AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People stands in solidarity with the people of Mindanao in strongly condemning the terroristic acts of the Maute group in Marawi City. We denounce President Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao as we see it as unnecessary and will result to more dangers and repression for civilians.

In just a week after its declaration, we witnessed how Marawi City was turned into a burning furnace by terrorist arson and government aerial bombing. Tens of thousands have fled their homes to find refuge, as the lives of the residents of Marawi have become a living hell.

It is perspicuous that the government should safeguard its people against terrorism. But putting the entire Mindanao under military rule gives irony to this objective. Defense Secretary Lorenzana’s formula of martial law targets not only the IS-affiliated Maute group and ASG but civilians as well. The suspension of civil liberties coupled with immense power of the military is a recipe for abuse.

The violence is not just contained in terrorist-stricken Marawi. Human rights group Karapatan has already documented 2,000 individuals who were victims of forces evacuations due to continuous bombing and strafing of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the towns of Pres. Roxas, North Cotabato and Damuog, Bukidnon alone. Civilian fatalities include a B’laan leader and a Manobo woman. In Davao City, 250 individuals were “rounded up” and held for interrogation for mere absence of identification cards, while Shin Sun fruits workers were forced by the military to end their ongoing strike.

President Duterte needs to be reminded of his words few months back, that Martial Law did not do any good for this country. Martial law has been a convenient state apparatus to silence people’s movement against oppression and tyrannical rule.

Let the memories of Nimfa del Rosario, Cesar Hicaro, Antonio Hilario, Mariano Lopez, Wright Molintas, Victor Reyes and hundreds of scientists and engineers who were abducted, slain, and tortured for the crime of using their skills and knowledge for the political awakening of the Filipino people remind us of the horrors of military rule.

We stand firm that government can combat these terrorist groups without repressing civil and democratic rights of the people of Mindanao. They have the resources to address and suppress lawless violence without declaring martial law.

Martial law declaration stands on vague bases. While the terroristic acts are only contained in some parts of Mindanao, specifically Lanao del Sur, why should the entire Mindanao be subjected to military rule? Vacuous as it may seem, martial law declaration reeks of doubtful agenda serving the oligarchs.

Mindanao is known as a fertile ground for investments in mining, agriculture and manufacturing. It is of now seen as “broader expansion of the infrastructure conglomerate’s operations.” Hence, the issue of military take-over of Mindanao cannot be divorced from the reality that there are far greater economic interests on why the region is being put under siege.

Martial Law will not bring peace to the region. Historically, terrorism breeds on oppression, exploitation and discontent of the socio-economic situation pushing desperate people to do extremist activities. Martial law will only further stoke the fire of unrest rather than stamping it out.

We must pursue peace not by military rule but by addressing the root causes of injustice, poverty, discontent and rebellion in the country. The peace talks between GR

​P​ and NDFP could have addressed the root cause of the armed struggle in the country and also the historical conflicts in Mindanao where the development aggression is prevalent on mining, plantation and coal energy projects. The CASER, as a substantive agenda brings to the fore the fulfillment of genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization. With the cancellation of the 5th round of the peace talks, the path towards a just and lasting peace will not be achieved.

We call on the President Duterte to immediately lift Martial Law in Mindanao and pursue the peace talks. Otherwise, his administration will be hounded by the rising people’s movement.​#


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