Duterte has a bad habit of extending martial law in Mindanao – De Lima


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has deplored Mr. Duterte’s habit of extending martial law in Mindanao as she renewed her outstanding call for him to step down due to his inability to resolve pressing problems the country is facing.

De Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, said she found no sufficient basis to justify the extension of martial law in Mindanao until 2019 but only to terrorize the public into fear and submission.

“Asking for an extension of Martial Law seems to be another habit that Duterte has formed, apart from his other habits of failing to solve inflation, kowtowing to foreign powers, covering up drug smuggling and evading responsibility for ordering the slaughter of the poor,” she said.

In a commentary published in Rappler entitled “Martial Law Part 4!”, De Lima said that instead of a martial law extension, Mr. Duterte should resign because his habit of extending martial law only proves his inefficiency to solve the continuing rebellion in Mindanao.

“After three installments and more than one and a half of martial law, there is still one pressing question that remains unanswered: What martial law powers has the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) been using all this time, and what martial law powers do they intend to use moving forward?

“Without an answer to that question, there is no way that the AFP, much less Duterte himself or Congress or the Supreme Court, can claim that there is sufficient basis to extend Martial Law,” she said.

The former justice secretary maintained it is high time for Duterte “to surrender the post so that a better person can do the job right. Because by his own admission, he has failed.”

In a joint session last Dec. 12, the Upper and Lower Chambers of Congress in a vote 235-28-1 granted Duterte’s request to extend anew the declaration of martial law in Mindanao from December 31, 2018 to one more year.

Mr. Duterte’s now-approved request would place the entire Mindanao under the military rule for a total of over two and a half years, or from May 23, 2017 to December 31, 2019. He first declared martial law in the province following the Marawi siege.

Based on the AFP’s data, there were a total of 537 barangays that were controlled by communist rebels, Dawlah Islamiyah, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the Abu Sayyaf Group, which accounts for only 6.09 percent out of the total 8,813 barangays.

The lady Senator from Bicol said it is clear that the Duterte administration is incapable of solving a problem, not because the AFP lacks the ability or the will to, but because the political leaders lack the political will or incentive to solve it.

“He (Duterte) can’t claim that, of course, because it is obviously untrue. The AFP has been effective. It has clearly been successful in eliminating the threats against public safety, even without need to resort to any special or extraordinary power under martial law,” she said.

“One thing they said is true, Martial Law has a psychological effect. What they don’t say is that it is a psychological effect that is, apparently and by their own admission, ineffective against hardened rebels and terrorists, but nonetheless highly effective against the citizenry,” she added.

De Lima said she believes that the administration pushed for the extension of martial law because its candidates desperately need to get elected in 2019 elections to cement their stronghold and perpetuate themselves in power.

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