EDITORIAL - Martial law as the norm

EDITORIAL - Martial law as the norm

(The Philippine Star) - November 14, 2019 - 12:00am

The administrator himself of martial law has spoken: he sees no need for yet another extension of military rule in Mindanao. Over two years of martial law throughout Mindanao is already too long, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

The Philippine National Police, which supports the Armed Forces of the Philippines in operations against terrorists and insurgents, backed Lorenzana’s pronouncement. Last August, the Davao city council passed a resolution calling for the lifting of martial law in President Duterte’s home city where his daughter is mayor.

Martial law was declared initially in Marawi after Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists launched an attack on the city in May 2017. Congress went along with the declaration and twice approved its extension all over Mindanao for an entire year. There are no indications that the Maute network has since been rebuilt.

It has been called a smiling martial law – nothing like the one associated with the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. A new terrorist threat has since emerged in Mindanao: the suicide bomber, with the jihadis mostly foreigners. Government forces, however, have battled foreign terrorists in the past, with no need to place any part of the country under martial law. 

No matter how benign the brand of martial law, it is still considered an extraordinary, ultimate response to a security threat by a state under siege. It still conveys the impression, particularly to the international community, of lawlessness spinning out of control. It can cause investment and travel plans for Mindanao to be put on hold.

By most indications, the Maute threat – the original reason for the declaration of martial law – has been contained. Martial law anywhere in the country cannot be the norm. It’s time for the executive to consider the recommendation of the martial law administrator.

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