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Martial law a psychological operation vs Filipinos, solon says

In this Sept. 21, 2016 file photo, demonstrators warn government against declaring martial law on the anniversary of its declaration. A recent Pulse Asia survey noted that the opinion of 74 percent of Filipinos against the reimposition of martial law is shared in all geographic areas, socioeconomic classes, age groupings and among both men and women. AP/Bullit Marquez, file

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker on Wednesday said the government’s move to declare martial law is a psychological operation against the Filipino people.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said his party opposes President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year for it disregards the public’s dissent.

“It's a psychological operation against our people instead of sa usapin ng public safety,” Zarate said at the Congress joint session on Wednesday.

Zarate explained that the government’s statement that Mindanao residents welcome the extension of martial law is not true for residents of Marawi and Lanao del Sur and Lumads, whose community were displaced during the implementation of martial law.

READ: Child rights group: Troops harassing Lumad school teachers, volunteers

On Wednesday, majority of members of Congress granted Duterte’s request to extend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao until Dec. 31, 2018. The Senate voted 14-4 while the House voted 226-23 in favor of the extension.

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Zarate was among those who voted against the extension.

In explaining his vote, Zarate said his party believes martial law is not a solution to quell terrorist. He cited that it does not only disregards social dissent.

“Inuulit lamang ni Pangulong Duterte ang malagim at maling solusyong militar ng Marcos,” Zarate said.

READ: Congress approves one-year martial law extension in Mindanao

For Zarate, martial law is the real “recruiter” of the New People’s Army and Moro rebels since they flourished upon its declaration.

Duterte earlier said the martial law was meant to neutralize the local terror group and contain violence in Mindanao.

READ: Expert: Military offensives vs Maute can fuel recruitment

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