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Martial law stays â AFP

Marines celebrate with a Philippine flag on top of an armored vehicle at the battle area of Bangolo in Marawi. AFP

Martial law stays – AFP

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - October 17, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — Martial law will remain in some parts of Mindanao despite the killing of Marawi siege leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute as the military still has to address the “greater threat” of more violence from what it called a network of extremists.

Armed Forces spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla did not specify which part of Mindanao would remain under martial law but stressed threats from terror networks persist.

“We would like to assure the public that we all look forward to the return to normalcy of every part of Mindanao,” Padilla said yesterday.

“But there is a greater threat here that needs to be addressed and the need for the maintenance of martial law in some parts is really important because of the network, the existence of the network, of all these terrorist groups,” he said.

President Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law on May 23 after Maute terrorists laid Marawi City under siege, held dozens of civilians hostage and burned several buildings.

The government responded by sending troops and launching aerial bombardment.

Officials claimed that the militants who occupied Marawi conspired with drug lords and narco politicians to stage a rebellion against the government.

More than a thousand terrorists, government troops and civilians have died since the outbreak of fighting in May.

Critics have expressed concern that military rule could pave the way for abuses and suppression of civil liberties.

Padilla said maintaining martial law would allow government forces to quickly deal with threats from about 30 extremists still holed up in Marawi.

“It is something that we need to do in order to address quickly and adequately those threats that are looming in the horizon or in the environment that may result to the harm of innocents like what happened in Marawi,” the military spokesman said.

But Padilla said it would be up to the President to decide whether to lift military rule in the island.

“From the side of the military, although this is a political decision, we will make appropriate recommendations,” he said.

Padilla stressed that law-abiding citizens should have nothing to fear about military rule. He said the government would consider the views of stakeholders in making decisions on martial law.

“What we want to convey to the public and for them to understand is that there will be a consultation. The President will allow the Armed Forces and other security agencies to air their side and to make recommendations, appropriate recommendations,” Padilla said. 

For Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, Mindanao should remain under martial law at least until the security situation has stabilized and the rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City have gone on full throttle.

“Martial law shouldn’t be lifted yet in Mindanao, government troops have to continue clearing operations and make sure all the terrorists are arrested or neutralized,” Ejercito said.

He said the people in Mindanao are “happy” with the imposition of martial law since it has prevented warlords and private armies from moving around with their firearms.

“This might be good in the long run to further improve peace and order situation and Mindanao and bring about the needed economic development,” Ejercito said.

But for the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), there is no more justification for martial law in Mindanao with the death of Hapilon and Maute and with Duterte’s own declaration that Marawi has been liberated.

Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes also said that a “Marawi Truth Commission” should be formed to investigate what really started the conflict.

Reyes said there is a need to probe who were behind the armed attacks, who were those killed in the fighting and if there were external forces at work.

“The regime must also compensate all displaced civilians whose properties and livelihood were destroyed by the daily bombing runs of the military,” he added.

Bayan said the government is ultimately responsible for the widespread devastation and displacement.

“More than 400,000 were forcibly displaced in nearly five months of fighting. Even if the war ends, the civilians will not be allowed to return to their communities at once.” Reyes said Marawi will continue to haunt the administration for years to come.  – Paolo Romero, Rhodina Villanueva

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