IFUGAO Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr. has called on Filipinos to rally behind the government in its campaign to suppress terrorist threats following attacks on civilian establishments in Marawi City by the Maute group.

“Civilian support and cooperation have always been an effective strategy against terrorist threats,” Baguilat, a legitimate minority leader, said.

“Regardless of political affiliation, I believe that all Filipinos reject violence as a means to an end, especially when innocent civilians are put in the crossfire. Hundreds of civilians have been displaced and some have even been killed by this adventurism by the Maute group, while our police and soldiers put their lives on the line to protect people and property,” Baguilat said.

“Our duty now as Filipinos is to aid in efforts to rescue people and restore order. Spreading misinformation and hate does not help in these efforts,” Baguilat added.

Baguilat, however, cautioned the public against the imposition of martial law, saying it is an extreme measure that may not necessarily be the appropriate solution.

“Some of our countrymen seem to think that martial law equates to security. We should remember that the primary effect of martial law is the suspension of certain civil rights, which lends itself to abuse,” Baguilat said.

“As such, martial law should not be seen as a long-term solution. Remember that the Marcos regime used the communist insurgency as an excuse to impose martial law, but obviously martial law did not solve the insurgency as even now our government is engaged in negotiations with that group,” Baguilat added.

“The people need to know what the government intends to do with its extraordinary powers under martial law, how those activities relate to suppressing terrorist activities, and how the rights of innocent civilians will be protected,” Baguilat said.

“I believe the military when they say the situation is under control, so I have trouble reconciling this assessment with the President’s decision to impose martial law on the whole of Mindanao for two months. Given the government’s record of success without need for martial law, one can’t help but ask why the government needs martial law now,” Baguilat said.

“If the President can’t solve the security problem with two months of martial law, how can we trust him to expand the scope of such an extreme measure? We have not even been apprised of government’s activities under the declaration of a state of lawless violence and how our countrymen have benefited from that declaration,” Baguilat asked.

“There is also a need to get a clear picture of the situation. The President seems to insist that this is an ISIS-led or ISIS-influenced attack, which is part of his justification for imposing martial law. But various government officials have said that ISIS had nothing to do with the attack,” Baguilat said.

“Congress awaits the President’s report on martial law and I hope that the parameters are well defined and there are safeguards for citizens’ rights. In the meantime, our countrymen in Marawi need food, medicine and shelter. I hope we can come together to help our countrymen,” Baguilat said.