Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s proclamation of Martial Law over the entire Mindanao region following the military operation in Marawi City that resulted in protracted battle with the Maute terrorists has given members of the Liberal Party and anti-Martial Law advocates reason to make more noise. When before they were simply nit-picking on his tirades, now they think they are justified in calling him a dictator. Never mind that Congress and the Judiciary are still functioning and never mind that the fact that they can still make noise and complain about Duterte already proves that the country is not under a dictatorship.
Frankly, a lot of so-called anti-Martial Law activists are going too far. They used to be just lame, but now some of them are saying things that could potentially crush the morale of members of the military. The military is already fighting violent terrorists in Mindanao, but they still get a bad rap from activists who do nothing but talk about the horrors of Martial Law during the Marcos years. They equate Martial Law with abuse and violence. It’s as if they do not trust the members of the military to do the honourable thing.
It’s bad enough that the Philippine military doesn’t have the right equipment and technology to carry out their mission in keeping the country safe, it’s worse when they don’t have the support of the civilians they are supposedly trying to protect. Just today, 13 more marines were killed trying to secure villages in Marawi. Sadly, we can hardly expect any sympathy from anti-Martial Law activists since they seem to sympathise more with the terrorists and want to make sure the latter are getting their “human rights” respected.
As of this writing, there has been no report of human rights abuses committed by the military so far. So we can be forgiven for saying that some anti-Martial Law activists are being irrational in their fear. If their only basis are the human rights abuses during the Marcos years, then it only means there is a lack of trust in Philippine society in general. If they think that the military’s behaviour hasn’t changed even with the new breed of soldiers under new leadership, then that says a lot about us as Filipinos. If after more than 30 years, anti-Martial Law activists still cannot move on from the Marcos years, then it means the leaders who took over after Marcos failed to instil the right attitude and principles that would earn members of the military respect from civilians.
What the soldiers are doing is not for the faint-hearted. A regular person would not be able to go out and face the possibility of death head-on. The soldiers also have to sleep anywhere under extreme weather conditions with little food supply. The anti-Martial Law activists meanwhile, are insulting the bravery of these soldiers while in the comfort of their homes. They may be against Martial Law, but anti-Martial Law activists should learn to separate their hatred for the abuses committed in the past from what the soldiers are trying to achieve at present, which is to contain the spread of terrorism.
Some of the anti-Martial Law advocates justify their fear and loathing by saying that they experienced the abuses and violence first-hand during the Martial Law years. Do they have to experience the kind of abuses and violence perpetuated by terrorists affiliated with ISIS to support Duterte’s Martial Law today? One would think that the horror stories coming out from countries like Lybia and Syria – countries that have strong ISIS presence – would be enough for all Filipinos to support Duterte’s efforts to crush the Maute group swiftly.
Yes, there are members of military who abuse their power, but between the military and terrorist groups, it’s a no-brainer, Filipinos should support the former.
Unfortunately, there are even lawmakers who seek a Supreme Court ruling to nullify Martial Law despite being presented with strong evidence that the Maute group had been planning to capture key cities in Mindanao for some time. The military even presented evidence that the terrorist group had millions in cash, cheques and a stockpile of ammunition to carry out their plan. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also confirmed “that martial law is imperative to once and for all address security concerns in the entire Mindanao immediately and decisively.” But of course some lawmakers like Senator Antonio Trillanes would rather pretend not to hear that. They are still adamant that Martial Law is not necessary. As a former soldier, he doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge the urgency of the situation. It seems he only cares about contradicting Duterte’s decision.
Someone has to put an end to the nonsensical reasoning of the Liberal Party and anti-Martial Law activists. They are making it harder for the government to do its job. Duterte is already fighting drug lords and terrorists with very limited resources. Now he has to deal with political opponents who just want to grab power. This tug of war between politicians amidst the criminal activities going on in the underworld will ensure the Philippines will remain backwards for decades.