CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/15 September) — A plan by President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a nationwide martial law is in the works, the Communist Party of the Philippines said.
In a statement Thursday, the CPP said Duterte was becoming “increasingly desperate amid broad rising calls for his ouster” and “seeks to prop himself up as a fascist dictator in his despair to cling to power.”
Duterte earlier said he would be forced to impose martial law nationwide if the Left stage massive protests that might turn unruly.
However, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday allayed fears of another nationwide martial law saying it was a “remote possibility”.
But the CPP said the president “deserves the strongest condemnation for threatening to make full use of the military and police to carry out armed repression against mass demonstrations by conjuring a scenario of ‘rebels taking to the streets’ and ‘fighting on the streets’.”
”Having imposed martial law in Mindanao, Duterte believes he can get away with nationwide martial law. The Filipino people are determined to prove him wrong. Under the slogan ‘Never again to martial law!’, various forces are bound to rapidly come together against the Duterte regime as it carries out increasingly tyrannical measures,” the underground group said.
The president declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, the same day the Islamic State-inspired Maute group started a siege in Marawi City which has entered its fourth month.
The CPP accused Duterte of establishing himself as a dictator “by silencing the political opposition,” among other moves.
It noted that his allies in Congress have “railroaded” the National ID system, canceled the scheduled barangay elections to enable him to “supplant tens of thousands of village officials with his loyalists” and “acted swiftly to impeach the chief justice as an overt threat to make the Supreme Court and judiciary bow to Malacañang’s whims.”
The CPP said “Duterte is presently carrying out a mind-conditioning campaign to justify his plan to impose martial law.”
“Through mostly foul means, he has silenced critical opinion in mass media. He employs his horde of paid trolls to flood social media with Duterte adulation and to vilify the Left and political opposition,” it said.
“He uses government money to build his Kilusang Pagbabago propaganda machinery and Masa Masid (now renamed Community Mobilization Project, comparable to the Alsa Masa movement in Davao City) spy network. The police and military control the flow of information. In the guise of stopping ‘fake news,’ the regime is set to clamp down on media freedom and the right to free expression,” it added.
The CPP said Duterte and his security officials will try to “suppress the protest actions and prevent these from swelling into large demonstrations.”
“In the face of his desperation, it is not remote that Duterte and his dirty tricks department will resort to creating bloody trouble in the streets to serve as pretext for the declaration of martial law,” it warned.
The CPP statement on Thursday was the strongest so far against Duterte after the president declared on July 21 that he was abandoning peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front.
He also ordered the arrest of NDF peace consultants who were freed on bail so they could give inputs during the talks.
“No more talk. Let us fight. I’ll save enough money for the arms, I’ll buy the new ones, the precision guided missiles,” he said.
Duterte made the declaration shortly after New People’s Army rebels ambushed a convoy of the Presidential Security Group along the Davao-Bukidnon highway.
A day before Duterte’s announcement, the CPP said the declaration of martial law in Mindanao has made the talks unnecessary.
“It is a strongman’s act of bad faith aimed at bullying the NDFP to bow to his terms of surrender,” it said.
“Having failed to inveigle the NDFP to capitulate in the peace negotiations, he is offering so-called local peace talks in the vain attempt to entice revolutionary forces with deceptive offers,” the CPP said in the statement Thursday.
Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has said she will pursue localized talks with the NPA.
The NPA, armed wing of the CPP, has been waging an armed struggle since 1969.
Ferdinand E. Marcos was the first president to place the entire country under martial law, from Sept. 21, 1972 until his ouster via a civilian-backed military mutiny in February 1986.
Marcos abolished Congress and ruled by decree, in effect, arrogating unto himself the powers of the executive, legislature and judiciary.
In 1978, he held the first elections to the Batasang Pambansa, a legislature dominated by his allies and to which he could appoint any member at will. (MindaNews)