Ramos says martial law OK only for parts of Mindanao
(Updated, 1:14 p.m.) Former President Fidel V. Ramos on Friday said martial law should have been declared only in some areas of Mindanao.
“Hindi ko sinasabing nagkamali sya (I’m not saying the President made a mistake). It is probably the correct solution but for a limited part of Mindanao,” Ramos said during a televised press conference.
He said martial law “may be proper in the eyes of the administration” but he said it has to acknowledge that there are peaceful areas in Mindanao that do not need to be subjected to martial law or martial rule.
Ramos said he hopes the government’s security forces and local officials “will be effective enough” in curbing the threat so that martial law in Mindanao “can be terminated as early as possible with no more violence of this nature.”
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday declared martial law in Mindanao after the Maute terror group took over and burned down establishments in Marawi city. It was later reported that more than 40 people were killed during clashes between security forces and the armed group.
Ramos, who encouraged Duterte to run for president, said he feels it is his obligation to “try to correct the sense of fear” of the public because of martial law. He said he has been through martial law before and that many of those in Duterte’s Cabinet and even in Congress have never experienced something like that.
“Many of those in the Cabinet and even in Congress who are very vocal that martial law is very good for Mindanao may not have ever experienced being shot at by someone or being forced to evacuate to a safe place or to (cross) a river in order to reach sanctuary or to lose a job or livelihood or loved members of the family,” he said.
“In the end, it is the President, no matter what kind of advice he gets from anybody, who has to make the decision and answer for the consequences,” he said.
Human rights violations
Ramos also warned against human rights abuses perpetrated because of martial law.
“Tignan natin kung mangyayari ‘yan. Wala pang martial law katakot-takot na ang human rights violations (Let’s see if that will happen. Even before the declaration of martial law there have been a lot of human rights violations already),” he said, alluding to the summary killings linked to the war against illegal drugs.
He said the government should take strong measures but avoid the abuse of human rights.
Nationwide martial law
Ramos pointed out that talk about expanding martial law to Visayas or nationwide has resulted in “a sense of fear and foreboding.”
“Some members in his delegation are making panicky statements,” he said. “If it is true that he had said that martial law may be extended to the Visayas and even nationwide then that is being panicky.”
He pointed out that former president Corazon Aquino faced coup d’état attempts but “she did not panic.”
“She did not declare martial law,” Ramos said. “But she moved around to encourage our people everywhere and not to panic.” IDL/rga
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