“The martial law situation ensured the control of the mid-term elections by the Duterte government in Mindanao,” Amirah Lidasan, a Moro and council member of Sandugo said today on the commemoration of the second year of martial law in the southern part of the Philippines.
“Under Martial Law, the attacks against the national minorities, the Lumad and Moro continued and intensified. Our communities are bombed, military operations in Lumad and Moro communities escalated, Lumad schools were forcibly closed, and trumped up charges were filed against the indigenous people’s (IP) leaders. The Duterte government made it easy to coerce the people to vote for administration’s candidates, or not vote at all,” Lidasan said.
“By jailing the likes of Jomorito Guaynon, also a council member of Sandugo and staunch Higaonon IP leader, many of his tribesmen were intimidated or even failed to freely campaign and vote for candidates based on their character and genuine platform for the national minorities, ” Lidasan said.
Guaynon, also chairperson of Kalumbay (a regional IP organization) was abducted together with peasant leader Irineo Udarbe on January 28, 2019 by elements of the Philippine Army and later charged under Human Security Act. “Guaynon and Udarbe would have led for the campaign Atty. Neri Colmenares for Senator in their region and for partylists under the Makabayan coalition,” Lidasan said.
“The red tagging and defamation of progressive personalities, organizations and partylists instilled fear and a chilling effect among their members, constituents and supporters,” Lidasan said. There were rampant distribution and posting of materials tagging various organizations and individuals as NPA members and supporters before and during campaign period. Named in these black propaganda paraphernalia were the Makabayan partylists (Act Teachers, Anak Pawis , Bayan Muna, Kabataan and Gabriela Women’s Partylists), the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Northern Mindanao and personalities like Bp. Antonio Ablon, Fr. Cris Ablon, Atty. Czarina Musni and many others. “These organizations and individuals are supportive to our plight. They support our opposition to the intrusion of big business in our ancestral lands and territories and our assertion to the right to self-determination,” Lidasan said.
“Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio even campaigned against the Makabayan bloc, calling for zero votes for Makabayan,” Lidasan mentioned. “The partylists under Makabayan are the same groups that the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and even President Duterte baselessly tagged as NPA fronts,” Lidasan said.
“Even the presence of armed soldiers inside the polling precincts intimidated voters. How can they comfortably and freely vote when soldiers with high powered rifles are within sight?” Lidasan asked.
Despite the intense repression and various forms of electoral fraud, the Makabayan bloc won six seats at the house of Representatives. “This manifests a resounding victory of the people against attempts to deny a genuine voice and opposition in Congress. More so, a Lumad woman leader becomes the first genuine Lumad and IP representative in Congress,” said Lidasan.
“The Duterte administration now dominate the Senate and the House of Representatives. The immediate future looks bleak for the Filipino people. Duterte’s charter change agenda and other anti-people policies immensely threaten the democratic and civil rights of the Filipino people and sovereignty of the nation. Clearly, we now have a rubber stamp Congress,” Lidasan said.
“The next three years under Duterte is seen as a prolonged agony. Fascist attacks and repression, deterioration of poverty brought about by anti-people economic programs and plunder will further intensify. The Filipino people must unite and defy this government. Sandugo pledges to resist these attacks,” Lidasan said.
“Two years of martial law in Mindanao has miserably failed to end people’s legitimate resistance, social unrest and the armed revolutionary movement in the Philippines. Martial law and repression only strengthened the people’s resolve to fight and struggle to end the fascist, corrupt and puppet Duterte government,” Lidasan ended. #
Press Release: May 24, 2019
Reference: Amirah Lidasan, council member