By JOEY NACALABAN
ACTIVISTS yesterday marched from the Press Freedom Monument to the Magsaysay park in Divisoria to dramatize their grievances against the Duterte administration as they marked the first year of the Mindanao martial law.
It was also the same day last year when government troops clashed with the Isis-inspired Maute group that sparked the “war” in the predominantly city of Marawi.
Some 300 activists, mostly farmers, students, and laborers, demanded that President Duterte lift the year-old martial law in Mindanao, saying that this was being abused.
They also aired their gripes about the increased costs of commodities, fuel and tuition, among others.
Jamorito Gumayon, an activist and lumad group leader, alleged that cases of human rights abuses have increased in outlying villages since the declaration of the Mindanao martial law.
Indigenes, he said, were wrongfully accused of being members of the New People’s Army.
“Intimidations and threats are prevalent in the lumad communities where soldiers just barge into houses and threaten occupants,” Gumayon said.
Meanwhile, The Rev. Fr. Jong Abejo, spokesperson of the Movement Against Tyranny, said the Mindanao martial law was used to crack down on perceived leftist organizations and their members in northern Mindanao.
He said “people’s organizations” were the targets and this was documented by an International Fact Finding and Solidarity Mission in April.
“Nagkagrabe ang pagpanglapas sa tawhanong katungod sa Mindanao ilalom sa Martial Law… Ang pagpanghulga, pagpangharass, pagpanghadlok ug pinugos nga pagpasurrender nagapunting dili lamang sa mga miyembro sa mga progresibong organisasyon nga nagabandera sa katungod sa mga nagkalain-laing batakang sektor kundili usab ang mga biktima nga mibarog aron sa pagbutyag niini nga mga pagpanglapas,” reads part of a statement released by the Movement Against Tyranny.
Abejo said the pressure applied by the state forces were meant to stifle protests over increased costs of living, new taxes, contractualization, poor health services, education concerns, land grabbing, and excesses of big businesses.