On the Re-extension of Martial Law in Mindanao

Woe to those who enact evil statutes And to those who constantly record unjust decisions,

So as to deprive the needy of justice And rob the poor of My people of their rights

So that widows may be their spoil And that they may plunder the orphans. Isaiah 10:1-2

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR) joins the ranks of human rights defenders, peace advocates, and activists from all sectors in expressing extreme disappointment with members of Congress who voted for re-extending Martial Law in Mindanao for another year. In their action, they have enabled the Duterte government and the State forces to unleash another round of abuses and destruction against the people of Mindanao.

RMP-NMR has been very vocal and active in opposing the declaration and subsequent extension of Martial Law. Working with the rural poor in Mindanao, we stand as witness to the injustice committed in the name of Martial Law against the poorest of the poor.

We have seen communities driven out of their land through fear and deception. We have communicated with tribal leaders whom the soldiers said they can kill anytime without fear of prosecution, as the higher-ups have their backs. We have seen small kids trying to make the most of their surroundings in make-shift evacuation centers, while the elderly gets weaker and weaker for being so far-away from their ancestral lands for months.

We have listened to the story of a mother whose child was killed by soldiers while he was resting in a hut in their communal farm. We have also talked to a child traumatized after seeing his father’s head slammed against the wall inside their house by soldiers and policemen claiming he has bullets in his pockets. There is also the 8-month pregnant peasant woman, taken away from their house in the middle of the night for the same reasons. All were falsely accused on what might be the most-often and clearly false charges: that these civilians are members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

All these violations, all these inhumane acts under the all-powerful weapon called Martial Law does not serve the people of Mindanao. Martial Law has not resulted to more food at the table of the rural poor. Nor has it provided more meaningful jobs, better education, or more opportunities for human development. What it provides is a false sense of peace and order, mostly concealing its ugly face in the urban and town centers: courteous policemen and military men politely greets you at the checkpoints, while their colleagues ravaged the countryside, labeling anyone who express dissent as communist rebels.

All these violations, all these inhumane acts serve the interest of the greedy, powerful few. Clearing the way for big businesses to plunder the wealth of Mindanao, Martial Law is also a tool against the integrity of God’s creations. “Abuses in the service of Profit over the interest of the people and the environment” is the underlying mantra of Martial Law.

As we brace for another year of Martial Law, RMP-NMR stands its ground in serving those are most affected. We continue our mission with the the rural poor in their quest to protect life, land, rights, and the environment.

And we call again to all those who advocate and yearn for genuine, just, and lasting peace to stand against Martial Law and the forthcoming wave of abuses and destruction it brings.

Source: Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao Region facebook page

Date: December 13, 2018