Duterte: No martial law extension in Mindanao

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Duterte: No martial law extension in Mindanao
“The Office of the President wishes to announce that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is not extending martial law. It will expire on Dec. 31, 2019,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday.
PCOO / Released

MANILA, Philippines — Martial law in Mindanao will no longer be extended when it expires at the end of this year.

“The Office of the President wishes to announce that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is not extending martial law. It will expire on Dec. 31, 2019,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday.

Panelo said the President’s decision is based on the assessment of security forces and defense officials that terrorists and extremist rebellion in Mindanao have weakened with the neutralization of their leaders and the surrender of their members.

He said the crime rate in the region also dropped due to intensified military and police presence.

Panelo assured Mindanaoans that “any insipient major threat... will be nipped in the bud even without martial law.” 

“Contrary to the suppositions of the vocal minority on the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao, this decision of the President shows how he responds to the situation on the ground,” he said. 

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had earlier recommended the lifting of martial law in Mindanao, citing the assessment of security officials.

Philippine National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said the steady decline in the crime index in Mindanao  in the past two years validates PNP data that security measures and the campaign against crime and terrorism are yielding positive results.

‘Wise, compassionate move’

Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. said the decision of the President was “wise and compassionate.”

“But I ask the President to please wipe out warlords, private armies and pockets of terrorist elements hiding in some corners in Mindanao,” Garbin said.  

Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman appealed to Malacañang not to allow the more than P4 billion in unreleased funds for the rehabilitation of Marawi to expire and revert to the national coffers, calling it  a great travesty of justice. 

“We are appealing on behalf of Marawi, of Maranaos and its people to preserve more than P4 billion in funds intended for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the city. Now, more than ever,  rehabilitation efforts in Marawi is under a rigorous lens of scrutiny because of delays in the past,” Hataman said.

Aida Brillante, Federation of Free Workers vice president for Mindanao, welcomed the President’s decision, saying it would boost investments and create more jobs in the region.

‘Cheap, brazen blackmail’

Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Eufemia Cullamat expressed reservation on the decision not to extend martial law, saying it could be in exchange for the approval of the bill amending the Human Security Act.

“If so, this is nothing but a cheap, brazen and fascist blackmail that will dangerously put in place a de facto martial rule all over the country,” Zarate said.

Cullamat warned the public on the repercussions of the proposed measure, which she said would allow illegal arrests.

“This is not the answer to rebellion and terrorism. The government should instead address the root cause of armed conflict,” she said.  

Martial law in Mindanao was declared in May 2017 after Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists attacked Marawi in March of the same year. It was extended initially up to December 2017.

Congress approved the request of the President in December 2017 to extend martial law for one year.

The Chief Executive sought an extension for another year in December 2018. – With Edu Punay, Delon Porcalla, Emmanuel Tupas, Sheila Crisostomo

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