MAT: Martial law extension a danger to human rights, democracy

MAT: Martial law extension a danger to human rights, democracy

In a statement, MAT said President Rodrigo Duterte wants to use martial law in the southern Philippines to escalate his brutal counterinsurgency campaigns and war on drugs and crackdown on dissent. PPD/Ace Morandante

MANILA, Philippines — Movement Against Tyranny on Wednesday called on Congress to reject the proposed extension of martial law in Mindanao, saying it is unconstitutional, unnecessary and a threat to human rights, democracy and peace.

In a statement, MAT said President Rodrigo Duterte wants to use martial law in the southern Philippines to escalate counterinsurgency campaigns, war on drugs and what they say is a crackdown on dissent.

"There is no legal, factual and moral basis for martial law. Worse, extending martial law in a third of the archipelago opens up the entire country to more human rights abuses and the dangers of authoritarianism and creeping dictatorship," the group said.

MAT added: “With the failure of the revolutionary government plot, it is likely that he is now reverting to his original plan to impose martial law nationwide in order to establish a dictatorship.”

MAT was referring to calls by some Duterte supporters for the president to establish a "revolutionary government" beyond the 1987 Constitution. Simultaneous rallies across the country to call for "revgov" planned for November 30 failed to materialize and the ruling PDP-Laban party seemed cool to the idea.

Opposition groups have raised concerns that martial law, which surveys suggest has the support of Mindanao residents, will be expanded to the Visayas and Luzon.

The coalition also questioned the inclusion of the New People’s Army as one of the grounds listed by Duterte for the extension of martial law.

The conflict with NPA is nothing new and is better addressed through comprehensive peace negotiations, not all-out war, the group stressed.

“Ironically, if the president did not arbitrarily terminate the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines last month, the fighting would have been significantly reduced, as what happened in the first six months of his term,” MAT said.

On December 5, Duterte signed a proclamation classifying the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA, its armed wing, as terrorist groups.

The president formally terminated negotiations with communists through Proclamation 360 on November 23.

READSenators question inclusion of NPA as basis for martial law extension


The group also stressed that the extension is unconstitutional because of the absence of an actual rebellion or invasion, following the liberation of Marawi City from Islamic State-linked terrorists in October.

“The Constitution does not contemplate martial law as a means to rehabilitate war-torn communities, strengthen law enforcement, ensure public safety and security, conduct counterinsurgency campaigns or address threats of lawless violence, however imminent,” MAT said.

It noted that Duterte is already granted extensive police and military powers for such purposes without having to declare martial law.

“History has proven that martial law and similar militarist approaches have failed to address the roots of the armed conflicts in Mindanao and elsewhere,” MAT said.

The Congress is holding a joint session to discuss the proposed extension of martial law in Mindanao for another year.

Martial law was declared on May 23, within hours of the Maute attack on the capital of Lanao del Sur. The extension was approved by Congress in July until December 31 this year.

READDuterte asks Congress to extend martial law for 1 more year

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