Dispatch from Crame No. 163: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on Defense Secretary Lorenzana’s Pronouncement of Martial Law during next week’s protest rally

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The recent pronouncement by no less than Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that Duterte might declare martial law in the event impending mass actions next week turn violent is troubling and worrisome.

This is not so much because Duterte said so—we are used to his martial law threats—but because it was telegraphed to media by the Defense Secretary himself. The otherwise usually sober and reserved Defense Secretary has suddenly turned alarmist.

This change is probably caused by the much hyped-up parting of the Makabayan Bloc from the House Majority and supposedly from its mass movement’s coalition with the Duterte Administration as a whole. Lorenzana probably thinks that with this development, the mainstream left movement’s declaration of open hostility with the government is just a matter of time, and that it is now time for the AFP to wage war once again on the national democratic forces.

Lorenzana might have to go back to being sober and remind Duterte that first, mass actions, even if they do turn violent, do not constitute rebellion or invasion, the two prerequisites for martial law.

Second, this alarmism constitutes prior restraint to the people’s freedom of assembly and to free speech serving as a chilling effect to the opposition and to everyone who are not part of the Makabayan Bloc but who have been opposed to this administration’s state-sanctioned violence from the very beginning, long before the mainstream left belatedly decided that it is now time to fight such State-sanctioned violence.

Third, Lorenzana should take stock of his AFP’s capability after Marawi has proved that 500 determined terrorists can bog down the whole AFP for almost half a year in urban warfare, for it to declare a domestic war on several fronts against the CPP-NPA and, God forbid, the young membership of the MILF disgruntled with Duterte’s dribbling of the BBL, not to mention, the BIFF, Abu Sayyaf, and what is fast becoming an ISIS-backed coalition of erstwhile rag-tag fundamentalist armed groups operating out of Indonesia and our southern back door.

An AFP enforcing a nationwide martial law, aside from keeping ISIS-inspired terrorism and the NPA under control, will need a massive infusion of warm bodies into the AFP. This means barely trained new recruits who may be prone to committing abuses and excesses typical of para-military forces that is what these new soldiers will essentially be.

Lorenzana should think twice before unleashing these forces on the Filipino people and being held responsible for any bloodbath that this will entail. So far the AFP has been saved from any accountability for the ongoing state-sponsored violence being waged by the PNP. Lorenzana might want to save his generals and the young officers’ corps of the AFP from any future reckoning, whether domestic or international, that already awaits the officers and rank-and-file of the PNP.

Sec. Lorenzana, do not fall into the trap that Duterte has set-up for the AFP. Martial Law was his plan from the very beginning, not for any legitimate purpose, but exclusively for his authoritarian project that will brook no opposition or resistance. Martial Law under Duterte will not bring stability, it will be the powderkeg that will explode in your face and dismember this country once the AFP falls into disarray in the face of multiple enemies capable of bringing war in our cities and terror in our homes.

There is still time to reverse this great monster that Duterte has set in motion. Do not be the Devil’s pawn in his game. You can still save the country from the destruction that awaits it under Duterte’s insane Messaianism.

Office of Senator Leila de Lima
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