THE approval of the Congress on Saturday, July 22, to extend martial law in Mindanao until December this year has drawn mixed reactions from different sectors.

Both the Lower House and Senate approved during the joint special session with only four Senators voting against while 245 members of the House of Representatives thumbed up the resolution.

The consent of lawmakers to the proposed Resolution of Both Houses 10, crafted to give President Rodrigo Duterte the power to carry out martial law until the end of the year, was aimed at solving the crisis in Marawi City where government forces and the Maute terror group continue to fight.

Hundreds of persons were dead and thousands of civilians were forced to flee the city due to the intense fighting that runs for almost two months.

Labor leader Wildon Barros said the decision of Congress to extend the military rule is an “anticipated move” as he believes that the more it is extended, the more human rights violation is committed by the government.

Barros added this will only alienate the Moro people, particularly the Maranaos who have fled their homes in Marawi City, if the destruction of their homes and properties continue.

The martial law extension, he said, will not dismantle the Maute Group but it will create more armed factions who will take up arms against the government.

“It was rigged from the start,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of the human rights group Karapatan, referring to the approval of the extended martial rule, and “had only one intended outcome – to rubberstamp the Congress’s imprimatur on the legality of the declaration’s extension.”

Palabay said Duterte’s martial law can never be different from the version of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

“The factual bases of both declarations (Duterte’s and Marcos’s) have been proven as outright lies, if not products of the military’s creative imagination,” she said.

“A government that uses military hubris to allegedly quell terrorism or armed revolutionary rebellion is one that is most afraid of the people, driven to terrorism or rebellion by years of oppression, exploitation, poverty, and mendicancy to foreign interests. Securing the public is the least of their interest,” Palabay said.

Vic Escober, 53, a fisherman, said: “Let’s give Duterte the chance to end the Marawi crisis and neutralize the Maute group and restore peace and order there once and for all. The extension of martial law is the only way to do that.”

Belinda Yucatan, 48, farmer said it’s better to leave it to the government to deal with the Marawi crisis.

“My only hope is that human rights will be upheld and violence will not spill over to other parts in Mindanao due to martial law extension,” Yucatan said.