Duterte cites ongoing rebellion in bid to extend Mindanao martial law
President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his speech during the closing ceremony of the Motorcycle Riding Course (MCRC) Class 05, 06, 07-2018 R11 and Motorcycle Riding Safety Training (MRST) Class 03-2018 at the Rancho Palos Verdes in Davao City on December 7, 2018.
Presidential Photo/Arman Baylon

Duterte cites ongoing rebellion in bid to extend Mindanao martial law

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - December 10, 2018 - 4:24pm

MANILA, Philippines — Security assessment by the police and military indicate that rebellion still persists in Mindanao, hence the need for the extension of martial law in the entire region, President Rodrigo Duterte told Congress.

In a letter submitted to the Senate and the House of Representatives, the president asked both chambers to further extend the proclamation of martial law until Dec. 31, 2019.

"A further extension of the implementation of Martial Law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao will enable the AFP, the PNP, and all other law enforcement agencies to finally put an end to the ongoing rebellion in Mindanao and continue to prevent the same from escalating in other parts of the country," the president said in his letter.

RELATED: House to approve martial law extension; Senate divided

The president noted that the Abu Sayyaf Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Daulah Islamiyah (DI) and other terrorist groups continue to perpetrate hostile activities in the region.

In its report, the militarysaid there were at least four bombings in Lamitan City, Basilan; Isulan, Sultan Kudarat and General Santos City in the past year.

"The DI forces continue to pursue their rebellion against the government by furthering the conduct of their radicalization activities, and continuing to recurit new members, especially in vulnerable Muslim communities," Duterte said.

The president also mentioned communist groups, which have supposedly publicly declared their intention to seize political power through violence.

Abu Sayyaf factions in Sulu also continue to pursie kidnap for ransom activities, according to the letter submitted to Congress.

"The foregoing merely illustratres in general terms the continuing rebellion in Mindanao. I will be submitting a more detailed report in the subsisting rebellion in the next few days," the president said.

Martial law achievements

Despite the supposed persistence of rebellion in Mindanao, the martial law period has ushered in substantial economic gains in the region, based on a joint security report from the military and the police.

Duterte listed achievements in the martial law period including the neutralization of local terror groups, guerilla fronts, surrender of loose firearms, among others.

These have resulted to gains in peace and order and "have resulted in remarkable economic gains in Mindanao," according to the government.

"In fact, private sectors, local and regional peace and order councils, and local government units in Mindanao are now also clamoring for a further extension of the subject proclamation and suspension," Duterte said.

Under the 1987 Constitution, both the House of Representatives and the Senate are mandated to jointly vote to affirm or revoke the extension of the proclamation.

Local support

In November, Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, said he was inclined to recommend extension after consultations with local government units in Mindanao. 

He said that based on the assessment of the military's Eastern Mindanao Command, "the LGUs are recommending for the extension because they saw the impact has been very positive in terms of tourism, investments."

He said the militarys was"shown the sentiments of the different provincial governors and majority said they wanted martial law stay in the whole of Mindanao."

Business groups and chambers of commerce were quick to welcome the declaration of martial law in 2017, saying the checkpoints and curfews would lead to a better environment for commerce and investment.

The experience of martial law has not been the same across Mindanao, the Philippines' second-largest island after Luzon, although measures like curfews and "No ID, No Entry" policies are common.

Konsensya Dabaw: Why extend martial law again?

Human rights advocacy group Konsyensya Dabaw on Monday questioned the Palace's request for another extension of martial law.

It said that the government itself has made statements that it said cast doubt on the existence of a rebellion in Mindanao.

"The president himself declared Marawi City liberated on October 17, 2017. The security sector has been systematically conducting operations against the Dawlah Islamiyyah/Maute, which was already pronounced 'leaderless', and other violent extremist groups. Meanwhile, responses to reported human rights violations in relation to the Marawi crisis have not been adequate," the group said.

It also pointed out that the military has been highlighting the surrenders of thousands of New People's Army guerrillas.

"Either the AFP already wiped out all of the NPAs in Mindanao; or if the NPA has not yet been contained, then most of the claimed 10,000 surrenderees are, in all likelihood, civilians," it also said.

"If the NPA has been significantly weakened in Mindanao, what need is there for an extension? On the other hand, if most of those who surrendered under questionable circumstances are civilians, who is it that truly benefits from the protection supposedly afforded by martial law?"

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