MANILA — The Philippine Congress on Wednesday authorized a request from President Rodrigo Duterte to extend martial law on the southern island of Mindanao for one more year, which the president stated was required to fight armed groups there.
Mindanao was placed under martial law in May possibly, soon after neighborhood militants backed by the Islamic State seized the city of Marawi. Soon after months of fighting, the government declared victory there in October. But Mr. Duterte stated Friday that a yearlong extension of martial law was required to make sure the “total eradication” of militancy in Mindanao, an impoverished area exactly where numerous armed groups have been active for decades.
Both homes of Congress authorized Mr. Duterte’s request overwhelmingly, regardless of opposition lawmakers’ warnings that martial law was no longer needed and that to extend it risked eroding constitutional values. The martial law edict provides the military widespread powers, like the potential to carry out warrantless arrests and set up roadblocks and checkpoints.
The president’s request for an extension came shortly following he halted efforts to attain a peace deal with the underground Communist Celebration of the Philippines, whose armed unit, the New People’s Army, has stepped up attacks in remote communities on Mindanao and elsewhere.
Harry Roque, a presidential spokesman, mentioned Wednesday that the extension of martial law was necessary to fight “the communist terrorists and their coddlers, supporters and financiers” and to “ensure the unhampered rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi and the lives of its residents.”
In his request to Congress, Mr. Duterte said that while Islamist militants had been beaten back from Marawi, military intelligence had tracked Islamic State-linked gunmen spreading to other parts of Mindanao, the country’s main southern island and home to the only substantial Muslim population in the overwhelmingly Catholic Philippines. Mr. Duterte said these groups had stepped up their recruitment and “radicalization” activities.
“These activities are geared towards the conduct of intensified atrocities and armed public uprisings in help of their objective of establishing the foundation of a international Islamic caliphate,” Mr. Duterte mentioned.
He identified a militant named Abu Turaipe as the probably successor to Isnilon Hapilon, who was killed in Marawi and was thought to have been the leader of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia. Mr. Turaipe’s ragtag fighters have been engaged in low-intensity fighting with soldiers in marshlands in central Mindanao given that August.
Mr. Turaipe’s group, after dismissed as a tiny band of bandits, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State final year. Mr. Duterte asserted that the group had been gaining strength and was “planning to conduct bombings” in urban centers in the Philippines.
He also said that security forces had been still hunting for at least 185 fighters believed to have been involved in the Marawi siege. More than 1,200 individuals were killed in the fighting in Marawi, the greatest security threat the Philippines has faced considering that Mr. Duterte took workplace last year.
Rights groups and opposition politicians have criticized Mr. Duterte’s request to extend martial law, warning that the authoritarian president was setting the stage for an eventual declaration of military rule across the complete country. Mr. Duterte has raised that possibility just before.
Francis Pangilinan, the leader of the opposition in the Senate, argued that the victory in Marawi ended the need to have for continued military rule. He mentioned that if Congress agreed to extend martial law, “we will be in danger of becoming the monsters that we seek to defeat, those who have no regard for law, order or respect for the Constitution.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, arguing the president’s position in Congress, mentioned that such perceptions have been “far from what’s taking place on the ground” in Mindanao, exactly where the armed forces have reported that militancy is spreading.
“There may well not be fighting in Marawi anymore, but there are nonetheless clashes practically each day in other components of Mindanao,” Mr. Lorenzana stated.
Published at Wed, 13 Dec 2017 08:51:49 +0000