PHILIPPINE National Police chief Ronald de la Rosa sees the need to extend martial law in Mindanao because the security situation there, particularly in Marawi City, is still critical.
De la Rosa and Interior and Local Government Secretary Catalino Cuy briefed some senators on the law and order situation and concerns of local governments in Marawi City on Tuesday.
Present during the closed-door briefing were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, Senate Majority Leader
Vicente Sotto 3rd and Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Gregorio Honasan 2nd and Joseph Victor Ejercito.
Asked whether they discussed martial law extension, de la Rosa said, “It’s difficult to talk. I’m not the Senate spokesman. I was asked personally what will be my recommendation based on my assessment of the situation.”
Asked what his recommendation was, de la Rosa replied: “Extend (but) within the legal framework. I will recommend the maximum (period).”
“Because it is still dangerous in that area (Marawi City),” he explained.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 hours after the Maute Group seized some areas in Marawi City.
Duterte had said that he will wait for the recommendation of the military before he decides whether to extend martial law or not. Under the law, the President has to ask congress to extend martial law and lawmakers will decide how long it will be imposed.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has yet to declare its own recommendation because it is still waiting for the assessment of ground commanders in Marawi City.
On Tuesday, however, AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla ruled out expanding the coverage of martial law.
“It never crossed the mind of the Armed Forces to raise martial law nationwide because there is no need for it anyway,” Padilla told reporters in a news briefing.
The Supreme Court has ruled that President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law is legal but some justices said it should have been limited to Marawi City.
“The declaration of martial law and its possible extension is dependent on the assessment that will be done by the Armed Forces. The assessment is not yet done…we need to wait for the assessment to be done because that will be our basis and we will submit this assessment to the office of the Secretary of National Defense, who is the administrator of martial law, and he will be the one to forward the recommendation to the President,” Padilla explained.
The martial law declared in Mindanao will expire on July 23 or the day before the President delivers his second state of the nation address.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd on Tuesday said any request to extend the validity of Proclamation 216 placing Mindanao under martial rule must come from the President.
“Let’s wait for the move of the President,” Pimentel said when asked to comment on the proposal of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to extend martial law for five years or until 2022.
“My position is, any extension of martial law must be requested by the President. So, the idea about the need to extend it must come from him and not from anyone else,” the senator said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon rejected Alvarez’s proposal. “Congress, in a joint session, should debate and decide first on the need to extend martial law before talking about the length or period of the extension.”
Sen. Francis Escudero shared Pimentel’s view. “Only the President can ask for an extension of martial law. Both Palace and AFP are lukewarm and have distanced themselves from Alvarez’s proposal,” he said.
“I think we can stop rebellion within a year. Terrorism is something else because it can happen anywhere,” Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd said.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian warned that extending martial law up to 2022 would discourage foreign investments.
“I think the country’s interest is really to get back to normalcy as soon as possible. Personally, I’m not inclined to have a protracted martial law. Martial law really sends a different connotation to other countries,” he said.
“And even though you explain this martial law is different from the previous martial law or the martial law of other countries, martial law is martial law and serious investors will not come to Mindanao if they know martial law is being operated within that area,” he said.
“I head the economic affairs committee, from my economic standpoint, it will send the wrong signal to potential investors especially to Mindanao,” he added.
“Prior to martial law, I know for a fact that many (businessmen) wanted to invest in Mindanao considering the President is from there and he is really pushing for more investment in the region,” he said. “But if you have a five-year martial law, the potential investors will now hesitate and think twice before going to Mindanao.”
with Dempsey Reyes