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It’s too long, says AFP on 5-year extension of martial law

First published: 4:20 pm., July 10, 2017

The military finds “too long” a five-year extension of the martial law declaration in Mindanao that Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has said he will recommend to the House of Representatives.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, the spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, on Monday stressed that the military could only recommend whether to lift or extend martial law, which President Duterte proclaimed after Islamic State-allied terrorists rampaged through Marawi City on May 23.

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Proclamation No. 216, which was upheld by the Supreme Court, will expire in 60 days.

Alvarez on Saturday said he would push in the House an “extension of martial law in Mindanao until 2022, because two months is too short.”

The lifting or extension of martial law is a “political decision,” Padilla said.

“Actually, five years may be too long for the moment,” he told a press briefing in Malacañang.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in a statement, acknowledged that extending martial law was a decision of the President and that this would depend on the assessment of military and police officials and other stakeholders.

Soldier at Marawi City Hall

A soldier inspects the Marawi City Hall on Monday, July 3, 2017, as more troops are ordered to the battle zone to flush out terrorists still occupying four villages in the city. (Photo by JEOFFREY MAITEM / Inquirer Mindanao)

Just an opinion

Abella also said Alvarez had clarified that his proposal for a five-year extension of martial law was his own opinion.

Padilla said he did not know the basis of Alvarez’s proposal.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines, before it makes its recommendations to the Commander in Chief, must have enough basis—an intelligent basis—to make whatever recommendation there is for the extension or the lifting (of martial law),” he said.

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Padilla said the military was continuing its offensive against the joint forces of the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf in Marawi.

“We continue to gain headway in our operations on the ground. Troop morale is high primarily because of the continued public support that they are experiencing,” he said.

Not good for business

Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon and Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque Jr. said on Monday that too much martial law was not good for business.

Biazon, vice chair of the House national defense committee, warned that an “unnecessary extension might have unintended consequences to our economy, tourism industry, investor confidence and others.”

“It will give the impression that we are unable to contain the situation using normal powers of [the] government,” he said in a text message.

Roque said in a press briefing that he would be “comfortable” extending the proclamation for another 60 days. “I hope it will be for the shortest time possible.

“Martial law, even if warranted, even if there is factual basis for it, is never good for the country. A continuing declaration of martial law is an admission to the entire world community that there is rebellion or invasion in the Philippines,” Roque said.

“This is never good for business, this is never good for tourism, it is never good for our international reputation,” he added.

‘An appalling prospect’

Rep. Edcel Lagman of the opposition bloc on Monday said any extension should not exceed 60 days as provided in the Constitution. He also wondered why senators and representatives were already talking about the prospect “when the President has not even officially initiated such extension.”

ACT Rep. Antonio Tinio called Alvarez’s remark “an appalling prospect, but not unexpected.”

“It’s becoming more evident that the Marawi crisis was merely the pretext, but the Duterte regime’s plan all along is to place all of Mindanao under permanent martial rule,” Tinio said in a statement. /rga /atm

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TAGS: Armed Forces of the Philippines, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Martial law, Pantaleon Alvarez, Philippine news updates, President Duterte
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