By Hannah Torregoza
Opposition Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV said he is fully opposed to the proposed extension of a martial law in Mindanao, saying such declaration is not needed to rebuild war-torn Marawi City.
In the first place, Aquino said there is no actual threat in Mindanao that would justify its extension in the first place.
“Hindi mo kailangan ng martial law para mag-rebuild. We can go back to the previous extension na ang posisyon ng iba ang nakalagay sa Constitution is an actual threat (You do not need martial law to rebuild. We can always go back to the previous reason for extension. The position of other people, under the Constitution, there must be an actual threat),” Aquino said during a Kapihan sa Senado forum.
“Kahit may martial law delayed pa rin naman. Mas mahalaga makita natin na ang rebuilding process di lang para sa residenteng Marawi kundi para sa buong bansa.
Kailangan ipakita natin sa mundo na kailangan natin mag-rebuild ngsabay-sabay (Even if there was martial law, the rebuilding was still delayed. It’s more important to see that the rebuilding process is not only for the residents of Marawi City, but the whole country. We need to show the world, that we need to rebuild together),” said Aquino, who is running for re-election in the May 2019 elections.
The senator is reacting to Armed Forces chief General Carlito Galvez pronouncement that extending martial law in Mindanao is a practical thing to do given that the May, 2019, elections is near.
Galvez, however, said it is premature to recommend the extension of martial law in Southern Philippines.
President Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under martial law on May 30, 2017, the same day the ISIS-inspired Maute group laid siege on MarawiCity.
Meanwhile, an international organization has expressed their support to a measure filed by Aquino that seeks to provide monetary compensation to Marawi City residents who lost their homes and other private properties to the siege perpetrated by the ISIS-inspired Maute group last year.
Francisco Lara, senior adviser of International Alert Philippines, said the enactment of Senate Bill No. 1816 or the Marawi Siege Victims Compensation Act of 2018, filed by Aquino, will help hasten the rebuilding of the war-torn city and help mend the wounds created by the conflict.
“It’s very important. It’s very important in terms of healing wounds created by the war in Marawi,” said Lara.
“It’s unfair that a compensation bill is taking this long to pass. This is the only thing the victims have to look forward to,” Lara added.
Aquino, in pushing for the bill, pointed out that the monetary compensation will give Marawi residents with means to immediately recover from the damage and destruction to their homes and private property caused by the Marawi siege.
“Sa ngayon, wala pang paraan upang mabigyan sila ng tulong mula sa gobyerno na katumbas ng kanilang personal na ari-arian na nawala at nasira sa bakbakan, (for now, there is no way for the government to provide them assistance that can compensate for the damages on their personal assets and properties that were lost and destroyed during the conflict),” Aquino said.
“Ang tulong na ito’y isang hakbang upang masiguro ang kapayapaan at ang daan tungo sa kasaganaan sa Marawi at sa buongbayan, (Such financial assistance is one big step to ensure peace and for Marawi to flourish again as a community),” he stressed.