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So you think the whole of Mindanao needs martial law to contain the terror threat. You either have not lived long enough in this terrorized land or have enormous faith in the man who, in the wink of an eye, declared it from Russia, a country that has forgotten what it means to be free.
President Rodrigo Duterte said martial law – for no more than 60 days straight, please, according to the Constitution – was necessary to quell the Maute Group’s plan to establish an ISIS province in Philippines. Ironically it is a claim that’s never acknowledged by the institution that is now implementing his order: the military.
On the contrary, the military has boasted of needing just more time to address the Maute problem in the Lanao provinces, as it made victorious claims of having killed dozens of Mautes in the last year or so. The surgical strike on May 23 was in fact targeted against the ISIS-inspired Isnilon Hapilon, who apparently has moved his base from Basilan on the western side to northern Mindanao, to link up with the Mautes.
Between the terror hotbed that is Basilan-Sulu, which has lived with beheaded kidnap victims and piles of butchered soldiers for decades, and Marawi, which has struggled with its usual share of insecurities, is a sea of questions and doubts as to why martial law was declared following the attacks on Mindanao’s Kilometer Zero.
What’s the point when the military has already deployed practically all its assets and troops to the entire stretch of Mindanao since Duterte became president? What’s the point when, in remote villages in Marawi or Sulu or Maguindanao or even Davao, the omnipresent military has been raiding suspected rebel lairs in full force? Ask remote villages that have borne the brunt of the ferocious anti-terror campaign in Mindanao: Matagal na pong martial law doon.
We see bodies being dumped in Marawi, we hear of extremists threatening those who don’t share their views. This is not new, unfortunately. We’ve seen this in the margins of Muslim communities in Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Maguindanao, Cotabato, where the anger is real and not without basis, and always spikes in the face of gun power.
So we look at this proclamation beyond its stated foundation: for the state to muscle its way through our fundamental liberties outside the tokhanged streets of Metro Manila – and institutionalize what’s already happening in Mindanao’s margins, in hopes of getting us used to state muscle in our everyday lives.
Martial law in 27 provinces, no matter the constitutional safeguards, is like a thief in the night that gives us troubled sleep – and it’s not even because we’re scared.
We lose sleep over it because it seduces us into believing it is the only way to stop terror, when not even the wealthiest and most equipped country in the world has succeeded.
It plays to our penchant for shortcuts, until it hits home.
It makes us forget the real problems that have made terrorists thrive in the region: the endless bickering among military and police units, the incoherent sharing and analysis of intelligence, the whimsical deployment of troops ordered by trigger-happy civilian leaders, the corruption of local bosses who benefit from the criminal activities that the terror pipeline facilitates, our former and incumbent presidents’ habit of turning a blind eye to the dizzy mix of crime and local politics – for the tactical goal of controlling election races in these contested areas.
Martial law makes us lose sight of the true nature of the new threat of terror: that it is ubiquitous, that it knows no boundaries, that it is not only Mindanao's cross to bear.
So we ask: what could be more terroristic than a decision made on wrong assumptions and which was merely waiting for a trigger for the man who’s been been toying with the thought since he came to power? – Rappler.com