Garbed mostly in black, militants marched and brought their rally to the gates of Malacañan Palace, brandishing black placards articulating their sentiments against the imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao.
They were stopped by barricades and barbed wires, and it was all they could do to respond by tying black ribbons of protest.
Going by the prescribed term of a martial law proclamation, they said it has to end after 31 days.
Under the 1987 Constitution, martial law is allowed for only 60 days, but for many, the damage incurred has already gone more than far enough.
For Diamond and Uztad, both from Marawi, the military air strikes should be stopped, because the conflict, instead of defeating the jihadist extremists, has ironically decimated substantial property, infrastructure, and, worse, taken a huge toll in non-combatant, innocent civilian lives caught in the crossfire.
What’s more, accusations have recently surfaced, though firmly denied by the military, of soldiers threatening women they would rape them if they don’t pack up and evacuate.
Gabriela partylist Representative Arlene Brosas thinks this may partly be fueled by pronouncements earlier made by President Rodrigo Duterte to soldiers when he apparently tried to humor them by saying he would take the heat for them if they happen to be accused of rape in the course of implementing martial law.
But the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) maintained that it was the Commission on Human Rights itself that has indicated it has not encountered any report or complaint of military abuse.
Brig. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, martial law spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said: “We’d like to assure the public that we shall continue to work for the safety and security of everyone, as mandated to us, with utmost respect to human rights and the rule of law.”