Expecting moves to extend martial law, lawmakers want report on security situation

July 5, 2017 - 2:45 PM
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Marawi marksmen crouch
Army marksmen in combat position as government troops continue their assault on the Maute group in Marawi City. Business group PCCI backed extending martial law beyond July 22, to give government forces time to ferret out terrorists. REUTERS FILE

MANILA, Philippines — Expecting moves to extend martial law in Mindanao after the Supreme Court upheld Proclamation No. 216, several want the military and police to report on the fight against the Maute and other terrorist groups.

They also said Congress should also into reports of alleged human rights violations in the implementation of martial law.

“Since it’s safe to assume that there will be calls for the extension of martial law in Mindanao, it’s important that we first get a report from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National
Police of the actual gains delivered by martial law in the fight against Maute and other terrorists before we even consider an extension,” Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr., who is opposed to martial law, said.

The opposition lawmaker maintained the government can defeat terrorists without resorting to the extraordinary powers of martial law.

“The administration has to justify how one month of martial rule in Mindanao was successful in quelling the uprising (by the) Maute and improving the security situation in the islands,” he said.

Baguilat and fellow opposition lawmaker Tom Villarin of Akabayan party-list called for an investigation into reports of human rights abuses in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur.

Earlier, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Lanao del Sur said it has documented cases of unlawful arrests and searches in Marawi City following the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

“Congress cannot just gloss over this as it hastens to do the bidding of Malacañang for a possible extension,” Baguilat said.

Villarin said he would file a resolution to conduct an inquiry into these allegations.

“Also, we want to look into the operational guidelines of martial law and its impact on the ground. Some indigenous peoples have complained that their freedom of travel have been restricted as many don’t have IDs,” he said.

“With the SC decision of affirming martial law in the whole of Mindanao, it can be expansive and cover all acts remotely related to rebellion, like expressing dissent in social media. These may be dismissed as trivial as against the challenge of national security concerns, civil liberties must not be sacrificed in the altar of state security,” Villarin added.

In a separate statement, PBA party-list Representative Jericho Nograles expressed support for the continued implementation of martial law.

“Please take note that the major arrests happened outside of Marawi and the general sentiment is if the rebels and terrorists manage to get out of Marawi, the tendency is to hide elsewhere in Mindanao,” he said.

He explained that “any newcomer anywhere in Mindanao is vetted for security reasons and so far it is working.”

“If there is any need to call on the executive for a review, I am sure that the Mindanao bloc of Congress will be the first to raise an issue,” the lawmaker who hails from Mindanao added.