Wednesday , April 25, 2018

Luczon: Supreme Court affirms martial law

THE petitioners, who elevated their protest against President Rodrigo Duterte's implementation of martial law in Mindanao, as response to the attacks of Maute terrorists in Marawi City a month ago, must have not argued enough before the Supreme Court.

This is because 11 magistrates in the highest court in the country favored the martial law (ML) declaration in Mindanao in a decision divulged on Tuesday, July 4.

Three Justices, were partly in favor of ML but it should be limited to Marawi City and nearby areas, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa prefered the limited scope; only Associate Justice Marvic Leonen opposed the constitutionality of ML.

This may deem a triumph for the majority of administration supporters, especially to those who are in Mindanao, but it may mean a long and tedious struggle for those who are against ML because they have experienced how it can potentially violate peoples' rights, bringing back the traumas of the Marcos years.

Now that the government was "cleared" from issues of ML, it is only fitting that the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense should focus more on eradicating these extremist terrorists, and to avoid further embarrassments, take intelligence reports with caution. There must be alternatives on offensives without the recourse on aerial strikes that further destroy private properties.

It is also important that civic and private organizations to monitor activities of the government especially on conflict zones and evacuation areas to ensure that human dignity are preserved. You might find this as a stretch, but you can never know what will happen instantly on the field.

On a side note, as we move forward to the days of July, the declaration of ML may expire as the president only set it to 60 days, and it may be extended given the severity of the conflict. But whether there is an ML or not, everyone should do their part in preventing this conflict to happen again.

Martial Law should not be the basis of government's efficiency, a Code Red should be enough to mobilize forces and strictly implement checkpoints and verification of suspected identities. And again, due process should be observed.

We can only hope that the conflict in Marawi City will not consume the remaining year that can affect the economy in Mindanao in the long run. It was good enough that some investors still continue their fostering their business interests in the island despite the ongoing conflict.

In time, history will remind us what we did to this event. We will be asked be how much effort we contributed, and what were our stand amidst the political divide that made the issue on extremism in the country more complicated. We will be asked. We should know how to answer it in the future.