Marawi City, Martial Law and Mindanao

I don’t know what to write about anymore. First the devastating news about Marawi city, and now martial law declared…and worse it is welcomed by many people who should remember the lessons learned under President Dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

I have found myself explaining to Filipinos, people who I think would know better – that martial law is not a solution, and will not be any different under President Duterte than it was under Marcos, as the former said.  In fact, Duterte has since said he thought Marcos’ martial law was great and plans his to be exactly the same and just as harsh.
At InPeace, we are used to observing suspicious vehicles watching our offices even before martial law, and we expect this to continue and become more brazen as martial law now legitimizes the surveillance we are under.  As missionaries, myself and the Global Mission Fellows serving here, are to take extra precautions in being observers and strengthening our visible public ties to the Church – and always using a buddy system when going out.  We also implemented our own curfew at the office, but we expect an official curfew to come in the following weeks.  (This means also won’t be teaching as we are not supposed to travel)

President Duterte has floated the idea of expanding martial law to the rest of the country, to deal with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the New People’s Army. It worries me that martial  law will be used as a staging for operations against legitimate rebel groups, because surely it will be civilians who will be targeted. I just read today that Duterte will ignore Congress and the Supreme Court while carrying out martial law, even though the Philippine Constitution gives those two bodies oversight.  It is truly a troubling time in this nation.

Yet it is just as important for all of us to remain witness to what is happening in Mindanao.  We cannot allow the civil sector to be quieted or silenced by martial law. We must bear witness to the increased extra judicial killings, the forced disappearances, the trumped up charges, the illegal detentions and the violation of human rights that will inevitably happen to our colleagues and to peace activists under marshal law.  As long as we can bear witness without jeopardizing our physical safety, I believe it is our responsibility to do so.  We cannot let our Filipinos sisters and brothers bear this alone, and we cannot let our voices and our witness be silent, we cannot be apathetic or rationalize martial law.
Please keep all of Mindanao in your prayers, especially the people of Marawi city who are still caught between the extremists fighters and government troops.

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