By RUTH LUMIBAO
MANILA — After the Duterte administration declared that the military has defeated the local ISIS-inspired armed group with the death of its leaders in Marawi City, martial law remains to be in full force in the entire Mindanao.
Nearing the expiration of the six-month period of the martial law declaration on Dec. 31, the Duterte administration now seeks a second extension, citing the reformation of other members of the ISIS-inspired armed group and the Communist armed movement in Mindanao. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will submit its recommendation for the extension within this week.
Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (Karapatan) said more human rights violations are to be expected as Duterte gives even more powers to the military and the police, who are the most to benefit under an extended martial law.
“With martial law still in full effect in Mindanao, the human rights situation has already worsened due to the continuing implementation of Duterte’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, but this is all the more compounded by Duterte’s termination of the GRP peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the recent verbal threats by the President. With Malacanang poised to extend the martial law declaration in Mindanao and, possibly, to expand the coverage nationwide, the situation is set to become much more urgent and dangerous,” Cristina Palabay, Secretary General of Karapatan, said.
Since the declaration of the Mindanao-wide martial law, human rights violations have escalated.
About 244 lumad families in Surigao Del Sur have been forced to evacuate due to militarization. In Caraga, 406 students and 51 teachers were affected. On December 1, the 75th Infantry Battalion imposed a food blockade in Lianga, refusing entry to local government and other humanitarian groups who are supposed to render aid to the evacuees.
Members of progressive groups and leaders and human rights advocates are red-tagged. On November 30, “wanted” posters bearing pictures and names of the “Haran 15” were circulated in Davao. In 2016, the trumped-up charges filed against them were already dismissed by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“The Duterte regime seems to be concocting more and more maneuvers to further curtail people’s rights. From the use of the Human Security Act of 2007, the formation of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA), the threats to crackdown on progressive groups, to possible extension of martial law, the Duterte is hell-bent on finding ways to usurp power and destroying all mechanism for checks and balance, thus laying the pretext for a fullblown dictatorship,” Palabay added.