Philippine protesters stage anti-martial law demos as Duterte trust plummets

Protesters mark the 46th anniversary of the declaration of martial law under Philippines dictator Marcos with demonstrations against President Duterte. Video: Rappler

By Paterno Esmaquel II in Manila

Protesters have staged the most widespread barrage of protests yesterday against President Rodrigo Duterte, as Filipinos marked the 46th anniversary of the declaration of martial law under dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

A running list by Rappler shows rallies scheduled across 14 regions in the Philippines, including Metro Manila, and even overseas.

The protests come in the face of growing discontent under Duterte – prices of goods have been rising, thousands have died in a drug war that has failed to eradicate drugs, and critical voices such as Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox face threats of either arrest or deportation.

READ MORE: Filipinos remember martial law: ‘Dictatorship is back’

Duterte’s public trust and satisfaction ratings also continue to fall.

-Partners-

Duterte – who earlier said the dictator’s daughter, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, donated to his presidential campaign – wants the dictator’s son and namesake, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, to be vice-president so that Marcos can succeed him.

Marcos has a pending protest against the election victory of Vice-President Leni Robredo, leader of the opposition.

Meanwhile, Marcos on Thursday evening, September 20, launched a new campaign to revise history through a “talk show” with former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, architect and implementer of Martial Law as the elder Marcos’ defence minister.

‘No abuses’ claim
Marcos is selling the idea that no abuses happened under his father’s regime.

Protesters yesterday refused to take this sitting down.

An artist applies finishing touches on giant art heads of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and President Rodrigo Duterte for the 46th anniversary of Martial Law on September 21, 2018. Image: Darren Langit/Rappler

Roads lead to Luneta
In Metro Manila, all roads lead to the iconic Rizal Park, also known as Luneta, for a protest mounted by various groups. Groups marching from San Agustin Church, De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and University of the Philippines Diliman, among other assembly points, gathered at Rizal Park to fight the return of a dictatorship.

The Catholic Church, which was instrumental in toppling Marcos in 1986, is one of the groups that helped mount the September 21 rallies.

A Mass for Dignity and Peace was held at San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila, yesterday afternoon, followed by a march to Luneta with other religious denominations.

Protesters march from San Agustin Church to Luneta. Video: Rappler

Those who marched to Luneta included people of different political colours, from priests and nuns to leftist groups to Duterte critics such as former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Different though they were, protesters had a similar cry: Resist a creeping dictatorship.

Ousted chief justice Sereno speaks at anti-Martial Law rally. Video: Rappler

Sereno was one of the loudest voices in Luneta on Friday.

‘Fighting for justice’
In a raised pitch and with impassioned gestures, Sereno said onstage: “Naghirap kami sa martial law, kaya’t nilalabanan namin, at itinataguyod ang katarungan at katuwiran para hindi na maulit ‘yan. Kaya mga mamamayan, lalong lalo na mga bata: Uulitin po ba natin? Papayagan ba natin ang martial law uli?”

(We suffered during martial law. That’s why we’re fighting for and upholding justice and righteousness to avoid a repeat of that. My fellow citizens, especially children, will we permit martial law to happen again?)

Sereno – who for years kept the “dignified silence” of the Supreme Court until Duterte had her ousted – found herself leading a chant before a crowd on Friday: “Never again to Martial Law!”

Below the stage where speakers like Sereno spoke, a tired Judy Taguiwalo, who marched from Mendiola to Luneta, was seated on a monobloc chair as she granted an interview.

Taguiwalo was an activist whom Duterte named social welfare secretary, only to be rejected by the Commission on Appointments in August 2017.

Taguiwalo, who suffered during the Martial Law years, also said “never again to Martial Law.”

Nakulong ako sa panahon ng batas militar. Maraming namatay, na-torture,” she recalled. (I was imprisoned during the the period of military rule. Many people died and were tortured.)

Paterno Esmaquel II is a journalist with the online news website Rappler and these multimedia reports are drawn from the Rappler coverage.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Philippine soldiers harass mission probing rights abuses in Mindanao

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Philippine soldiers harass mission probing rights abuses in Mindanao

Soldiers stop a human rights mission delegates in Northern Mindanao stopped in a checkpoint yesterday. Image: Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

By Ronalyn V. Olea in Manila  

Philippine state security forces have repeatedly blocked members of a fact-finding mission investigating human rights violations against peasant farmers and indigenous Lumads in Mindanao.

Since their arrival at the airports in Davao City, Lagindinangan and Butuan City yesterday, all the way to highly-militarised peasant and Lumad communities in Southern Mindanao, Northern Mindanao and the Caraga region, members of the three-team mission have been subjected to different forms of harassment and intimidation.

Suspected soldiers took pictures of the Caraga team members and “welcomed” them with a banner that read “Just do it right” upon their arrival at the airport in Butuan City.

The Southern Mindanao team members saw streamers in Tagum City that read, “OUT NOW IFFSM [International fact-finding Mission]; WE WANT PEACE.”

READ MORE: Manila brands volunteer teachers as ‘terrorists’, say Lumad advocates

Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao said the military was behind the streamers.

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“The AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] has no credibility in talking peace. We thus revise the slogan; instead it should read: AFP OUT NOW; WE WANT PEACE,” he said.

The Northern Mindanao mission team was blocked three times by police and military forces from the airport in Lagindingan to Cagayan de Oro.

From the city to the mission site in Patpat village in Malaybalay, the team was blocked eight more times.

‘No wonder military don’t want us’
Rafael Mariano, former Agrarian Reform Secretary and head of the Northern Mindanao team, said, “We came here for a very urgent reason, we came here to verify mounting reports of rights abuses against peasant and Lumad communities perpetrated allegedly by military elements.

“No wonder the military people don’t want us here.”

President Rodrigo Duterte placed the whole island under martial law on May 24, 2017, after an attack in Marawi City.

Citing “continued threat of terrorism and rebellion,” Duterte asked Congress to extend martial law until December this year. Duterte’s supporters in Congress railroaded the extension.

Seventy-one full battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are operating in Mindanao, of which 41 are focused on counterinsurgency operations.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said at least 65 percent of the AFP’s combat troops are concentrated in Mindanao, where large-scale foreign plantations and mining concessions are to be found.

Human rights alliance Karapatan documented 126 victims of political killings as of December 2017, of whom 110 were farmers mostly coming from Mindanao.

In Southern Mindanao alone, 63 cases of extrajudicial killings have been recorded,

‘Bulldozing their way into vast lands’
“The unabated militarisation and Martial Law itself in Mindanao must be understood as a means for government, big landlords, oligarchs and multinational corporations to further bulldoze their way into the vast lands and resources of the island,” Mariano said.

“This is not the way to address the roots of the armed conflict. This is not the way to a just and lasting peace.”

The teams also reported to have been closely tailed by several vehicles from the airport to the orientation sites and to the villages where interviews with victims victims were to be held.

Undeterred, the teams were able to finally proceed to their respective mission areas.

“We managed to get past all the checkpoints so far after seemingly endless negotiations with the state forces but this is only the first day and the day is still long and so we must remain vigilant throughout the rest of the day and the entire duration of the three-day mission,” Mariano said.

Former congressmen Satur Ocampo and Fernando Hicap, and incumbent representatives of the Makabayan bloc, are among the delegates of the International Fact-Finding Mission to Defend Filipino Peasants’ Land and Human Rights Against Militarism and Plunder in Mindanao organised by KMP and the Mindanao for Civil Liberties.

Also joining the mission are the Asian Peasant Coalition, Pesticide Action Network – Asia Pacific, People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, International League of Peoples Struggles (ILPS) Commission 6, Youth for Food Sovereignty (YFS), Karapatan, and Tanggol Magsasaka.

In the past two weeks, a group of Lumad educators have visited New Zealand to talk about the human rights violations in education as part of the Save Our Schools programme.

Ronalyn V. Olea is a reporter for Butlalat.

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Nothing can stop Duterte extending Philippine martial law, says legal chief

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Nothing can stop Duterte extending Philippine martial law, says legal chief

Martial law … Solicitor-General Jose Calida Calida says further extensions are possible “for as long as the Congress believes that the invasion or rebellion continues to exist.” Image: Ben Nabong/Rappler

By Lian Buan in Manila

Philippine Solicitor-General Jose Calida says nothing – not the Supreme Court (SC) and not even the Constitution – can stop President Rodrigo Duterte and Congress from further extending martial law.

“The Court cannot, in the absence of any express or implied prohibition in the 1987 Constitution, prevent the Congress from granting further extensions of the proclamation or suspension,” Calida said in his 99-page memorandum sent to the Supreme Court yesterday.

Calida said further extensions were possible “for as long as the Congress believes that the invasion or rebellion continues to exist, and the public safety requires it”.

READ MORE: Justice pushes for ‘broader criteria’ for declaring martial law

This is what the House minority bloc warned against.

In their petition seeking to nullify the re-extension of martial law in the southern island of Mindanao to the end of 2018, the lawmakers said the Philippines was heading towards a “martial law in perpetuity.”

-Partners-

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there was no need to fear this because the Constitution did not allow a perpetual martial law.

Calida does not share the same opinion.

“The period for which the Congress can extend the proclamation of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is a matter that the august body can itself define, unshackled by any predetermined length of time, contrary to the petitioners’ erroneous submission,” the Solicitor-General said.

If Calida’s line of argument is to be upheld, Edre Olalia of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) said: “Congress can extend martial law until kingdom come and the SC cannot do anything but to genuflect and grovel. Preposterous!”

Supreme Court’s power of judicial review
Calida also insists in his memorandum that extending martial law is not within the Court’s power of judicial review.

“The determination of the length of the extension is a power vested only in the Congress. It involves the exercise of its wisdom. The issue is a political question that judicial review cannot delve into,” Calida said.

But oddly enough, when it came to addressing the fear of a perpetual martial law, Calida changed tone and said one of the constitutional safeguards against abuse of the executive was that the Supreme Court can always step in.

“The extension is subject to judicial scrutiny upon the exercise of any citizen of his or her right to question the sufficiency of its factual basis, as exemplified by the very action now before this Honourable Court,” Calida said.

The paragraph above contradicts Calida’s many statements within the same memorandum that insists SC does not enjoy that power.

For example, one of Calida’s main arguments is that “the extension may not be impugned on the ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction”.

In fact, that argument is contained in his very first pleading to the SC, saying that proclamation is different from extension. SC had already ruled that it has the power to review martial law proclamations.

Political question
Petitioners said that one of the grounds to nullify the extension was that the Congress leadership approved it in undue haste.

In response, Calida said that the Congress’ approval is a perfect example of a political question. The doctrine of political question is invoked when the executive and the legislative resist being reviewed by the judiciary.

“The Congress has full discretionary authority to decide how to go about the debates and the voting. In other words, the issues that the petitioners raise are political and non-justiciable. The questions presented essentially go into the wisdom of the Congressional action,” Calida said.

Calida dedicated 3 pages of his memorandum to stressing that the judiciary cannot interfere in the business of the executive and legislative branches, if the business is a political question.

“This despite the fact that political question limitation has already been debunked and abandoned by Article VIII, Section 1 of the Constitution,” Olalia said.

Olalia was referring to the constitutional power given to the judiciary to review whether the two other branches of government exercised grave abuse of discretion.

A sub-committee at the House of Representatives is proposing to delete that provision once and for all, something that retired Supreme Court justice Vicente Mendoza warned against.

“It needs serious study because deletion of this phrase mght be used to render SC powerless,” Mendoza said.

  • Pacific Media Centre reports: President Duterte placed Mindanao and its nearby islands under martial law on 23 May 2017 in response to the Battle of Marawi against Islamic State (ISIL), including Maute and Abu Sayyaf Salafi jihadist groupsNon-Muslim indigenous Lumad people of Mindanao have opposed martial rule and many human rights violations have been recorded by independent human rights organisations.Duterte has threatened to extend martial law across the whole country. The Philippine Congress on 17 December 2017 endorsed Duterte’s request to extend martial law until the end of 2018.

Lian Buan is a journalist writing for Rappler.

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Duterte on nationwide martial law – up to ‘enemies of the state’

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Duterte on nationwide martial law – up to ‘enemies of the state’

Martial law … “all options on the table”, says President Rodrigo Duterte. Image: Malacañang file photo from Marawi City

By Pia Ranada in Manila

President Rodrigo Duterte says he will consider nationwide martial law if the New People’s Army steps up attacks.

When asked if he would expand martial law coverage nationwide, President Duterte said “all options are on the table”.

Speaking to reporters in Taguig City last week, the President said it would be the threat posed by the New People’s Army (NPA) more likely to push him to expand martial law’s geographic coverage.

READ MORE: Duterte thanks Congress for extending martial law in Mindanao

If the NPA – armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – intensifies its recruitment of new members and steps up attacks such as they are about to topple the government, Duterte said he would consider nationwide martial law.

“If the NPA say they are recruiting in mass numbers and they create trouble and they are armed and about to destroy government, the government will not wait until the dying days of its existence,” said Duterte.

-Partners-

Ultimately, he said, any decision for him to proclaim martial law across the country is “up to the enemies of the state”.

He stressed, however, that he would listen to the military and police.

“To what extent, what level of atrocities, attacks, it is not for me to say that. It is for the Armed Forces and the police,” said the President.

During the joint session where Congress debated Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao by one year, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon warned that the President’s recommendation sounds like a “prelude” to nationwide martial law.

Some lawmakers insist there is no legal basis for martial law extension, saying there is no state of rebellion or invasion of Mindanao.

Duterte, however, said frequent ambushes by the NPA and attacks by terrorists prove there is a state of rebellion in Mindanao.

“Count how many died there. Count how many died today all over Mindanao. My police are ambushed everyday, also my military. There is actually rebellion in Mindanao, it’s ongoing,” he said.

Congress voted overwhelmingly in favour of the martial law extension until December 31, 2018.

Pia Ranmada is a journalist for Rappler, the independent Indonesian and Philippines multimedia social action website.

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