Llanes: Mindanao martial law, not a religious issue

THE recent declaration of a 60-day martial rule in Mindanao by President Rodrigo Duterte must be seen as not of religious belief in nature, but is due to the bloody insurgency by Isis-led insurgents.

Even the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao represent President Rodrigo Duterte's "inevitable strong-arming," due to the heightening violence created by the said rogue elements against the people of Marawi in general, and the government of the country particular.

"The declaration of martial law amid the bloody insurgency has found far more supporters than critics, and raises questions about the immediate future for the archipelago," Cook said in an article published by Lowy Institute for International Policy.

The clash between government forces and the Maute terror group started with the manhunt for Isnilon Hapilon, a former leader of both the Moro National Liberation Front and terror group Abu Sayyaf.

On May 23, the President's declaration centered on the whole of Mindanao after members of Maute group seized Marawi City in direct retaliation for the so-called surgical strikes against them and Abu Sayyaf.

Such proclamation prompted Duterte to cut his visit to Russia as he immediately flies home to oversee the situation in Mindanao.

The last president to declare martial law was Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who did so in Maguindanao province on December 4, 2009 in the aftermath of the Ampatuan massacre. Martial law was lifted in the province on December 12, 2009.

Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution provides that the president has the power to declare martial law in cases of invasion or rebellion for a maximum of 60 days.

President Duterte when asked, have indicated however, a longer imposition of martial rule until the police and the Armed Forces would declare the Philippines is safe.

Comparing to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's declaration of martial law on Maguindanao in 2009 which faced heavy skepticism from both the Senate and the House of Representatives, President Duterte's proclamation have been met with support from members of both houses of Congress.

Majority of Philippine senators have expressed support to the Presidents declaration despite the call by five minority bloc legislators for a congressional joint session.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and other House leaders also said
"Representative will not convene" to discuss the declaration.

Under the Constitution, both chambers of Congress may choose to call off a president's declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus within a session.

My colleague Princess Habibah Sariff in a forum, and is the first Muslim television news anchor over the state run PTV 4 from Marawi, affirmed the absence of any religious ideology to which I agree and would term it, "Isis ideocracy and hipocracy"!

Hopefully, this insurgent stupidity which have caused the lives of government troops and civilians, and resulted to the disruption of the peaceful lives of Marawi residents both Muslims and Christians will soon be over.

For after all, we are all Filipinos regardless of religious orientation and beliefs.
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