Martial Law in the Philippines

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Martial Law in the Philippines (Filipino: Batas Militar sa Pilipinas) refers to the various times in history when the Philippine head of state placed all or part of the country under military control - most notably during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos, but also during the Philippines’ colonial period, during World War II, and more recently on the island of Mindanao during the administrations of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Rodrigo Duterte. The alternative term “Martial Law Era” referring to the Philippines is typically used to specifically describe the Marcos martial law period.

Martial law has historically been carried out by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its predecessor bodies, serving as the head of state’s primary instrument for implementing political power in a reversal of the normal practice of civilian control of the military.

The President, as the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces, may declare Martial Law under the current Philippine Constitution “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.” Other countries adopt a diverse legal approach such as a “state of emergency.”

Generally, its imposition ushers in curfews, the suspension of civil law, civil rights, habeas corpus, and the execution or extension of military law or military justice to civilians. However, during Marcos’ martial law, the strongman only suspended the writ of habeas corpus. Civilian and military courts are effectively the same. Civilians defying martial law may be subjected to military tribunals (court-martial).


Spanish colonial rule

In April 1871, Governor-General Rafael de Izquierdo declared martial law in the provinces of Cavite and Pampanga as a measure against banditry.

Following the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution in August 1896, Governor-General Ramon Blanco declared on August 30 the imposition of martial law in eight provinces: Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Pampanga, Tarlac, Laguna, Batangas, and Nueva Ecija. These eight provinces, the first provinces to join the revolution, would later be represented in the eight rays of the Sun in the Philippine flag. Despite such a declaration, which provided a 48-hour period in giving amnesty to rebels except for their leaders, Blanco adopted a cool, conciliatory stance, seeking to improve Spain's image in the face of world opinion.

Aguinaldo administration

After the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, the exiled leader of the revolution, Emilio Aguinaldo, returned to the Philippines from Hong Kong with American support on 19 May 1898, in order to resume the revolution. On May 23, Aguinaldo issued a proclamation in which he assumed command of all rebel Filipino military forces and established a dictatorial government with himself styled as "Dictator" instead of "President" as in his previous "Republic of the Philippines".

On June 12, at Aguinaldo's ancestral home in Cavite, Philippine independence was proclaimed and the Act of the Declaration of Independence of the Filipino People, which refers to him as "Dictator", was read. On June 18, issued a decree formally establishing his dictatorial government. On June 23 another decree signed by Aguinaldo was issued, replacing the Dictatorial Government with a Revolutionary Government, with himself styled as "President“ again. Eventually, this government would be replaced in turn by the proper First Philippine Republic in 1899.

American colonial rule

Martial law was proclaimed in Leyte in January 1907.

Japanese Military Administration

On 2 January 1942, after Manila was captured, the commander-in-chief of the Imperial Forces Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma proclaimed martial law in all occupied areas.

Laurel administration

President José P. Laurel of the wartime Second Philippine Republic placed the Philippines under martial law in 1944 through Proclamation No. 29, dated September 21. Martial law came into effect on 22 September 1944. Proclamation No. 30 was issued the next day, declaring the existence of a state of war between the Philippines and the US and Great Britain. This took effect on 23 September 1944.

Osmeña administration

According to the 1986 edition of RR Philippine Almanac: Book of Facts, there was martial law in Nueva Ecija on 7 January 1946.

Marcos administration

At 7:17 pm on 23 September 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos announced that he had placed the entirety of the Philippines under martial law, through Presidential Proclamation № 1081, which was dated 21 September 1972. This marked the beginning of a 14-year period of a one-man rule which would effectively last until Marcos was exiled from the country on 25 February 1986. Even though the formal proclamation was lifted on 17 January 1981, Marcos retained virtually all of his powers as dictator until he was ousted by the EDSA Revolution.

When he declared martial law in 1972, Marcos claimed that he had done so in response to the "communist threat" posed by the newly founded Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and the sectarian "rebellion" of the Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM). Opposition figures of the time, such as Lorenzo Tañada, Jose Diokno, and Jovito Salonga, accused Marcos of exaggerating these threats, using them as a convenient excuse to consolidate power and extend his reign beyond the two presidential terms allowed by the 1935 constitution.

After Marcos was ousted, government investigators discovered that the declaration of martial law had also allowed the Marcoses to hide secret stashes of unexplained wealth which various courts later determined to be "of criminal origin."

This 14-year period in Philippine history is remembered for the administration's record of human rights abuses, particularly targeting political opponents, student activists, journalists, religious workers, farmers, and others who fought against the Marcos dictatorship. Based on the documentation of Amnesty International, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, and similar human rights monitoring entities, historians believe that the Marcos dictatorship was marked by 3,257 known extrajudicial killings, 35,000 documented tortures, 77 'disappeared', and 70,000 incarcerations.

Contributing Factors to Marcos’ Proclamation of Martial law

Economic roots and the "social volcano"

Through a very bad combination of loan-funded deficit spending and large-scale infrastructure projects, the administration of Ferdinand Marcos became very popular during his first term as president - enough so that Marcos ran for reelection in 1969 and succeeded in becoming the first President of the Third Philippine Republic to be re-elected. In order to assure this win, Marcos launched US$50 million worth in infrastructure projects in 1969 to create an impression of progress for the electorate.

However, this ramp-up on loan-funded government spending led the Marcos administration to its first major economic crisis. The campaign spending spree was so massive that it caused a balance of payments crisis, so the government was compelled to seek a debt rescheduling plan with the International Monetary Fund. The IMF mandated stabilization plan which accompanied the agreement included numerous macroeconomic interventions, including a shift away from the Philippines’ historical economic strategy of import substitution industrialization and towards export-oriented industrialization; and allowing the Philippine Peso to float and devalue. The inflationary effect these interventions had on the local economy brought about social unrest which was the rationalization for the proclamation of martial law in 1972. By the time Marcos won his campaign and was ready for his second inauguration, the Philippines was already being described as a "social volcano ready to explode."

The role of the Communist Party of the Philippines

Around 1970, student activism had intensified and many student activists joined communist movements. Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic Youth, or 'KM') a political organization founded by José María Sison intended to be a nationwide extension of the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines, carried out study sessions on Marxism–Leninism and intensified the deployment of urban activists in rural areas to prepare for people's war. The line between leftist activists and communists became increasingly blurred, as a significant number of KM advanced activists joined the party of the Communist Party also founded by Sison. Earlier, during the campaign period for the 1969 elections, students called promoted a mock campaign called the Dante-for-President movement, likely referring to New People's Army founder Bernabe 'Kumander Dante' Buscayno. KM members protested in front of Congress, throwing a coffin, a stuffed alligator, and stones at Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos after his State of the Nation Address. On the presidential palace, activists rammed the gate with a fire truck and once the gate broke and gave way, the activists charged into the Palace grounds tossing rocks, pillboxes, Molotov cocktails. In front of the US embassy, protesters vandalized, committed arson, and damaged the embassy lobby resulting in a strong protest from the U.S. Ambassador. The KM protests ranged from 50,000 to 100,000 in number per weekly mass action. In the aftermath of the January 1970 riots, at least two activists were confirmed dead and several were injured by the police. The Mayor of Manila at the time, Antonio Villegas, commended the Manila Police District for their "exemplary behavior and courage" and for protecting the First Couple long after they have left. The death of the activists was seized by the López-controlled Manila Times and Manila Chronicle, blaming Marcos and adding fire to the weekly protests. Students declared a week-long boycott of classes and instead met to organize protest rallies.

In Marcos' diary, he wrote that the whole crisis has been utilized by communism to create a revolutionary situation. He lamented that the powerful Lopez family, which controlled Manila Times and Manila Chronicle, blamed him for the riots thus raising the ire of demonstrators. He mentioned that he was informed by his mother of a planned assassination paid for by the powerful oligarch, Eugenio Lopez Sr (Iñing Lopez). He narrated how he dissuaded his supporters from the Northern Philippines in infiltrating the demonstration in Manila and inflicting harm on the protesters, and how he showed to the UP professors that the Collegian was carrying the communist party articles and that he was disappointed in the faculty of his alma mater for becoming a spawning ground of communism. He also added that he asked Ernesto Rufino, Vicente Rufino, and Carlos Palanca to withdraw advertisements from the Manila Times which was openly supporting the revolution and the communist cause, and they agreed to do so.

At the height of the armed communist insurgency in the Philippines, Philippine Military Academy instructor Lt. Victor Corpuz led New People's Army rebels in a raid on the PMA armory, capturing rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, a bazooka, and thousands of rounds of ammunition in 1970. In 1972, China, which was then actively supporting and arming communist insurgencies in Asia as part of Mao Zedong's People's War Doctrine, transported 1,200 M-14 and AK-47 rifles for the NPA to speed up NPA's campaign to defeat the government. Prior to 1975, the Philippine government maintained a close relationship with the Kuomintang-ruled Chinese government which fled to Taiwan (Republic of China), despite the Chinese Communist Victory in 1949, and saw Communist China (People's Republic of China) as a security threat due to China's financial and military support of Communist rebels in the country. In a speech in February 2017 at the Methodist Protestants’ Cosmopolitan Church in Manila, Enrile said: “The most significant event that made President Marcos decide to declare martial law was the MV Karagatan incident in July 1972. It was the turning point. The MV Karagatan involved the infiltration of high-powered rifles, ammunition, 40-millimeter rocket launchers, rocket projectiles, communications equipment, and other assorted war materials by the CPP-NPA on the Pacific side of Isabela in Cagayan Valley. The CPP-NPA attempted a second effort – their MV Andrea project – but they failed. The MV Andrea sank in the South China Sea on its way to the country.” Those who opposed President Marcos, including The Conjugal Dictatorship author Primitivo Mijares, the Liberal Party, as well as the Lópezes’ Manila Chronicle, called the MV Karagatan incident a "show" or “a hoax”.

Alleged Liberal Party plot

Rumors of coup d'état were also brewing. A report of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that shortly after the 1969 Philippine presidential election, a group composed mostly of retired colonels and generals organized a revolutionary junta with the aim of first discrediting President Marcos and then killing him. The group was headed by Eleuterio Adevoso, an official of the opposition Liberal party. As described in a document given to the committee by a Philippine Government official, key figures in the plot were Vice President Fernando Lopez and Sergio Osmeña Jr., whom Marcos defeated in the 1969 election. Marcos even went to the U.S. embassy to dispel rumors that the U.S. embassy is supporting a coup d'état that the opposition liberal party was spreading. While the report obtained by the NY Times speculated saying that story could be used by Marcos to justify Martial Law, as early as December 1969 in a message from the U.S. Ambassador to the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador said that most of the talk about revolution and even assassination has been coming from the defeated opposition, of which Adevoso (of the Liberal Party) is a leading activist. He also said that the information he has on the assassination plans is 'hard' or well-sourced and he has to make sure that it reached President Marcos.

Marcos' personal opinions

In light of the crisis, Marcos wrote an entry in his diary in January 1970: "I have several options. One of them is to abort the subversive plan now by the sudden arrest of the plotters. But this would not be accepted by the people. Nor could we get the Huks (Communists), their legal cadres, and support. Nor the MIM (Maoist International Movement) and other subversive [or front] organizations, nor those underground. We could allow the situation to develop naturally then after massive terrorism, wanton killings and an attempt at my assassination and a coup d’etat, then declare martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus – and arrest all including the legal cadres. Right now I am inclined towards the latter."

Benigno Aquino Jr. and the Communist Party of the Philippines

In a speech before Senate, Benigno Aquino Jr. warned the public of the possible establishment of a “garrison state” by President Ferdinand Marcos. President Marcos imposed martial law on the nation from 1972 to 1981 to suppress increasing civil strife and the threat of a communist takeover following a series of bombings in Manila. Aquino himself had contact with leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines — first with founder Jose Maria Sison, and later with Rodolfo Salas, CPP chair at the height of Martial Law. In an interview with Ateneo De Manila University Professor Lisandro Claudio, Salas said not only did he bring wounded New People's Army (NPA) soldiers to Aquino's houses, but he received guns and cash from Aquino himself. In another communication to the State Department dated September 21, the US Embassy sheds further light on what Ninoy told the American officials. On September 12, Ninoy had a “lengthy luncheon conversation" with two embassy officers about the “growing strength of Communist dissidence in the Philippines." In this luncheon, the senator “readily admitted his past ties with the several Communist factions in the Philippines." He claimed that maintaining links with Huk rebels was a “fact of life" for a Tarlac politician. In the 1978 Philippine parliamentary election, the first parliamentary election during Martial Law, Ninoy fielded in his Lakas ng Bayan party Alex Boncayao, who was associated with Filipino communist death squad Alex Boncayao Brigade. All of the party's 21 candidates, including Ninoy, lost in the election.

Plaza Miranda bombings and 1972 Manila bombings

On 21 August 1971, while the opposition (Liberal Party) was having their miting de avance in Plaza Miranda, two fragmentation grenades exploded. It took 9 lives and left more than 100 people seriously wounded. Some Liberal Party candidates were seriously injured including Jovito Salonga, who nearly died and was visually impaired. Suspicion of responsibility for the blast initially fell upon Marcos, whom the Liberals blamed for the bombing; however, in later years, prominent personalities associated with the event have laid the blame on the Communist Party of the Philippines under José María Sison. In his autobiography, Salonga states his belief that Sison and the CPP were responsible. Based on interviews of The Washington Post with former Communist Party of the Philippines Officials, it was revealed that "the (Communist) party leadership planned -- and three operatives carried out -- the attack in an attempt to provoke government repression and push the country to the brink of revolution... (Communist Party Leader) Sison had calculated that Marcos could be provoked into cracking down on his opponents, thereby driving thousands of political activists into the underground, the former party officials said. Recruits were urgently needed, they said, to make use of a large influx of weapons and financial aid that China had already agreed to provide."

A month of "terrorist bombings" of public facilities in Manila and Quezon City culminated on September 22 with a staged assassination attempt on Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile.

Proclamation of Martial Law

Six hours after the alleged assassination attempt against Enrile and citing more than 15 bombing incidences, chaos, and lawlessness, Marcos issued Proclamation No. 1081, declaring and imposing martial law in the entire country. By declaring martial law, Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus and also the 1935 Constitution, dissolved Congress and padlocked the doors to the Batasang Pambansa, and assumed both legislative and executive powers. Proclamation No. 1081 was dated 21 September 1972, but it was actually signed on September 17. The formal announcement or promulgation of the proclamation was made only at seven-thirty in the evening of September 23, evidencing the plan to declare martial law even before the supposed ambush against Enrile. He had also commanded his military collaborators to start arresting his political opponents and close down all media and retail (fashion, food, religious, sports) establishments about twenty-two hours before the announcement.

The Proclamation read in part

My countrymen, as of the twenty-first of this month, I signed Proclamation № 1081 placing the entire Philippines under Martial Law...

— Ferdinand Marcos, September 21, 1972

The declaration of Martial Law was criticized as a planned precursor to extending Marcos' term in office, which under the 1935 Constitution is limited to two terms of four years each or a maximum of eight years Rigoberto Tiglao, former press secretary and a former communist incarcerated during the martial law, countered by arguing that the liberal and communist parties provoked martial law imposition.

1973 Martial Law Referendum

Martial law was ratified by 90.77% of the voters in the 1973 Philippine Martial Law referendum, though the referendum was marred with controversy. Primitivo Mijares, a Marcos detractor and author of the book Conjugal Dictatorship, alleged that there could not have been any valid referendum held from January 10 to 15, 1973 claiming the 35,000 citizen's assemblies never met and that voting was by show of hands. The 1935 Constitution was replaced with the 1972 Constitution after the new constitution was ratified by 95% of the voters in the 1973 Philippine constitutional plebiscite. The Supreme Court affirmed the ratification of the 1972 Constitution in the case of Javellana vs. Executive Secretary, where the majority of the justices noted that while the 1972 Constitution was improperly ratified because it did not follow the procedure in the 1935 Constitution, there was no stopping the reality that the 1972 Constitution was already in effect. This decision became the cornerstone of subsequent decisions whenever the validity of the 1973 Constitution was questioned.

Human rights abuses

Under martial law, there were widespread excesses and human rights abuses, even while the regime reduced violent urban crime, collected unregistered firearms, and suppressed communist insurgency in some areas; Liliosa Hilao was the first murder victim under Martial Law. There were over 70,000 filed cases of human rights abuses today from this period. Torture methods employed by the army on their victims were extremely inhumane, which included beating, rape, electrocution, animal treatment, and mutilation among others. Many private establishments particularly media companies critical of the government were closed, and the arrest of activists was made through the Philippine Constabulary; many of the abuses were attributed to the latter, which was then headed by future president Fidel Ramos. In total, there were 3,257 extrajudicial killings, 35,000 individual tortures, and 70,000 were incarcerated. Of the 3,257 killed, some 2,520, or 77 percent of all victims, were salvaged—that is, tortured, mutilated, and dumped on a roadside for public display. It is also reported that 737 Filipinos disappeared between 1975 and 1985. The Civilian Home Defense Force, a precursor of Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), was organized by President Marcos to battle with the communist and Islamic insurgency problem, has particularly been accused of notoriously inflicting human rights violations on leftists, the NPA, Muslim insurgents, and rebels against the Marcos government.

Although Marcos declared an official end to martial law on 17 January 1981, the human rights abuses persisted and continued until the end of Marcos' tenure as president following the 1986 EDSA Revolution. In a report by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on its mission to the Philippines from 31 December 1983 to 14 January 1984, various human rights abuses such as killing or "salvaging", arbitrary arrests, and widespread detention for political crimes, and torture were documented. These abuses had been given some form of legal color because many of the offenses for which political detainees had been incarcerated were made legal by Marcos in the form of Presidential Decrees after he assumed the power of the legislature to enact laws.

Apart from the continued increase in militarization despite the supposed end of martial law, the mission reported extensive extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of various individuals arrested by or taken by military or state security forces. This practice had been called "salvaging" to mean summary executions and extrajudicial killings of individuals last seen with state agents and found dead days later. In the first 9 months of 1983 alone, the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines had reported at least 191 cases of salvaging, a number that may have been grossly underestimated and underreported because of the lack of trained and willing documenters during the period. Arrests and detention were also widespread, often in relation to dissent from government policies that were taken as evidence of rebellion, subversion, and connection with the New People's Army. Among those arrested and detained were church workers, human rights activists, legal aid lawyers, labor leaders, and journalists. These detainees were often held for long periods of time without trial and released later on for insufficiency of evidence. Marcos' direct involvement with these arrests and detention cannot be denied as any person may be arrested on the basis of a personal order under a Presidential Commitment Order (PCO), and later on, Preventive Detention Action (PDA). It was judicially established that the issuance of a PCO, which justifies an arrest, was the exclusive prerogative of the President; that Marcos authorized many of the arrests is widely documented.

Moreover, many of the detainees were subjected to torture and inhumane treatment. Political prisoners of advanced age were denied or not given adequate access to medical treatment, contributing to the deterioration of their health. Prisoners were placed in small detention cells unfit for human living conditions, often shared with other detainees. Various forms of torture such as repeated physical beating, cigarette burning, genital mutilation, asphyxiation, and waterboarding became common reports of detainees. Some detainees were also taken to "safe houses" or unknown detention locations to prevent access by the families and lawyers.

"Hamletting" or the herding of rural residents into a special camp by military or state authorities was also common. Residents were uprooted from their homes and relocated to special grouping centers supposedly to keep them from the NPA. However, many farmers and residents who were forced to leave their homes claim that the true intent was to displace them from their land so that corporations or government officials may gain access and use of said lands. Although the government denied authorizing the hamletting through the issuance of the so-called Enrile Memorandum in March 1982, incidents of hamletting tripled by 1984. People who were displaced lost access to their livelihood and properties and had no access to adequate housing, safe drinking water, and sanitation in their places of relocation. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines opposed hamletting because it constituted a restriction on the freedom of movement and was a violation of the liberty of abode and freedom to travel. It also means deprivation of property without due process as the hamletting was implemented by force and often with the threat of bodily harm to the residents.

Although these abuses happened nationwide, they were particularly pervasive in Mindanao where about 60 percent of military force had been concentrated. Reportedly, military power was extensively deployed to Mindanao not just to quell the NPA and the Moro National Liberation Front but to facilitate the penetration of multi-national business concerns. Settlers and tribal groups have been evicted from their lands, and those who had legitimate grievances were suppressed by the military.

Arrests of the media and the opposition

After martial law was declared, critics of the government were arrested, led by then Senators Benigno Aquino Jr. and Ramon Diokno, and Manila journalists—Manila Times publisher Chino Roces and columnist, Max Soliven; Manila Chronicle publisher Eugenio Lopez Jr. and his editor Amando Doronila; Philippines Free publisher-editor Teodoro Locsín Sr. and his staff writer, Napoleon Rama; and Press Foundation of Asia joint executive Juan L. Mercado. Many of those who were arrested were later freed without charges, but Benigno Aquino Jr. was charged and convicted guilty along with his two co-accused, NPA leaders Bernabe Buscayno (Commander Dante) and Lt. Victor Corpuz, guilty for illegal possession of firearms, subversion, and murder, and was sentenced them to death by firing squad by a Military Court. The death sentence was never carried out by the Marcos government.

Controversy over Enrile Ambush

There was some controversy whether the ambush on Enrile was used as one of the justifications to declare Martial Law was staged. However, Enrile himself denied that it was staged in his memoir and defended the declaration of martial law:

Did I stage and fake my ambush to justify the declaration of martial law? I said, “No! I did not!”... There was no need for me to do that to justify the declaration of martial law. There was no need for other facts to justify the imposition of martial law. Proclamation No. 1081 of 21 September 1972, recited fully and faithfully all the facts that President Marcos needed and used to justify the declaration of martial law in the country. I drafted and prepared the documents that President Marcos used to declare martial law. I checked the facts contained in those documents. I had no doubt of their authenticity, veracity, and sufficiency to support and justify the declaration of martial law. Those facts were more than enough to justify the declaration of martial law.

— Juan Ponce Enrile, 2012

Enrile publicly stated on 22 February 1986, that the ambush had been faked. Fidel V. Ramos also stated in a 2012 book that "Enrile himself admitted that his reported ambush was a 'fake' and that his unoccupied car had been riddled with machine-gun bullets fired by his own men on the night Proclamation 1081 was signed." New York Times reporter Raymond Bonner wrote that "several American intelligence officers told me that the car attack was phony. 'Flimflam,' said one." Time correspondent Sandra Burton wrote, "Seasoned observers believed from the start that the attack had been staged. Years later, as he was in the midst of his own revolt from the Marcos regime, Enrile would confirm those suspicions." Oscar Lopez, a resident of the private subdivision where the incident occurred, narrated that on the night of the incident, his driver "happened to be bringing our car into our driveway at around that time, so he saw the whole thing. He told me that there was this car that came by and stopped beside a Meralco post. Some people started riddling it with bullets to make it look like it was ambushed. But nobody got killed or anything like that. My driver saw this. He was describing it to me." Marcos aide-turned-whistleblower Primitivo Mijares wrote in 1976 that on the night of the incident, Marcos told Enrile on the phone, "Make it look good. Kailangan siguro ay may masaktan o kung mayroon mapatay ay mas mabuti. [Maybe it would be better if someone got hurt or killed.] O, hala, sige, Johnny, and be sure the story catches the Big News or Newswatch and call me as soon as it is over."

The government captured NPA leaders Bernabe Buscayno in 1976 and Jose Maria Sison in 1977. The Washington Post in an interview with former Philippine Communist Party Officials revealed that "they (local communist party officials) wound up languishing in China for 10 years as unwilling "guests" of the (Chinese) government, feuding bitterly among themselves and with the party leadership in the Philippines".

Proclamation 2045

Martial law was lifted by President Marcos on 17 January 1981, through Proclamation 2045. and he continued to rule the country until 1986 when he went to exile after the People Power Revolution. However, Marcos retained virtually all of the executive powers he held as a dictator, through a combination of the 1972 constitution and the various decrees he had put in place before Martial Law, which all remained in effect.

Arroyo administration

On 4 December 2009, through Proclamation No. 1959, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo officially placed Maguindanao province under a state of martial law, thereby suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the step was taken in order to avert the escalation of "lawless" violence in the province and pave the way for the swift arrest of the suspects in the massacre. Following the declaration, authorities carried out a raid on a warehouse owned by Andal Ampatuan Jr. The raid resulted in the confiscation of more than 330,000 rounds of 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition, a Humvee, and an improvised armored vehicle. Twenty militiamen were arrested on the premises. Captain James Nicolas of Special Forces was able to retrieve more high-powered firearms and ammo after the incident. The state of martial law in Maguindanao was lifted on 13 December 2009.

Duterte administration

Proclamation Number 216 declaring martial law in Mindanao.

Amid the escalation of conflicts in Mindanao and recent clashes in Marawi City related to the Maute Group, incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao and its nearby islands under martial law at 10:00 p.m. (UTC+8) on 23 May 2017. This was announced during a briefing held in Moscow, where President Duterte was on an official visit, and will be in effect for 60 days. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the declaration was possible given the "existence of rebellion," while Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano explained that the step was taken with "the safety, the lives, and property of people of Mindanao" in mind. Implementation is to be under the 1987 Constitution, which provides for a maximum 60 day-state of martial law without congressional approval for an extension, the continuation of government functions, and the safeguard of individual freedoms. However, President Duterte insisted that it will not be any different from martial law under President Marcos.

While the declaration does not currently affect citizens and government units in Luzon or the Visayas, President Duterte suggested that he might extend martial law to the entire country if needed to "protect the people."

The imposition of martial rule has been generally peaceful in Davao City and other major cities in Mindanao, except Lanao del Sur and Lumad communities in the eastern and southern provinces.

Lumads, or the non-Muslim indigenous peoples of Mindanao, have been vocally against the imposition of martial rule due to the experience of martial law during the Marcos dictatorship. After 3 months since the imposition of martial rule, numerous human rights violations were recorded by independent human rights organizations. Among these violations caused by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police were the bombing of Lumad schools, the food blockade against Lumad communities which forced Lumads to go hungry and move away from their ancestral lands, the capturing of ancestral lands from indigenous Lumads, the killing of suspected Lumads who are reportedly part of the NPA despite no concrete investigation, the censorship of various media outlets in Lumad communities, and the killing of numerous Lumad leaders, which has led to a blow in Lumad morale. President Rodrigo Duterte himself voiced his approval on the bombing of Lumad schools through a public speech.

Reports also surfaced during and after the Battle of Marawi, stating that members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police stole jewelry.




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