By Ben Serrano
Militant groups in Caraga staged a protest rally Monday afternoon to express their opposition to President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao following the attack of Maute terror group in Marawi City.
Members from different sectors of society from women represented by Gabriela, church composed of the Promotion for Church People’s Response (PCPR), United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), students composed of National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), labor Kilusang Mayo Uno, National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU) ; BAYAN, farmers and fisher folks composed the multi-sectoral protest rally against Martial Law Monday held in Butuan City.
Even the threats of bad weather due growing raindrops failed to stop the rallyists but have to disperse finally later this afternoon around 4 p.m. while taking refuge at the sidewalk of Montilla Blvd and J.C Aquino Avenue here in Butuan City due heavy rains
Speakers from party-list BAYAN, NUSP, KMU and NAFLU, UCCP ministers and officials from religious organization the Promotion for Church People’s Response (PCPR) took turns in chanting “Never Again to Martial Law” while lambasting President Duterte why he declared Mindanao-wide Martial law.
The speakers recalled what they described as miserably failed, botched PNP Special Forces operations in MAMASAPANO that killed 44 SAF members by which until now families, wives and close relatives of the 44 SAF members of the PNP failed to get justice of the killings of their loved ones.
“Now the same thing happened in Marawi City where nearly 500 people already have been killed and the number of those wounded are rising, thousands evacuated and lost homes and properties, houses where burned due airstrikes and massive bombardment. All because of miserable failure of AFP and PNP intelligence works. Investigate the billions of pesos of intelligence funds now!” says speakers as they took turns in their speeches the evil, bad experiences of the 1972 Martial Law.
The rallyists also debunked the myth that Philippines enjoyed a golden age under the Marcos Law saying various reports and historical accounts that while infrastructure spending increased during that period, it came at a staggering cost.
And it plunged the Philippines in billions of dollars in debt. From $8.2 billion in 1977, the country’s debt ballooned to $24.4 billion in 1982 – or within a period of just 5 years due massive corruption brought about kickbacks and other anomalies.
Citing reports from Amnesty International (AI) , the speakers and rallyists claimed that during martial law 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed.
The AI team which visited the Philippines from November to December 1975 found that 71 of the 107 prisoners interviewed alleged that they had been tortured.
Santa Martinio, 68, Veronica Salve, 67, Alma Dumaguing, 68, Naty Marticion, 54, and Teresita Dumanjug, 57, claimed they are living witnesses in the evening of September 23, 1972, the late president Ferdinand Marcos appeared on national television to formally announce that the Philippines was under Martial Law.
“It was nightmare, my own neighbor was arrested by members of Philippine Constabulary maybe for looking like a subversive and he never came back, missing until now,” Dumaguing said.
“I, my husband and my parents are confused until of why Tinoy (Catalino real name) a tuba gatherer and corn farmer committed a sin because Tinoy is shy person, single and always stays at home with his siblings. Until it became a joke that Tinoy was arrested because maybe of possessing ugly face? illegal possession of ugly or rebellious face was a sin against the state,” Dumaguing recalled.
Rev. Rodolfo Baslot, UCCP minister of the Agusan District in an interview told Caraga News Courier that the rally today against Martial law initiated by various sectors in Caraga Region particularly here in Butuan City is just the beginning of the series of mass protest rally if President Duterte will not lift Martial Law in Mindanao.
“Those who are silent and those who give the President wrong advise must be answerable to the people and hundreds who are killed now in Marawi City,” Rev. Baslot added.
One of the speakers using public address system, Rev. Carmelito Mero, chairperson of PCPR-Caraga took turns in lambasting the abuses of the military and police in the past during Marcos’ Martial Law
“And now the abuses, killings rear its ugly head in this Duterte-inspired Martial Law. It is very unfortunate that we have the first President from Mindanao and he is also the first one who declared evil Martial Law, resurrecting again in the bad memories of the Filipinos the darkest chapter in Philippine History,” said Mero, one of the many speakers of the rally.