(Statement of Konsyensya Dabaw, issued on19 May 2018)
May 23, 2018 marks the first year of the day the armed conflict in Marawi erupted and Martial Law in Mindanao was declared through Proclamation 216.
We in Konsyensya Dabaw gather today to listen to two survivors of the Marawi conflict. As fellow Mindanawons, we want to understand better their stories, empathize with their pain and struggles, and support their aspirations for the rebuilding of Marawi and other adjacent areas affected by the conflict.
We also want to revisit the strong traditions of interfaith dialogue and multiculturalism in Marawi and Meranaw society. We believe that recognizing those practices and beliefs that connect the peoples and communities in these areas—no matter how small and seemingly inconsequential—will strengthen inherent and local peace abilities and serve as positive contributions to the rebuilding of Marawi and the prevention of the recurrence of old conflicts or the rise of new ones.
As Martial Law continues on its second extension, we are concerned that while Marawi continues to be part of the justification, continuing military control over Marawi is neither promoting local civilian efforts to retake control of Marawi’s rehabilitation, nor addressing the many cases of rights violations and injustices against Meranaws and other victim-survivors.
Martial Law has also further heightened military presence and operations in many areas of Mindanao, such as indigenous peoples areas but also where agribusiness and mining companies are active. There have been many cases of harassment and attacks against Lumad, agricultural workers, and farmers. The ‘toktok-hangyo’ (TokHang) approach used in the anti-illegal drugs campaign has crossed over to become the ‘tapok-hangyo’ (TapHang) where communities are asked to gather in a meeting, subjected to talks pressuring them to cooperate, and then later declared as mass surrenderees. In a bizarre appropriation of the Filipino practice called ‘harana’, community leaders were serenaded with progressive songs in their houses, and once they opened their doors, were given threatening messages.
We are also concerned about recent developments that in effect create a Martial Law-like situation over the rest of the country. From the unconstitutional use of the quo warrantoto unseat an impeachable official to ongoing efforts to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) tasked to go after the money plundered by the Marcoses, the institutions of checks and balance are being crippled to concentrate power in one office.
We see behind these and other past maneuvers, the manipulative hands of the Marcoses who principally stand to gain from the total dismantling of efforts to hold them accountable and prevent the return of authoritarian rule.
We are saddened and mortified that the first president to have come from Mindanao has chosen to cast his lot with the Marcoses, the Arroyos, and the Estradas who, at one point or another, did much harm and damage to Mindanao and its peoples, whose leadership were challenged during their time, and whose nefarious agenda have come together at this point.
We believe that the situation today calls for responses that come from listening to those whose messages may be hard, harsh, and contrary to the fawning messages of sycophants but are necessary to resolving complicated social problems instead of ill-advised rescue missions, jet-ski photo ops, and other publicity stunts.
Contact Person: Mags Z. Maglana; email@example.com