by Dathan Bacus

            Stop the killings! 

            No to Martial Law in Mindanao!

            Ituloy ang Peace Talks!

            These are some of the many placards raised and waved by the activist and they are all complaining about the same thing— cease Martial Law in Mindanao! Most of these protesters such as Gabriela Party List, Bayan Muna and some universities are coming from the Luzon area especially in Manila while in Mindanao, many are in full support of the declaration of Martial Law. How about you? where do you put your bet amidst the road rallies of those who cry for peace or are you with the people who are ready to sacrifice one’s own freedom for the safety of the nation? Still undecided? Lucky for you mate, you are reading the right article that may be of help and for those firm minded, continue reading, the insight here offer you a more satiable perspective.

How did the Martial Law commence? Let us go back to the year of 1972, 23rd of September. It was the first declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines by the former President Ferdinand Marcos. Communism gave birth to its declaration. Many people who claimed that they suffered from the 1st Dictator of the Philippines stated that it was and is their greatest nightmare and would never wish to experience it again. According to an article from Ateneo Assembly “Martial Law Infographics Series”, the writ of habeas corpus during this time was suspended and the right to bail was removed. Military took over civilian courts and the congress was eventually abolished. A claim of 50,000 arrested people, 3,257 murders, 35000 torture cases and 70,000 incarcerations and 800 cases of people missing during the 9 year-regime of Marcos.

Yes, it caused fear. I believe that no one would offer himself to go back and experience that terror once again. One of my many friends stated that, “being in those times, I could say that it was worse than death. Yes, it was unbearable, life-threatening, chaotic, name it— Martial Law was all but suffering.” However, it was in the year of 1972, the history might repeat itself but don’t we trust the sovereignty of our nation?  Can we acknowledge our strength that can straighten all twists and turns of an abusive society? Can’t we hear our voice loud enough to tremble every leader who is against peace? This time folks, we have to wear eyes of different perspectives that could see beyond complaints and prejudices.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte who declared Martial law last 23rd of May 2017 was also seen as a dictator. But carefully studying at his declaration, Martial Law was mandated to not exceed 60 days unless the congress would approve its extension. Yes, the writ of habeas corpus was suspended but only to people suspected with rebellion. Should be charged within 3 days or will be released, right to bail is not removed. Most importantly, judicial and legislative branches are still functional and headed by civilians.

Now let us look at the purpose of the second declaration of Martial in the Philippines. Martial Law was declared due to invasion of the Maute Group (ISIS Claimed) in Marawi City. According to reports, the fighting in Marawi started when the police and military were moving to serve a warrant of arrest to Abu Sayyaf Isnilon Hapilon. The Maute occupied parts of the Marawi and held hostages in rebellion against the security operations. Moreover, the group burned several buildings in the city including churches, schools, hospitals as well as the city jail. Reports also said that some of the prisoners fled and some had join the Maute fighters.

In response to this chaos, security had to move as quick as possible. According to ABS-CBD, TV News Network, FA-50 jet fighters were sent to deliver air strikes on certain places in Marawi where Military Ground Personnel can’t penetrate due to heavy fire and sniper shots from the Maute Group. Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that military, while fighting the terrorist, also continued to pluck out trapped civilians and rescue hostages from the war zone. As of July 5, 2017, they already rescued 1722 civilians by various military units.  AFP death toll increased to 85 with the death of another soldier. And as of July 25, 2017, a total of 453 terrorists and 45 civilians were killed in the ongoing siege in Marawi City

After the declaration of the Martial Law, an extensive effort was seen not just in the security force but also in the military personnel. Different checkpoint was set in different places in Mindanao, police visibility increased, and military trucks were in convoy. Seeing the tanks of war and different firepower that each soldier brings might be scary in sight but it eases my heart knowing that there are people ready to sacrifice their own lives for the safety of the nation.

The declaration of Martial Law by President Duterte is only good for 60 days but as of now it is extended until the end of the year. It has already been approved by the congress as our President foresaw that the siege might end by December. But who knows when will it end? And given the current situations, everything that seems impossible to happen be now possible, what do you think would happen next? Is President Duterte the better one, or just the same man as President Marcos?