moment. We believe, however, that the declaration of Martial Law is a heavy-handed response to the situation that even the AFP now claims is under control.
It is in this light that SENTRO condemns the declaration of Martial Law and joins the growing clamor of various social movements, civil society organizations and concerned citizens around the country, especially in Mindanao, in calling for the rescinding of the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.
The real possibility of a state of martial law being utilized for counter-insurgency and the suppression of civil liberties, including workers’ and trade union rights, is a well-founded fear of our people due to our two-decade experience of dictatorship. While the 1987 Constitution (under Art. 18, Sec. VII) has significantly constrained the latitude of abuse a state of martial law may entail, a pliant Congress does not inspire institutional confidence.
We are also calling on the recalibration of transparency ofinformation access regarding the unfolding crisis. While we respect the need for confidentiality and classification the AFP and PNP demands for such a sensitive operation, the humanitarian cost and the very real distress the relatives and friends of Marawi residents all over the country are experiencing also demand due diligence andresponsibility. Rescue the victims, pursue the perpetrators.
In placing Mindanao under Martial Law, the Duterte administration, ironically for a
Mindanao-based leadership, is merely repeating what other administrations have done – to treat Mindanao as a frontier to be subdued rather than governed.
Peace for Mindanao. Stop the War.