Tell it to SunStar: No to martial law extension

WITH martial law still in full effect in Mindanao, the human rights situation has already worsened due to the continuing implementation of President Duterte’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, but this is all the more compounded by his termination of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and his recent verbal threats.

With Malacañang 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.

On November 26, 2017, 12 Lumad communities, composed of at least 244 families in Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga and Brgy. Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur evacuated due to military operations in their area.

Karapatan Caraga reported initially that 406 students and 51 teachers from nine Lumad schools were affected by the incident. The evacuees are currently in Simowao, Diatagon.

On Dec. 1, 2017, a food blockade was imposed in Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga as the 75th IB of the Philippine Army’s checkpoint refused entry to the Lianga local government and other humanitarian groups.

On November 30, 2017, “Wanted” posters bearing the pictures and names of leaders of progressive organizations in Davao, including Karapatan’s Hanimay Suazo and Bayan’s Sheena Duazo, were once again being circulated. The leaders, collectively known as “Haran 15” were charged with trumped-up charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

The case was filed in 2015, after human rights advocates helped facilitate the evacuation of Lumad evacuees at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran compound. The case was already dismissed last July 2016.

The military will have greater powers under martial law, thus it is absurd that its extension depends on the institution that will most benefit from it. If we gave all the decision-making to the military, the level of State-perpetrated violations will undoubtedly intensify.--Karapatan