Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte with troops in Marawi.
PHOTO BY ARCHIVE
DUBAI – The Philippine Congress on Wednesday (December 12) approved President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2019.
The vote marks the third extension since Duterte first imposed martial law in Mindanao in May 2017 after militants seized Marawi.
Security forces were able to liberate Marawi in October 2017, but Duterte said rebellion in the region justified a further extension of military rule in the war-torn area.
“Notwithstanding the substantial gains achieved during the martial law period, we cannot turn a blind eye to the reality that Mindanao is in the midst of rebellion,” Duterte wrote to Congress.
His spokesman and the military said that rights and civil liberties would be preserved under martial law, which they said is only intended to quell rebellion in Mindanao.
Earlier this month, Duterte said the government has made significant progress in quelling local terrorists in Mindanao, but added that “rebellion still persists in Mindanao and public safety requires the continuation of martial law in the whole of Mindanao.”
Human rights groups and some lawmakers have opposed the move, but officials in Mindanao have supported the extension of martial law there.
“Security forces were able to maintain peace and order without violating the freedom and rights of our civilians,” said Lanao del Sur Representative Ansaruddin Abdul Malik Adiong.
Compostela Valley Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy noted that since martial law was declared in Mindanao last year, crime rate has gone down in the province while it encouraged the surrender of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.
The stable peace and order situation, Uy said, has created a climate conducive for business and investments.
“We attributed this success to enhanced security measures implemented due to martial law declaration,” Uy said in a statement released by the Provincial Information Office.
“Keeping peace is not an easy business. It requires no less than the unity of vision and coherence in every action,” Uy added.
Davao del Norte Representative Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr. said he fully supports the extension of martial law in Mindanao, saying it has helped put a stop to “the proliferation of lawless elements” on the island.
“It is high time, an opportunity, for our security forces, local government units and the people to unite and stop the plague of terrorism from spreading like wildfire,” Floirendo said.
According to Floirendo, martial law would ensure the growth of the communities including industries, especially that the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program is making headway in Mindanao.
He said martial law will generate “infrastructure projects in the provinces like roads, bridges, seaports and a train system, not to mention the rehabilitation of Marawi City.”
In an earlier statement, Davao Occidental Governor Claude Bautista said an extension of martial in Mindanao was a positive move for the government to keep track of bad elements “who are just lying low, waiting for the right timing to make another strike.”
Bautista said martial law resulted in the remarkable decline in recorded crimes in the province, including drug-related cases.
“With the continued implementation of martial law, peace and development will be sustained for the coming years not only in my province but also the rest of the provinces in Mindanao,” Bautista said. ICA/PNA/Expat Media
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