Lorenzana assures no abuses amid calls for martial law extension
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday allayed fears of abuses of martial law in Mindanao, amid calls in Congress for possible extension of martial law until 2022.
“The Filipino people can rest assured, however, that if martial law is extended, they can continue to trust their defense and security establishments since every decision we make and operation we undertake is anchored on the rule of law and respect for human rights,” he said in a statement.
“They can trust their Armed Forces to protect them and advance the people’s best interest,” he added.
Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, after the fighting in Marawi City broke out. The siege entered its 50th day on Tuesday, with almost 500 people killed and thousands of residents displaced. Several groups have also alleged abuses committed by government forces in Marawi.
The 60-day declaration period will end on July 22, and some lawmakers are pushing for the 5-year extension of martial law. President Rodrigo Duterte himself said he would not lift the martial law before his second state of the nation address.
Lorenzana, the martial law administrator, said they will follow the decision of the President regarding the martial law extension.
“As the Administrator of Martial Law in Mindanao, we will follow whatever path will be laid out by the national government,” he said.
But he hinted that he was in favor of a shorter martial law extension period over the five-year period proposed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
“While we respect the position of our lawmakers and laud their support to the military, we believe that the declaration of martial law is an extraordinary power of the President as Commander-in-Chief that must be resorted to only when warranted by our national security circumstances,” Lorenzana said.
“Our Constitution has prescribed limitations precisely to prevent its being abused as it has implications to the country’s peace and order, economy, trade, tourism, and our people’s way of life,” he added.
Last week, Lorenzana said they are set to make a recommendation to the President on whether to extend the 60-day martial law period which ends next week. IDL
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.