We had a three-day holiday out here in the UAE starting last Thursday, November 30.
I made use of the holiday to summit Jebel Jais, the tallest peak of the UAE. My team and I summited it passing through Wadi Lativah. Based on my companion’s watch, the peak stood at 1,350 meters above sea level, other websites however would show that the mountain stands at 1,050 MASL. Either way, the mountain isn’t really that tall, but the hike to the top was arduous. Given that the mountain is in the desert, it is expected that it is bare and extremely dry.
I practically had no sleep, I came home from a Christmas party (yes, we celebrated early!) around two in the morning, I had to pass by a 24 hour grocery to get my supplies for the hike and when I got home, I had to spend another half an hour packing my bag. I did get a little shut-eye during the two hour drive to Ras Al Khaimah but, that was all I had.
Our group was composed of five people. Four of us were Filipinos and the other one was South African. We had a lot of fun, it was a small group but our respective temperaments and age gap helped a lot in creating a fun atmosphere. Our humors were all in sync, most of the time.
Before I go on, let me just say that we all parted ways as really good friends, we even talked about hiking again in the next few months. On our way down after we summited the mountain, two of the women in the group talked about our beloved country and its president.
Now, when it comes to Politics, I know too well that if I ever open my mouth, I could get very passionate and things could heat up. I have already shunned way too many people just because their views are against mine, I didn’t want to shun my companions, they were nice people, it is just unfortunate that they think Duterte’s drug war is necessary. Anyhow, I didn’t speak up.
Silently, I trudged on the trail, listening to their discussion. The lady from Cagayan de Oro said that when she came home last June, there were checkpoints everywhere and though it did inconvenienced her, it actually made their place more peaceful. She mentioned that at 8pm, anyone seen out on the streets will be taken to the police station and will spend the night there. If caught for the second time, the said person will have to do community work.
The lady from CDO saw the benefit of Martial Law as she has a teenaged brother who’s a bit rebellious but with Martial Law in Mindanao, her parents didn’t have trouble making him stay home for he was scared of being dragged to the police station.
The other lady she was discussing this with, the one from Bulacan, liked what she heard and praised the Duterte government. In the middle of gasping for her breath as walking while talking could make one lose his/her breath, she said that she wishes there would be Martial Law not only in Mindanao but all over the nation. “Duterte is doing so well, if only he could do the same to the rest of the nation, the country would really benefit a lot, but then a lot of people are against him,” she said in Filipino.
To which the lady from CDO replied, and let me say write this in verbatim so you would really understand her point, “Ang mga nagagalit lang naman sa kanya ay yung mga naapektuhan [those with shabu business], mga naaapakan [ng drug war] niya.”
The lady from Bulacan asked if it is true that Duterte is having some people killed. “I don’t believe that, for sure the people who are having those people murdered are enemies of Duterte [Dilawans] so that Duterte will get the blame,” the lady from CDO said with an almost contagious conviction.
In the middle of rocky terrains, while trudging on dried wadis, I had to stop and ask myself, how many more have the same line of thinking as those two ladies. How many have the same beliefs? How many would sound just as certain when they talk about the Duterte administration’s “fine work”? And how many of them actually vote every election?
Those two ladies were very amiable people. We had so much fun all throughout the hike and one of them even slept in my tent because she didn’t bring hers. But they have very unenlightened views.
Yes, Martial Law may be in the constitution. The president could declare it during a national emergency but for a citizen of this country to wish there’d be Martial Law all over the land only shows she hasn’t been reading much, let alone thinking enough.
I didn’t anymore jump into the conversation, but I am certain there are a number of people out there whose beliefs are the same as those two ladies I hiked with.
Martial Law can be declared, there is a provision in our constitution that allows its declaration. But when Martial Law becomes an avenue for military men to violate the rights of the people, there must be opposition, it’s not something to be tolerated or keep mum about.
Last May, when Duterte first declared Martial Law in Mindanao to allay the Maute terrorism in Marawi, Human Rights groups stated that there were plenty of unreported Human Rights Violations in Mindanao especially against the Moros. From a news report, they cited “cases of local fishermen being accused by the Coast Guard of piracy; Moro rights advocates being accused of coddling terrorism; “automatic” suspicion against Moros at checkpoints, especially those without IDs; not being allowed to retrieve or bury their dead in Marawi; Muslim religious leaders not being allowed to go around areas; and farmers caught in land conflicts having to lie low in fear of facing rebellion charges if they press their ownership rights” as among these violations”. The same news report stated that these Moros’ first question when they are asked if they are willing to speak up is “Can you protect me?” Something that implies just how much they fear for their lives.
Suffice to say, Martial Law during the Duterte administration was accompanied by Human Rights Violations. This was only in Mindanao, what more had it been declared in the entire nation?
In a nation where leaders and soldiers are generally upright, perhaps Martial Law would be a good thing.
But our president and many of our soldiers are far from upright, reason why Martial Law in the Philippines, is NEVER a good thing./WDJ