Albayalde allays fears over extended martial law in Mindanao
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde has assuaged fears of lawmakers regarding the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Following the joint session of Congress on Wednesday, Albayalde said they respect the views of lawmakers about the martial law extension but also asserted they view the matter differently as enforcers of the decree.
“Probably they see it on a different way we see it. We, of course, respect the opinions of our lawmakers [pero] syempre iba when you are on the ground, and when you are the one implementing it,” Albayalde told reporters.
“We see it on a different perspective probably because we are law enforcers and we are military men. ‘Yon ang nakikita natin for so many years, itong nakita natin na napakagandang momentum that could bring lasting peace sa Mindanao,” he added.
Albayalde then shot down allegations by the Makabayan bloc that military rule in Mindanao has been riddled with human rights violations, including the incident involving ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo.
Castro and Ocampo were arrested and charged with human trafficking over the transport of Lumad children in Davao del Norte last month. But Castro and Ocampo, both out on bail, asserted they were on a rescue mission since soldiers have been threatening Lumad communities in the province.
“Puro allegations kasi. They can always allege. Pero, as far as we’re concerned, wala naman silang mapakitang papeles eh. What they are saying are all legitimate military operations,” the PNP chief said.
“These are not human rights violations, these are legitimate police and military operations […] Kung meron silang alam, please give the incidents to us and we will investigate,” he also said.
He then guaranteed that human rights violations will not happen even with the imposition of martial law in Mindanao.
“Of course. Even the President has said that repeatedly, na mag-o-operate ang military at PNP, nobody is above the law, even in martial law,” he noted.
Congress has granted President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend military rule in Mindanao, with the House of Representatives and the Senate voting jointly for a total of 235 affirmative votes, 28 negative votes, and one abstention.
During the joint session, Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon said martial law extension cannot be justified because there is no existing uprising in Mindanao, unlike when martial law was initially approved in 2017 amid the Marawi siege staged by ISIS-inspired Maute terror group.
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Escudero, who voted against the extension of martial law in Mindanao, said peace and order as well as economic gains in the region can actually be achieved without military rule. Gabriel Pabico Lalu, INQUIRER.net /kga
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