DAVAO CITY—Martial Law’s designated implementor Gen. Eduardo Año said that they only have a simple guideline to follow for the 60 days Martial Law in the entire Island of Mindanao following the Marawi siege.
Año said that the military’s guideline is to end the Marawi siege as soon as possible and to finish all the lawless groups in the island. Curfews will be implemented in selected areas only.
“Basta tapusin namin yung Marawi crisis at destroy all lawless elements in Mindanao,” Año said in a text message. [We’ll just have to end the Marawi crisis and destroy all lawless elements in Mindanao].
Asked if the guideline is applicable to the New People’s Army, Año said they will deal with the rebels differently.
“Our actions towards the NPA will depend on the ongoing peace negotiations, aside from them, we will destroy the others,” he said.
Año said the military will still abide with the result of the peace talks between the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front and the Government of the Philippines.
The GPH and CPP-NDF panel are now on the 5th round of peace talks in The Netherlands which is slated on May 27 to June 1.
The panel will tackle socioeconomic reforms, and the bilateral ceasefire.
On Saturday, NDF peace panel Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili issued a statement that the NDF is ready to unite with the GPH in fighting against the terrorist groups.
“The NDFP is prepared to unite with the GRP in the fight against groups that are terrorists because they mainly target, terrorize and harm civilians,” Agcaoili said.
Agcaoili, however, urged the GPH to reconsider the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, since it will not solve the social, economic and political problem of the country.
He also calls on the CPP to reconsider their call of intensified offensive operations in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, two opposition lawmakers on Saturday supported President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in the entire Mindanao following the attacks by the Maute terrorist group.
Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza appealed to the public to trust the President’s decision.
“We have to trust the President’s judgment on this crucial issue. He is the only one in possession of the complete data and intelligence on exactly how serious this problem is. Our present Constitution has enough safeguards and limitations to ensure against abuse,” Atienza, a House deputy minority leader, said, stressing that the President’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao is subject to review and is limited to 60 days ‘unless extended by Congress.’
Atienza, who fought against martial law then, said the framers of the 1987 Constitution were wise enough to make sure that the traumatic experience of the 1972 martial law will never be repeated.
“First of all, the declaration of martial law under the present Constitution has to be affirmed by Congress sitting as one, within 48 hours after the President declares such and the President has to justify his declaration before Congress either in person or in writing,” Atienza said.
“Unlike in the 1935 Constitution which was the basis of the declaration of martial law in 1972, only specific areas can be placed under martial law and not the entire country,” Atienza added.
More importantly, Atienza said the other branches of the government: the legislative and the judiciary remain functional even under a state of martial law.
Atienza also pointed out that we should continue to be vigilant and monitor the effects of this declaration on the civilian population including the business sector not only in Mindanao but the whole country.
“We must continue to be vigilant and make sure that constitutional limitations are strictly adhered to so that the mistakes of the past do not happen ever again,” Atienza said.
For his part, Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque said the President’s imposition of martial law in South was pursuant to Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution.
“Principally, Martial Law may be declared in cases of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it,” Roque, a lawyer, said. “The bottom line is that the President has access to information that is only available to him as Commander-in-Chief. I am not in the position to second-guess him.”
Roque said he believes that the President, being a lawyer himself, will observe the requirements established by the 1987 Constitution for the declaration and imposition of martial law.
He also allayed fears that the President’s imposition of martial law would lead to abuses.
“While the declaration also suspends the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for the same period, it is important to stress that other remedies for the protection of civil and political rights issued by the Supreme Court under the Constitution, namely the privileges of the Writ of Amparo and the Writ of Habeas Data, remain in place,” Roque said.
In a related development, Malacañang commended the support of Catholic bishops on the President’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
“We laud the good bishop’s support of the President’s war against violent extremism in Mindanao,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said. “Placing his diocesan’s well being above all else, he also encourages the citizens to be extra careful and to cooperate with the military.”
“The government appreciates support from all sectors, no matter how nuanced,” he added.
“We hope his fellow bishops and other clergy follow his example for their parishes, and prioritize the peace and safety of the people,” he added.
Ozamiz City Archbishop Martin Jumoad has expressed support to Duterte’s martial law declaration, saying, “it is vital that government restores peace and order in Lanao del Sur.”
Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato, in behalf of the bishops of Mindanao, likewise released a statement that they are not rejecting martial law.
“We urge the government to remove the causes of terrorism, such as poverty and injustice, through just and accountable governance focused solely on the common good,” Quevedo said.
Abella assured that mechanisms to address rights abuses, as he called on Muslim leaders to condemn the extremist violence in Marawi.
“We also call on Muslim leaders to speak out against terrorist groups, who use religion to disguise their barbarity, staining the peaceful name of Islam with the blood of innocents during this holy month of Ramadan,” he added.
Over at the Department of Foreign Affairs, DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that his office may conduct a customary diplomatic briefing about Martial Law next week.
After Duterte cut his trip short in Russia, Cayetano stayed behind in Russia and pushed through with the itinerary. Later, he flew to the United Arab Emirates to meet the Filipino community there on Saturday.
It is a common practice for a host country to hold a briefing with its foreign ambassadors about the sudden change with the one’s national policy or if there is a conflict.