It simply boggles my mind why critics of the administration, specifically the Commission on Human rights (CHR), are making a big brouhaha of the one year martial law extension in Mindanao being asked by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Note that Duterte, on May 23, placed the entire island of Mindanao under martial law after the ISIS-inspired Maute group attacked Marawi City.
The initial declaration was supposed to end after 60 days, but Congress, in joint session, approved Duterte’s request to extend it until December 31.
In October, Duterte declared Marawi City free from terrorists following the killings of terror leaders Isnilon Hapilon, Omar Maute and a bunch of other Mautes and their followers.
But, does this mean that the same rebellion will not happen again, or that can it be safely said that we have seen the last of it – an ISIS-inspired insurgency that has practically left Marawi City in ruins?
Lest we forget, we are talking about Mindanao, the second largest island in the country, where it also has the largest concentration of ethnic minorities in the Philippines. Although Muslims are no longer a majority, still the Islamic culture is very evident with the presence of many mosques.
Thus, the elusive peace that government has been trying to establish with the radical Muslims in some parts of Mindanao continues to beacon Islamic extremists that want a land of their own or a caliphate, as they wanted to establish in Marawi City.
If Duterte critics have only the information or intelligence reports that the president has in his hand relative to peace and order and security matters of the nation, I don’t think they will be making a lot of noise about the one year extension of martial law the president is asking Congress to approve.
After Marawi, other places in Mindanao is still vulnerable to extremist attacks as the killing of leaders does not necessarily extinguish the life of their fanatical organization that wants nothing but to dismember a country searching for lasting peace in Mindanao.
Besides this is not an independent decision made by the Duterte alone. The latter had to act on the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The AFP had information about an ongoing recruitment by terror groups and an increasing violence from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), which has been tagged as a terror organization.
The PNP’s recommendation, meanwhile, is based on two factors: the need to address continuing threats from terrorist groups and to facilitate the rehabilitation of Marawi City.
Thus, for CHR and other political critics of President Duterte to say, therefore, that the one year extension asked is a prelude to a “strongman rule” nationwide is baloney.
Unlike the dictator Marcos, Duterte has selfless, and not selfish, interest for the country.