Martial Law Deja Vu

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  • Before Martial Law was declared in the 1970s, then President Ferdinand Marcos made sure he had  good reasons to declare it. That was how systematic he was, and he wanted everything to follow a pattern of events that will “justify” his declaration of military rule. The protests on the streets, the bombing of Plaza Miranda, the civil disobedience launched by Josemaria Sison and the Communist Party alliances, led to the declaration of Martial Law on September 21, 1972. Arrests were made, media were shut down, and people hid in their homes and closed their doors in fear and desolation.

    When President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law, he made sure he had the same pattern of reasons that would make the declaration in Mindanao viable. The discovery of ISIS cells, the bombing of Marawi City, and other attacks in Davao was said to be the cause of the declaration. While some agree to the declaration, others fear that it is the beginning of what many suspected was on Duterte’s agenda in the first place. The problems on drugs and criminality, followed by extra-judicial killings, did not gain steam hot enough to declare martial law in Manila, so Duterte and his team looked to the Mindanao region, his bailiwick, to establish the need for martial rule, as no one would dare oppose him there. Adding to the already rising “violence” brought about by insurgents and ISIS cells, was good enough reason to immediately declare the military rule. While he promises that the rule is temporary and may be imposed for sixty days, Duterte was quick to say that it could last up to a year, depending on the response of the insurgents. In the meantime, he and his team are probably cooking something up to be able to declare martial law in Manila and the rest of the country, one province at a time.

    So, when he declared Martial Law in Mindanao, it wasn’t much of a surprise. After all, where would one declare Martial Law first but in the same place one found his power? It is ironic, though, that everyone claims that Duterte tamed Mindanao while he was mayor of Davao City, yet, why is he having so much problems there now? Apparently, his power to be a threat did not sit well with a lot of people, and he has lost his power over the region altogether.

    Duterte’s martial law leaves me no sense of direction. The primary objective of it is to end insurgency and the growth of ISIS in the country, and he is even asking for the help of the MILF, MNLF and NPA to help him suppress ISIS. Strange bedfellows, but I guess he is desperate. Then again, once the insurgency is quelled, in a utopian situation, what will happen to this marriage? Will this then be used to declare another martial rule?

    And with Mocha Uson not even knowing the difference between the Philippine Army and the Honduran military, even if she is supposed to know being the assistant secretary of the Presidential Communication Operations Office (whatever that is), a government meant to rule militarily would not be able to survive with cabinet members as uninformed as she is. Uninformed is a kind word.

    Forbes writer Anders Corr says that if Philippine voters and political representatives do not immediately revoke martial law and impeach Duterte, “they may lose the ability to do so in the future, as the fear of Duterte, and a criminal omertà, spreads.” Despite everyone’s belief that it is temporary and for Mindanao alone, it is possible that it could rear its ugly head throughout the rest of the country sooner than everyone believes.

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