Martial law extension in Mindanao hailed, slammed
Malacañang on Wednesday lauded the Supreme Court decision affirming President Rodrigo Duterte’s extension of martial law in Mindanao, but the country’s communist movement warned that it could lead to military rule nationwide.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the ruling underscored “the unity of the whole government in its bid to defeat terrorism and prevent the spread (of ideas espoused by) local and foreign terrorist groups.”
Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, however, warned that Mr. Duterte “could use the ruling to perpetuate martial law not only in Mindanao but nationwide.”
“The Filipino people must unite to fight the Duterte reign of terror and greed and defend through their own mass struggle their basic democratic rights and freedoms,” the Netherlands-based Sison said in a statement on Wednesday.
Another dissenter, Ryan Amper, spokesperson for the Mindanao-based group Barug Katungod Mindanao, said only four of 10 Mindanaoans supported martial law.
Citing two surveys on the issue conducted in the last quarter of 2017 by the Social Weather Stations and the Ateneo de Davao University, Amper said at least 60 percent of respondents were opposed to its extension.
In a decision written by Associate Justice Noel Tijam, the high court on Tuesday dismissed the four consolidated petitions that argued there was no basis to extend martial law in Mindanao since Marawi City had been liberated from Islamic State-inspired terrorists in October last year.
The petitions were filed by several lawmakers, as well as former Commission on Human Rights Chair Loretta Ann Rosales, and former Commission on Elections Chair Christian Monsod.
Rule of law
The high court ruled that “public safety requires the extension (of martial rule), as shown by facts presented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”
Roque described the ruling as “a manifestation of confidence in law enforcement agencies that they shall … continue to protect our people, secure Mindanao, and pursue the bigger task of rehabilitation while upholding the rule of law, human rights and International Humanitarian Law.”
Mr. Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 last year, when the siege of Marawi began. Martial law was later extended to Dec. 31 by the Senate and the House of Representatives, voting in a joint session.
Majority lawmakers later voted to extend it for a year from Jan. 1 on the recommendation of military and police authorities.
In Iligan City, Vice Mayor Jemar Vera Cruz said oppositors to martial law in Mindanao came mainly from Manila.
The people of Mindanao know better because “we are the ones affected by the terrorists’ activities,” said Vera Cruz, a Catholic priest on leave.
“The terrorists are very near to us and we are in imminent danger. We know it because of verified reports coming from our people on the ground, especially our operatives,” he added. —With reports from Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Divina Suson and Allan Nawal