By Mario Casayuran
Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, said Tuesday he will likely support President Duterte’s call for a third extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Gordon made this remark after a closed-door briefing for senators at the Senate lounge last Monday by intelligence and military officials on the situation in the South.
Gordon said that aside from wanting to ensure the complete rehabilitation of Marawi City, which was torn apart by five months of armed conflict, he also received reports that Mindanaoans feel safer with martial law imposed.
He added there were also no reports of abuses since martial law was imposed in Marawi City after the siege.
Martial law was declared over Mindanao in May 2017.
Senators and members of the House of Representatives are scheduled to meet in joint session at the Batasan Pambansa Wednesday morning in Quezon city to decide on whether Congress should approve a Malacanang request for an extended martial law in Mindanao or not.
Gordon said he does not hear any outcry from residents of Mindanao that they are suffering under a martial law regime.
On the contrary, friends and residents in Mindanao said they were alright and felt safe because of the presence of checkpoints.
“While it may not be perfect, I have not heard of abuses in Mindanao. The President decides based on intelligence reports given him. Is he using it badly? I don’t think so. Martial law is operating well,’’ he said.
While it is good that the military’s presence has deterred sudden outbursts of violence in Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should have a grand plan to obliterate all rebellious groups in the region, he added.
“I’m not happy with it…the situation right now the way it is like I said, you are not using martial law to its fullest because some enemies of the state are still around,’’ he said.
Gordon said his disappointment was that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was still engaged in its criminal activities and that indigenous peoples were being caught in the cross fire.