Activists protest war on drugs, martial law under Duterte administration

NEW YORK — The projections on the walls of the Philippine consulate in New York City just about sum up what these Filipino activists are protesting against — the president of the Philippines.

“In the last two days, ten activists were killed including two faith leaders and eight indigenous lumad leaders were mercilessly massacred by government agents,” said Louis Andrew Sawi, from NYCHRP (New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines). “The armed forces of the Philippines has not stopped killing and has blocked the delivery of food to evacuation centers.”

It wasn’t long ago – when these very same progressive groups expressed their strong support for the Duterte administration’s pro-people reforms, especially when it comes to the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and the national Democratic front of the Philippines.

“Ang claim niya he’s for the people, kasi sa amin, ang stance namin it doesn’t matter kung sino ang presidente sa harapan, ang pinaka importante sa amin eh sino yung pro people,” said Zarah Vinola. “Just because nagawa niya yun it doesn’t mean we’re not gonna hold you accountable dun sa iba pang actions niya, yung mga killings ngayon na nangyayari.”

Things went south when President Trump expressed his support for the Philippine president and his bloody war on drugs, and leftist groups such as the CPP-NPA have been labeled terrorists.

“We take issue with this, especially being branded as terrorists, because the way we see it, the number one terrorist in the Philippines are those who are committing majority of these atrocities,” said Mike Legaspi. “These killings more than 13,000 people have been killed in the so-called drug war…”

Spokesperson Harry Roque says Malacanang palace is eyeing the “total eradication” of all local and foreign terrorists,and is asking the Philippine congress to further extend martial law in Mindanao for another year.

These activists’ biggest fear is looking a lot like the Marcos playbook on how to declare martial law nationwide.

“This is a tactic that we’re saying is reminiscent of the Marcos martial law years, because he is now targeting legal democratic organizers like us. Bayan is a legal above ground organization, we’re not the armed wing of the CPP-NPA – but he is coming at us,” said Legaspi. “We feel, as Bayan, we feel that not only is President Duterte… unforunately following in the foot steps of Ferdinand Marcos, but he is also bringing up memories of Gloria Arroyo years.

Meanwhile, the Duterte administration denies that there is no factual basis for extending martial law in Mindanao after the Marawi victory.

Roque says, the government is relying on the commanders and boots on the ground and their recommendations.

At the end of the day, nothing is set in stone at this time – critics and members of the opposition are free to challenge martial law in the Supreme Court.

“Never again, never again to martial law, never again, never again to martial law.”

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