No more extension of martial law in Mindanao – minority senators

END MARTIAL LAW. Minority senators called for the lifting of Martial Law in Mindanao.

END MARTIAL LAW. Minority senators called for the lifting of Martial Law in Mindanao.

MANILA, Philippines – Minority senators on Saturday, December 2, opposed any plan to extend the imposition of martial law in Mindanao beyond the December 31 deadline earlier granted by Congress.

Senators Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, Francis Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV made the call, saying lifting martial law, as scheduled, would  allow authorities to  "focus on rehabilitation" in Marawi City and neighboring areas.

"We oppose any move to extend military rule in Mindanao beyond the December 31 deadline granted by Congress," the senators said in a statement

They said that the military has already declared the liberation of Marawi from terrorist groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf. (READ: TIMELINE: The 'liberation' of Marawi)

"Wala nang dahilan pa upang palawigin ang batas militar sa rehiyon. Ang sinasabing banta sa kaayusan at krimen ay maaari nang tugunan ng mga pulis. (There is no reason to extend military rule in the region. The alleged threats to order and crime can be addressed by police)," they said.

The senators said the government should focus their efforts on implementing rehabilitation and reconstruction programs. (READ: What evacuees can expect from gov't when they return to Marawi)

"Instead of focusing on extending martial law, the government should train its sights on the quick rehabilitation of Marawi City so our Maranao brothers and sisters can resume their normal lives at the soonest possible time," they said.

Marawi City is ground zero of the clashes between government troops and terrorist groups from May to October. The budget department alloted P5 billion for the rehabilitation of the war-torn city, to be sourced from the augmented National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund. (READ: Marawi Clash: Special coverage)

The May 23 siege on Marawi led by the Maute terror group  prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao. This was to quell what he said was a fast-growing threat of militants linked to the Islamic State terrorist group.

The declaration was effective for 60 days, or until July, but Duterte asked Congress for an extension until the end of the year, which lawmakers granted.

Palace awaits AFP recommendation

In a news briefing in Zamboanga City, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the military will submit its recommendation on the lifting or further extension of martial law in Mindanao next week.

"I have had prior consultation with the Armed Forces. The recommendation will be submitted by next week. So the President will make a decision if not next week, the week after," Roque said.

He said the President would have to decide ahead of the congressional recess on December 15, especially if the Chief Executive would opt to ask for another martial law extension.

"As you know, Congress will go on recess by the 15th. And we cannot have an extension of martial  without consent of Congress," Roque said.

Responding to questions, the Palace official said that aside from the military recommendation, the President would give weight to the sentiments of the people of Mindanao.

Asked about people in Luzon opposed to martial law in Mindanao, Roque said, "Kung ang mga taga-Mindanao ay hindi tumututol (If the people of Mindanao are not against it), why should people in Luzon complain? Hindi naman sila apektado (They're not affected). So what matters most is the view of the stakeholders, the view of the Mindanaoan on martial law." – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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