A LAWMAKER from Mindanao yesterday filed a resolution urging President Rodrigo Duterte to extend martial law in Mindanao for another six months.
Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao filed House Resolution 2302, which aims to extend the military rule from January 1 to June 30, 2019.
Siao cited the terror plot reports and the need to secure the May 2019 elections as reasons for another martial rule extension.
“Several areas in Mindanao have been identified by the Commission on Elections as election hotspots,” Siao said.
The intelligence services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police reported the presence of ISIS bomb experts positioned in some areas of Mindanao plotting to generate widespread panic and terror among the populace.
“It is urgently imperative that government authority must ensure peace, orderly and honest May 2019 elections in Mindanao, including and especially in the Bangsamoro Autonomous region, and the adjacent regions,” Siao said.
Siao also mentioned the sporadic incidents of violence in Mindanao, including the recent ambush of five agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Lanao del Sur.
Two solons expressed strong opposition to Siao’s proposal.
According to Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, extending martial law for six months due to incidents of sporadic violence has no constitutional basis.
“Only if there is rebellion, invasion or lawless violence and when public safety is at stake that martial law can be justified,” Villarin said.
“If Rep. Siao insists that nothing has changed since martial law was imposed in Mindanao, thus, the need to extend it, then something is wrong here,” the Akbayan solon said.
Villarin also said the extension of martial rule means an admission of failure, not success, as martial law is not the solution to addressing the problems of poverty and conflict in Mindanao.
“If the terrorists are still capable to sow terror, then we should be afraid because our military can’t handle them. It prevents people from engaging in dialogue and conversation on how to tackle such problems or they become participants in solving the problem,” he added.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate warned that “floating the possibility of further extending martial law in Mindanao can be exploited to ensure the victory of administration allies in next year’s midterm elections.”