PROLONGING the military rule in Mindanao for another year may not be needed as there is no more actual rebellion to suppress by the government, a respected lawyer here said Friday, December 15.
Lawyer Eddie Cuaresma said martial law may not be the solution to respond to potential threats to public security and safety since the president can, at any time, 'call out' the armed forces to suppress threats.
"Martial law is not the only remedy. The president can call out the military, being the commander in chief, to repel potential threats. The President is not powerless,” Cuaresma said.
Cuaresma is the president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Misamis Oriental (IBP-MisOr) but clarified he is not speaking in behalf of the organization as the lawyers’ group has yet to issue an official statement on the matter.
Cuaresma said the IBP-MisOr supported the declaration of martial law after the extremist Maute-ISIS terrorists laid siege in Marawi City as there was a clear basis to declare martial law.
But this time, he said there has been questions on the constitutionality of the extension because there is no more actual rebellion or invasion.
"What's there to suppress when it was already suppressed," Cuaresma asked.
"Kung masang-at ni sa Supreme Court gwapo ni nga argument ug first time nga mag-ruling ang Supreme Court ani (It would be good if this goes to the Supreme Court as this would be a first),”Cuaresma added.
The IBP-MisOr president said he is aware and understands that those who oppose martial law fear that human rights violations and abuses may escalate.
He said the allegations of abuses such as 'looting' allegedly perpetrated by government forces during the five-month long fighting in Marawi should be investigated.
He said the military and the police must assure the public that there will be no abuses in another year of military rule.
He said should there be complaints and reports of violations of human rights, the IBP-MisOr is ready to give legal assistance and support to the victims.
Meanwhile, Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Emano said he will keep an eye and coordinate with the authorities to ensure the proper implementation of martial law for another year.
Emano said the extension of martial law will help maintain peace and order as the government starts the rehabilitation and rebuilding of war-torn Marawi City.
"I feel safe in Misamis Oriental because the police is vigilant in conducting checkpoints and in advising the public against bad elements,” Emano said.
Emano said he is confident that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte will not allow and tolerate abuses and violations of human rights while martial law is in effect.