Sunday, 18 February, 2018

Lawmakers slam Alvarez's proposal to extend martial law to 2022

Debra Rodriguez | 11 July, 2017, 00:25

Duterte has not indicated any plan to lift martial law in Marawi until its full 60-day term, not even before his second State of the National Address (Sona) scheduled for July 24, unless security officers tell him Mindanao is finally safe.

Duterte, who was forced to cut short a state visit to Russian Federation when fighting broke out in Marawi, potentially courted controversy with his declaration of martial law, a sensitive subject for most Filipinos.

The military, on Friday, said they will submit to President Rodrigo Duterte as early as this week its recommendations whether to extend the martial law or not.

In fact, he said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is finalizing the preparation for the deployment of "well-experienced" engineers for its Engineering Units to help in the rehabilitation process particularly in the restoration of public infrastructures such as school building, mosques, multi-purpose centers, farm-to-market roads and health centers, among others.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez made a surprise move this week when he announced that he personally wanted to extend martial law in 2022 or until Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte steps down from his role as president. This is nothing like the Marcos martial law at all.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said the extension of martial law in Mindanao was merely Alvarez's "personal opinion", but he disagrees with it. "Before it makes a recommendation to the commander-in-chief, the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] must have an intelligent basis to make whatever recommendation there is for extension or lifting". The police and military had attempted to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the supposed "emir" in the Philippines of worldwide terrorist group Islamic State. On July 4, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to Duterte's declaration brought by several opposition lawmakers, ruling that it was not inconsistent with constitutional provisions and was "necessary for the country's survival".

An official from the country's Board of Investments in a telephone interview downplayed the impact of martial law on foreign investments, saying that there had been no significant changes in activity since the conflict in Marawi erupted.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the Philippines denounced the plan to extend the imposition of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

"Civil and political rights continue to be violated by checkpoints, random searches by AFP soldiers, threats against the right to express views, and so on", the CPP said.

Mr. Padilla said troops are still pursuing 80 to 100 militants in the war-torn city, among them, hostages coerced to fight and foreign combatants who have joined forces with the Maute terrorists. The death toll has breached the 500 mark, with 39 civilians killed, 379 terrorists killed, and 89 government troops killed in action.

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