By Nonoy E. Lacson and Ali G. Macabalang
Zamboanga City — The Armed Forces of the Philippines, Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) yesterday expressed full support to the extension of martial law in Mindanao, saying the measure would be of great help to the police and military authorities in neutralizing terrorists and other criminal groups operating in this part of the country.
AFP-WestMinCom Commander Lt. Gen Carlito G Galvez Jr. said martial law has been “of great help to the police and military running after terrorists and organized criminal groups in Mindanao.”
Meanwhile, Zamboanga City Rep Celso Lobregat said rebellion has not yet been completely suppressed despite Duterte’s declaration that Marawi City has been “liberated.”
The solon said that terrorism “didn’t end in Marawi, and in fact, the continuous acts of terror and rebellion continue to persist in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi where remnants of the Islamic State-inspired terrorist group Abu Sayyaf is present and being pursued by government troops.”
Both Senate and the House of Representatives also extended by a year the suspension of the privilege of the “Writ of Habeas Corpus,” which allow police and military authorities to arrest persons of interests without warrants of arrest.
But not everybody in Mindanao agreed with the extension of martial rule until the end of 2018.
Maranao lawyers belonging to the Lanao del Sur chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IPB) expressed objection to the extension because they believe that this will stand in the way of any investigation in alleged cases of looting by soldiers in Marawi City, particularly that at the City Hall.
“We, members of the IBP Lanao del Sur Chapter, were hoping against hope that martial law shall only be a painful memory after 31 December 2017. Alas, we were disheartened and disappointed when Congress extended martial law for another year, or until December 31, 2018,” IBP chapter president Mino Macalandap said in a statement.