In light of the extended enforcement of Martial Law in Mindanao, a forum on civil liberties was held at 3rd flr. Pastoral Bldg., Redemptorist, Bajada last Mar. 10, 2018.
The forum, attended by both religious and social-civic groups, was in conjunction of Mindanaoans for Civil Liberties’s (M4CL) advocacies of building defense for civil liberties and human rights in schools, parishes and other institutions.
Atty. Manny P. Quibod, dean of Ateneo de Davao College of Law, stressed that there are instances in today’s martial law wherein civil liberties were overstepped thus should lead people to question the validity of its extension.
“Diri sa Mindanao, naa ta’y paghagam-hagam ani nga sitwasyon kay naa tay mga nabalitaan na mga reports, ang uban naay experience na gigamit ang martial law sa pag-harass…there is also the ongoing insurgency na situation sa atong mga Lumads,” Quibod said.[Here in Mindanao, we have a lot to say about the situation since we receive reports or hear from experiences that [today’s] martial law is used to harassed. There is even an ongoing insurgency that affects the Lumads.]
Quibod added that, “Among the Lumads, their activities are being hampered by militarization…civilians are caught in the middle of war.”
Being also the vice-chair of the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), Quibod also lectured on the constitutional rights and the Human Security Act.
He also discussed that recent development in law were police officers have the right to subpoenalize evidence. This meant police officers could demand documents to be brought into court so that such could be used as evidence.
He stressed that such could become an avenue for abuse since the police can act even with mere suspicion on individuals.
Victims of the recent Martial Law gave testimonies to show how their civil liberties are being attacked.
Jennilyn Baguio, who came from Arakan, North Cotabato, narrated how she was coerced to surrender all because her family was suspected of being communist rebels.
“Isa ko ka biktima sa martial law ni Digong. Akong gikasanatian katong August 2017, ipa-surrender daw ko sa military. Diha gisubsob na ko ug harass kay usa daw ko ka involved sa CPP-NPA.”[I was a victim of martial law in the Duterte administration. In August 2017, I was told to surrender to the military. This was where we began to be harassed because of my alleged involvement with the CPP-NPA.]
Baguio then narrated shared how her sibling was slain during martial law and now her family evacuated to the sanctuary in United Church of Christ Philippines (UCCP) Haran.
“Gipatay gyud nila akong manghod. Sakit kaayo sa akoa kay siya pa ang nag-luwas sa akoa gikan sa military tung January 23,. Namasahero lang siya para makabugas ang among pamilya. Mao na ang nahitabo sa akong pamilya, na sanctuary na diha karon sa Haran.”[They killed my younger brother. It hurts because he died saving me from the military last January 23,. He was a public transport driver and did so to bring rice for our family. Now, my family resides in the sanctuary in Haran.]
Cristina Lanao, a representative of the Compostela Farmer’s Association (CFA), enumerated cases of deaths among her colleagues during the Duterte Administration.
Deaths she listed included the CFA secretary-general, land donors, members of the youth sector of their association and more.
Lanao said the military did so because they were accused of supporting the rebels of New People’s Army (NPA). They were also threatened with cutting government assistance or even death.
“Tungod daw kay nakapainom, nakapalandong ug nakahatag sa NPA. Kung dili sila [CFA] mag-surrender, bawion daw ang 4P’s kung dili pamatyon…daghan mi leader sa union gi sanctuary kay ang mga union man ang gina-target…mahadlok na mi manguli sa amoa.”[They say it was because we fed, sheltered and gave to the NPA. If the CFA won’t surrender, they will cut the 4P’s or even kill us. Many union leaders are in the sanctuary because the union is being targeted. We are fearful of coming home.]
Fr. Edilberto Cepe, C.SsR., rector of Davao Redemptorist Community shared how there is a need it is our responsibility to be mindful of others especially because we are all created in the image and likeness of God.
“We are all brother and sisters and we all represent the Creator. Because of that, we ought to protect. We ought to be concerned with one another’s condition. We ought to be sensitive with one another.”
Dr. Arni Clamor, a Theology professor, gave her reactions about the forum. She stressed that media disinformation is a factor to public indifference.
“With all that is happening, we seem to be okay with it. Why is that? We have a massive architecture of disinformation and it is paid by the government. We are fed na okay lang naman because they are doing it for our own good.”
The event is one of the more forums that will be hosted by the M4CL in their campaign for civil liberties amidst martial law.