The Philippines, which has been wracked by years of violent conflict since the declaration of martial law, is set to declare its independence on Thursday, just hours before President Rodrigo Duterte is set for a speech.
It is not a time to be taken lightly.
“We must go to the streets to demand our sovereignty back,” said Maria Yala, a 29-year-old construction worker who was detained in her home city of Barangay Guntang in Bataan province and released on Tuesday.
“For us to be freed from martial law would mean the end of the war, which is what we are trying to avoid.”
The military launched a three-month campaign against the country’s communist rebels in 2016, following a bloody campaign in the south-east in 2016-17, when the army seized power and brought down President Benigno Aquino’s government.
More than 3,000 people have been killed since the war began in the late 1990s.
About 3,200 people have died during the conflict.
A series of reports released in March 2017 showed the military was responsible for more than 4,800 deaths, with more than 1,200 civilian deaths, mostly civilians.
Many Filipinos are still struggling to come to terms with the killings.
“This is the most violent war we have ever seen in our history, especially in this country, where there is a lot of hatred,” said Luis Alberto Rangel, a professor of Philippine history at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in the capital, Caracas.
“People have suffered and the war is not over.
People are still dying, they are still going through trauma, they have to be careful because they are dying in our streets.”
The declaration is being widely expected to lead to further instability, as the military tries to reclaim control over the country, which was once a former British colony but has been in a state of martial rule since dictator Ferdinand Marcos fled to the United States in 1972.
Duterte has previously threatened to go to war if the military does not agree to his demands.
“If we do not accept the surrender, then we will go to a war,” he said in a speech in April.
“But, if they do not, I will declare martial rule.
That will be the end, that is the truth.”
Duterte has promised to use military force if the country is attacked again, and he has repeatedly threatened to attack Manila, the Philippines’ third-biggest city, with a “super-power” in a war with China.
He has called for martial law to be imposed on the country if it does not comply.
The government says it is not considering any armed response, but it has been clear since the first anniversary of the declaration that the war will not end.
In the past week, the military has taken over more than 90 per cent of the island of Mindanao, which stretches between the Philippines and China.
Some of the islands have been reclaimed and are now considered part of the Philippines.
The country is struggling to maintain power after years of falling crime and poverty.
“Our economy has shrunk and we are going through an economic crisis,” said Antonio “Hindi” Santos, a resident of Manila who was on his way to the airport on Tuesday when he was detained by the military.
“My son was shot and killed.
My son was kidnapped.
My father is now dead.”
The Philippines has a large military base on Mindanaon, where the Philippines is a member of the United Nations Security Council.
In March, the United Nation said that the military had committed human rights violations, including the use of excessive force and torture.
In a report published on Tuesday, the UN Commission of Inquiry into Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions in the Philippines called on the government to “immediately and unconditionally release” all detainees.
“The Commission also urges the Philippine government to urgently address human rights abuses, including unlawful killings, unlawful detention and other violations of the rights to life, liberty, security of person, and association, as well as the deprivation of liberty,” the report said.
The commission said the government had failed to act on a series of recommendations, including on the treatment of detainees, and said there was a lack of transparency and accountability in the country.
The report also criticised the government for failing to address the issue of the death penalty, saying that it has not been used in the past decade, and it “should not be used again”.
“The death penalty remains a source of fear, especially for vulnerable people,” said Nino Vargas, the chair of the commission.
“That is why we call on the Philippine authorities to immediately release all of the people in custody, and to take immediate and full steps to