THE House of Representatives will grant a possible request by President Rodrigo Duterte for another one year extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“If the President will ask for it, then chances are it shall be given,” said House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. on Monday, December 3, after Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Carlito Galvez Jr. said that the military will soon submit to the Department of National Defense their proposal for another martial law extension for one year.
The AFP cited the “clamor” for the extension due to bombings in Mindanao in the past months.
READ: AFP, police recommend martial law extension in Mindanao
Andaya said the granting of the President’s request will be expedited if the military and the police will renew their commitment to respect the constitutional rights of Mindanaoans who are covered by the declaration.
“The inputs and views of the congressmen from Mindanao, who represent the people directly affected, will carry much weight during the deliberations,” he added.
Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate and ACT Teachers Representatives France Castro and Antonio Tinio slammed the recent development, saying martial law will only lead to more human rights violations and harassment by the military, paramilitary and the police.
“Martial law in Mindanao has been used to terrorize and harass innocent civilians, human rights defenders, humanitarian workers, Lumad communities, environmental advocates and activists. The government uses this military power to target and further suppress and silence critics of the Duterte administration,” Tinio said.
Castro, for her part, said the only terrorism still lurking in the area is state terrorism brought by state forces.
Just recently, Castro was arrested and charged with human trafficking and kidnapping after she, former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo and several others were caught transporting minors to Compostela Valley. The group said they were supposed to conduct a humanitarian mission in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
"I myself experienced first-hand how martial law is being used to violate the rights of human rights defenders and humanitarian workers helping children and teachers in emergency situations and how they are treated by the military and the police,” said Castro.
She added that under martial law, those who try to rescue communities that are harassed by the military are tagged as kidnappers and child abusers, while legal and humanitarian acts are considered criminal acts.
Zarate, for his part, said Galvez and the military are the ones clamoring for martial law extension, not the Mindanoans.
"Actually, if we would leave it to the AFP, they would recommend martial law forever, not only for Mindanao but for the whole country. They would devise any pretext, even 'make believe' ones like their dismally flopped Red October cannard, if only to justify martial rule,” he said.
Zarate reiterated that the martial law extension can be used to influence the 2019 elections to ensure victory for administration candidates. (SunStar Philippines)