PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has no or little justification to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao, National Democratic Front of the Philippines Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison said.
After the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced the ongoing clash in Marawi City is a mere diversionary tactic by the Maute Group, Sison questioned if the invasion or rebellion is large enough to justify Duterte’s declaration.
“There is even an allegation the AFP made a ‘false flag operation’ to justify martial law,” Sison said.
Duterte reportedly declared martial law at five o’clock in the afternoon yesterday (10 pm, PH time) in Moscow to cover the entire Mindanao which will run for 60 days.
Warrantless arrests, imposition of curfew hours and other stringent security measures are to be implemented in connection to the declaration, reports said.
The reports said Duterte decided to cut short his state visit to Russia and is expected to fly back to the Philippines today.
National Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana for his part also reportedly justified the inclusion of the entire region due to (security) problems in Zamboanga, Sulu and Tawi tawi, as well as in Central Mindanao with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the New People’s Army.
Sison warned Duterte not to be another Ferdinand Marcos and use the Marawi clashes as justification to declare martial law in the entire Philippines.
“Ganyan din ang ginawa noong 1971-1972 nang sinubukang disarmahan ang Kamorohan sa Marawi rin,” Sison said.
Sison said Marcos’ martial law left behind bitter memories of abhorrent abductions, torture, extrajudicial killings, incarceration of many civilians, evictions and forced evacuations as well as confiscation of land and property.
“Duterte is playing with fire if he thinks it is a solution to Philippine problems,” Sison said.
Earlier, Moro organization Suara Bangsamoro called on the AFP not to conduct aerial bombings in Marawi, fearing civilian lives and livelihood will become collateral damage.
“We have received reports that aerial and artillery bombing will be conducted by the state forces to eradicate the Maute Group in the city,” Suara Bangsamoro chairperson Jerome Succor Aba said.
Instead of putting the city under military siege, the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front, and other religious leaders should talk to the Maute Group and come up with agreements to restore peace in the city, the group suggested.
“However, diplomatic talks between Moro leaders and the Maute Group will not prosper if the AFP will continue its military operations and bombings,” Aba said, adding that the Moro people in Mindanao is capable of solving this problem in a diplomatic way to avoid civilian casualties and human rights violations.
“We call on the Duterte Administration to address the peace instability through talks and diplomatic means,” Aba said.
Suara Bangsamoro said the Maute Group has ties with Islamic State (IS) militants and are frustrated with the direction the Moro’s struggles for self-determination are heading, forcing them towards IS.
“The establishment of a new caliphate and a global Islamic State has become an inspiring goal to the group because of the government’s insincerity and tokenism in resolving the core problems of the Moro people – inequity in the distribution of wealth and resources, government neglect to basic social services, lack of job opportunities, right to self-determination, among others,” Aba said.
Aba believes that the Maute Group is aware that the Philippine Government is not serious in implementing its agreements with the MILF and likened the situation with how The Tripoli Agreement with the MNLF has largely been ignored in the past.
Meanwhile, the Maute Group has taken over a hospital and burned a cathedral and a school since it derailed an AFP police operation at two o’clock yesterday afternoon, sources said.
The main building, science laboratories and library of the Protestant-owned Dansalan College were burned down while professors and students are trapped elsewhere in campus as exit points were blocked by both AFP and Maute troopers, United Church of Christ in the Philippines pastor Juliet Solis said.
Dr. Fedilinda Tawagon, Dansalan College president, asked for a helicopter rescue for the trapped victims, Solis added.
Marawi’s main road is also being controlled by black-clad men with high powered assault rifles, reports said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)