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No extension of martial law in Mindanao

A protester calls for the end of Martial Law in Mindanao during a protest in line with the International Human Rights Day held at Freedom Park on Tuesday. Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo says President Rodrigo Duterte will not extend Martial Law in Mindanao beyond Dec. 31, 2019.

Malacañang is not extending martial rule for the fourth time in Mindanao.

This announcement pleased the private sector and the city government as local officials have been rooting for the city’s exemption should martial law be extended for another year.

The Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. supported this decision in a statement issued yesterday afternoon shortly after the news broke out.

“We expect Mindanao’s high growth and investor interest to continue growing and express our intent to pursue cooperation with the Davao City government, the police and the military to help maintain peace and security, which is a firm foundation for development and progress,” the statement read.

Early this year, City Mayor Sara Duterte sent a letter to President Duterte to reconsider and review the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

The City Council also passed a resolution on August 6, authored by Councilor Mabel Sunga Acosta, committee chair on peace and public safety, requesting the President to exempt Davao City should martial law be extended.

City Councilor Pilar Braga, in a message to Mindanao Times, expressed support to the announcement.

Soldiers guard the grounds of City Hall as part of the intensified security measures in the ongoing Pasko Fiesta. Bing Gonzales

“I am all for it,” Braga said. “If the Palace feels that martial law should not be extended, I’m sure the decision is backed by proper study by the military. We trust such decision. I don’t see any major reason for martial law at this point in time,” she said.

President Rodrigo Duterte heeded the military ground commanders and Philippine security officials’ recommendation not to extend martial law, following the drop in crime incidents in the southern Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

“The Office of the President wishes to announce that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will not extend martial law in Mindanao upon its expiration on December 31, 2019,” Panelo told Palace reporters.

“The Commander-in-Chief made the decision following the assessment of his security and defense advisers of the weakening of the terrorist and extremist rebellion, a result of the capture or neutralization of their leaders, as well as the decrease in the crime index, among the factors considered,” he added.

The siege laid by the Islamic State-inspired Maute group on May 23, 2017 prompted Duterte to place the whole of Mindanao under martial law.

Section 18, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution provides that a President can declare martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus for a period not exceeding 60 days, in case of invasion or rebellion.
The Constitution likewise states that such proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus can either be revoked or extended for a period determined by Congress through joint voting.

Congress extended the initial 60-day martial rule thrice upon the President’s recommendation to help state forces quell the insurgency in Mindanao.

The martial law in the southern part of the country will expire on December 31 this year.
Panelo said the President was optimistic that the state forces are on top of the situation to maintain peace and order in Mindanao, even without the implementation of martial law.
He likewise assured Mindanao residents that any incipient major threat in the besieged region “would be nipped in the bud.”

A protester acts as lady injustice, as rights groups call on justice for slain colleagues during a protest rally in observance of the International Human Rights Day at Freedom Park on Tuesday. Bing Gonzales

“Contrary to the suppositions of the vocal minority on the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao, this decision of the President shows how he responds to the situation on the ground,” he said.

“The Palace is confident on the capability of our security forces in maintaining the peace and security of Mindanao without extending martial Law,” Panelo added.

Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. earlier expressed opposition to any proposal to extend the military rule in Mindanao.

On Oct. 25, Esperon stressed that there was no need to further extend martial law in Mindanao if the Congress is able to pass a measure that amends Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.
RA 9372, which took effect on March 6, 2007, seeks to provide law enforcement and judicial authorities with the legal tools to confront terror threats in the country. (MT pooled report with PNA)

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