MANILA, Philippines — Human rights lawyers said extending martial law in Mindanao for another year “seems to be part of a grand design or intent to eventually place the entire country under virtual military rule and completely transform the nation into a police state.”
At the same time, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers dismissed the administration’s reasons for extending martial law, maintaining “there is objectively no sufficient factual basis which public safety requires.”
“There is no actual and real — not threatened or predicted — rebellion in the entire Mindanao of such intensity and scope as to honestly satisfy the strict extraordinary constitutional powers,” the group said in a statement issued Wednesday, December 13, even as Congress was meeting in joint session to deliberate and decide on President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for the yearlong extension of military rule.
The NUPL also said Duerte’s inclusion of communist rebels, who are present throughout the country, and “the open demonization of progressive mass organizations is to lay expansive grounds” not just for extending martial law in Mindanao “but eventually to possibly put the whole country under effective military rule or institutionalized authoritarianism.”
“The proponents and supporters of these dangerous moves are playing with wild fire that will engulf us all,” the NUPL said. “The democratic space left for us to breathe is getting smaller and smaller by the day and will suffocate all our rights before we realize it. Unless we refuse to just stand and watch idly by.”