So you think I’m ranting? You can bet your last cent, I am! And I am ranting because I am now beyond being sad, alarmed, indignant and angry.
I. Am. Livid!
Why? Let me share with you all the idiotic posts I have been reading on my FB feed lately, and the reasons why I consider them such.
1. Declaring ML is a presidential prerogative.
True, it is a presidential prerogative. There is no argument about that. The issue here is whether the recent developments and the present situation in Marawi warrant the declaration of ML over the entire group of islands in Mindanao. What could be Duterte’s compelling reason to declare ML when the AFP and the Pres’l Spokesperson have been repeatedly issuing statements that the situation in Marawi was stabilized and that the AFP had the situation under control. They have also been giving out constant assurance that there is no ISIS presence in the country.
Duterte, on the other hand, has been singing an entirely different tune. During his meeting with Pres. Putin, for instance, he said that he needed the latter’s help in fighting ISIS elements that “have occupied a part of a Philippine town.” Where did he get that intel if not from the AFP? And in case he would later claim that he has another source, why did he not share that extremely sensitive info with the AFP?
Personally, I think that with his declaration of ML, Duterte has just ticked an important item off his bucket list. It has always been his dream. So with or without a compelling reason, Martial Law was bound to happen under this administration. He had been toying with the idea since he assumed office and, with his flip flopping and sometimes contradictory statements about Martial Law, he has been testing the waters, so to speak. (Click here http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/specialreports/611900/duterte-s-martial-law-warnings-for-mindanao/story/ and here http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/158810-understanding-duterte-martial-law-remarks ) It’s just sad that the first president from Mindanao, instead of addressing the root causes of the problems there (poverty, land-grabbing, social inequality, injustice, etc), would use this situation to fulfill a personal fantasy.
2. Martial Law has been declared in Mindanao, yet the people ranting against it are from Luzon and Visayas.
The last time I checked, there remain three main islands that comprise the Philippines –Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao— so, whether we like it or not, we are all in this together. Moreover, the latest developments in Mindanao inevitably affect the whole country as the declaration of ML opens deep, painful and festering wounds from the past. Also, ML in Mindanao is and should be everyone’s concern –Mindanaoan or not—especially since Duterte is already contemplating the idea of extending it beyond the constitutionally-mandated maximum of 60 days and expanding it to cover the entire country. So, yes, every Filipino should speak up now. While we still can.
3. If you can’t be of help, shut the fuck up! You are reeking of the stench of a yellow cult/Dilawan/oligarch/elitist/!
Before you go on with your name-calling, let me remind you that the role of opposition is crucial to a country’s democracy, and the government should accept that role, however small or inconvenient it may prove to be.
It is the opposition’s role to challenge government policies and provide alternatives where appropriate. It is the opposition’s role to question the government and hold it accountable to the public. It is the opposition’s role to ensure that all voices will be heard. In return, the government should respect and listen to the opposition. They should not be made to feel threatened, maligned, intimidated, mocked, abused, humiliated, persecuted or eternally silenced by the government or its supporters.
As a good Filipino citizen, there are at least three things that I do to help my country — I pay my taxes right, I abide by the laws of our land, and I take my role as an opposition to heart. Oh, and there’s one more. I try to empower as many of my kababayan as I can by informing and educating them through social media. I write articles and share information acquired only from reliable, credible and verifiable sources. I never spread fake news or the revisionist’s version of our history.
4. The President, the AFP and the other authorities know what they are doing. Let them do their job.
If the authorities really know what they are doing, Duterte as the Commander-in-Chief should not have left the country with all his security and defense officials in tow. But, as it is, he went to Russia –supposedly for an entire week– with PNP Chief Dela Rosa, AFP Chief Año, DND Sec. Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Esperon, Exec. Sec. Medialdea, ARMM Police Director Sindac, and the commanding generals of all three major service commands – the army, navy and air force. They left the government defense forces virtually without leaders amidst the numerous police and military operations that they are conducting all over the country.
Additionally, according to our lawmakers, failure of intelligence and coordination among our security forces led to the bloody clashes in Marawi City. With PhP2.5 billion intel funds at their disposal, the government should have been sufficiently informed and fully prepared before sending our troops to any operation especially in Mindanao.
If we are, however, to believe DND Sec. Lorenzana and the PNP’s words that there was no failure of intelligence and that the police, in fact, knew of the Maute Group’s plan to attack Marawi as early as May 17, they must have realized the enormity of the trouble our troops would likely be heading to. Why then did all these have to happen? Why did our officials decide to proceed with their Moscow trip? Was it the government’s intent to have the Marawi situation blow out of proportion so that there would be a compelling reason for the eventual declaration of Martial Law? After all, the casualties could easily be considered part of the firefight’s collateral damage. Let us hope not.
5. Martial Law is necessary to address the problems in Mindanao.
No. Placing the entire Mindanao under Martial Law is a disproportionate response to a “localized and contained” situation. Even Atty. Christian Monsod, one of the framers of our Constitution, believes that declaring a State of Emergency “would have been sufficient to address the situation in Marawi” as “there was no proof that the skirmishes were part of a concerted effort affecting the entire Mindanao.” The Phil. Muslim Society, a group of Muslim lawyers, is planning to challenge Duterte’s hasty declaration before the Supreme Court. According to them, “declaring martial law will only invite more atrocities, more young people to join the rebels.”
History tells us that ML could easily lead to abuses and dictatorship.
Bigger and more ferocious insurgents, rebel forces, terrorist groups and religious extremists (CPP/NPA/NDF, MILF, MNLF, Abu Sayyaf, BIFF, Khalifa Islamiyah, Jemaah Islamiyah, etc) have been wreaking havoc and mayhem in the country for many years now. Clashes between the government and the anti-government forces have resulted to bloodier and more hostile encounters before. Yet, no post-Marcos administration dared to declare Martial Law (aside from Gloria Arroyo who, in the wake of the Maguindanao Massacre that killed 58 people, declared ML in the province of Maguindanao for 8 days—a decision which caused her 7 lawsuits). Until now. So what makes the Maute Group special? Is it because they are the ones responsible for the bombing in the night market in Davao, the President’s beloved city?
Duterte, in his effort to assuage our fears about his ML declaration, said that there is no need to worry if you are a law-abiding citizen. He also claimed that no abuses will happen under his Martial Law.
Why do these statements sound all too familiar?
Because with his War on Drugs, he said the exact same things.
A few months after, however, when even law-abiding citizens would turn up dead, and cases upon cases of police scalawags’ involvement in despicable crimes were exposed, he and his bunch of apologists started singing different songs. The one was entitled Collateral damage, while the other, Internal cleansing of the PNP.
Duterte supporters, in trying to defend their Tatay Digong’s latest controversial action, claim that the Constitution provides safety measures against Martial Law abuses. We need not fear, they say. Sure, we won’t.
We won’t if only Duterte doesn’t maintain a stranglehold on the “super majority” of our lawmakers. We won’t if only most of the Supreme Court justices are not formulating their decisions based on either their fear of Duterte or how sufficiently their palms have been oiled. We won’t if only he is not trying to buy the police and military’s loyalty with many promises (“I will go to jail for you!”) and meaty government positions. We won’t if only somebody like Cardinal Sin is currently leading the church and its flock in fighting the many clowns in government.
I hope, there won’t come a time when I would have to say, “I told you so.”