August 14, 2017

NUSP denounces Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Martial Law in Mindanao, calls for the end of lopsided US-RP ties

The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) joined other youth organizations and multi-sectoral groups in calling for an end to Martial Law in Mindanao and the United States’ intervention in the region on July 4, deemed Philippine-American Friendship Day.

Coincidentally, the Supreme Court affirmed the validity of Proclamation 216 or President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in the entire Mindanao. In a press conference, the Supreme Court announced that 11 justices voted to dismiss the petitions, 3 justices voted to limit Martial Law to Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, and only 1 justice voted to grant the prayer of the petitioners.

On June 9, NUSP joined people organizations and human rights groups and submitted a petition to the Supreme Court demanding the nullification of martial law, and questioning the proclamation’s justification of rebellion and vague reference to “other rebel groups” that can be easily used as pretext to criminalize political activists.

“By ruling in favor of President Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, the Supreme Court has just gave the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) a go-signal to commit more human rights violations. It has also made it easier for the Duterte administration to declare Martial Law nationwide even on questionable grounds,” said NUSP National Spokesperson Mark Vincent Lim. Over the last month, military rule in Mindanao was marred with intimidation, rape threats, forced evacuations, extrajudicial killings, and other human rights violations.

President Duterte declared Martial Law and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) raided the city of Marawi, Lanao del Sur. The raid was part of an operation believed to be run by the US military to capture “foreign terrorist” Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and pocket the $5 million reward money. Like the botched Mamasapano operation in 2015, the deluge of soldiers in Marawi City was met with resistance by various armed Moro groups who are furious at the U.S. military and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for meddling in local politics and fueling armed rivalries among clans to divide the Moro community and weaken their resistance.

NUSP also denounces President Duterte’s threat to arrest Martial Law critics. “President Duterte’s threats to arrest those who oppose martial law in Mindanao and his orders to the military to kill civilians reek of his authoritarian tendencies and his propensity to commit further violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” said Lim.

“The fight continues beyond the legal arena. On the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24, the Filipino youth will join different sectors in calling out President Duterte for his failed promises and atrocities,” concluded Lim.

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