Monday, May 20, 2019

Editorial: Martial law, maybe another year

IT CAME as not much of a surprise when the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) said they have recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the extension of martial law in Mindanao for another year.

AFP Chief-of-Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr. said "there is a clamor for the extension considering that terrorism is still lurking in the area."

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said the House of Representative will most likely grant the extension of martial in Mindanao should the President request it.

Even prior to their recommendation, it was quite clear that the AFP and PNP will likely recommend after making statements that there is "clamor" for its extension.

It was also not a surprise that human rights groups and the critics of the government expressed their opposition to the recommendation. They have made allegations that there have been human rights violation during the course of the implementation of martial law in Mindanao.

"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,” ACT Teachers Representatives France Castro said.

The military have also claimed that there are no human rights violations that happened during the implementation of the martial law.

However, is it really necessary to extend martial law for the whole of Mindanao? Can't the military and the police only recommend its implementation in selected areas only? Especially in areas where there is a high security risk.

The military and police said they have conducted consultations for the possible extension of martial law. But it seems like they have not conducted any consultations at the grass roots level. Does a majority of Mindanawons want the martial law implemented in the whole of Mindanao or portions only?

Sadly, it may be too late now to ask the general concensus of all Mindanawons on how they hope the martial law be implemented.

"Actually, if we would leave it to the AFP, they would recommend martial law forever," Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said.

The government might want to consider a transparent public poll on Mindanawons' views and recommendations on the future of martial law in Mindanao. Yes, it may have its benefits but it also has its downsides.


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