Comelec: Martial law favorable to BOL plebiscite, 2019 elections in Mindanao

Marje Pelayo   •   December 12, 2018   •   5513

FILE PHOTO: Members of the Philippine army man the checkpoint at the entrance of Maguindanao province, 11 May 2013. Security is tightened as political tension rises two days before the Philippine midterm election in the province. Maguindanao is among the election hot spots tagged by Comelec.

 

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – On January 21 next year, The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will hold the plebiscite in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), in Isabela City in Basilan, and in Cotabato City.

The plebiscite will determine if residents are in favor of the passage of the Bangasamoro Organic Law that will govern the proposed Bangsamoro region.

According to Comelec Spokesperson Director James Jimenez, a second plebiscite will be held in February in 19 barangays that wish to be included in the new Bangsamoro region.

“Ang unang plebisito ang dedesisyunan niya kung mararatify ba ang BOL o hindi. Ang susunod na eleksyon, ang susunod na plebisito para doon sa mga lugar na gustong sumali kung matutuloy ang pagsali nila sa Bangsamoro,” Jimenez explained in an interview with the program ‘Get It Straight with Daniel Razon’ on Tuesday (December 11).

Jimenez said the poll body has already printed 2.8 million ballots for the plebiscite which they have started distributing in areas where the plebiscite will be held.

Former Commissioner Samira Gutuc of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) hopes that the plebiscite will be a success.

She expressed concern of the possible consequences should the BOL fails citing the impending petition against its passage in the Supreme Court (SC).

“Baka the Supreme Court would look at the petition against the BOL favorably at baka hindi maiakyat ang batas BOL sa implimentasyon. Pagka walang BOL at walang boto ng ‘yes’ ngayong January, ay baka balik tayo sa ARMM at magkakagulo ang Mindanao ulit,” Gutuc explained.

 On the other hand, the former commissioner believes that the recent approval to extend the martial law in Mindanao may not be favorable to the conduct of the plebiscite and the midterm elections in 2019.

“Martial Law will not help a free and shared democratic debate over BOL,” she argued.

Some opposition personalities who are running in next year’s elections agreed with Gutuc on the matter.

“Sa buong panahon na nasa ilalim ng martial law ang Mindanao, hindi umangat ang kabuhayan ng mga kababyan natin doon,” former Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada said.

“Ang ikinakatakot natin dito, bumababa yung batayan sa pagdedeklara ng Martial Law kaya pwedeng ikasa na yung lahat ng elemento para magdeklara ng isang nationwide Martial Law,” former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay noted.

“Kapag sinabi nating Martial Law, that is an emergency power. May emergency pa ba sa Mindanao?” argued Atty Jose Manuel Diokno, a senatorial candidate in 2019.

Despite the oppositions, the Comelec and the Palace believe that the extension of Martial rule in Mindanao will benefit both the conduct of the plebiscite and the 2019 midterm elections.

“From the point of view of election administration nakabuti pa actually ang martial law. Ang presensya ng military, it pacifies the area and it minimizes yung mga attack yung mga decedent forces,” Director Jimenez said.

I do not see any relation, what is the relation. In fact, martial law is even acceptable to people of Mindanao precisely because the security is kept. If there will be a plebiscite then people who would want to do something to derail the plebiscite, They will think twice because there is martial law. It’s even helpful,” Presidential Spokesperon Salvador Panelo concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Duterte’s new martial law threat, a cover-up for failed COVID-19 response — CPP

Marje Pelayo   •   April 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – In response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s outburst over continued attacks against government forces, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Friday (April 24) accused the Chief Executive of just using the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to carry out his agenda of imposing martial law.

On its website, the communist group stressed that the President is again blaming its armed wing – the New People’s Army (NPA) – ‘to cover up’ his administration’s failure in responding to the current health crisis particularly the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing.

“This is a classic deflection tactic to draw away the people’s attention from the government’s inept, incompassionate and irresponsible actions in the face of the pandemic,” the group said.

The CPP said imposing martial law will not end the pandemic but only cause ‘greater hardship’ to the Filipino people.

The group alleged that the extension of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that has been expanded to cover Visayas and Mindanao is martial law.

“There is now creeping nationwide martial law and the entire country is now effectively under the highhanded and control of the military and police,” the CPP noted.

READ: Duterte threatens to declare martial law if NPA attacks continue

The leftist group defended the NPA over the recent encounters with government troops saying the group was only responding to the attacks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) since it has further stepped up its counterinsurgency operations.

“The armed clashes between the NPA and the AFP in the past days are a result of the attacks of the AFP and active defense of the NPA,” the group said.

“In fact, the AFP never went on ceasefire, even when Duterte ordered a suspension of offensive operations last March 19 to April 15, deploying troops to more than 350 barangays and 120 towns to conduct counterinsurgency, mounting at least 24 offensives and six aerial bombardments,” it added.

The CPP accused that such intensified counterinsurgency efforts by the AFP are aimed at preventing the NPA from conducting its own public health campaign in response to the COVID-19 crisis in areas where the Duterte government ‘does not exist’ and their efforts are warmly received.

Nevertheless, the party said it stands by the ceasefire order of its Central Committee that has been extended to April 30 to prioritize its own public health campaign in their villages.

While so doing: “All units of the NPA must, however, remain vigilant and on high alert against attacks of the AFP and ready to engage in battle,” the group concluded.

PH military confirms preparations for possible enforcement of ‘martial law-like’ quarantine

Robie de Guzman   •   April 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has confirmed a Philippine Air Force (PAF) document circulating online advising its personnel to prepare for the possible implementation of ‘martial law-like’ quarantine measures as earlier warned by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The memorandum dated April 17 directed unit commanders to prepare for strict implementation of a possible extensive enhanced community quarantine.

The memo further stated that the AFP will be the over all in-charge of roads and highways.

It also stated the need to request for a briefing from the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the legal and safety measures in dealing and engaging with pedestrians and motorists.

The memo leaked online a day after the president threatened to impose a ‘martial law-like’ crackdown following reports of increased public violation of quarantine protocols.

In a statement on Sunday, PAF spokesperson Aristides Galang Jr. said the internal memo was merely a preparatory move for the troops as normally done by the organization.

“The PAF is just anticipating of any scenarios in case the President, as Commander in Chief of the AFP, would decide to implement his statements lately to the public as earlier stated and prepare our troops in advance as normally done by the military organization in the past,” he said.

AFP spokesman Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo also defended the order, saying this was just issued for the purpose of providing advance information to guide its personnel.

Arevalo assured that there is no reason to be alarmed over the order as it is just a “normal reaction” of the AFP to prepare and deploy when it becomes necessary.

“What we should all be alarmed about instead is the fact that a lot of people are blatantly violating the law and disobeying the rules and health protocols which MUST be strictly enforced —otherwise people die,” he said in a statement.

“Law-abiding citizens and those who follow the rules should not worry. There is no reason to be alarmed,” he added.

Based on the report from the PNP, around 130,177 quarantine violators have been apprehended from March 17 to April 18. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

Duterte threatens to impose ‘martial law-like’ measures if quarantine violators persist

Marje Pelayo   •   April 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to impose a more drastic measure particularly against violators of the government’s lockdown rules as cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to climb in the country.

In his late-night address on Thursday (April 16), the President warned of military and police take over if Filipinos continue to break the government’s enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

I am just asking for your disiplina, kasi kapag ayaw ninyong maniwala, mag-take over ang military at police (I am just asking for your discipline because if you do not obey, the military and police will take over). I am ordering them now to be ready,” the President said addressing quarantine violators.

Sila na, parang martial law na rin. Mamili kayo (They will take over like in martial law. You decide),” he added.

The President expressed frustration over reports of residents repeatedly violating quarantine rules despite the government’s efforts in providing social relief at this time of crisis.

Nearly two weeks before the extended Luzon-wide ECQ is lifted on April 30, President Duterte said he will be compelled to order the government forces to enforce strict social distancing and curfew measures if the number of quarantine violators continue to increase.

“Ayaw ko pero kapag naipit na ang bayan at wala kayong disiplina, (I don’t want to do it but if the entire country is compromised because you lack discipline),” he warned.

The Chief Executive also directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to investigate the perpetrators of cockfighting and street drinking sessions in Metro Manila amid the ECQ.

He threatened to cut government aid to those who would further ignore ECQ measures.

 “May pera pala kayong pangsabong. May pera pala kayo pang-inom. Ibigay ko na lang (sa iba,) [You have money for cockfighting. You have money for drinking sessions, so I might as well give the money [to those in need,] ” the President said.

“There’s not enough to go around. Hindi talaga magkasya. We are getting low sa supply ng pagkain na. Ilang araw na iyan buong Pilipinas pinapakain mo – 18 million families (Our supply especially of food is getting lower. We have been feeding 18 millione Filipino families for days now],” he concluded. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

READ: Duterte warns unruly quarantine violators not to taunt gov’t amid relief delays

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