Makabayan lawmakers fear Duterte martial law to also target progressives

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Philstar file photo of members of the Makabayan bloc

MANILA, Philippines — Left-leaning members of the House of Representatives are wary of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Martial Law, fearing that the allegedly “conflated” declaration would not only target terror groups but also progressive and revolutionary organizations campaigning for a more equitable and inclusive economic system.

This, according to the Makabayan bloc, has led them to examine their alliance with the administration.

The political coalition composed of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan, Courage, Migrante, ACT-Teachers, Katribu, Akap Bata, Piston, Kalikasan at Aking Bikolnon earlier decided to keep its alliance with the chief executive even after the interment last November of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, which was supported by the chief executive.

In March, Makabayan lawmakers also decided to stick with Duterte even after they were stripped of their committee chairmanships because of their opposition to the death penalty bill.

But now, ACT Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio thinks the President has already “crossed the line” with his martial law declaration in Southern Philippines, which the chief executive said he might impose nationwide if terror also spreads to Visayas and Luzon.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said martial law could be “big blow” to the ongoing talks with the communist National Democratic Front (NDF) because it could target rebels and disrupt the peace process.

“We note with dismay that in Proclamation 216, the Maute terrorist group is conflated with other rebel groups…in other parts of Mindanao,” he said.

“This part of the proclamation will likely play into the hands of militarists who are hell-bent in suppressing not just the Maute group but other legitimate armed revolutionary movements like the Communist’s New Peoples Army, Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front,” Zarate said.

He added that, “By imposing martial law against Maute and other rebel groups, Duterte practically closes his eyes to the reality that popular armed resistance in our society, whether by various Moro revolutionary fronts or the New People’s Army, is rooted in long-standing economic, social, and political injustice.”

Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said the martial law declaration and the handling of the peace negotiations with the NDF “are two items that will make us decide the status of our alliance” with the President.

Casilao said that with the background of the designated administrator of martial law like Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Eduardo Año, there was no assurance that there would be no abuses.

Leftist groups have blamed Año for the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos, son of press freedom icon Joe Burgos. They also claim that the AFP chief had built his career in the military by allegedly following the extra-judicial methods and style of Gen. Jovito Palparan in dealing with perceived enemies.