Government officials see lifting of Martial Law in Mindanao before next presidential poll

Published October 1, 2019, 11:21 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Hanah Tabios

Some government officials said on Tuesday that Martial Law in Mindanao could be lifted before the May 2022 polls if there would be improvements in the region’s state of peace and order.

(Photo by Hanah Tabios)
(Photo by Hanah Tabios)

“I really hope that peace and security will improve in the area. But I was given some information on the primary problem and this is all about the proliferation of firearms in the BARRM area,” said defense Undersecretary Cesar Yano as a response to the question whether or not Mindanaoans especially the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) electorate will vote under a state military control during the National Conference on Intergovernmental Relations with the Bangsamoro on Tuesday in Makati City.

“We are looking into this because for as long as individuals are allowed to possess unregistered firearms, there will be continuing chaos in Mindanao,” he said.

The undersecretary also noted that even defense chief Delfin Lorenzana wanted Martial Law lifted before the presidential election take place. But Yano said the proliferation of unregistered firearms primarily in the BARMM has to be regulated first.

Former Philippine National Police (PNP) official and now peace process spokesperson Wilben Mayor also agreed with Yano, citing that the issue should be addressed first by the process of decommissioning former combatants which President Rodrigo Duterte has been doing as part of the crucial commitment by former rebels under a peace deal which paved the way for the creation of the new autonomous region in Mindanao.

But for Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiator and Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTA) member Robert Maulana Marohombsar Alonto, the move “should not be limited to confiscation of firearms” in order to achieve the goal. Instead, he said it has to be comprehensive in such a way that the state should establish the security factor that would make Mindanaoans safe both in the hands of the state and of the non-state actors.

“People feel unsafe. So what I’m saying is that the Bangsamoro government…it has to have the acceptability of the Bangsamoro people that it belongs to them; that it can give them justice; that it can give them human security,” he said.

In 2017, Pres. Duterte released Proclamation No. 216 declaring Martial Law, as well as the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of the region.

The chief executive requested for its third extension which was also approved by Congress due to alleged insurgency threats.