By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Two senators on Saturday expressed support for the proposed extension of martial law in Mindanao to clear the war-torn city of Marawi of terrorist remnants.
Senator Gregorio Honasan, chair of the Senate committee on national defense and security, said he believes that extending that martial rule in the southern regions would benefit “the most important chapter in the happenings in Marawi City, that is, its recovery, rehab and reconstruction.”
On Thursday, officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said they may seek to prolong martial law to address further threats in the southern regions of the country. The military rule, which President Duterte ordered immediately after the Marawi siege broke out late May, is expected to end this year.
“Marahil ay naniniguro lang ang liderato ng ating military at kapulisan, na walang magiging balakid o sagabal kapag nandun na tayo sa chapter na yun. Dahil mas madali yung clearing (Probably the leadership of the military and police that there would be no hindrance when we’re already in that chapter because the clearing would have been easier),” Honasan, who also leads the ad hoc committee on Marawi rehabilitation, said in an interview over radio Saturday.
Should the AFP pursue its proposal, Honasan, however, said they must submit a report explaining the need to extend martial law. He said this as he stressed congressional procedures, like joint sessions, that have to be undertaken, as conducted previously.
Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, meanwhile, said most residents prefer retaining martial law, fearing the resurgence of the terrorist attacks and abuse of loose firearms.
Ejercito was in Marawi City Saturday to meet officials of the Task Force Bangon Marawi for the rehabilitation of the devastated city, including the provision of houses for displaced residents. He chairs the Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement.
“Base sa mga nakausap ko — hindi lang local officials, AFP o PNP — yung mga ordinaryong mamamayan sa Mindanao, eh halos lahat ng tao mas pabor sila sa martial law, kasi ayaw na nilang maulit yung Marawi (siege), yung presence of firearms. Kumbaga traumatized na (Based on those I talked to — not only local officials, AFP or PNP – the ordinary citizens in Mindanao, almost all are in favor martial, because they don’t want the Marawi [siege] repeated. The presence of firearms as if traumatized already,” he said in a separate interview.
“Kung may martial law, talagang controlled na ang firearms (If there is martial law, firearms are really controlled),” he added.
Ejercito said the military rule in Mindanao could be a “blessing” to “totally cleanse” the region of loose firearms and “private armies.”
Both senators, on the other hand, allayed the public’s fear of human rights violations under the Mindanao martial law.
“Iba naman yung martial law ngayon sa martial law dati. Yung martial
law dati was to prolong or perpetuate power, ito, is for security. Ngayon walang report on abuse on the part of the police (Martial law now is different from martial law before. The martial law before was to prolong or perpetuate, This is for security. Armed Forces, no incidence of human rights violations, so I will support it,” Ejercito said.