DND sets conditions for martial law end
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana may recommend the lifting of martial law in Mindanao by July once lawmakers introduce amendments to the country’s antiterrorism law.
At Monday’s forum at National Defense College of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo, Lorenzana said revisions in Republic Act No. 9372, or the Human Security Act of 2007, and other laws would enable the defense establishment to better face security challenges.
Among key security concerns he cited were the communist rebellion, violent extremism and terrorism, as well as the territorial and maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
He said these were compounded by the effects of climate change, increasing attacks in cyberspace and the proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives.
Lorenzana sought support for the defense department’s legislative agenda in updating and amending laws, particularly the Human Security Act.
The defense secretary said amendments to the existing antiterrorism law “would no longer necessitate the proclamation of martial law and suspension of habeas corpus.”
He said it was the defense establishment’s “main argument” in explaining the need to extend martial law in Mindanao.
“We told them that the people (security forces) now have no teeth,” Lorenzana said.
He said he told the Supreme Court that if lawmakers passed the amendments within the first half of 2019, “then I can recommend the cessation of martial law by July 1st.”
The proposed amendments to the law included giving law enforcers authority to detain terrorism suspects for 30 days, wiretapping and surveillance as well as monitoring of online activity on suspects for 90 days without need for court approval, and easing up the P500,000 penalty for law enforcers who err in arresting and detaining suspects.
Lorenzana said the extension of martial law in Mindanao had helped security forces neutralize 1,403 enemies of the state and persons affiliated with local terrorist and communist groups from Jan. 1 to September 2018.
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