The public should not fear the extension of martial law in Mindanao since its extended implementation is needed to weed out terrorists in Marawi City, the military said on Tuesday.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ public affairs office, said military troops need martial law to wipe out the threat from Islamic State-linked Maute Group for good.
Arevalo gave assurances that Filipinos have nothing to fear amid the imminent extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“The AFP remains committed to the strict adherence of existing laws including that of human rights in the enforcement of martial law,” he said in a news briefing in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, the headquarters of the Armed Forces.
“We urge the public to give the same degree of cooperation and assistance that they have contributed, that they have exhibited that led to the successful implementation that yielded positive results. After all, law abiding citizens should not have a problem with martial law,” Arevalo said.
AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año said the end of the crisis in Marawi City will depend on the development in the area in the coming days.
“Once everything is normalized, we will recommend the early termination of martial law. For us in the military, we are just doing our jobs, we do not have any other interests. We just want to bring back normalcy and defeat all the threats, particularly the Maute group,” Año said in a chance interview in Malacañang.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) also on Tuesday backed the proposed extension of martial law in Mindanao, saying it would prevent another rebellion in southern Philippines and ensure the rehabilitation and reconstruction of war-torn Marawi City.
“I think the purpose of that extension is to make sure that there are no uprisings in other areas in Mindanao and make sure that the rehabilitation of Marawi will go smoothly without any interruptions. That is its main purpose,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a news conference at the sidelines of the Northern Mindanao Development Forum.
Asked about the likely impact of martial law on Mindanao’s economy, Pernia said there would be no consequential disruption of businesses in the South.
“Life seems to be going quite normally even in Cagayan de Oro which is quite close to Marawi. It doesn’t seem to be affected by what is going on there. It’s business as usual, really,” he said.
“So in fact, martial law is also an environment that will make people feel safe going about their business. So it’s not really a hindrance. It’s more of ensuring that their lives and businesses are not in danger,” he added.
On the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City, Pernia said the government would have to carefully assess the damage caused by the fighting.
with MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO