By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
A group of teachers strongly denounced the extension of martial law in Mindanao – noting that it would bring further disaster to learners, teachers and other members of the community.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), in a statement, expressed opposition to the approval of the Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year. “The declaration of martial law has created conditions that are inimical to the interests of the education sector and has proven to be disastrous for the students, teachers and community members,” the teachers said.
ACT slammed the imposition of martial law in Mindanao – which was declared on the pretext of “restoring peace and order” in the “light of the supposed terrorist threat coming from ISIS and other affiliated groups reportedly operating in the region.”
The group noted that the martial law in Mindanao only created a “condition of intensified militarization in the countryside, characterized by massive human rights violations, displacement of communities, closure of indigenous people’s schools, and the harassment and persecution of teachers and students, among others.”
“Martial law provided the impetus for the military to step up its counter insurgency campaigns and bring back the Cold War-era anti-communist hysteria to a higher level at the expense of the people,” ACT said. “The persecution of progressive groups and individuals – teachers and students included – became the primary feature of the human costs of martial law in Mindanao,” the group added.
ACT noted that the extension of martial law for another year “comes at the time of Malacañang’s release of Executive Order 70 that institutionalized a ‘whole-of-nation approach’ in counter insurgency operations and anti-communist campaigns of the government.” This, the group added, would mean the “extension of intensified campaigns led by the military to silence the progressive groups and critics of the administration even outside of Mindanao.”
The group alleged that the said EO also “provided the mobilization of resources and government institutions in the campaigns” thus, the extension of martial law – as well as the release of the executive order – will only “exacerbate the deteriorating human rights situation in the country and further concentrate political and military power to the emboldened authoritarian rule of the Duterte administration.”
ACT said the democracy in the Philippines “has already been in its lowest ebb since the ascendancy of Duterte and his minions in the government.” The group also observed that the administration’s “war on drugs” resulted in the “victimization of the country’s poor; the control of the judiciary and the legislature through executive influence; the threats to the institutional safeguards against abuse; the support of the regime for the return to power of politicians tainted with corruption and abuse of power; and the administration’s support to control the minds of the people by manipulating public opinion through the employment of fake news providers – strike at the very core of democratic values and institutions.”
For the teachers, the extension of martial law and the so-called “whole-of-nation” approach of the administration in its “anti-communist drive” would further “aggravate” the current situation. “In the end, it will be the people who will bear the brunt of such consolidation of the authoritarian character in the Duterte regime,” the group ended.
On December 12, the Congress granted President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year or from January 1 until December 31, 2019.