Martial law extension in Mindanao won’t solve terrorism — Samira Gutoc
Pursuing an armed approach in Mindanao is bound to fail, Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc warned on Tuesday as she opposed the proposed extension of martial law in Mindanao for the third time.
“What we need in Mindanao are more books, not more boots. We need more teachers, not more terrorists. And we need more tractors and not tanks. We need to teach our children the value of peace so they may learn to be peace-loving citizens,” the senatorial aspirant said in a statement.
“If we continue to pursue an armed approach in Mindanao, which we have done so in the past, we will surely fail,” she added.
The peace-advocate also argued that the extension of martial rule in the southern region would not solve terrorism and would only worsen it.
Gutoc also debunked the claims of both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police that there was a clamor from the people for the extension of martial rule.
“As a long-time community organizer, I know the sentiments of the people in Mindanao. They cry of harassment and they don’t want more checkpoints. What they need is a constitutional solution on peace-making or peace-building that puts a primary consideration for peace,” Gutoc explained.
“The Sultan of Marawi, Sultan Hamidullah Atar, has even declared that a majority of Maranao victims and evacuees of the Marawi Siege last year all oppose the extension of Martial Law. These people are now spread all over Mindanao. This accounts for 29 ground zero barangays and interfaith groups in Marawi alone,” she added.
Instead of extending martial law in Mindanao, the government should “seriously consider adding and training more Tausog, Moro or indigenous people as soldiers,” or “at least deploy soldiers that are culturally sensitive so they would understand the communities better,” according to Gutoc.
Gutoc also underscored the need to promote “military-citizen relationship.”
President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to make a stand on the issue but Gen. Carlito Galvez, chief of staff of the AFP, as well as PNP Director Gen. Oscar Albayalde, said they would want another one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao, which is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2018.
Duterte first declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017, after the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorist group attacked Marawi City. The Congress, upon his recommendation, later extended it until the end of 2018 despite the government’s declaration of an end to fierce urban fighting in the war-torn area. /je
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