Some sectors in Mindanao consisting of leaders of business organizations, civic groups and some local government units (LGUs) are mulling the idea of recommending to President Rodrigo Duterte the lifting of Martial Law in certain specific areas. The more active and vocal among the business and trade sectors are those in Davao City. And as expected they are looking at the city as one area where Martial Rule should be lifted first.
If such recommendation will finally materialize and submitted to the President for his consideration, we can be certain that making Davao City the first beneficiary of the lifting will create intrigues considering that the President is from here. The plan to make such recommendation of Martial Law lifting came about after foreign business organization leaders, ambassadors from other countries, heads of missions and consular offices, and potential investors made their courtesy call on the city mayor last week. The courtesy audience with the mayor was part of the activities of the 5th Investment Convention (ICON) held at the SMX Convention Center in Lanang. They voiced out their concern of the possible negative impact of the continuation of Martial Law on the economic strides of the island. During their call to the mayor the foreign business and government dignitaries highlighted more the possibility of Davao City as the pilot area for the Martial Rule lifting if such is given due consideration by the President.
But in the absence of a serious discernment as to why there was that formal manifestation of business-trade leaders, ambassadors and consular officials, any uninitiated Davaoeno, or Mindanaoan for that matter, would have asked, “Why?” After all, despite the more than one- year-old military regime in the island, there is hardly any activity involving the military or the police that would highlight the existence of the rule, more specifically in cities like Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, and even Zamboanga.
So, why the need to lift Martial Law when only those places where some known terrorist organizations and their supporters are reported active are the areas where there are concentration of military and police personnel?
But the other day however, we were given a heads-up on the reason why local officials, business and civic leaders appeared to have weighed in on the proposition that Mayor Sara be requested to serve as bridge to her President father for their request to lift the military rule.
City Tourism Operations Office Chief GeneroseTecson, in an interview with local television reporters, said that the increase in the number of tourist arrivals in the city does not mean that the industry is not affected by the imposition of Martial Law in Mindanao.
According to Tecson, the arrivals could have been much more during the last two years if foreign nationals were not wary of the travel advisories of their governments preventing them to include Mindanao in their itinerary.
The top Tourism executive of the city disclosed that foreigners world usually secure travel insurance for their personal protection when they visit another country. So, when they procure travel insurance and disclose that they would be traveling to the Philippines with Mindanao as one of their destinations, they are either denied coverage or the insurance firm demands that they forego plans of visiting any city in Mindanao.
The same message is also the context of the statement of Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) President Arturo Milan during a related media interview.
Our former boss at Davao Light was candid enough to admit that in his talks with foreign diplomats, business leaders from abroad and officials of local and international trade and business chambers in the sidelines of the ICON, the same sentiment came into the surface.
According to Milan, the diplomats and business executives and even local officials from different LGUs in Mindanao who attended last week’s ICON in Davao City told him that perhaps it is now time for the President to lift martial law, specifically in Davao City.
The sharing of the common sentiment of the important personalities who attended the recent convention enlightened us all the more on the position of some people on the perpetuation of the martial law regime in Mindanao. Hence, we believe, it would be for the benefit of Mindanaoans if the military regime be done away with in selected areas of the island even as it remains a necessary measure in some of its parts.
However, we find it awkward to make Davao City as the pilot area for the lifting of martial law, more so because the President is from the city and that the request is to have the recommendation transmitted to the President through his daughter mayor of Davao City Inday Sara.
We are therefore, making our cent’s worth of suggestion that if there is any lifting of martial law it has, in addition to Davao City, to be in such places as Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Dipolog or Dapitan, and maybe Butuan or Surigao City. The President may even consider Zamboanga City as another area where Martial Law needs to be lifted.
And by nature of their history some of Mindanao’s provinces and cities, sadly, have to be considered the last for martial rule lifting proposition.