yes to peaceQuote: Machris Cabreros, President of Akbayan

Akbayan grieves with the people of Marawi, thousands of whom were displaced by the continuing clashes in their home city while many others are still trapped amid the crossfire. The death toll is now at 97, while the airstrikes continue to damage property and livelihood of Marawi residents. In the face of clashes between the Maute group and the government troops, it is the people who suffer most the consequences of violence. 

We also applaud the bravery of many who have opened their homes to the exodus of people and the people from all around the country who have initiated donation drives to help our fellow Filipinos in Mindanao. 

We however condemn the far-reaching Martial Law declaration of the President and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus as a disproportionate and extreme response to the Maute group; instead of ending terrorism and promoting peace, such extreme response to the Maute group threatens to further escalate violence in the region. Peace, more often than not, is the casualty of Martial Law.

It is also important to point out that Duterte’s martial law is not the martial law that is envisioned under the 1987 constitution. It is akin to Marcos’s 1972 martial law that recognizes no checks and balance. The President not only blatantly boasts of how harsh his martial law will be, as inspired by Marcos’s bloody rule, he further threatens to ignore both its co-equal branches, the Congress and the Supreme Court. 

We in Akbayan do not doubt his capacity to keep true to his bloody promise, we only need to look at the more than 8,000 dead in his equally terrifying war on drugs. 

We therefore call on both houses of Congress to band together in providing the needed safeguards to the President’s reign of terror and convene a joint session immediately. 

We remind Congress that there are no shortcuts to peace. Fighting terrorism is not the only ingredient to lasting peace in Mindanao. They must be at the forefront of scrutinizing any policy measure that masquerades as a silver bullet for peace, especially if this silver bullet will serve to spill more blood on the soils of Mindanao. 

No to Maute terrorism, but in equal measure, we also say no to authoritarianism! Never again to martial law! ###