A MINDANAOAN lawmaker has filed a resolution urging President Rodrigo Duterte to extend martial law in Mindanao for another six months.
In his resolution, Iligan City Representative Frederick Siao cited initial reports of terrorist plots and the need to “ensure peace, orderly and honest May 2019 elections in Mindanao."
He also cited "sporadic incidents of violence” in Mindanao such as the recent ambush in Lanao del Sur which resulted in the death of five Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents.
House Resolution 2302 urges Duterte to extend martial law in Mindanao from January 1 to June 30, 2019.
The President placed the entire Mindanao under martial law shortly after violence erupted in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur between the Maute Group and the government forces on May 23, 2017.
The martial law proclamation, which has been extended twice, will last until December 31.
Siao noted in his proposed resolution the reports from the intelligence services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police that there are Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) bomb experts positioned in some areas of Mindanao that are “plotting to generate widespread panic and terror among the populace.”
“It is urgently imperative that government authority must ensure peaceful, orderly, and honest May 2019 elections in Mindanao, including and especially in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region and adjacent regions, to secure the integrity of the ballots and safety of voters and elections personnel and to ensure that the duly-elected officials are installed,” reads the resolution.
In a press statement, Siao said "the Isis, their collaborators among lawless armed groups, and the illegal drugs networks operating in Mindanao want to sow terror in pursuit of their twisted objectives.”
He said they also want to prevent some candidates from being elected into office.
"After the elected officials assume office, the martial law can end and the Philippine National Police can reassume peace and order responsibilities in Mindanao and with the civilian elected officials by their side,” Siao said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, in reaction to the claims of Siao, said the proposed martial law extension may be used to ensure the victory of administration candidates.
"Nobyembre pa lang at Disyembre pa matatapos ang ini-extend na ngang Martial law, tapos ngayon ay gusto na naman nilang patagalin pa ang Martial law sa Mindanao. Ang mga ganitong pakana ay posibleng gamitin din para tiyakin na mananalo ang mga alyado ng administrasyon sa darating na eleksyon dahil kapag iniextend pa ang batas militar sa Mindanao ay siguradong aabutin ito ng eleksyon sa 2019,” said Zarate.
House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo earlier said he will support President Rodrigo Duterte if he wishes to ask the Congress for another extension of martial law in Mindanao. (SunStar Philippines)