DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A few days before Congress goes on a recess, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said they have “enough time” to decide on the extension of Martial law in Mindanao.
“I have not received the official request from Malacañan yet, but they said they will send it to us by Monday and there is still enough time,” Alvarez told reporters in an interview after during the launching of Biyaya ng Pagbabago program here Saturday, December 9.
Alvarez also reiterated his statement that he wants Martial Law to be implemented until the President’s term in 2022.
“As a Mindanaoan I always say that if it is possible we can have Martial Law here until 2022,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire island of Mindanao under Martial law on May 23 after the Islamic State-linked Maute group attacked Marawi City. In a special joint session in July, the Congress granted Duterte’s request to extend the 60-day period until the end of 2017.
Although Duterte has declared Marawi free from terrorist influence in October, Alvarez said he finds a “justifiable reason” to approve the request to extend it to one more year.
“There is a continuing threat of terrorism here in Mindanao. We cannot deny that,” Alvarez said.
In earlier reports, Duterte was clear on saying that the Palace’s recommendation to extend Martial law or not will depend upon the reports and assessment of the military.
Alvarez’ statement re-echoed the position of the military and the police which both recommended the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao.
Major General Restituto Padilla, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said terrorist organizations “remain to be a threat” in Mindanao.
“Although they have significantly been degraded in terms of capability and manpower, those who survived that siege still remain at large and are attempting to recover by recruiting other members of the society, particularly the vulnerable sector of our population, and they are students, children, women and the like, as well as relatives of those who lost their lives in the fight,” Padilla said during the Bangon Marawi Press Briefing on December 8.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna representative Carlos Isagani Zarate condemned the government forces’ proposal to extend Martial Law (ML), pointing that it will just lead to more human rights violation.
“Again, ML extension means a spike in human rights violations in the island. As of now numerous extra-judicial killings, forced evacuations, massacres and food blockades are happening in numerous provinces in Mindanao,” Zarate said.
“We said it before and we will say it again and again: there is no basis for extending martial rule in Mindanao; it only caused hardships and sufferings to our people,” he added.
Zarate also maintained that the proposed extension can open windows for graft and corruption as it may be “used to short-circuit and do away with the rules on bidding and procurement processes” needed in the rehabilitation of Marawi.
“Concerned citizens from all over the country and even abroad should band together and heighten our call to immediately lift Martial Rule in Mindanao. We must also be vigilant against attacks against activists, media and critics of the government as well as the red tagging of progressive lawmakers because this may be the prelude for a nationwide martial rule,” he said. (davaotoday.com)