Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Friday expressed his support for the extension of martial law (ML) in Mindanao, while Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said he would support whatever the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte is.
Dela Rosa said as someone from Mindanao, he knew the situation there and thus was in full-support of the extension so long as it was not forever.
“Pabor ako, pabor. I am from Mindanao, pabor ako kung hihingiin nila, okay ako… Hindi naman eternity. Kung hindi eternity okay ako. Six months, one year, okay ako diyan,” he said at the sidelines of the 27th founding anniversary celebration of the Police Community Affairs and Development Group in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
According to dela Rosa, criminals and terrorists could not be isolated in a single area, so martial law would be advantageous.
“Basta ako, I am from Mindanao, nobody can question me kung gugustuhin ko dahil ramdam ko ang epekto ng martial law na may naidulot na maganda,” he added.
In the same event, Go, also from Mindanao, said he would wait for the decision of President Duterte, and the recommendation of the military and the police authorities.
“Hintayin na lang po natin ang wisdom ni Pangulong Duterte, ako sinusuportahan ko po si Pangulong Duterte dito dahil ako mismo bilang taga-Mindanao, alam ko po ang kasalukyang nangyayari d’un lalo na po sa terorismo sa Mindanao,” he said.
“Ako, bilang senador, hintayin ko na lang po ang rekomendasyon ng Executive,” he added.
Meanwhile, Datu Basher “Bong” Alonto of the Muslim Community for Justice and Peace, said the Muslim community in Mindanao supported the extension of martial law.
“Para sa akin, para siguro sa Muslim leaders, nagkakaisa kami, kailangan talaga palawigin. Nakikita naman natin, nagkakaisa kami na kailangan talaga ituloy ang martial law sa Mindanao,” Alonto said.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) did not give its final stand on the issue, saying it was too early to decide on the extension.
“Well, sa PNP nakikita natin na maaga pa para magbigay tayo ng assessment antabayanan po natin matapos ang period ng martial law hanggang December, subalit bago man matapos ‘yan maglalabas din ng statement ang Philippine National Police ng assessment at recommendation,” PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said.
On Wednesday, PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said it was too early to decide on the extension of martial law in Mindanao amid the reported presence of foreign terrorists in the country.
“Well, that still very far and martial law natin until December pa,” he said in press briefing.
Albayalde added that if the President sees a peaceful situation in Mindanao, martial law might not be necessary to be extended.
“Who knows, baka before December gumanda na rin ‘yung situation d’un and probably the President will not see relevance of martial law anymore (Who knows, maybe before December the situation in Mindanao would be better, and probably the President will not see the relevance of martial law anymore),” he said.
The issue loomed after National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said on Tuesday that he would recommend anew the martial law extension in Mindanao for another year.
Duterte signed Proclamation 216 on May 23, 2017, which declared martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao for 60 days in order to stabilize the situation in Mindanao after the Maute group besieged Marawi City, capital of Lanao del Sur.
Esperon recommended the extension before President Duterte’s executive order expired.
Congress approved it until Dec. 31, 2017 and extended it for another year, as the President said “rebellion still persists in Mindanao and that the public safety requires the continuation of martial law in the whole of Mindanao.”