More than 300 farmers under the Kilusang Magsasaka ng Pilipinas commemorate the 1972 declaration of martial law with torch parade in Davao City and called for a stop to militarization in the region. (Photo by Jonald Mahinay)
DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 22, 2011) – More than 300 people gathered in Davao City in the southern Philippines to protest the continuing reign of impunity under President Benigno Aquino’s administration.
The rally coincided with the commemoration of the 1972 declaration of martial law by Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos where it accounted over 70,000 cases of human rights violations, murders and enforced disappearances.
The protesters, mostly peasants, tribesmen and human rights groups, held a torch parade on Wednesday evening. Organizers said the continuing militarization in the countryside is reminiscent of the martial law years.
The human rights group called Karapatan said the Davao region in Mindanao has become the most militarized in the country with government soldiers, police forces, militias, private armies of politicians, vigilantes scattered all over.
Peasant leader Pedro Arnado said tribesmen and farmers in different provinces have complained about harassments and human rights violations by the military.
He said troops have been terrorizing the farmers, gravely affecting their livelihood since they fear go to their farms because they constantly face threats and suspicions from the government soldiers patrolling around their communities.
“The new face of martial law today is none other than Oplan Bayanihan which was patterned after the US Counter Insurgency plan of 2009. The Armed Forces of the Philippines uses the name of Peace and Development Teams or so- called Re-Engineered Special Operations Teams to hamlet villages, thwarting civilian bureaucracy, curtailing the freedom of the people to assemble, to speak and to oppose anti-people and inhumane policies of the government,” he said.