By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Lawmakers on Tuesday agreed with President Rodrigo Duterte’s “wise and compassionate” decision not to extend martial law in Mindanao beyond Dec. 31 this year, the date it expires.
Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez and Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles strongly rallied behind the non-extension of martial law.
Martial law lifting to promote Mindanao development
“I strongly support President Duterte’s decision not to seek the extension of martial law in Mindanao. Martial law discourages investments by both foreign and domestic investors in Mindanao, preventing more employment of our people in Mindanao and stunting the economic growth in Mindanao,” Rodriguez said in an interview.
He thanked the President for his “wise decision.”
“The non-extension of martial law will give normalcy and stability [to] our beloved island of Mindanao,” Rodriguez said.
He said Duterte’s decision was based on security assessments made by the Department of National Defense (DND), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and Philippine National Police (PNP).
“On the security side, the DND, AFP, and PNP had evaluated the peace and order situation in Mindanao, and they see no more need of martial law. Our courts are open and functioning to issue warrants of arrest and search warrant against those involved in terrorism and rebellion,” Rodriguez said.
Military should still guard Mindanao’s safety
Nograles said amid Duterte’s rejection of the martial law extension, the military should still be on guard to ensure public safety.
“The President is correct to lift martial law for the whole of Mindanao. However, there are certain areas that need continued special concern from our Armed Forces due to the history of insurgent activity,” he said.
“I ask that the AFP continue their vigilance against these insurgents and continue to protect the Philippines. Likewise, the LGUs (local government units) now have a bigger responsibility of maintaining the peace and stability that martial law in Mindanao gave,” he added.
AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin, vice chairman of the House Committee on Justice, described Duterte’s decision as “wise and compassionate.”
“But I ask the President to please wipe out all the warlords, the private armies, and the small pockets of terrorist elements that hide in some corners of Mindanao,” he said.
“It is time to end the proliferation of guns and explosives in Mindanao. Please end this scourge that keeps Mindanao’s economy from taking off,” he added.
KABAYAN party-list Rep. Ron Salo also hailed the President’s decision, saying, “We have today a real commander-in-chief, who is both decisive and cares for his men in uniform.”
He also congratulated the implementors of martial law – the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), PNP, DND, and AFP “for successfully achieving their objective of weakening the terrorist and extremist rebellion.”
However, Makabayan lawmakers earlier chided the DND for making the passage of the proposed amendments of the Human Security Act of 2007 as a precondition for the lifting of martial law in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte will not ask Congress to extend martial law.
Timeline of events: martial law in Mindanao
On May 23, 2017, Duterte imposed martial law in Mindanao for 60 days to address the Marawi siege.
On July 22, 2017, Congress extended martial law in the region until Dec. 31, 2017 upon Duterte’s request; in a special joint session, 261 members of Congress including 16 senators approved the President’s request.
On Dec. 13, 2017, Congress convened a joint session when Duterte sought to extend martial law for one more year “to quell rebellion completely” in Mindanao.
After deliberating for more than four hours, Congress acceded to Duterte’s request to extend martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao from Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2018.
A total of 240 members of Congress voted in favor of the martial law extension, while 27 rejected it. The Senate voted 14-4, while the House of Representatives voted 226- 23.
On Dec. 6, 2018, Duterte asked Congress to extend martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao from Jan. 1, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2019.
On Dec.12, 2018, Congress in a joint session granted Duterte’s request to extend martial law anew for the third time and suspend the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao from Jan. 1, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2019.
After more than three hours of deliberations, 235 members of Congress voted in favor of the martial law extension, 28 thumbed it down, and one abstained. The Senate voted 12-5 with one abstention, while the House of Representatives voted 223-23.
On Dec. 4, 2019, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana recommended that Duterte not extend martial law in Mindanao based on assessments conducted by the AFP and PNP.