Peace and freedom loving Filipinos encouraged to thwart Martial Law extension

Groups opposing the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao will troop to the House of Representatives in Batasan tomorrow to convince legislators to turn down President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao until December 31, 2017. “The strong demand is the lifting of Martial Law and not its extension or expansion to a nationwide scope. Extending Martial Law would only result to the intensification of state-sponsored abuses and attacks against the people,” said Danilo Ramos, national chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

“Close to half a million people were displaced due to militarization. The real source of terror that Duterte continues to warn us about come from within his government – the Armed Forces of the Philippines.” Based on documentation, 490,211 people were displaced due to the AFP’s militarization campaign that was intensified by Martial Law — Quirino  (691); Marawi (410,000); Bukidnon (500); Maguindanao (5,000); Butig, Lanao del Sur  (17,000); Sultan Kudarat (1,200); Sarangani (978); Southern Mindanao Region (48, 862); Samar (2,500);  Negros Occidental (250); Surigao del Sur (2,512); Agusan del Norte (300); Agusan del Sur (218) and Misamis Oriental (200).

“While the fascist trio of military Generals Lorenzana-Esperon-Ano are deliberately sabotaging the peace talks, in truth, there had been no let down in the military operations fiercely carried out by AFP units in civilian communities. Such military operations are affecting farmers, indigenous peoples and other rural sectors. We documented a spike in human rights violations in Mindanao and other parts of the country after Duterte’s Martial Law declaration,” said Fr. Oliver Castor, spokesperson of #StopKillingFarmers network.

Based on monitored cases, there are 68 political extrajudicial killings under Duterte, more than half of the killings were in Mindanao. “Those killed were mostly farmers and activists who fight for genuine land reform and oppose social injustices,” Castor said.

Cases of illegal arrests, forcible evacuation due to mortal shelling and bombing, frustrated killing due to aerial bombing and indiscriminate firing, threats, harassment and intimidation worsened under Martial Law. “Bombs are being dropped by the AFP. Everybody is a target. No one is spared nor safe. Even children are victims of Martial Law because alternative Lumad schools are being targeted anew,” said Ramos.

In Southern Mindanao Region alone, six (6) political killings were documented since the May 23 Martial Law declaration, forty-two cases of (42) illegal arrests, two (2) frustrated killings, eight (8) strafing incidents and 14 cases of destruction of properties. Threats, harassment and intimidation of civilians also intensified with close to 4,000 victims. “Mindanao farmers attest that their lives became even harder under Martial Law. They cannot freely go to their farms because of intense militarization. Now who’s terrorizing who?”

The latest victim of peasant political killing was peasant leader Silvestre Maratas, vice-chair of the Kapunongan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Surigao Sur (KAMASS-KMP)-San Miguel last July 16.

Peasant-activist Carolina Arado, 52 of Hugpong sa Mang-uuma sa Mabini (Humabin) in Brgy. Anitapan, Masicareg in Compostela Valley. Arado was killed while members of her family were wounded in a strafing incident last July 14, believed to be perpetrated by the military. Analiza Arado was the leader of the Masicareg Farmers Association and a member of the Parents Teacher and Community Association (PTCA) of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC). Complaints were already filed against AFP army commanders namely Lt. Col. Emmanuel Canilla, Lt. Col. Vicente Edgardo De Ocampo, Lt. Col. Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, Lt. Col. Gilbert Roy Ruiz, and Lt. Col. Michael Licyayo.

On July 11, Lumad-farmer Kama Sanung of Barangay Hinlaan in Sultan Kudarat was illegally arrested. He is a member of the Kesasabanay Dulangan Manobo (KEDUMA), a local organization of Lumad fighting for their ancestral lands against the landgrabbing of Consunji Inc. in Valencia, Bukidnon.

The following day, on July 12, members of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Bukidnon (Kasama-Bukidnon) couple Ryan and Gretchen Espera and Alvin Bacalso were also arrested by police and military elements and have not been surfaced as of this writing. The couple were accused of being NPA members.

Abuses and militarization intensify even outside Mindanao. In Albuera in Leyte, the Samahan Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (Sagupa) reported that elements of the 73rd Infantry Battalion have been camping in barangays Talisay and Cantawagon. The AFP soldiers are threatening farmers and violating their freedom of association after they were told to disband their local organization MANA.

UP Manila students conducting a research project with Ilocos farmers belonging to KMP chapter STOP-Exploitation were recently subjected to surveillance and red-tagging by local police and military.

“These are just a few of the cases that we will raise tomorrow and on Duterte’s SONA,” Ramos said.  KMP will mobilize tens of thousands nationwide on Monday to demand the lifting of Martial Law and justice for the victims of human rights violations under Duterte. ###.