As KmB / Pro-People Youth recognizes the 45th anniversary of martial law, which was campaigned by former President Ferdinand Marcos, we connect history to the present when President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines.
Only 31 years have passed since the end of the Marcos regime and a decades-long declaration of martial law. Marcos enacted martial law to reduce crime and suppress insurgencies, but at the same time, there were over 70,000 human rights violations: 3,000 extrajudicial killings, 35,000 tortured people, and 70,000 incarcerated without trial. On February 22-25, 1986, the People Power Revolution culminated with a series of popular nonviolent demonstrations in the Philippines that led to the ousting of President Ferdinand Marcos who was an authoritarian dictator of political corruption, regime violence, and electoral fraud for over 20 years. By the power of the people, this campaign of civil resistance ended martial law and attempted to restore the country’s democracy.
Today, martial law is declared once again by Duterte. Since June 2016, over 9,000 extrajudicial killings have occurred under this current administration’s brutal “war on drugs” across the Philippines. Considering the controversial history of martial law during Marcos and today’s firm stance by Duterte, it is necessary to draw caution as this situation unfolds.
Organized by FAHRA-LA at Pilipino Workers Center in Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles, KmB community organizer Andrew Celi said, “We must learn from history: martial law does not work. Rather, this gross overreach of power can and will only be used as justification in the trampling of the rights of the people, to squash dissenting opinion.”
Enacting martial law in Mindanao is a slippery slope because martial law is based on a false sense of protection. As the powers that be force their will onto the people, this declaration tramples on the people of Mindanao’s human right towards self-determination. KmB / Pro-People Youth challenges all to think critically about martial law and stands in solidarity with the oppressed people of Mindanao.