Statement of Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa
The decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, as government response to armed conflict that escalated in the city of Marawi, is not the triumph of law, but of authoritarian rule. We are outraged by the Supreme Court’s decision, which could now pave the way for the setting up of authoritarian rule in the whole country.
Worse than the SC division of votes on the critical issue of the dictator’s burial at the Cemetery for Heroes, the SC ruling shows that the third branch of government has become a political pawn. This is not without precedent, as the politicization of what should be independent branches, including the legislature, and institutions, such as the military and police force, was precisely one of the legacies of the 20-year authoritarian Marcos regime.
Before the SC’s decision, we have already witnessed how Congress, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, has disregarded its constitutional duty to call for a session and discuss the legality of the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. Owing merely to political loyalties, its members led by the Davao Congressman, Pantaleon Alvarez, sidetracked other legislators’ views by not calling for a session. In his trademark style as bully, Pantaleon even threatened to impeach or ignore the justices if the latter dissented from Congress.
Martial Law in Mindanao is now on its sixth week since the fateful day of Tuesday, May 23, 2017, which would now belong to the darkest days in the history of Mindanao similar to what happened in the time of Marcos. Marawi City, the capital of the province of Lanao del Sur, has been ravaged badly. Moro sisters and brothers tell us that they are reminded of the burning of Jolo in 1974.
As of June 21, at least 230,000 have fled Marawi and 40,000 crowd and make-do evacuation centers, where at least 59 have died of dehydration and diseases. The death toll in the month-long clashes between government forces and the Maute Group has risen to 422, at least 50 of them civilians (according to MindaNews). This would be higher given eyewitnesses’ accounts.
Aerial bombings continue, which claim the lives of more civilians. Local leaders have been calling for the President to dialogue with Meranao leaders for the latter to help in dealing with the Maute Group but without success, as he would rather have war and allow people to suffer He has even blamed the Meranaos for what is happening in Marawi. All these amount to yet another big blow to the decades-long attempts to find lasting peace in the war-torn areas of Mindanao.
The votes of the 14 in the SC cause great dismay in the face of evidences presented by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Lanao del Sur of “wanton disregard of sanctity of domicile, the right against deprivation of property without due process of law, the right to be secure in one’s person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures,” especially in Marawi. All of these are in direct violation of the Bill of Rights accorded to all Filipino citizens under Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The persistence of Martial Law in Mindanao is clearly superfluous to military operations and has trampled on civilian liberties and affected the livelihood of the people.
On its first year, the Duterte regime has already bared its despotic fangs and with this decision of the Supreme Court, the people are being further shoved to the corner without recourse to law, government institutions whose constitutional duty is to protect them, and their duly recognized rights. If this is not authoritarian rule in the making, or plainly authoritarian rule, then clearly we haven’t really learned from our history as a people. We are threatened to having our rights violated, suppressed, and worst, we are threatened to more violence and resulting deaths.
We in Kalipunan ng mga Kilusang Masa, a growing assembly of social movements, call on the people to defend our constitutional rights and to fight the impending authoritarian regime under Duterte. We have members – sisters and brothers – in Marawi and the rest of Mindanao. We cannot allow the continuing loss of life and this government’s choice to resort to violence than to the resolution of the roots of conflict and social problem. As we stand in solidarity and bring continuing support, by material, moral, political means, to our brothers and sisters in Marawi and Mindanao, we stand indignant of the decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the Martial Law declaration in the island.
The situation demands of us who are grassroots-based, to educate and push for a counter-narrative to the authoritarian government’s justification of Martial Law and intensification of armed operations in Mindanao and the country at-large.
Justice, peace and democracy in Mindanao! Stop the Bombings!
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
Kilos Maralita (KM)
LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights)
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA)
Partido Manggawa (PM)
Sentro ng Progresibo at Nagkakaisang Manggagawa (SENTRO)
Union of Students for the Advancement of Democracy (USAD) – Ateneo
World March of Women (WMW)
Youth and Students Advancing Gender Equality (YSAGE)