As opposed to the presumption of “secure” martial law, various Davao progressive groups organized a street demonstration at Orculla Park, Roxas Avenue last May 23, demanding a stop to the injustices present during the first year of Mindanao-wide martial rule.
Anakbayan, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, among others led the street demonstration. Alongside the Southern Mindanaons, Datu Kaylo Bontolan and Carlo Olalo demanded the injustices that became “prevalent” following the declaration of martial law to finally stop.
Bontolan, a native from Talaingod, Davao del Norte, addressed the continuing militarization in the rural areas of Mindanao, where indigenous groups and locals were reportedly displaced out of their lands so the deployed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) can use the lands as base camps to keep their eyes on the rebels.
Moreover, Olalo stressed the possibility of militarization “being only an excuse for the upper-class to displace land natives.” For him, it’s a strategy employed for acquiring land ownership without having to go through the legalities involved, which involves the indigenous people voluntarily selling their homelands.
“So, pasabot ni-ini, ang martial law na gideklara ni Rodrigo Duterte, magpahunong sa pakipabisog para pasud-lon ang mga langyaw na mga investor, aron makasulod sa mga pag-expand sa mga dagkong mga plantasyon.
“Pagsulod sa mga dagkong pagmina diri sa atoang rehiyon, mao’y tuyo ug tomong nila kung nganong ipadayon ang martial law diri sa Mindanao,” Olalo told Atenews.
Likewise, Bontolan highlighted the president’s possible plans for the ancestral lands.
“Kabalo mo sa January 1, 2018, na gina-ingon ni Pres. Duterte na sila na ang mangita og mga investor na musulod sa among mga yuta kay mao ra man gihapon daw, dili pud namo matrabaho ang among yuta. Pero sa akoa, unsaon man namo pagtrabaho nga padayon nilang ginapa-evacuate tungod sa atake sa mga Lumad.”
Another concern Bontolan has opened up about is the declining number of student Lumads due to the militarization situation, where schools and other educational facilities are shut down, leaving the IPs no choice but to postpone and compromise their right to education.
Bontolan and Olalo wanted people to quit invalidating and dismissing their current struggles as being just another ploy to bring down the current administration.
As of December 2017, records from Karapatan show 49 cases of politically motivated extrajudicial killings (EJKs), 116 cases of frustrated EJKs, 404654 cases of displaced civilians, 89 cases of illegal arrests and detention, 336124 cases of indiscriminate firing and bombings, and 22 torture cases.
Maute, a local terrorist group, inflicted terror in Marawi City starting May 23 last year. After the clashes between the military and the said terrorists erupted, President Rodrigo Duterte prompted to declare martial law the day after.