Czarina Golda Musni
THE government’s drive to end the decades-long armed rebellion of the Communist Party Philippines-New People’s Army (NPA) has stuck to its militaristic campaign in today’s decision on the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao. Unfortunately, in the past months since its proclamation, it has done more damage to civilians than to the armed group it has vowed to target.
The solons once more turned their backs on the Filipinos in Mindanao who exist in the fringes of society, who time and again are the sacrificial lambs to political and economic agendas. They have forgotten that these sectors too are part of their constituency—the sectors that compose the country’s “expendables”.
Who are the terrorists targeted by Martial Law?
From the documentation of the Mindanao Observatory on Human Rights, the pattern of the state’s targets is obvious—they are hitting organizations and communities that have been fighting primarily for economic rights. These are the people and organizations that have criticized the government’s development agenda that does not respect the rights of the poor sectors. These are the people and organizations that have been calling for access to basic social services.
These are the terrorists the government is “protecting” the Filipino people from. And people supporting Martial Law conveniently forgot that the society we live in now is actually on these expendables’ backs.
The economic benefits we enjoy now have been built on the toil of millions of laborers who had taken to the streets decades long ago, demanding for just labor practices. Had they been silent, had they accepted their oppression and exploitation as fate, most of us would still be slaving day and night in cramped quarters, unable to access any opportunity of rising beyond meager daily existence.
The civil liberties we have had been paid for with blood—from our colonizers, from repressive and tyrannical governments. Had they not dare fight, we would have continued to exist as second-class citizens of our country which we could not call our own.
The diminishing power of the people to freely express their opinions and complaints against state policies is an affront to our democracy. Democracy is not only a matter of being able to participate in elections. Democracy means the power is held by the people (demos)—not a few politicians, not a few economic elites, and definitely not the military.
We continue to stand against Martial Law.
(Lawyer Czarina Golda Musni is the spokesperson of the Mindanao Observatory for Human Rights. Website: mohr.ph; E-mail: email@example.com)