Visayas reps divided on martial law extension

Sunday, December 10, 2017
Keith A. Calayag

TWO lawmakers from the Visayas region have shared what would be their vote once the Congress deliberates the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Negros Occidental Third District Rep. Albee Benitez, in an interview with Sunstar, said he will vote for its extension, for as long as the imposition of martial law will not hamper the basic human rights of the people in Mindanao.

"If this will really ensure peace and not unjustly hamper basic human rights, then I don't mind extendng martial law," Benitez said.

Negros Oriental third district Rep. Arnulfo Tevez Jr. said he will leave it to the wisdom of the representatives from Mindanao.

"If the local congressmen who are the representative of their people think it is better for their people, then I will support them dahil mas alam nila yung locality nila e," Tevez said.

The two lawmakers, who have inspected the temporary houses being built for the victims of Marawi siege in Baranggay Sagonsongan in Marawi on Thursday, also shared with Sunstar how the Maranaos view the martial law.

Tevez said, "mas gusto nila (martial law) It makes the place more peaceful daw."

Benitez bared that the soldiers stationed in Marawi are in favor of the martial law extension.

"Sabi nila (military), there are still remnants of the Maute group; there are still clearing operations that has to be done so they would like to request for an extension," said Benitez.

Benitez added that for the military, martial law seems to be effective.

"With martial law in place mukhang sabi nila it's more peaceful. Alam nila na hindi sila basta-basta pwede gumawa ng kalokohan," said Benitez.

Last week, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, citing terrorist recruitment and increasing violence from the communist rebels, recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the extension of Martial law in Mindanao.

The martial law imposition, which began on May 23, is aimed to quell members of the Maute terror group who attacked Marawi.

The President is yet to decide whether he will adopt said recommendation.

If Duterte recommends the extension, he will seek the approval of the Congress for the extension of martial law which will supposedly end on December 31.

Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin in a statement on Sunday however said that the basis of the extension which are potential terrorist threats and for expedient rehab of Marawi, do not fall under the constitutional basis of actual rebellion or insurrection and when public safety so requires.

"It is stretching our imagination and devoid of any constitutional basis. It puts primacy on fear rather than facts," said Villarin.

"It will be a dangerous precedent and can justify expanding martial law all over the country especially when other terror groups have been identified that operates outside Mindanao," he added. (SunStar Philippines)