On Duterte’s second SONA, BPO workers say no to Martial Law

The BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) Philippines firmly opposed martial law and condemned the extension of Martial Law declaration until end of December 2017 as approved by Congress last July 22.

“What transpired in the joint session was a total sell out of democracy,” according to Mylene Cabalona, BIEN spokesperson, “when an overwhelming number of members of the Congress voted to extend Martial Law in Mindanao even as the reports provided by the security cluster of the President could not stand on its own to establish factual basis.”

According to security reports, there are only 4 barangays remaining under the control of the Maute extremists, and 80 “terrorists” fighters left in Marawi. According to BIEN, common sense dictates that this mere number does not require placing the entire Mindanao under Martial Law.

“In fact, at the very onset, the declaration of martial law and all-out-war in Mindanao is already unacceptable and unjustified.  Because in the end, the war waged against so-called terrorists groups have caused further divide and misery to hundreds of thousands of people,” Cabalona added.

In addition, BIEN cited reports that even workers who are exercising their labor and constitutional rights are being targeted by the implementation of martial law in Mindanao. Attacks to workers’ rights and trade union repression intensified when Martial Law was declared like the case of Shin Shun workers in Compostela Valley.

“We say no to the imposition of martial law and its extension as it has resulted in and will continue to  cause more human rights violations, displacement of communities and trade union repression.” Cabalona stressed.

The group said that what Mindanao needs first and foremost in the aftermath of the 150-day martial law specifically the war-torn Marawi is rehabilitation. “The ongoing humanitarian crisis should be the focal point of discussion instead of extending Martial Law which may aggravate the situation and may cause escalated violence against civilians,” Cabalona stressed.

The group urged the Duterte government to immediately lift martial law. “Instead of waging an all out war in Mindanao which inflicts much suffering to the people, the Duterte government should do more in promoting peace and justice by resuming the peace talks, and resolving the root causes of war such as underdevelopment perpetuated by neoliberal policies, discrimination, and inequity in society,” Cabalona said.###

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