For the second time, Sulu lawmaker pushes for nationwide martial law

MANILA, Philippines – “If martial law is good for Mindanao, isn't it martial law is also good for Luzon and Visayas?”

Kusug Tausug Representative Shernee Abubakar Tan on Wednesday, December 13, again made a case for the extension of martial law in Mindanao and its expansion nationwide, as Congress convened in a joint session on President Rodrigo Duterte's request to extend martial rule over the island.

Congress granted  the request of President Rodrigo Duterte to extend martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao – which was supposed to end on December 31, 2017 – to December 31, 2018.

“The grounds is the continuing recruitment of the [Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New Peoples’ Army (NPA)] in Mindanao. There are also NPAs in Luzon and Visayas. Therefore, if martial law is good for Mindanao, isn't it martial law is also good for Luzon and Visayas?” said Tan before the joint session of Congress, reiterating an appeal she made the July joint session on the same agenda.

Duterte had cited “communist terrorists” as among the reasons for seeking an extended martial rule in Mindanao.

No less than Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, martial law administrator, rejected Tan’s appeal on Wednesday.

“The reason why the NPA is included [in the reason for extending martial law in Mindanao], it’s because 45% of the NPA in the entire country is in Mindanao. THey are creating havoc, especially in Eastern Mindanao. In Visayas and Luzon, the activities of the CPP-NPA are manageable so I don’t think it will be used to include Visayas and Luzon under martial law,” he said.

Tan stood her ground. “But there are still NPAs and they could also make attacks in Luzon and Visayas, Therefore, as the representative of Kusug Tausug, I reiterate my stand that martial law should be extended not just in Mindanao but in Luzon and Visayas,” she added. 

During the 4-hour deliberations, other Mindanao lawmakers threw their support for the martial law extension.

Lanao del Norte 2nd District Representative Abdullah Dimaporo said the people of Mindanao had seen the "effectiveness" of the imposition of martial law in their region. Iligan Representative Frederick Siao said it would be good for business and tourism.

Other lawmakers, however, questioned the constitutionality of a martial law extension as well as its year-long duration, since Duterte had declared Marawi City “liberated” from terrorists and the military had stopped combat operations in the city, which was overrun by members of local terror groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf.

The attack on Marawi City was the basis for Duterte’s proclamation of martial law in the island on May 23. He asked for an extension of the 60-day proclamation, which Congress granted in July and was supposed to end on December 31. –