DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Even as the Armed Forces of the Philippines mulls to lift Martial Law in Mindanao or not, senatorial bet and former Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Neri Colmenares raised the issue why it remains implemented.
Colmenares, who recently visited Davao City said, the Duterte administration does not need to implement martial law in Mindanao to suppress existing terrorism in the island in the first place, noting that government troops have a history of success combatting terrorism even without Martial Law such as the Zamboanga siege in 2013 under the Aquino administration.
Last October 26, AFP General Carlito Galvez Jr. said in an interview that they are still assessing the continuing threat of terrorism in Mindanao and “would work with the governors and mayors to get their prepossessions on their take on Martial Law.”
When asked why they still need to assess, General Galvez said there are still ongoing operations in “Mindanao’s conflict areas”. He added that aside from the existing terrorism, there are new considerations including “major activities such as the ouster and aklasan campaign” against the administration.
The authorities are also looking into the “different Oplan of the Communist Party in Mindanao”, said Galvez.
But Colmenares, who is a human rights lawyer, said that the continuing implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao is just a “ploy of the military” to “knock down the widespread opposition against government’s anti-people policies”.
“Martial Law in Mindanao is a ploy to squash dissent and not really against terrorism. The military does not need Martial Law to end terrorism ”, Colmenares added.
In the findings of the 2018 Conflict Alert report for Asia of the International Alert Philippines, it was pointed out that the Duterte administration’s heavy security approach will not be enough to address violent conflicts and actually had effects on flashpoints outside of Marawi, the city that was under siege for 5 months by members of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.
While human rights group Karapatan also said that despite the imposition of Martial Law, acts of terrorism continued in parts of Mindanao, alluding to the recent bombing incidents in North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Jolo provinces.
The declaration has been extended twice with, the second extension to end on December 31 this year.(davaotoday.com)