(THE following is a manifesto of the Free Legal Assistance Group [Flag] Region 7 strongly condemning the terrorist attacks on Marawi City and urging President Rodrigo Duterte to respect the Constitution by recognizing the power of the Supreme Court to review the factual basis of his proclamation of martial law in Mindanao.)
The Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag) Region 7 condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attacks on the scenic and peaceful city of Marawi that killed civilians and destroyed homes and properties causing exodus to the neighboring Iligan City.
In response to the said attacks, President Rodrigo Duterte, invoking Section 18 Article VII of the Constitution issued Proclamation No. 216 declaring martial law not only in Marawi City but also throughout the whole of Mindanao.
Flag Region 7 urges President Rodrigo Duterte to respect the Constitution by recognizing the constitutional power of the Supreme Court to review the factual basis of his declaration of martial law, to exercise his restraint power in the use of his martial law powers by making martial rule temporary and not to carry out his threat to unnecessarily expand the coverage of martial law to the Visayas and ultimately to the entire country.
Flag Region 7 believes that martial law is not the answer to Mindanao’s age-old problems, which are poverty, exploitation of our Muslim brothers by their leaders and Christian settlers, and the deepening despair of many Muslims that has bred banditry and religious fanaticism. Rather, the solution is to pursue the stalled peace process to bring about a just and lasting peace in Mindanao.
Flag Region 7 finally exhorts all Filipinos to be vigilant at all times in defending our hard-won civil liberties for, as aptly stated by U.S. Justice Sutherland, “the greatest epitaph that can be carved in memory of a vanished liberty is that its possessors failed to stretch forth a saving hand while yet there was time.”
Cebu City, Philippines, May 27, 2017