By imposing martial law and curtailing the civil and political rights, GRP President Duterte is further isolating his regime from the people. In the vain hope of justifying his imposition of martial law in Mindanao and plan to impose it on the entire country, he yesterday described Marcos martial law as “good” in all-out contempt of the Filipino people’s sufferings under the 1972-1986 military dictatorship.
Reminiscent of the detested ASSO (Arrest, Search and Seizure Order) of Marcos, Duterte yesterday ordered the military to carry out searches and arrests without warrant. He has ordered the AFP to conduct checkpoints, curfews and other restrictions which violate the people’s freedom of movement. By imposing such severe measures, he aims to establish himself as a strongman who will not tolerate challenges to his authority.
In Davao City, mini-dictator Sarah Duterte is taking advantage of the martial law declaration by coming up with a long-list of anti-democratic measures which seeks to restrict that people’s freedoms, particularly their right to assemble, to express their grievance and seek redress. Like her father, she also wants to prohibit other acts which she deems as challenges to her authority and power.
Duterte’s assurances yesterday that he will not tolerate abuses is utterly worthless. He wants to highlight the fact that civilian courts remain open, but neglect to point out that these are powerless amid the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus which has given him and the military absolute power to detain anyone indefinitely. He has also constantly threatened the Supreme Court against issuing restraining orders to preventing him from carrying out acts which potentially violate the GRP’s laws.
Prior to the imposition of martial law, soldiers of the AFP are notorious for military abuses against the people. With Duterte’s martial law, the fascist troops of the AFP are bound to carry out greater abuses with even greater impunity as they are no longer restricted by legal niceties.
He has extended the term of office of Gen. Eduardo Año as chief of staff of the AFP and has appointed him as supposed administrator of martial law. He has put a notorious violator of human rights and perpetrator of abductions and other dirty war tactics at the helm of his martial law regime. By giving Año vast powers, Duterte might have succeeded in gaining his favor and preempting him from joining or leading a coup to establish a military junta. However, he also enhanced the influence and power of the US interventionists through its zealots in the AFP’s echelon who are determined to pull his regime back under exclusive US hegemonic power.
Duterte has made a bogeyman of the so-called Maute Group. That the display of the black “ISIS” flag has threatened his powers as GRP president is an overstretch of his imagination. Duterte and the AFP could not even give the public a credible estimate of the strength of this group. There are well-grounded fears that some forces may carry out dirty operations to justify the extension and expansion of Duterte’s martial law to cover the entire country.