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Philippines: Martial Law or Peace Talks?

By Luis Jalandoni

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from Luis Jalandoni, Member, Executive Committee and National Council, National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) vigorously condemns President Rodrigo Duterte for threatening the imposition of martial law against the Filipino people to force them to comply with his disastrous anti-people policies in his alleged combating of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On television on April 16, 2020, he made this threat declaring that the people had better comply because he is ordering the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to take charge of enforcing his lock down in the whole of Luzon and forcing the people to follow his orders on the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). He has assigned the Philippine National Police (PNP) to assist the AFP.

President Duterte in his lock down order on Metro Manila and the whole Luzon, has caused more than 700 companies to close. Millions of workers are rendered jobless. He has also ordered a transportation shut down. Hundreds of thousands have to walk to their work. A man had to walk several kilometers from the hospital to his home, carrying the dead body of his son.

Hungry residents of San Roque who came out to protest because they were hungry were arrested and put in jail. Yesterday, former House Representative Ariel Casilao and five others who were bringing relief goods to residents in Norzagaray, Bulacan were stopped at a police checkpoint. They and seven residents who met them to receive the goods were also arrested. Up to now they are in police custody.

President Duterte should be reminded that his idol, President Ferdinand Marcos who declared martial law in 1972 was finally overthrown by a mass uprising of millions, and escaped only with the help of the United States. He was brought to safety in Hawaii. We also remind President Duterte when Marcos started on the ill-fated track of fascist dictatorship, he was far younger than the current president in his mid-70s. And the social and economic conditions are now far worse.

The NDFP believes that President Duterte has another option. Instead of intensifying his oppression of the Filipino people to the extent that his overthrow becomes a possibility, he could issue an extension of the unilateral ceasefire that expired on April 15. This would heed the call of the United Nations Secretary General for a global ceasefire to combat the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the call of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP). The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has extended its unilateral ceasefire until April 30 “to prioritize the fight against the pandemic and ensure the safety, health and well-being of everyone.”

President Duterte could also heed the call of Michelle Bachelet, the Chairperson of the UN Human Rights Commission, to release all political prisoners. This will significantly improve the atmosphere for the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP.

Luis Jalandoni

Member, Executive Committee and National Council

National Democratic Front of the Philippines

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