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President Duterte’s Steady March to Authoritarian Rule

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

never again 8fe56

The Supreme Court’s 11-3-1 ruling, favoring Martial Law in Mindanao, has dashed the hopes of petitioners that Proclamation 216 will be rescinded before its 60-day deadline.

Prior to this, President Duterte’s allies in Congress and Senate have outdone themselves in showering support to a proclamation that was neither recommended by the AFP nor necessary. As admitted by Solicitor General Jose Calida, “the government was able to respond to [the terrorist threats] even without Martial Law” and that it is merely “giving an exclamation point (to the calling out powers of the president) to give a clear message to the terrorists.” Both houses opted to pass separate resolutions supporting Martial Law, rather than performing their constitutional duty of convening and deliberating on the soundness of Proclamation 216.

Now, with the decision favoring Martial Law, earlier threats made by President Duterte that it will defy the SC if it will rule against PD 216, has apparently stuck with eleven Supreme Court justices, including Duterte’s recent appointees, who favored the on-going Martial Law in Mindanao.

At this rate the co-equal branches of government – the legislative and the judiciary, which are in place to check any excesses of the executive branch, are now effectively neutralized – whether they were complicit or bullied into submission by a President bent on amassing more power for himself.

And as the bombings continue in Marawi City, most of the 200,000 residents have been scattered in evacuation centers across the region; their city now lies in ruins while the rest of Mindanao is under threat of further militarization with the AFP and the PNP inclined to recommend an extension of Martial Law until the so-called “rehabilitation of Marawi.”

Elsewhere in the country, the threat of terrorists had local government units mulling dangerously repressive measures such as the National ID system directed against Muslims.

In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) strongly condemns the calibrated march to tyrannical rule by the present government that does not tolerate any criticism, due process or the letter of the law but only recognizes one man’s will.

iDEFEND similarly condemns terrorism which is aimed at striking fear at the heart of a civilian population. Terrorism must be addressed but not just through military might, as such a complex problem requires a deeper understanding of the historical injustices that have bred such groups like the Maute and the Abu Sayyaf. Since Day 1, President Duterte has cultivated and bred impunity, disregard for due process and rule of law, has obfuscated facts and said outright lies. His brand of “law and order,” with his controversial and brutal approach to the drugs issue, has claimed more than 12,000 lives of mostly poor and indigent Filipinos.

Now, he has done what he has threatened to do – declare Martial Law in his first year in office – which now covers only Mindanao but looms menacingly over the whole archipelago.

iDEFEND joins the ranks of freedom-loving Filipinos who continue to stand steadfast and uphold the democratic rights of the people. We will continue to push for a genuinely democratic government that upholds a rights-based governance. Anything short of this is a government that is putting the interests of an elite few over the many, compromising the fate of the nation by selling out to corporate and sectarian interests.