Letters: Revisiting 1 year of tyranny and social insufficiency in Mindanao

By RENMIN VIZCONDE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PHILIPPINE NETWORK OF FOOD SECURITY PROGRAMS
www.nordis.net

2May 24, 2018

WE DEMAND the immediate lifting of Martial Law to end military rule that further oppressed the toiling people of Mindanao. As we observe, said year of military rule in Mindanao brought widespread human rights violations and intense militarization over the island. We would like to restate all the atrocities committed by the Duterte Administration against its own people, especially the national minorities (Lumad and Moro) and the farmers. We believe that through this means, it will help us understand the real intention and effect/s of Martial Law.

It is very unjust to use the ghost or specter of Marawi sieged and issue in putting the whole island under Martial Law. In fact, the main reason why the President declared ML is to give and make leeway for foreign and giant corporations to mine and convert the remaining ancestral lands of the toiling Lumad and Moro’s.

History teaches us that there is no such mining operation nor aid from foreign entity(ies) in the past who respected the traditional way of life of our ancestors neither (have they) brought genuine social development. It is very sad that indigenous livelihood and traditional food security processing is always at risk at the expense of so-called modernization. Alarmingly, said proclamation of the President served corporate interest, to control land and resources, of the exploiting class.

Instead of protecting people’s basic universal rights to healthy, sustainable and safe food, communities were heavily bombarded and militarized. The whole community can no longer function normally. It affects the capacity and potential of building their own community in terms of agricultural production.

Massive cases of human rights violations and other kinds of threat to life and livelihood are experienced daily. These are clear manifestations that the government wants to curtail people’s rights to development. A pure evidence of rigid dictatorship and tyranny.

From the reign of the Duterte Administration until March 2018, there are 535 incidents of different forms of State-sponsored human rights violations and attacks on Lumad schools and communities in four regions of Mindanao, and 385 of which or 72% were committed during Martial Law.

These only shows that Martial Law brought extreme threat, poverty and terrorism in the context of systematic attack against people’s basic human rights, food and shelter. Under said proclamation, people can no longer (perform) their social functions like planting of crops, feeding animals, learning in schools and other social related task that provides basis for them to eat safe, healthy and sustainable food. Martial Law promoted the very contrary of progress like fear, hunger, poverty, death and suffering. If not stop, heavy destruction to life, property and economy are possible results.

The government must perform its duty and mandate of its own people. Promote peace, development, justice and prosperity. It must listen to the voice and cry of its farmers feeding the whole nation, to its workers building the economy, students and teachers, national minority and other oppressed sectors of the Philippine society. It must show sincere passion to solve domestic crisis by peaceful means and not at the expense of democracy. For in the past, without substantial political, economic and social responses to these historic social problems, resistance will continue in various forms and ways.

THERFORE, we call to all peace loving people, let us work hand-in-hand to end Martial Law in Mindanao. We strongly believe that collective action is powerful. Martial Law is not the concrete nor sole answer to both poverty and social unrest. To address said problem means to start resolving food and job insufficiency in the vast countryside. The government should play its role in promoting sustainable and mechanized agriculture with pro-people orientation.

At the same time, it should maximize its resources in creating more opportunities for local farmers and producers for them to be able to establish their own network and marketing. Creation of secured livelihood like just and descent work may help our countrymen to have access to food. On the other hand, Genuine Agrarian Reform must push into Congress so that all farmers and the country as a whole can have food security not only today but for coming years. It is the best means to alleviate the country from poverty and hunger. # nordis.net

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