28 May 2017

Reference: Kaleb Lloyd, +447482 990557, secretary@chrp.org.uk

The Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP) strongly condemns the declaration of martial law over the southern province of Mindanao imposed by President Duterte on Tuesday 23 May. According to human rights groups in the Philippines, while the fighting between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Maute Group of Islamic rebels which resulted in the deaths of 21 people in the small town of Marawi, was a serious incident, it did not justify declaring martial law over the whole province of 20 million people, which is around one third of the population of the Philippines.
CHRP notes with grave concern that President Duterte has also threatened that martial law could be extended across the whole country. The president has already referred to this possibility, and has likened his actions to those of the late dictator Marcos, saying “Martial law is martial law. It will not be any different from what Marcos did. It’ll be harsh.” Duterte has expressed on several occasions his admiration for Ferdinand Marcos, whose dictatorship in the Philippines ran from 1972-1986.

The declaration of martial law in Mindanao adds to the repression unleashed in Duterte’s national so called ‘’war against drugs’, which has already resulted in an estimated 10,000 extra-judicial killings in just one year. It is clear that a state of martial law under a government with such a horrendous record will lead to large scale human rights abuses. On Thursday 25 May, Duterte gave a clear indication of the impunity that will exist for soldiers who might be accused of committing abuses under martial law in a speech to the armed forces, in which he joked that ‘’You can each rape three women and I shall protect you.”

The new Philippines Constitution, which was drawn up after the overthrow of Marcos in 1986 and which was designed to prevent the rise of other dictators, allows martial law to be declared in the event of armed rebellion but sets a clear limit of 60 days. Duterte has, however, already stated he is ready to go beyond that limit.
The declaration of martial law in Mindanao represents the latest and most serious threat yet to democracy, human rights and the Philippines Constitution by President Duterte.

End Martial Law in Mindanao!
No return to Marcos style Dictatorship!
Stop Extra Judicial Killings and HRVs!
End Impunity Now!