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Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights Statement on Martial Law

For Reference:  Adrian She/ Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR)

The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR) held a successful event titled “Philippines Under Martial Law: Past and Present” on June 29th in Vancouver.  It was an intergenerational program with young people, adults in and outside of the Filipino community. They learned the history of martial law in the Philippines under the Marcos dictatorship, as well the current situation under Duterte, whose Proclamation 216 declared martial law in Mindanao starting on May 23.

Individuals who lived under Marcos’ martial law shared their stories, as well as lessons from that dark period in Philippine history. These lessons include the fact  that martial law, intended to quash rebellion and revolutionary struggle, was bound to fail when it fueled more armed and unarmed resistance. It aroused the people to espouse causes which resonated with them. In fact, Marcos’ martial law was said to the number one recruiter to the New People’s Army.

Today, the state continues its atrocities in Mindanao where thousands of civilians have been displaced by indiscriminate aerial bombings. The “Maute group” in Marawi City has not been stopped by these bombings, which Duterte claimed that his declaration of martial law would do. Instead, Marawi has turned into a ghost town and AFP troops have destroyed and looted people’s homes. A massive humanitarian crisis affecting almost 400,000 people has been created, since military checkpoints prevent relief from entering evacuation centres, despite the desperate need for food and other assistance. Karapatan, the Philippine human rights group, documents that an additional 1,700 families have been displaced due to aerial bombings in other parts of Mindanao. 

Military checkpoints, including those outside of Mindanao, restrict freedom of movement, often targeting individuals from the Moro (Muslim) community. Karapatan documents the arbitrary questioning of more than 260 Moro youth. In Central Luzon, far away from Mindanao, the regional police director Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino has already proposed IDs for Muslims, much like the yellow Star of David that Jews had to wear during the Nazi regime.  It is clear that the police and military are fanning the conditions for increased discrimination and Islamophobia under martial law.

In addition to the Moro, the Lumad (indigenous people) are particularly under threat; around 2,050 Lumad in Surigao del Sur were forced to evacuate on July 6 due to AFP operations, including 633 Lumad children and 43 of their teachers. Lumad leaders have been repeatedly targeted by paramilitary groups and the AFP for their outspoken defence of their communities against imperialist interests. This targeting only intensifies under a state of martial law. 

In general, human rights violations are increasing under martial law when Karapatan reports more than 300 illegal arrests to date, including arrests of peasant leaders and the curtailment of workers’ rights to organize. Activists speaking out against martial law are consistently under threat and extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances are continuing under Duterte’s watch. These violations are in part due to the anti-people and US-directed counterinsurgency program which has long existed to undermine the legitimate struggle of the people. Critics and progressive activists have been branded by the state as “enemies of the State”. When the Supreme Court rules that Duterte’s proclamation of martial law is “constitutional”, it is hard to tell who is the “enemy of the State” since the ruling allows military and police to brazenly violate people’s rights. 

CPSHR and its allies stand in solidarity with the Filipino people and progressive organizations against intensifying state fascism under the Duterte regime. We call on Duterte to immediately lift the declaration of martial law. We say “never again” and strongly denounce all proposals from Duterte’s advisers and supporters to extend martial law nationwide and for a longer term. We call out loud for peace talks to resume since the people will resist as long as the objective conditions of continuing landlessness, poverty, imperialist plunder, and lack of self-determination. 

Just and lasting peace now!
No to Martial law!
Never Again to Martial Law!
Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR)
Member International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-Canada)/ Stop the Killings Network (STKN-Canada)/ International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Canada)/ International Women’s Alliance (IWA)/ Coalition for Migrant Workers Justice (C4MWJ)/ Mining Justice Alliance (MJA)
Associate Member: International Migrants’ Alliance (IMA) 
Proud Supporter of Bayan-Canada and Migrante-Canada

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