MANILA, Philippines – Marawi rehabilitation czar and Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario is enthusiastically supporting a 4th extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Speaking on Friday, October 25, in a Rappler Talk interview, he said that continued military rule in Marawi City and the entire Lanao del Sur province would help facilitate the city's rehabilitation from a terror attack two years ago.
Parts of Marawi remain in ruins after a 5-month siege by Muslim extremists in 2017. But on October 17, the government announced it was about to finish clearing the most devastated area of hidden bombs, a crucial step before clearing debris and rebuilding structures.
Martial law, said Del Rosario, would create an environment that would speed up reconstruction.
"I support that, being the head of Task Force Bangon Marawi, because I would like that the rehabilitation would continue unabated or without threat from any group," said Del Rosario, one of the retired generals given a Cabinet post by President Rodrigo Duterte.
"The overal peace and order situation truly helps because the rehabilitation continues unabated. If there will be security concerns, if there will be hostilities, it would really hamper the rehabilitation process," he added.
Screenshot from Rappler talk
He also cited the support of Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr for his province to remain under martial law.
"The implementation of martial law is going smoothly, most of the people are supporting it. Why lift it? I think we should listen to the voice of the people," he said.
There remain groups, however, including those from Marawi, that oppose martial law, saying it has militarized their communities and caused human rights abuses.
What do other Cabinet members say? Compared to Del Rosario, security officials in Duterte's Cabinet have been more cautious in expressing support for a 4th martial law extension.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has said there may be no need for another extension if Congress passes amendments to the Human Security Act, like extending the detention time of suspected terrorists to 30 days and the surveillance period of suspected terrorists to 90 days.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, in July, said he was inclined to recommend another extension. But on Friday, he echoed Lorenzana in saying this may be unnecessary if the Human Security Act was amended.
The martial law declaration now in place in Mindanao will last until December 31. It had been repeatedly questioned by opposition lawmakers and other critics. But the Supreme Court, packed by Duterte's appointees, consistently ruled that the extensions are constitutional. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.