THAT media has not been muzzled, and people are still able to post on social media were preferred as evidence that this is a different kind of martial law. Granted, it is unlike 1972 when government closed down mass media immediately after the proclamation, and imposed censorship. This time, however, it is not government but purported netizens who are quick to gang up on, invalidate and silence any perceived criticism of Duterte’s martial law.
One might say this is only indicative of robust exercise of the right to free expression. But taken too far, it could mean the silencing of debate and dissent, and ultimately the curtailment of “democracy and our fundamental freedom“ against which the IBP warned. One more damning because undertaken by forces that have opted to proxy for government.
The third type is argumentum ad hominem in reverse. Simply put: Martial law over the whole of Mindanao has been declared by President Duterte. President Duterte is (and here I will quote a few of those who commented on my social media page) “a different president compared to FEM,“ “abogado si Duterte, alam niya ang ginagawa niya,“ “there will be no other President like we have today,“ and “we don’t know what he is thinking of.“ Therefore, martial law over the whole of Mindanao is different.
Two ways this martial law can be distinguished from previous ones is for continued citizens’ vigilance over the conduct of government as martial law redux plays out, and to commit to free discourse with fellow citizens.
Marcosian martial law is remembered for unleashing brutal state power on those who stood against oligarchic interest. We still have the option of ensuring that the martial law of President Duterte will not go down history as the time when citizens turned against each other in the mistaken equation of citizenship as defense of government.
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