By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Lawmakers are divided over the possible extension of martial law in Mindanao.
While, some House leaders gave in to the extension, citing prevailing security threats in the region, Anak Mindanao partylist Rep. Makmod Mending said it is “premature” to tackle whether or not martial law should be extended, as the military has been given the deadline of bringing normalcy back until the end of year.
“To my mind, it is premature to talk about it, the military should be focused on bringing normalcy back. A state of martial law is an indication of government’s failure to bring back normalcy,” Mending said in an interview.
“It would be better for the AFP to show to our people that they are up to the task, they are given up to the end of the year. I believe that is more than enough time given to them so we can return to normalcy,” he said.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla earlier said martial law in Mindanao may be extended until next year because they have to address “the remaining threats in the area,” including the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Abu Sayyaf and other extremist groups in Mindanao.
“I believe that Maj. Gen Padilla was being realistic in stating both possibilities, request for lifting martial law if in their assessment they have already addressed the threat,” Mending said.
On May 23, 2017, President Duterte imposed martial law in Mindanao due to the Marawi siege. He requested Congress to extend martial law in the region until December 31, 2017 and in a special joint session on July 22 this year, a total of 261 Congress members, including 16 senators gave in to his request.
For his part, former Speaker and Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said, “Let’s wait for something more concrete.”
But Deputy Speaker and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro and Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano threw all-out support to the possible extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“I support the possible extension not because the threat is still there but, actual hostilities against by allied terrorists are still there. Martial law should be given the chance to complete its purpose,” Castro said.
“If there’s a need to eradicate these lawless elements using the AFP then why not. This is the time to do it with the AFP in high morale.. Support of the civilians to soldiers is at their peak,” Albano, for his part.
Padilla said the military is flexing its muscles “to address and normalize everything by the end of the year.”
But the network of the local terrorist groups still continues, he said that might force them to recommend the extension of martial law.