CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Political and civil society leaders on Tuesday have supported the decision of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte not to extend martial law in Mindanao.
Drieza Lininding, chairman of the Moro Consensus Group, said that Duterte’s move, although long overdue, is a welcome development.
“We’ve been consistent in our appeals in the past that [martial law] is not necessary in the fight against extremist groups,” he said.
Lininding’s family is among the survivors of the siege in Marawi City in 2017, which supposedly became the basis for Duterte to put the entire island under the martial rule.
Since the conflict that destroyed parts of Marawi started, Lininding has been one of the most vocal critics against the government’s policies on the city’s rehabilitation efforts.
He added that with the imposition of martial law, the residents of Marawi are like living in internment camps where people are forced to obey even if it is against their will.
“We hope that non-extension comes with lifting of curfews imposed in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur to ensure freedom of movement and maximize it for economic recovery,” Lininding said.
City Mayor Oscar Moreno, for his part, said the President’s pronouncement “reflects the Administration’s confidence in the military’s preparedness.”
“As far as the insurgency is concerned, the [Duterte administration’s] whole-of-nation approach under [Executive Order 70] is well in place and is achieving substantial gains in addressing the root causes of the insurgency,” Moreno, who is also the Regional Peace and Order Council chairman for Northern Mindanao, said.
Moreno added that the declaration of martial law was meant as “preemptive move” on the part of the government.
“To ensure that security is still in place without martial law, we urge the national government agencies and local government units strengthen their peace and order councils,” he said.
“It was meant to clearly convey the signal to those who would resort to extremism that the Government would not hesitate to immediately use the military to suppress their extremist agenda,” the mayor added.
Meanwhile, Rufus Rodriguez, Cagayan de Oro’s 2nd District Representative, said he strongly supports Duterte’s decision not to seek the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“Martial law discourages investment by both foreign and domestic investors in Mindanao preventing more employment of our people in Mindanao and stunting the economic growth [in the island],” he said.
On the security side, Rodriguez said the Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police have evaluated the peace and order situation in Mindanao, “and they see no more need of martial law.”
“Our courts are open and functioning to issue warrants of arrest and search warrants against those involved in terrorism and rebellion. The non-extension of martial law will give normalcy and stability in our beloved island of Mindanao. We thank President Duterte for this wise decision,” the lawmaker said.
Salvador Panelo, Presidential spokesperson, said Duterte’s decision was based on the assessment of his security and defense advisers of the “weakening of the terrorist and extremist rebellion” and other factors.
The extension of the martial rule is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2019. (davaotoday.com)