Opinion & Community

Protesters hit Duterte’s ‘wrong regularization’

Photo: DUTERTE EFFIGY One side of the two-faced effigy of President Duterte looked like that of Hitler. Protesters paraded the effigy on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City before the President delivered his State of the Nation Address. —LEO SABANGAN II

FOR REVIVAL OF TALKS Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate (left), standing beside ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio in the House of Representatives, still hopes that President Duterte will revive talks with communist rebels. —JOHN PAUL R.AUTOR
Angry-face emojis, transport strikes, human chains, marches, candle-lighting and black coffins greeted President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday.
In Quezon City, near the House of Representatives where Mr. Duterte delivered his Sona, critics assailed the extension of martial law in Mindanao and the scrapping of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines — the same issues raised by protesters in other parts of the country.
Various groups from several sectors, including farmers, public transport operators, students, nuns, “lumad” and other indigenous peoples held their People’s Sona, occupying the entire northbound Interim Batasang Pambansa Road and extending to Sandiganbayan on Commonwealth Avenue.

They began their march from different points on Commonwealth Avenue, chanting “Duterte, singilin” (Hold Duterte accountable).

Sister Teodora Bilocura of St. Scholastica’s College said she attended the rally to assail the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“Is this the change he promised?” she told the Inquirer. “It’s more like a President that keeps changing his mind.”
The police placed the number of protesters at 10,000 but Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes said the demonstrators numbered 35,000 to 40,000.
‘Regularization’
Reyes slammed Mr. Duterte’s broken promises.
“Under his administration, regularization has already happened: It is now regular to kill drug suspects, regular to sabotage peace talks, regular to militarize, and regular to spread fake news and disinformation,” Reyes said.
“Promise-breaker,” was how most of the protesters described the President.
“We are used to Duterte playing with words. He is a social media President, who is fond of saying press releases. But these are lives Duterte is playing with,” said Sean Herbet Velchez, spokesperson for the Alliance of Health Workers.

Shoes, slippers
The Block Marcos Movement displayed some 1,200 shoes and slippers sprinkled with red “blood” on Commonwealth Avenue to represent those who were killed in the war on drugs and those who died in the ongoing clashes in Marawi.
The marchers paraded several pieces of protest art, including the first effigy for the Sona protest under the Duterte administration.
The effigy featured Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.
A “two-faced” President was also paraded, showing a casual Mr. Duterte on one side and a Hitler-like image on the other.
At the rally, representatives from the Makabayan bloc dropped by.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, National Anti-Poverty Commission Chair Liza Maza also attended the protest, before they headed inside the Batasan complex.
Angry-face emojis
In Baguio City, some 300 demonstrators marched down Session Road, wearing paper headbands bearing angry-face emojis, which millennial activists described as the grade they gave the President in his first year in office.
The marchers, led by the militant Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), proceeded to the Igorot Park where writer Luchie Maranan mocked Mr. Duterte’s reform promises by reading her poem, “Pagbabagong Pabago-bago (Change that keeps on changing).”
Some performers in the group wore masks of the President, Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año, while chained to an activist playing Uncle Sam.
“We will recognize that positive steps were made on land reform, free tuition, free medicine, [and] the increase in the Social Security System pension fund,” the CPA said.
But the CPA said these were muted by another breakdown in the peace talks with communist rebels, the extension of martial law in Mindanao and the promotion of “antipeople and militaristic policies” like proposed increases in the value-added taxes for goods.
Transport strike
In Albay province, a strike affected 95 percent of public transport, said Ramon Rescovilla, deputy secretary general of Condor-Piston Bicol.
Public transport was paralyzed 100 percent in Camarines Norte, 95 percent in Sorsogon, 90 percent in Camarines Sur and 65 percent in Masbate, the organizers said.
They demanded the scrapping of a Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board order that would phase out public utility jeepneys that are at least 15 years old.
Members of the multisectoral group Cadena Bicolandia (Bicol Chain) came up with its own Sona in the Bicol region, noting, among other things, extrajudicial killings.
Human chains
Protesters also formed a human chain in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, and in Roxas, Oriental Mindoro.
Ian delos Santos, spokesperson for a group opposing large-scale mining, said Mr. Duterte failed to fulfill his promise to address environmental issues and distribute agricultural lands to local farmers.
Coconut farmers in Quezon province lit candles and prayed to seek heaven’s intercession so that Mr. Duterte would make good on his election promise to release the coco levy fund.
Maribel Luzara, leader of Kilusang Magbububukid sa Bondoc Peninsula, said her group also prayed that the President speed up the government land distribution program.
Close to 15,000 protesters took to the streets in Roxas City, Bacolod City, Iloilo City, Estancia town in Iloilo, Kalibo in Aklan, Tacloban City, Tagbilaran City, and Cebu City.
In red shirts
Many protesters came in red and took to task the Duterte administration for reneging on its campaign slogan “Change is coming.”
In Bacolod, protesters carried life-sized photos of Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and General Año, which they torched.
At the Freedom Grandstand in Iloilo City, about 1,700 protesters led by Bayan paraded an effigy of a tank with Mr. Duterte on board along with Lorenzana, Esperon and Año.
They burned the effigy but “spared” that of Mr. Duterte as organizers said they were still pushing for him to fulfill his promises.
Alab Katipunan-Panay held a separate protest rally in Iloilo City joined by around 800 mostly farmers from towns of Iloilo province.
“Nothing much has changed, especially in agrarian reform. The farmers are still poor and landless,” said Joel Gepaya, Alab Katipunan-Panay coordinator.
Black coffins
In Davao City, protesters carried improvised black coffins to represent the victims of political extrajudicial killings in the region.
At least 37 activists, environmentalists and community leaders have been killed in the Davao region under the Duterte administration, according to Jay Apiag, spokesperson for Karapatan-Southern Mindanao.
Other protest actions were staged in Butuan, Zamboanga and Iligan City. —Reports from Jhesset O. Enano, Jodee A. Agoncillo and Jovic Yee in Manila; Yolanda Sotelo and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; Mar S. Arguelles, Michael B. Jaucian, Maricar Cinco, Delfin T. Mallari Jr. and Madonna T. Virola, Inquirer Southern Luzon; Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Carla P. Gomez, Joey A. Gabieta, Leo Udtohan and Michelle Padayhag, Inquirer Visayas; Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao

 

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Duterte bullies ‘enemies of state’ in Sona

Photo: President Rodrigo Duterte INQUIRER PHOTO/ JOAN BONDOC
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday warned that the nation faced uncertain times and said he would act like a bully in dealing with fools fighting his administration.
In a two-hour, expletive-laden State of the Nation Address (Sona), the President slammed critics of his law and order policies and vowed to carry on relentlessly his war on drugs, communist guerrillas and Islamic State-inspired terrorists.
“We live in troubled and uncertain times. And I fear that things might get worse before they become better,” he said in his nationally televised speech.

“But we will cope,” he promised, reading from a prepared, 14-page speech and digressing extemporaneously at times to lash out, using his favorite cuss words, at the United States, United Nations and human rights groups, mining companies, judiciary and media.
“I have resolved that no matter how long it takes, the fight against illegal drugs will continue,” the President said, urging Congress to pass immediately the bill that would restore the death penalty for heinous crimes involving drugs.

“Despite international and local pressures, the fight will not stop until those who deal in it understand that they have to stop because the alternatives are either jail or hell,” he added.
The President vowed to pursue peace up to the end of his term even as he lamented the turmoil in Marawi City, which Islamic State-allied terrorists seized, forcing him to declare martial law in Mindanao.
‘I’m a bully’
But he said he would not talk to communist insurgents making unreasonable demands in peace talks while at the same time attacking his security convoy and civilians.
“They said I’m a bully. You’re all fools. I am really a bully, son of a bitch. I am really a bully, especially to the enemies of the state,” he said.
He said leftist protesters were better off going home. The Communist Party of the Philippines founder, Jose Maria Sison, is an old man sick with colon cancer, he said. (Sison denied this in an online chat from The Netherlands.)

After his speech, the President went out, climbed the makeshift stage built by leftist groups holding a demonstration and was heckled by the crowd of 10,000.
“Never again to martial law,” the demonstrators chanted.
“Shut up,” Mr. Duterte barked.
“I know you have issues with me, but let’s talk about it,” Mr. Duterte said in his 10-minute appearance on stage. “But if you ambush me, I will turn my back on you. Bye bye.”
He told the crowd that martial law would not go on forever.
“I just have to finish something,” he said, referring to his trip last week to the besieged city of Marawi. “The reason why I cannot just enter there is that there are 300 hostages in the big mosque there.”
Drug problem trivialized
In his Sona, Mr. Duterte slammed a left-leaning group that took over government housing intended for soldiers.
He said he allowed them to keep the homes to avoid trouble, but he warned them against repeating their action.
“You do anarchy, I will order the soldiers and the police to shoot even if I have to bury thousands of Filipinos,” he said.
Mr. Duterte also reserved some of his harshest words for human rights advocates and defenders of due process.
He said these groups “trivialize” heinous crimes with human rights and due process.
“When you go into an anger and you burst with rage, that’s OK. But with so many killings as brutal as what happened, if you add human rights and due process, you stink and your mouth smells. If you want to criticize, condemn the act, stop there. But do not give the excuse or do not make it trivial by saying human rights,” he said.
“When you talk in public, carry the proper message,” he said, blasting his critics for failing to condemn crimes like massacres and rape of children.
He took a dig at those who he said gave importance to his detained critic Sen. Leila de Lima. De Lima has gained support from international rights groups.
“You were all here, you conducted the investigation. You heard the witnesses, you saw the video. Is she a credible woman? Can she be a moral person? You’re all drama,” he said.
Balangiga bells
The President said he succeeded in improving relations with China, easing tensions in the South China Sea.
He recalled the 1901 Balangiga incident to accentuate his displeasure with the United States.

In that incident, US troops were dispatched to Balangiga to avenge the deaths of 48 Americans at the hands of Filipino rebels and turn Samar into a “howling wilderness.”
Mr. Duterte called for the return of the church bells of Balangiga, which were seized by the Americans as spoils of war.
“They are not yours. They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage,” he said.
Unbridled mining
Mr. Duterte also warned mining companies that he would tax them “to death” if they would not spend to restore the area they had damaged with their activities.
Otherwise, he would have to put a stop to mining, he said.
Mr. Duterte expressed frustration with the judiciary because of temporary restraining orders issued against government projects and cases involving government assets.
He said there should be a law that would prevent the courts from stopping certain government projects, especially when the bidding for these had been carried out properly.
Mr. Duterte did not spare the media.
He said the reason he cursed them was they were “not behaving.” —With a report from Jhesset O. Eñano and Jovic Yee

 

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Senate to focus on tax reform, BBL, nat’l ID system, federalism

The Senate has its plate full during the second regular session of the 17th Congress, with tax reform, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), provision of a national identification system and a shift to the federal form of government among its priorities.
“We are looking at a lot of work. These are large numbers, but they are not daunting numbers,” Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said in a speech on Monday during the opening of a joint session of Congress attended by Cabinet officials and foreign dignitaries.
Pimentel said the Senate would tackle bills of “national importance,” including the proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act to help ease the burden of working and middle-class Filipinos while ensuring that all government programs remained funded.
The Senate will also beef up the antiterrorism law and push the provision of a national ID system to ensure the safety of the people and improve the delivery of basic services.
“We will pursue a path to lasting peace in Mindanao by addressing the valid concerns of our Muslim brothers and sisters through the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Pimentel said.
“We will empower our regions to determine their development plans through the shift to federalism,” he added.

He said these priorities would undergo thorough discussion, scrutiny and analysis by the senators, on top of the 1,242 bills and 297 resolutions pending on the various committees.

 

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Maute Group leader seen alive, unhurt July 17

Photo: Abdullah (left) and Omarkhayam Maute. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS
ILIGAN CITY — Abdullah Maute, one of the leaders of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group, is still alive and unhurt despite the daily air and ground assault by government security forces on their positions in Marawi City.
Agakhan Sharief, a Moro community leader known in the province as Bin Laden because of his resemblance to the late al-Qaeda leader, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday that he was able to speak with Abdullah Maute on July 17.
“He is unhurt, but the military already cut off the communication signal inside the battle zone,” Sharief said.

He said the mobile phone signal inside the war zone was cut on July 18.
Sharief was able to open a communication line with the Maute Group as he was the one designated to do so by the peace corridor, an effort set up by the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front, to negotiate for the release of hostages.
Sharief said that in his conversation with Abdullah, the Maute Group leader did not discuss the fate of Fr. Teresito “Chito” Suganob, the vicar general of Marawi City.
Suganob and some of the other hostages were seized in a cathedral as gunmen from the Maute terror group laid siege to the capital of Lanao del Sur province on May 23.
Sharief added Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of Abu Sayyaf, managed to escape from Marawi.
“He is already outside Marawi City. He was able to get out last week of May,” he said. SFM

 

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Condemn NPA attacks if you’re sincere with peace talks, Reds told

Photo: Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II (left) and New People’s Army guerillas. INQUIRER, AFP FILE PHOTOS
Why are you not condemning the attacks if you’re sincere with the peace talks?
This was Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II’s question for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) after an alleged New People’s Army (NPA) ambush took place in Cotabato City on Wednesday, prompting President Duterte to call off peace talks with the communist rebels.
“Sa mga kausap natin sa peace talks: If you have no control over those who continue to attack government troops and installations, why don’t you condemn these attacks? If you have no control and do not condemn the attacks, why are we talking?” Honasan said in a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday.
“This is bad faith. Lokohan ito,” he said.
Four members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) were wounded after suspected NPA rebels ambushed their convoy in Arakan, North Cotabato early Wednesday.
After reports of the attack came in, Malacañang announced that Duterte is directing government panel negotiating with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) “not to resume formal peace talks unless the Reds agree to stop their attacks against government troops in Mindanao.”
The planned back-channel talks in Europe this week will also be cancelled.
The peace panel, led by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, was set to conduct “back-channel talks” with the NDFP to discuss the resumption of formal negotiations.
In an interview at the Senate on Thursday, Senator Joel Villanueva said he supports President Duterte’s suspension of peace talks following the Cotabato ambush.
“Naiintindihan ko where the President is coming from. Tuwing nakikita ko ‘yung reports about the killings ng ating mga sundalo eh nararamdaman ko po hindi lang ‘yung sinasabi niya pati ‘yung sama ng loob nararamdaman ko rin so I share his sentiment,” Villanueva said.

(I understand where the President is coming from. Every time I see reports about the killings of our soldiers, I feel what he’s trying to say as well as his displeasure, so I share his sentiment.) JE/rga

 

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‘I’m from Marawi City, please ask us, what do we feel?’

Samira Gutoc: Emotional plea
Stories describing the ugly side of martial law in Mindanao had their share of the spotlight at a rare joint session of Congress on Saturday, though they barely had any effect on the session’s expected outcome — the extension of martial law until the end of the year.
The most stirring plea against extending martial law was delivered by Samira Gutoc, Bangsamoro civil society leader, who narrated stories about the alleged harm that martial law brought the people of Marawi, a predominantly Muslim city that came under attack from a homegrown terror group that had sworn allegiance to Islamic State (IS).
“I’m from Marawi City,” Gutoc said at the opening of her plea to members of the House of Representatives and Senate assembled jointly at the House session hall. “Please ask us, what do we feel?” she said.

In her plea, Gutoc listed what she said were stories about abuses and people’s sufferings that martial law had brought Marawi.
One was that of a 20-year-old mentally ill man who had been “psychologically interrogated” after he was accused of membership in Maute, a group of terrorists who had tried to establish an IS caliphate in Marawi.
‘Dig your graves’
She told of the story of young men rescued by soldiers but were forced to walk as they wore blindfolds. A voice which Gutoc said was presumed to be that of someone in authority had told the men: “Dig your own graves.”
Gutoc also told of bodies of dead Muslims not being buried for nearly two months. Islam requires the burial of the dead within 24 hours.
“What if it was your grandfather who wasn’t buried? In Islam, even for a day, it’s forbidden not to be buried,” she said.
She said prolonging martial law would also mean prolonging the indignities that women suffer in evacuation centers.
“Women are forced to strip down in evacuation centers even when we are not supposed to bare our bodies,” she said.

However, Gen. Eduardo Año, Armed Forces chief of staff, said stories about abuses by the military as a result of martial law were mainly baseless.
‘Disabusing our minds’
Speaking also at the joint session, Año said the presence of regional offices of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Mindanao should be assurance enough that abuses would be checked.
“Let us disabuse our minds of the notion that martial law will result in human rights violations,” Ano said, responding to questions from Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr.
Most reports about abuses, Año said, were “speculation,” adding that the Armed Forces was ready to investigate and deal with complaints against abusive soldiers.
While Gutoc sought to appeal to emotion in her plea against the extension of martial law, human rights group Karapatan used numbers to press for opposition against prolonging martial law.
From May 23, the first day of martial law, to July 16, the group said, it had documented 10 cases of extrajudicial killings in Marawi, 335 warrantless arrests and more than 400,000 people displaced.
Called by Sen. Grace Poe to also speak at the joint session, CHR chair Jose Luis Martin Gascon said CHR regional offices in Mindanao, while having no formal complaint against martial law abuses, were validating reports from nongovernment organizations.
Año said the Armed Forces was investigating these reports.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, however, stuck to the official government line that no human rights were violated during martial law in Mindanao.
Unique martial law
“This is the only martial law where human rights [are] clearly being followed,” he said.
Gascon said the CHR had been “receiving more and more complaints” of abuses that the commission was verifying.
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said the rights violations that the group had documented in Marawi were “direct consequences” of martial law, calling efforts to extend it as “sinister.”
She said “militarist solutions to terrorism or rebellion are not solutions at all.” “These only magnify the problems,” she added. —With Jocelyn Uy, Jaymtee T. Gamil, and Vince F. Nonato

 

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William, Harry had ‘short’ chat with Diana on day she died

LONDON: Britain’s Prince William and Prince Harry have revealed they talked to their mother Princess Diana on the day she died and that the “short” conversation now weighs “heavily” on their mind. “It was her speaking from Paris, I can’t really necessarily remember what I said but all I do remember is probably regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was,” Prince Harry told ITV for a documentary to commemorate their mother. Prince William was just 15 and his brother Harry 12 when their mother and her boyfriend Dodi Al-Fayed were killed in August 1997 after the car they were in crashed in a tunnel in central Paris as it was being pursued at high speed by press photographers. Their French chauffeur Henri Paul, who was later found to be over the legal blood alcohol limit, also died. The two princes were in Balmoral, the queen’s residence in the Scottish Highlands, and William had earlier told Diana of the “very good time” they were having. “Harry and I were in a desperate rush to say goodbye, you know ‘see you later’…if I’d known now obviously what was going to happen I wouldn’t have been so blase about it and everything else,” William told ITV. “But that phone call sticks in my mind, quite heavily.” To mark the 20th anniversary of her death, the princes announced earlier this year they were setting up a committee to raise funds to pay for a statue of Diana, who was known as the Princess of Wales. The statue is to be erected in the public gardens of Kensington Palace in London, where she lived.

PCSO chair agrees to meet Bato on ‘anemic’ PNP drive vs gambling

Photo: PCSO Chairman Jose Jorge Corpuz. PHOTO BY EDWIN BACASMAS / INQUIRER
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chair Jose Jorge Corpuz said he and other officials were willing to meet with Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa anytime soon to “clear gray areas” in their fight against illegal gambling.
The statement came after PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan criticized the PNP’s antigambling efforts as “anemic” and threatened to cut the PNP’s share in PCSO revenues with other law enforcement agencies.
He said the agency might also give a share to the National Bureau of Investigation and Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“Let us lay all our cards on the table and not hide any card. If [the arrests of illegal gamblers] were anemic, we have to double our efforts,” Dela Rosa was quoted as saying in an interview.
In response, Corpuz agreed to meet with Dela Rosa as soon as possible.

“Sitting down with PCSO is an opportunity for both parties to clarify issues for the smooth implementation of STL (Small Town Lottery)” and “clear gray areas between the legal STL and the illegal numbers game,” Balutan said.
Corpuz said police assistance in the STL expansion program of PCSO was “very indispensable and critical” but the NBI and the AFP also deserved a share in STL revenues for the medical and hospital needs of its personnel, Corpuz added.
PCSO gave the PNP P180 million in 2016 and around P154 million during the first quarter of 2017 as its share from the revenue of the PCSO.
The funds are part of the 2.5-percent share the PNP gets from PCSO for medical and health programs and not for PNP operations, Corpuz clarified.

 

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Congress votes to extend martial law

Photo: The joint special session at the House of Representatives, Quezon City, for the extention of Martial Law in Mindanao. INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA
In an unprecedented move, the Senate and the House of Representatives met jointly on Saturday and voted 261-18 to extend martial law in Mindanao until Dec. 31.
Despite spirited objections from minority lawmakers, the two chambers passed a resolution extending for five months President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216, which imposed a 60-day martial rule in Mindanao on May 23 in the wake of terrorist attacks by the Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute group.
According to the Constitution, 60 days is the maximum period allowed for the declaration of martial rule. Any extension must be approved by Congress.

Malacañang welcomed the positive vote and said Congress’ extension of martial law was “essential to the (country’s) overall peace and stability.”
The nation, said presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, “has chosen to stand united in defending the Republic.”

The work to improve Mindanao begins, he said. “There is much work to be done in the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi. Together, let us transform Mindanao into a land of fulfillment,” Abella said.
Before their votes were consolidated, the Senate voted 16-4, while the House members voted 245-14 to extend martial law in the south.
Minority bloc
The four senators who voted “no” to the extension were Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, who all belong to the minority bloc.
Ahead of the voting, security officials told lawmakers that martial law was needed to stabilize a region where IS was gaining influence, and supporters could be inspired to stage uprisings in Mindanao with foreign jihadists.
During the interpellation, Drilon questioned the factual basis for President Duterte’s request to extend martial law, pointing out that only 10 out of 27 provinces in Mindanao were threatened by the terrorist Maute group.
But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the provinces in the region are contiguous, which makes it easier for terrorist groups to move from one place to another.
Hontiveros said she voted against the extension of martial law because “I have not seen any evidence that [it] offers any distinct strategic advantage to our soldiers in their fight against the Maute terrorists that other laws cannot offer.
“And because I cannot trust a government that has played God with the lives of 8,000 to 12,000 Filipinos to wield martial law judiciously, I voted no,” she added.
Additional tools
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said that extending martial rule in Mindanao would give soldiers and policemen “additional tools” to achieve their military goal by restricting the movements of terrorists, imposing curfews and arresting militants.
“In the immediate term, if by December we see that Mindanao or Marawi (had become) stable, we will move for the lifting of martial law,” he added.
A slide presentation by the Armed Forces compared the crisis in Marawi City to the takeover of the Iraqi city of Mosul. Marawi itself could now become a magnet for foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria, the presentation said.
The military said only about 60 Maute gunmen were left in a 49-hectare area of Marawi, but Mr. Duterte said he needed martial law powers to rebuild the city and ensure that war does not spread elsewhere.
“I cannot afford to be complacent,” the President told reporters on Friday, adding the military would be conducting further “mopping up operations” even after they recapture Marawi.
Martial law, which allows the military to establish control with measures such as curfews, checkpoints and gun controls, has remained a sensitive issue some 30 years after the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos put the country under military rule as part of his 20-year term.
Never again
Thousands of critics, political opponents as well as communist guerrillas were killed, detained or arrested during the period, according to historians.
About a dozen protesters in the gallery interrupted on Saturday’s hearing, chanting “never again, never again to martial law” before being escorted out. The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office has recommended the filing of disturbance of proceedings charges against the eight activists.
The arrested activists included three volunteer teachers of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), an alternative learning system for lumad and indigenous youth in Mindanao.
Mr. Duterte had already beaten back a Supreme Court petition to declare martial law in Mindanao illegal. But opposition politicians have criticized his proposal for an extension, with some alleging that it was part of a plot to eventually bring the country under a military-backed dictatorship.
Revolutionary government
After this, he could declare a revolutionary government to allow him to stay in office beyond his six-year electoral term in mid-2022, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman asked during interpellation if the “horrific aftermath” of the fighting in Marawi City could have been avoided had martial law never been declared in the first place.
The Armed Forces chief of staff, Gen. Eduardo Año, said martial law wasn’t the cause of the city’s destruction. “The crisis introduced a new type of urban warfare, notable of which is the total disregard (for) civilian lives, similar to (IS) in the Middle East, [including the] looting and pillaging in occupied areas in Marawi,” he said.
Also on Saturday, some 100 Marawi City evacuees gathered in Iligan City to voice their opposition to the extension of martial rule.
“We want to go home and we cannot do that if the situation drags on,” said Nadji Salahudin, a Grade 8 pupil of Mindanao State University-Lanao National College of Arts and Trade. Extending martial rule means their continued stay in evacuation centers, she added.
“We cannot understand why you did it to us. Please leave us alone. We are not terrorists and we want to live in peace,” Salahudin said.
Abato Saide, a resident of West Marinaut, said the nonextension of martial law would put to a halt the bombing of the city. —With reports from Inquirer Mindanao and the wires

 

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