LAWMAKERS from Mindanao were divided over the third extension of martial law on their island.
Davao Oriental Representative Joel Mayo Almario said he believes the extension of martial law is merely a “band-aid” solution to the real problems in Mindanao.
He called on the government to instead address perennial problems such as lack of jobs, lack of access to education and poverty.
Almario said it will be difficult for the government to stop the insurgency which has been existing for decades.
Government could, however, stop the terrorist groups from recruiting by addressing the problems mentioned.
“Dahil sa kahirapan madaling kumbinsihin ang mga kabataan (Because of poverty, it is easy to convince the youth to join terrorist groups),” he said.
Lanao del Sur Rep. Ansaruddin Adiong manifested his support for the government on the floor during the joint session.
“During the implementation of martial law, President Duterte and the AFP have exercised prudence and great care in protecting every right of our citizens,” Addiong said.
“Security forces were able to maintain peace and order without violating the freedom and rights of our civilians. The checkpoints, curfew and surrender of firearms have greatly helped in protecting of our citizens,” he said, adding that the rehabilitation of Marawi will only prosper if the safety of its people is assured.
Adiong said the local government officials of Marawi, including the mayor, likewise support the extended martial law.
Lanao del Norte Rep. Khalid Dimaporo, South Cotabato 2nd District Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez, Zamboanga Rep. Celso Lobregat, Zambonga Sibugay Rep. Wilter Palma and Misamis Oriental Rep. Henry Oaminal also manifested on the floor their support for the President’s request with the latter saying, as a Mindanaoan he has observed firsthand the “serenity, security and order” brought about by martial law.
Oaminal said the government should not turn a blind eye on the “disorder” caused by the rebels in Mindanao and defended the military against allegations of supposed human rights violations.
“If there were indeed abuses, why are we Mindanaoans still pleading for the continued implementation of martial law?” he said.
Anak Mindanao Partylist Reps. Makmod Mending and Amihilda Sangcopan voted no to the third extension of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.
“The Anak Mindanao Partylist expresses strong opposition to another extension of martial law in Mindanao. Extending martial law on the island is not justified because active rebellion and invasion--the conditions under which the Constitution allows the declaration of martial rule in an area for a limited period of time--no longer exists,” the two said in a joint statement.
They said the miltary rule in Mindanao will not reduce the threat of terrorism.
“Anak Mindanao believes that a reformed military institution and disciplined police force will be the keys to effectively maintaining peace and order in the island’s communities. The further improvement of these components is what is truly necessary, rather than extending martial law,” they said.
The party-list also said the extension will negatively affect the business sector in Mindanao.
“Anak Mindanao’s position on this issue does not mean it is against efforts of the government to end lawlessness in Mindanao. We simply believe that military operation is not the only solution to problems of peace and order on the island. Local government units also play an important role in facilitating peace and order. Through guidance from appropriate national policies, local governments have put in place anti-terrorism strategies that should bring about change significantly. Instead of extending Martial Law, we should push LGUs to practice their mandate and activate all mechanisms for peace.”
AMIN Party-list has called on the Congress to be very vocal in rejecting martial law in Mindanao.
The Makabayan Bloc in Congress also condemned the further extension of martial law in Mindanao.
In a statement following the voting, members of the bloc said “another year of extension means another year of heightened violations of human rights as civil and political rights are being sacrificed in this drawn-out martial law in Mindanao.”
“The illegal arrest of former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Partylist Representative France Castro along with seventeen (17) other human rights defenders attests to the seeming dominion of the military and police over all legal processes and human dignity,” they said.
“With Memoradum Order No. 32 calling for additional military and police deployments in Bicol, Samar and Negros island, military rule is creeping to other parts of the country. This, coupled by the increasing militarization of the bureaucracy with more than 60 military and police officers appointed to strategic positions in the government, the country is effectively under military control. A nationwide martial rule seems to be in the offing,” the bloc added.
The Makabayn bloc said it also means another year of making it easy the plunder and ravage by big business, both local and foreign, of the island's vast and rich resources.
The bloc is composed of ACT Teachers Reps Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Gabriela Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Anakpawis Rep Ariel Casilao. (SunStar Philippines)