Dispatch from Crame No. 211: Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on President Duterte’s Request for a One-year Extension of Martial Law in Mindanao

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President Duterte has just asked Congress to grant him an extension of Martial Law in Mindanao for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.

He cites the continuing acts of rebellion and terrorism in the island coming from the remnants of the Maute-ISIS, the BIFF, and the Abu Sayyaf. But the most extensive enumeration of alleged terrorist acts was reserved by Duterte for those committed by his erstwhile BFF when he was still Mayor of Davao City, the NPA.

That Duterte has, for decades, befriended, coddled, and gave aid and comfort to the NPA in the Davao region is no secret. On several occasions as Mayor of Davao City, he urged businessmen to just comply with the demands of the NPA to pay revolutionary taxes. He has politically aligned himself not only with the movement but with its ideology as well, or at least the part of it that conveniently served his authoritarian streak.

This brazen support of a sitting public official to what Duterte himself has now proclaimed to be a terrorist organization climaxed in the funeral March of NPA commander Parago in July 2015, when the body of Parago was paraded on the streets of Davao City in broad daylight, with the rebel army as escorts.

Duterte, like a two-timing Judas, once betrayed his oath as a public official to support the NPA. He now dumps his erstwhile BFFs, the NPA, in exchange for the AFP’s support for his planned RevGov. After the AFP proved to be uncooperative in supporting the Bonifacio Day putsch of his Ka-DDS supporters, Duterte kicked off an AFP-wooing campaign by declaring his former NPA benefactors “terrorists”.

Now he wants a Martial Law extension to defeat the armed movement he himself nurtured, aided, and comforted in the hills of Davao for decades. No one in government coddled the newly-declared “terrorists” more than Duterte did. No one in government can be faulted more for the growth of the NPA in Mindanao than Duterte himself.

Simply put, the enforcement of Martial Law for the purpose of ending the NPA rebellion cannot be left to the very person most responsible for emboldening the armed movement and enabling their expansion in Mindanao, especially in the hills surrounding Davao City.

Duterte using the red scare to ask for an extension of Martial Law is opportunism exemplified. One who has supported the rebels (now “terrorists”) cannot be allowed to use their rebellion as an excuse for Martial Law and the imposition of more authoritarian restriction on civil liberties.

I oppose any further extension of Martial Law in Mindanao. Martial Law powers cannot be given to the major enabler of the communist rebellion in Mindanao. Duterte should not be allowed to sweet-talk and bribe the AFP with the Martial Law candy to get their support for his authoritarian agenda.

Duterte just wants the AFP to serve him as his loyal dogs, the same way the AFP blindly followed Marcos. We know how all of that turned out for this nation. ###

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