PRESS STATEMENT: SOS to Duterte: End Martial Law in Mindanao, stop the culture of fear and terror

January 29, 2019
Reference: Rius Valle – SOS Network Mindanao Spokesperson

Save Our Schools Network together with Atty. Chel Diokno and network members filed a petition on January 23, 2018 before Supreme Court to allow forcibly closed Lumad community schools to operate in Mindanao, stop the killings and attacks on schools, respect the International Humanitarian Law, and to put an end to Martial Law in Mindanao.

“We call on the Supreme Court justices to end Martial Law in Mindanao. Not only is the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao unconstitutional and unnecessary, it is deceptive. Under the guise of ‘peace and order’ in Mindanao and counter-terrorism, Martial Law legitimized human rights violations and brought terror and violence to the people most especially in Lumad communities” Rius Valle stated, SOS Mindanao Spokesperson.

The network demands the pull-out of military troops in Lumad communities and stop the occupation and forcible closure of schools through the intervention of the Supreme Court. 
“Martial Law resulted to the escalation of human rights violations in Mindanao. In 2018, the network recorded 535 cases of attacks on schools under Duterte’s administration reign. Included in these cases are forcible closure of schools, forcible evacuation of Lumad communities, threats, harassment, and intimidations, and red-tagging, other forms of violence. It brought fear for the Lumads, as attacks from the military and the government never cease, Martial Law never brought peace.” Valle added.

Last January 19, two students of Salugponga Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, Inc. in Compostela Valley were illegally arrested and detained by elements of the 66th Infantry Battalion. The two students were on their way to the school bringing half a sack of rice for their school. Only the sack of rice arrived in the school and the two students were arrested and detained in the military camp. A quick reaction team was formed to assert the release of the students, but the military said that they cannot release the students yet because they were with their troop in an operation.

“This violation is one of the 6 Grave Child Rights Abuses, recruit and use of children by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. We condemn and detest the unnerving attacks on schools and threats against our students, children and community. We hope the Supreme Court justices see what the eyes of the Lumad children do, acknowledge the urgent need of our children and people to return to their communities and schools and ultimately decide and vote against Martial law in the upcoming oral arguments next week.” Valle shared.

The group during their protest action on the oral arguments of the Supreme Court said that the Supreme Court should heed to the calls of Lumad in Mindanao. “With four petitions filed, it is clear that the people in Mindanao, especially the Lumad do not welcome another year of extension. We want the Martial Law to stop because it only promotes culture of fear and terror in Mindanao.” Valle ended.###

Source: Save Our Schools Network facebook page

Date: January 29, 2019