Palace to martial law critics: File cases in court

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Palace to martial law critics: File cases in court

Personnel of the Cotabato City police office screen motorists at a checkpoint into the city from Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao. JOHN UNSON, file

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Sunday dared critics of the extension of martial law in Mindanao to file cases if they think military rule has resulted in human rights violations. 

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of government forces to prolong martial law in Mindanao, claiming it is needed to address a supposed state of rebellion plaguing the island. 

Officials have warned that lifting martial law would allow the rebellion to spread in other parts of the country and would frustrate the "progress" achieved in addressing the problem. 

Some senators have opposed the extension, saying there is no basis for doing so. Human rights group Movement Against Tyranny-Northern Mindanao is also against the extension, claiming there has been a marked increase of human rights violations since the island was placed under martial law.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said groups opposed to martial law should bring their concerns about alleged human rights violations to court. 

READ: How martial law is being implemented in Mindanao's cities

'File cases in case of abuses'

"The president wants cases filed if there are abuses. He does not allow abuse of power. Those who were given powers should use it to protect our countrymen. They should just implement the law," Panelo said in a radio interview. 

Panelo stressed that Duterte's promise to protect police officers does not cover illegal acts like murder and abusive practices. He cited as an example Duterte's refusal to pardon the policemen who were convicted for the murder of teenager Kian delos Santos.

"With respect to the alleged violation (of human rights), I haven't heard about anyone filing cases for violation of human rights with respect to our troops. Otherwise, we would have read about it in the newspapers," Panelo added. 

READ: Solons seek House probe into 'massacre' of 7 Tausug men

Panelo said Congress would have the final say on whether the martial law in Mindanao would be extended. 

The constitution allows the president to impose martial law for up to 60 days but it can be prolonged by Congress “if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.” 

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017 after Islamic State-linked terrorists laid siege to Marawi. Close to 1,000 terrorists and more than 160 soldiers were killed during the siege, the longest urban war in the country since World War II.

Congress, which is dominated by the president's allies, has approved the extension of military rule in Mindanao twice. The first extension lasted until Dec. 31, 2017 while the second one will lapse at the end of the year.



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