There were many speculations why thirty-five years before deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law. Some says that it was because of the threat posed by the New People’s Army and the Moro National Liberation Front. For Marcos oppositionists and political rivals, it was to hoard their businesses and have a complete control in politics. But what justified the declaration of Martial Law was the ambush made against then defense secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, which until now people believed the incident as a hoax.

Thirty-five years later, the public is still being made to believe that the terrorist scare and Abu Sayyaf menace justify anti-people measures like the Human Security Act and all-out war in Moro communities, even during Ramadhan, the holy month of fasting.

For the Human Security Act to be accepted by the public, they should be put in a scenario of “extra-ordinary circumstances.” Such incidents include the kidnapping of a priest, the beheading of the marines, the “clobbering” of soldiers by their nemesis in the battlefield.

We were glued to the television for two months awaiting for the surfacing of Father Giancarlo Bossi, that justice be given to the slain soldiers whose bodies were mutilated, and that finally an Abu Sayyaf leader whom we were told the culprit of it all misery in Mindanao would be arrested and detained.

Instead, more questions were raised as to who was really behind Father Bossi’s kidnapping and why were the Marines ordered to attack the camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Basilan when all along the priest they were looking for was somewhere in the mountain range of Sibugay and Lanao del Norte.

It seems that there are acts going on behind the Human Security Act. Nevertheless, these scenarios sealed and justified the implementation of HSA, which has only brought more chances for politicians and government agencies to abuse their power against those who criticize anti-people policies of the government.

HSA is also hell bent in silencing the families who are seeking justice for those who were victims of extrajudicial killings, illegal and warrantless arrests and enforced disappearances. There is no mention in the HSA on how the government will make its military officials accused of extrajudicial killing tried for their crimes. It leaves no room for displaced people because of military operations to seek grievances against military officials and soldiers responsible for bombing their communities.

HSA accuses instead all those who accuse the government of injustice as terrorists or aiding terrorists. Organizations, legal or armed such as the New People’s Army, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front are stripped of their legitimacy to negotiate in the peace talks by threatening to proscribe them as terrorist organization if they will not give in to a government’s version of a final peace agreement.

There is no need for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to formally declare Martial Law, for we are already conditioned that we are stripped of our rights to seek grievances and protest, that her cabinet members have immunity from senate and congressional investigation and that her military officials are being congratulated and honored for every activist killed or missing.

The situation of the Moro people in Mindanao is the same as those who sufferd at the hands of the military during Martial. Every Moro is suspected of being a member, aiding a terrorist or is thinking to be a future terrorist — hence the military bombard the whole community in pursuit of a band of thieves.

Children who were shot, killed and maimed as a consequence of the military’s pursuit operations were identified as ASG child proteges – like Almujayal Padiwan who was hit and wounded by elements of the marines in 2005 and the recently eight teens tortured by the Army in Indanan, Sulu last month.

Martial Law is a government’s declaration of war against the people. The Moro people of Mindanao are being terrorized by the all-out war and the anti-terror policies. But just like the deposed dictator, the undeclared Martial Law will soon reach its end. The people’s will shall prevail and the ouster of GMA is one step in putting a stop to undeclared Martial Law. Justice for those victimized by this administration’s terror policies is another.

In remembrance of all those who died fighting Martial Law, let us continue the fight. End Political Repression, End All-Out War in Mindanao!

Sittie Rajabia Sundang
KAWAGIB – Moro Human Rights Organization
c/o Kalinaw Center
#113 Francisco Ave., Juna Subdivision,
Matina, Davao City
Telefax: (082) 299-4964