QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez Jr. will recommend extending the martial law in the entire region of Mindanao for another year.
Galvez cited as basis for the recommendation the reported terrorist incidents in Mindanao, including the blast in Basilan that killed 10 civilians on July 31; Sultan Kudarat bombing that killed two people and the recent bombing In General Santos city that injured 8 individuals.
“There is really a clamor for the extension considering the terrorists are still lurking in the area,” Galvez said.
The recommendation will be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte through Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana next week.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde expressed support to the military’s recommendation.
“We are in favor because of the upcoming plebiscite and upcoming elections in Mindanao,” Albayalde said.
The group of Lumads in Mindanao also shared the same sentiment for the planned martial law extension
“Huwag ihinto ang martial law. Kapag ihinto ang martial law mauubos ang mga Lumad. Huwag itigil ang martial law para matulungan ang presidente kasi kung kami ang magpapaalis sa kanila, hindi pwede iyan,” said Bai Pilar Libayao, the municipal IPMR in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
But the Makabayan congressmen are opposing the plan, saying it only targets the opposition group and the critics of the Duterte administration.
“They wanted to silence all dissent, all oppositions,” said Anak Pawis Rep. Ariel Casilao.
Though the recommendation has yet to be forwarded and approved, Malacañang believes that the president is likely to heed the proposal.
“Of course, the president will always evaluate whatever recommendations that the AFP and the PNP will give him,” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
“But given the support of martial law in Mindanao, even by a Catholic bishop and the citizens there, the president may be persuaded to go on to approve the recommendation; but of course, again, that is the prerogative of the president,” he added.
Senator Aqulino Pimentel III, on the other hand, believes the military should be prepared in defending their basis in extending the military rule.
“If there is a request for extension there should be a briefing and bakit justified pa even after one year and seven months,” Pimentel said.
Mindanao has been placed under martial law since May 2017 after the Maute terror group attacked Marawi City.
It is set to expire on December 31, 2018 after the government sought for its extension to give way to the ongoing rehabilitation of Marawi.
The recommendation needs to be approved by both houses of Congress before an extension can be implemented.
House majority leader Rolando Andaya Jr. assured they are ready to grant the extension should President Duterte ask for it.
Andaya also said lawmakers from Mindanao will be asked to give their inputs during deliberations.
“If the president will ask for it, then chances are it shall be given. The inputs and views of the congressmen from Mindanao, who represent the people directly affected will carry much weight during the deliberations,” he concluded. – Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue