Why People in Mindanao Don't Mind Martial Law

As always there is war in my country.

But as always, two different wars are waging in Manila and in Mindanao.

In Mindanao the Maute groupsympathizers of International terrorist group Daeshare assaulting the Islamic city of Marawi in Lanao. Duterte has declared martial law over all of Mindanao. In response the Communist insurgentsanother group of terroristsadded to the fire by bombing my city of Kidapawan, injuring two policemen.

In Manila, the war is between those who are supportive of the Durian President and those who are condemning him for being Marcos 2.0. Fears of human rights violations (already there because of Digong’s bloody war on drugs) are being aired and rallies have been and continue to be organized by university students and others to oppose the declaration of martial law.

But this time, there is a war between these two wars.

Anti-martial law activists are under fire for intervening with Mindanao’s business, pro-martial law Mindanawons are being accused of regional closemindedness.

I do not begrudge the activists in Manila for rallying, that is their constitutional right and I celebrate their freedom to do so. I do not agree that they have no say in the debate of martial law’s appropriateness.

But I am still accusing them of Manila Imperialism.

Here in Mindanao the paramount concern is the threat of terrorism (which was the motivation behind the declaration of Martial Law in the first place).

Here in Mindanao the paramount concern is the threat of terrorism (which was the motivation behind the declaration of Martial Law in the first place). Texts messages and chats are being circulated from city to city of bombings being plotted in malls and other public centers, images circulate on Facebook of the chaos and violence in Marawi and the ongoing acceptance of refugees in Iligan. Amidst the budots and the basketball tournaments, a faint climate of worry hangs in the air over Davao.


And once again, Manila has hijacked national attention by insisting its own experience with Martial Law is more important than fears of terrorism.

Sure, remind us of Manili Massacre and the killing of Fr. Tulio Favali and of Ilaga and of all the horrors of the last Martial Law in Mindanao,  I’ll be the first to preach the importance of remembering historical injustices (Favali was buried just ten minutes from my ancestral home in Kidapawan). It is almost arrogant to assume the Mindanawon does not know his/her history, and even if he/she doesn’t, there is nothing but the top-down education systemcentered in Imperial Manilato blame for not teaching local history.

All the injustices and fears of history repeating itself are second priority when public safety is at immediate risk. There are three peoples in Mindanao, each of them with their own harrowing experience of the Marcos years, but the attitude of Mindanawons to martial law is far more complex and far more nuanced that just fear of a heavy-handed government. All this talk of rights possibly being violated because of abuses under martial law only reveals Manileños’ imposition of their own experience of military rule on Mindanao.

Manila has hijacked national attention by insisting its own experience with Martial Law is more important than fears of terrorism.

And we here in Mindanao don’t need Martial Law to have our rights abused, rights have been abused here for centuries. Bud Dajo, the manhunt for Mangulayon, Malisbong, Manili, the Estrada offensiveMindanao earth is no stranger to blood being spilled. Remember that military rule was declared in Maguindanao after the Maguindanao Massacre.

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Marcos’ martial law was a horrible thing for Mindanao, but it was not the first, and it certainly wasn’t the last horror we have seen. Military rule itself did not leave a bad taste in our mouths.

If anything, a Mindanawon president leading martial law in Mindanao for many means order, security, and a firm command of the crisis. Whatever abuses may be committed by government forces, they are a preferable evil compared to the much worse threat of a Taliban State or a Khmer Rouge being established here.

Right now we don’t need history lessons, we need solutions. Martial law is the only solution being presented to us, and instead of giving alternatives those critical of the move are simply indulging in the thrill of being outraged.

We here in Mindanao try our best to understand. It would be best if those in Manila try to understand us too.

This post was original published in Karlo David's blog, lefthandedsnake.wordpress.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

The Unpopular Opinion is Esquire’s space to provide additional insight and introduce new perspectives to issues that we may think have foregone conclusions. These articles don't always reflect our editorial stance, but we publish them here to continue the discourse.

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About The Author
Karlo Antonio Galay David
Karlo Antonio Galay David is a fourth generation Kidapawanon. He holds a Masters in Creative Writing, has been published, and has won some literary awards, but because he is still ambivalent about calling himself a writer.
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