Velez: The noise on martial law


“Only those not from Mindanao make noise against martial law in Mindanao.”

THAT’S a common response that again appeared when the Supreme Court affirmed on Tuesday, February 19, the third extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Is it true that people from Mindanao approve of Martial Law? What about the need of other regions to be concerned about this rule?

Let’s look at some facts.

Of the four petitions filed to the Supreme Court questioning the validity of the third extension, two of these petitions represented Mindanao groups, the Lumad communities and the Makabayan bloc led by Davao-based Bayan Muna representative Carlos Isagani Zarate.

The petition filed by the Save Our Schools network sought to protect more than 200 Lumad schools and 8,000 students all over Mindanao which have felt the effect of Martial Law. A total of 73 schools were forcibly shut by soldiers and paramilitary; four schools were displaced; 11,500 Lumad were displaced, and teachers were detained for protecting the schools.

Why the attacks on schools? The SOS noted that the President had once served warning in his post-2017 SONA that Lumad schools will be bombed. The network noted how soldiers would profile Lumad schools as fronts of “rebels and terrorists” without looking at the Constitutional right of the students to education.

Military officials justify Martial Law as means to target a thriving terrorist group linked to ISIS. But Bayan Muna Rep. Zarate said the figures show that the Lumad instead are the targets, as well as other sectors from the marginalized communities.

Bayan Muna and other members of the Makabayan have the facts as they attended fact finding missions all over Mindanao, and noted civilians from Moro, farmers and workers have suffered different forms of abuse, from indiscriminate bombings of their communities, to arbitrary arrests and even extrajudicial killings.

Aside from the petitions, we go back to the people of Marawi, where some 100,000 are still stuck in shelters unable to go home. Their plight showed the horror of Martial Law. Did it save them from the threat? Or did it make things worse?

We never heard their cries from the very beginning because their cries were drowned by the military bombs and airstrikes.

We also never hear the cries of these sectors from the Lumad and farmers, or the public survey that showed 60 percent of Mindanao people do not approve of Martial Law now.

Those who never heard this noise and views from Mindanao should check again. Perhaps we got too comfortable in the city, and get only the noise from Facebook and never get to see the other side of truth in Mindanao.


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