Suara Bangsamoro rejects the Duterte government’s use of the non-extension of Martial Law as a smokescreen for a more sinister and monstrous attack on the Moro people: the rise of a sprawling military camp at the heart of an Islamic city that it has destroyed. 

We strongly condemn Duterte’s Memorandum Order 41, the basis for the building of the military camp, as not only a legacy of Martial Law but a continuing instrument that will bring  death, destruction, and displacement to the Maranao people. 

After reducing Marawi into ashes, Duterte commits yet another historical injustice against the Moro people by establishing a military garrison around a civilian population it has sweepingly treated and unjustly punished as “terrorists.”

Establishing a military camp in Marawi City is a far cry from promoting healing and recovery of the Maranaos who suffered from the tragic loss of their land, homes and culture.  The regime has been deliberately slow in rebuilding the city for the safe return of thousands of displaced families to the land of their ancestors after its excessive military operation and bombings flattened the once thriving city to rubles. 

A military camp will only further breed distrust from the Bangsamoro towards a tyrannical government that killed thousands of civilians, bastardized our culture and religion and banished our brothers and sisters from their homeland. 

Suara Bangsamoro stands with the people of Marawi and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) against the proposed military base. We commend the officials of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority of the BARMM, the Lanao Del Sur provincial government, and the Marawi City government for passing a resolution opposing the construction of the camp. The unpopularity of this proposal is attested to by more than 100,000 individuals signing on to a petition barring its construction in Marawi. The people of Marawi have spoken– they do not want a military camp in their hallowed land. 

This strong public outrage over the proposed military camp is a continuation of the people’s condemnation of Martial Law that has brought further suffering and insecurity to the Bangsamoro. The three years of Martial Law in Mindanao have resulted to several unsolved cases of killings, illegal arrests, indiscriminate airstrikes, forced disappearances and various human rights violations perpetrated by the Manila government. 

With the rush to build this military establishment, Duterte chose military occupation of our communities over securing evacuees back to their homes. Instead of recognizing our rights to our territories, he encourages the sell out of our lands to big mines and plantations.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s recommendation not to extend Martial Law in Mindanao does not hold any bearing as its reign in the region has paved way to the entrenchment of military structures in civilian communities. Regardless of the lifting of Martial Law in Mindanao, the revised Human Security Act subjects the entire Bangsamoro under state terror and military rule. Moreso, Duterte’s “war on terror” and all-out war policy continues to oppress Moro communities with intense military operations be it in Marawi or elsewhere in Moroland. 

We challenge the Duterte regime to  genuinely end Martial Law in Mindanao not only through a formal lifting of the declaration but by carrying out the following:

1. Scrapping  Memorandum Order 41,

2. Not setting up a military camp in Marawi but implementing the immediate return of Maranao people to their city,

3. Junking the Human Security Act,

4. Putting an end to the series of extrajudicial killings and massacres against the Bangsamoro,

5. Stopping mortar shelling and military airstrikes,

6. Pulling out military forces in Moro communities,

7. Ending the “war on terror” and all out war policy, and

8. Letting  human rights organizations investigate violations during Martial Law in the Bangsamoro.

Only then can the Moro people say that their right to self-determination and just peace is being exercised without a gun pointed at their heads. ###

For reference:
Amirah Ali Lidasan 
National Spokesperson
Suara Bangsamoro