Martial Law: a solution or problem?

There are few people in the modern era who would support the call for martial law. As there would be many human rights violations than eliminating, the criminals, most likely if the target criminals are not specified. Yes, the purpose of martial law is to totally halt the existence of the organized crime groups and the rest, but ensure that there will be no civilians affected. 

In the latest deployment of 10 battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to Sulu shows the frustration of the Aquino administration to stop the kidnapping in the ZamBaSulTa (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) areas. Why? It is obvious that the outgoing Chief of Staff has failed in its campaign to stop the Kidnapping for Ransom (KFR) gang from its root. However, this challenge would clearly transfer to the incoming Iron-Fist President Elect Rodrigo Duterte. Though President Duterte has been famous in its campaign against the criminals in Davao, for the KFR problem we cannot say yet whether he will be able to stop this inhumane activity or not. 

As a Tausug, I simply say KFR activity has no basis in Islam and in the culture of the good people of this race – therefore it must erase. As an ordinary citizen, I just would like to add some insights related to the development of conflict in Sulu from Martial law era up to now.

President Marcos has a good motive, as a President of the Republic, in declaring martial law in Sulu and Mindanao, because as a President, he had in mind that the development in the Philippines would not happen if he cannot stop the rise of Muslim insurgents in the south. However, he failed to realize that the level of awareness of the Muslims in Mindanao towards other citizens of the Philippines back then were very poor. Additionally, the Muslims in Mindanao did not feel that they were part of the republic. Therefore, to fight the Philippine Military back then considered as a duty of the Muslims, and the MNLF propagandist promoted this. The worst was, when the MNLF propagandist said to the people that the Christian from Luzon are coming to erase the religion Islam in Mindanao. Many Muslims ate the bait. They had in mind, when they die on the battlefield they will admit to the Garden of Eden without an account. In short. it was because of the martial law that’s the problem in Mindanao exacerbated. The cause of the Muslims for Hula’, Bangsa, Agama (State, Race and Religion) born as a reason to push the Muslims to fight against the government. From MNLF, the MILF was created and later the Abu Sayyaf, which in the early phase this extreme group had claimed to continue the cause for Hula’-Bangsa-Agama.

The KFR is quite organized recently, they have a wide network as far as Sabah, Malaysia. Sulu has become a drop-center of the kidnap victims from surrounding places. The latest hostage taking was in Sabah-Philippines border where 14 Indonesian crews and 4 Malaysian citizens taken as hostage by unidentified gang. The sad scenario happened recently when Robert Hall, a Canadian, slaughtered by the Abu Sayyaf in the island of Sulu. This is one of the reasons of the recent administration deployed thousands of the Armed Forces to Sulu.  

Martial Law is considered as a panacea to end the KFR activity in Sulu and Mindanao, however, there are various issues that need to consider prior to decide for all- out-war. First, why the KFR still exists even the war against this bandit have had initiated by the previous administrations? Second, what factors which really motivate the bandits to undertake this inhumane activity? Obviously, it is because of ransom money, however, does the local government deliver their responsibility to the people? Third, are not the KFR members, particularly in Sulu, the children of those who were killed during and after the martial law? Fourth, are the KFR real fights for ideological issue or economic reason? Do the government has the best plan to disarm the civilians, and the private armies of the politicians in the Philippines?

The Martial law can be a viable solution, only, if the government has done its best to satisfy the needs of the people. Also, has an option to confiscate the weapons and close the gun manufacturers in the country. If not, I am afraid; it would only bring the republic to another episode of the dark history. 

In the case of Sulu, martial law is not an ideal solution for now, so to speak. The KFR can be halted by using all the resources, including technology that has with the government. The Governor, Mayor and the Barangay officials must cooperate fully with the men in uniform to fight the bandits. Unluckily, LGUs in this area did not maximize their role as public servants and protect the rights of the people.

The incoming President Rodrigo Duterte, I believe, is wise enough to design an effective solution before he resort to the all-out-war. Let the criminals face their wrongdoings through effective and efficient way and save the lives of the innocent civilians. Ineffective decision would create more enemies while the target enemies are safe in their haven.

As a victim of the Martial law in the 70's I beseech to Almighty Allah, may peace reign in this part of the world. It is time, Muslim and non-Muslim to work together and compete to do good deeds. No one wins the war all are losers.