Rappler, May 23, 2017 (with extensive related readings compiled by New Cold War.org further below)
MOSCOW, Russia – President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the island of Mindanao following the attack of the Maute Group in Marawi City.
“As of 10 pm Manila time, he has already declared martial law for the entire island of Mindanao,” said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella. “This is possible on the grounds of existence of rebellion because of what is happening in Mindanao,” he added.
Abella made the announcement on Tuesday, May 23, in Moscow, Russia at around 6:30 pm (11:30 pm Manila time).
Martial law will last 60 days, Abella pointed out. Asked if there is already an official document of the declaration, Duterte’s spokesman said “details to follow.”
“He has full confidence in the AFP and PNP’s management of the situation,” Abella also said.
Because of the situation in Marawi and his declaration of martial law, Abella added that Duterte is cutting short his trip to Russia. The Presidential Communications Operations Office said the President will leave Russia at 5 am on Wednesday, May 24, Manila time. He is expected to arrive in Manila at 5 pm on Wednesday.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano will stay behind to witness the signing of agreements with Russian ministers.
“The President does not take lightly the declaration of martial law in any part of the Philippines,” Cayetano said. “The President doesn’t take it lightly because he knows and his Cabinet knows that there are implications, for example in tourism.”
“But the priority of the President is the safety, the lives and property of people of Mindanao. So he cannot sacrifice the lives of people for any amount of money or any economic reason,” he added.
In the same press conference on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was asked whether there was a lapse in intelligence that allowed the Maute Group to enter Marawi.
Lorenzana said the group’s presence in the mountainous areas of Marawi City was not unknown to government forces. “I don’t think there is a lack of intelligence, just appreciation of intelligence that was lacking there. Baka akala nila kayang kaya (They might have thought it’s easy), but… there’s just intelligence there, it’s just the appreciation of what the intelligence means that medyo nagkamali sila (they made a mistake),” he said.
Related readings on Rappler:
Davao City ‘on lockdown’ after terror attack in Marawi, Rappler, May 24, 2017
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio declared Davao City on lockdown past midnight Wednesday, May 24, following clashes between government forces and terrorists groups that started in Marawi City Tuesday afternoon. The mayor, also presidential daughter, made the announcement after an emergency meeting with government and security officials. Marawi, in Lanao del Sur, is 256 kilometers away from Davao City, the Philippines’ largest city…
Timeline: Marawi clashes prompt martial law in all of Mindanao, May 24, 2016
Martial law 101: Things you should know, Aug 15, 2016
‘I will not listen to others’: Duterte on concerns over martial law
The president of the Philippines says martial law will remain in place until the military confirms the country is safe. It comes as lawmakers voice concerns about the legality of the step amid the fight against militants in the country. “Until the police and the armed forces say the Philippines is safe, this martial law will continue. I will not listen to others. The Supreme Court, congress, they are not here,” Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte told soldiers on Saturday, as cited by AFP.
President Duterte proclaimed martial law on May 23 on the southern island of Mindanao, where fighting has been raging since that day in the city of Marawi between government troops and insurgents from a local ISIS-linked group.
The violence gripping Marawi, a militant hotbed, prompted Duterte to impose martial law for 60 days, with a subsequent warning that he would extend it to the entire country if necessary. However, the decision triggered concerns among many, including a number of Philippines lawmakers.
“He’s conditioning the minds of Filipinos that martial law is OK – no, that’s an extreme option,” Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said, as cited by the local Philstar.
Another senator, Franklin Drilon, said he does not see any basis for Duterte to extend martial law to the entire country.
Duterte remains adamant, saying, “Are they the ones dying and losing blood, bleeding, hemorrhaging because there is no help, no reinforcement? It’s not them.”
According to National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) head Ephraim Cortez, the Marawi onslaught does not “justify the shotgun declaration of martial law.” He added the move “should be an option of last resort.”
Given the abuses which took place during the military rule of Ferdinand Marcos, the 1987 constitution imposes restrictions on martial law. It empowers the Supreme Court to overrule martial law, as well as requiring the president to get congressional approval to implement the decision to extend it.
“The Supreme Court will say they will examine into the factual (basis). Why, I don’t know. They are not soldiers. They do not know what is happening on the ground,” Duterte said.
Last Friday, Duterte also said that searches and arrests can be carried out without any warrants. “During martial law, your commanders, you, you can arrest any person, search any house. There is no more warrant needed,” he said. That contradicts a government statement issued the following day, which said that “no person can be detained or put under arrest without orders coming from these civil courts,” AFP reports.
However, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said the country “might reap the benefits of the legitimate use of the provisions on Martial Law in the 1987 Constitution,” while addressing students at Ateneo de Manila University on Friday. “When properly implemented, this (martial law declaration) should not by itself unduly burden our country,” she said.
As the siege of Marawi entered its sixth day on Sunday, the combined number of dead on both sides rose to 100, according to AP. Around 20 civilian casualties, including three women and one child, have been reported so far. According to military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, 61 militants, 11 soldiers, and four police officers have been killed.
Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the Philippines while we weren’t watching
By Debra Killalea, News.com.au, May 28, 2017 (see original article for photos)
He’s been nicknamed The Punisher for a reason. As terrorists stormed a Philippine city, President Rodrigo Duterte expanded his powers to new levels, vowing to become “harsher than Marcos”.
Duterte declared martial law across the southern part of the Philippines on Tuesday, May 23 after Islamic-State linked militants stormed a city, beheaded a police chief and burned down buildings. Authorities said more than 40 people were killed in the deadly battle when gunmen from the local terrorist organisations Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf rampaged through Marawi city.
During a visit to Moscow, Duterte said he was cutting short his visit to deal with the crisis, and declared martial law in the province of Mindanao. The President said the influence of Islamic State remained one of the country’s top security concerns and warned martial law could soon be extended across the Philippines. It comes after he repeatedly threatened to place the south, the scene of decades-long Muslim separatist uprisings, under martial law.
Terror on the streets
The violence in Marawi erupted on Tuesday after the army raided the hide-out of Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group who has pledged allegiance to IS. He is on Washington’s list of most-wanted terrorists with a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.
The militants called for reinforcements and around 100 gunmen entered Marawi, a mostly Muslim city of 200,000 people on the southern island of Mindanao, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said. Rebels torched buildings, took a priest and his worshippers hostage and sealed off much of the city.
The violence forced thousands to flee and raised fears of growing extremism in the country. At least 44 people have died in the fighting, including 31 militants and 11 soldiers, officials said. President Rodrigo Duterte said a local police chief was stopped at a militant checkpoint and beheaded, and another policeman was also killed.
‘Path for abuse’
Human rights groups have expressed fears that martial law powers could further embolden Duterte, whom they have accused of allowing extrajudicial killings of thousands of people in his crackdown on illegal drugs.
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Manila told the New York Times it appeared to be a “sledgehammer, knee-jerk reaction”.
“The recent incidents in Marawi do not justify the shotgun declaration of martial law,” head of the lawyers’ union Ephraim Cortez said. “The declaration of martial law should be an option of last resort.”
Human Rights Watch warned Duterte’s declaration of martial law threatened to widen the scope of abuse. Deputy Asia director at HRW Phelim Kine said while Maute and the Islamist armed group Abu Sayyaf threatened the security of people in parts of Mindanao, martial law was a drastic move.
“Duterte’s martial law threatens military abuses in Mindanao that could rival the murderous ‘drug war’ in urban areas,” Mr Kine said. “It’s crucial that the country’s security forces abide by international law at all times and hold rights violators to account.
“Martial law is not a free pass for abuse.”
HRW also said expanding the military’s legal authority opened the door to increased human rights violations against civilians, “who have long been targets of military abuses”.
Writing in Forbes, international politics, security and political risk expert Anders Corr said the move was extreme and warned Duterte is currently the biggest threat facing the country today. Mr Corr, whose company, Corr Analytics, provides political risk analysis to commercial, non-profit and media, said Duterte had several other options available to deal with the militants who were nowhere near as powerful as Duterte made out.
“Duterte is on an authoritarian path,” he wrote. “He reveres the past dictator of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled for 21 years and used torture and a brutal martial law to do so. As Duterte insults U.S. presidents Obama and Trump, he openly embraces China and Russia.”
Martial law power
Martial law allows Duterte to use the armed forces to carry out arrests, searches and detentions more rapidly. The constitution only allows martial law for 60 days in the event of rebellion or invasion. However, Duterte has repeatedly threatened that he is willing to ignore the constitution if he needs to enforce martial law.
He also suggested it could spread even further, sparking fears he may use it to further his hold on power.
“If it would take a year to do it, then we’ll do it. If it’s over within a month, then I’d be happy,” Duterte said in a video posted on Facebook by Mocha Uson, the assistant secretary to the Presidential Communications Operation Office. “It would not be any different from what President Marcos did. I’d be harsh.”
Mr Lorenzana said that the military will have “control of movement, searches and arrest of detained people”. The declaration also allows the military to supersede civilian authorities in enforcing the law and permits military courts to try civilians when civil courts are unable to function.
The move would enforce order and effectively allow the detention of people without charges.
Duterte warned he may expand martial law nationwide, which could prove a nightmare for many in the Philippines who lived through the rule of Ferdinand Marcos.
Marcos declared martial law in 1972 and used it to maintain power for more than a decade in which widespread human rights abuses occurred. He was ousted in a peaceful revolution in 1986 and died in exile three years later.
Philippine socialists condemn imposition of martial law in Mindanao
The following statement was released on May 25, 2017 by Filipino socialist party Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) in response to the Philippines government’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao on May 23. The declaration says martial law will last for a 60-day period.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao through Proclamation 216 issued while he was still visiting Russia on May 23, 2017. This was in reaction to the attacks made by the Maute Group, a Moro group supposedly inspired by or with links to Isis (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
According to the proclamation, the Maute Group took over a hospital in Marawi, set up several checkpoints within the city, burned down government and private facilities, inflicted casualties on the government forces, and flew the flag of Isis in several areas – acts which purportedly constitute rebellion, a basis for the declaration of martial law in Mindanao. The Maute Group has been identified by the government as a terrorist group responsible for a number of attacks, bombings, and killings in Lanao del Sur. It was also responsible for the mass jailbreak in Marawi which freed their jailed comrades and other detainees in August 2016.
On May 23, when the military and police forces conducted an operation in Marawi to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the Abu Sayyaf forces fought back and called reinforcements from the Maute Group. About 50 came and engaged the government forces in a shooting spree. At least one policeman and two soldiers were killed, while 12 other government troops sustained wounds. Many members of the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute were also reported killed.
Many have observed that the declaration of martial law is an overkill response. The night of the attacks, the military declared that the situation had been under control. Hence, the government could have just responded with more police and military operations to hunt down the terrorist groups.
The PLM sees the declaration of martial law an indication of the failure of the Duterte government to solve the conflict in Mindanao through the peace process it supposedly initiated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The Maute Group, the Abu Sayaff, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and other groups used to belong to the MILF and probably have connections with them till now. Most have become bandit groups but some espoused Islamist convictions founded on perceived national and religious oppression.
Martial law will only fan the flames of war in Mindanao. It is not a solution to the long-festering insurgency in the area. The solution has always been the eradication of the roots of poverty and national oppression of the Moro people and the various indigenous groups in Mindanao.
Duterte’s declaration of martial law also confirms the drift of his administration to the Right. Just recently, Duterte allowed anti-mining activist Gina Lopez to be removed by his cabal from Congress as DENR secretary and replaced by an ex-general associated with mining interests. He has also appointed several ex-generals and military men to government posts, making his administration the most “militarised” one since the Marcos period.
The martial law regime, with Duterte as the commander-in-chief, will have the military and police as its main implementers, therefore its main beneficiaries. When Duterte explained that his martial law will look like martial law under Marcos, it is also to spite the limitations and safeguards put forth by the Constitution in declaring martial law today.
Martial law will only induce violence from various groups engaged in armed resistance. Today, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) called on its army, the New People’s Army, to intensify guerrilla actions in Mindanao. The declaration of martial law clearly puts to risk even the peace talks with the CPP which has a large number of its forces in Mindanao. As long as the climate of martial law persists, and the political negotiations are stalled, the insurgency will continue unabated.
As a response, we call on various progressive and democratic forces to unite in the broadest coalition possible against the declaration of martial law. If Duterte is testing the waters in his open longing to declare martial law all over the country, we have to ensure that today’s declaration will not prosper if ever there is a Congress review on this matter, and during the deliberation in the Supreme Court once the cases against it have been filed by various groups. The only assurance to this is our capacity to unleash massive mobilisation that will reverse the tide of authoritarian rule in the country.
Other related readings:
Duterte has no time for ‘misguided’ comments vs martial law, by Christine O. Avendaño, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 28, 2017
MANILA — As senators are to be briefed on Monday by defense and security officials tasked to justify President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, Malacañang has made it clear that the Chief Executive has no time to entertain “misguided commentaries from critics” as he is focused on stopping the terrorist threat in the region…
Rodrigo Duterte jokes to soldiers that they can rape women with impunity, Reuters, May 26, 2017
‘If you had raped three, I will admit it, that’s on me’ Philippines president tells soldiers on Mindanao island where he has imposed martial law