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September 21, 2007

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Defy the Undeclared Martial Law!

"Martial Law could crush our bodies, it could break our minds, but it could not conquer our spirit. It may silence our voice and seal our eyes, but it cannot kill our hope nor obliterate our vision. We will struggle on, no matter how long it takes or what it costs, until we establish a just community of free men, and women in our land, deciding together, working and striving together, but also singing and dancing, laughing and loving together."
- Senator Jose W. Diokno
September 21, 1978

Thirty five years ago, on September 21, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos issued Executive Order 1081 placing the country under Martial Law.

The respect for human rights was wantonly disregarded with this declaration. The media was silenced. Arrests, torture, rape, enforced disappearances, and summary executions were the order of the day against those who defied the fascist government.

Today, as we remember the men, women and children who have paid the sacrifice in resisting the iron hand rule of Marcos, we notice the striking parallelism in our time.

Martial Law has never been officially declared by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but it is in place.

Since January 2001 - July 31, 2007, 886 people have been victims of extrajudicial killings. Of this figure, about 130 are indigenous peoples, 36 of whom are from the Cordillera. 179 people have been victims of enforced disappearances and have not been surfaced to this day. No case has been solved and no single perpetrator convicted despite evidence pointing to the accountability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the State.

Threats continue to haunt people's organizations and institutions critical of government programs and policies are branded as "sectoral front organizations" of the revolutionary movement and thus targeted under the government's counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya II. Our countrysides continue to be militarized because of this counter-insurgency program and the imposition of the government's development agenda which is highlighted with corporate destructive mining, agribusiness and large dams in Northern Luzon.

The implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Law or the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007 is a virtual declaration of Martial Law with its provisions that run counter to the respect of our human rights. It is in violation of the Bill of Rights in the Philippine Constitution and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Peace remains to be elusive because of the government's militaristic solution to the problem of insurgency and secession. The peace negotiations between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines - National Democratic Front of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NDFP-NPA) have been stalled because of the political persecution of the NDF Peace Panel. The peace talk with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been on hold because of the raging war in Mindanao declared by the government.

We deplore the continuing full support of the United States government propping up the severely isolated Arroyo regime, much in the same way that it provided economic, political and military support for the Marcos Dictatorship. Under the auspices of the US "war on terror", the Arroyo fascist regime has unleashed state terror upon the Filipino people. The Arroyo regime has used all forms of US aid to violently suppress and deceive the people.

We live in a time as dangerous as thirty five years ago.

It is as perilous and as challenging.

We are called to heed the lessons of history. Let us remember that it took the people's strength and unity in a very dark period in our history to assert our human rights and bring down the dictatorship that imposed Martial Law.

As a new dictatorship is upon us, we are challenged to rise up and resist the disrespect for human rights. We are challenged to continue the legacy of those who came before us. We shall continue to demand the accountability of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Regime for the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and the systematic violation of our rights.

As Chief Justice Reynato Puno stated in his speech in the Summit on Extrajudicial Killings last July, "They who seek to remain in the safety of the sidelines when human rights are under assault shall be condemned by history into irrelevance."


Cordillera Human Rights Alliance
HUSTISYA -Northern Luzon
Tongtongan ti Umili
Cordillera Peoples Alliance

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