Duterte asked to lift martial law in Davao City

Pia Ranada
Duterte asked to lift martial law in Davao City

Manman Dejeto

'We cannot deny the slowdown, especially in the tourism industry, when martial law was declared in Mindanao,' says the president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce

MANILA, Philippines – As martial law in Mindanao neared the end of its 60-day period, the president of Davao City’s biggest business group called on President Rodrigo Duterte to lift martial law in his hometown.

“We hope for an expeditious conclusion to the conflict or a scenario where the area covered by martial law is reduced,” said Ronald Go, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Incorporated (DCCCII) in a statement sent on Tuesday, July 11. 

Asked to clarify his statement, Go told Rappler that he believed Davao City can do without martial law if there are enough security measures, as the imposition of martial law in the city has dampened investments and tourism.

“If we can downgrade the status from martial law in Davao and still maintain the security protocols for entry into the city. This would be a big boost to bringing back tourists and investors,” he said. 

DCCCII, a group of Davao City’s most prominent businessmen, has expressed support for Duterte in the past, which the President reciprocated by gracing their events. While the group continues to back Duterte in his efforts to address security threats, Go said martial law has been bad for business.

“We cannot deny the slowdown, especially in the tourism industry, when martial law was declared in Mindanao,” he said. (READ: Trade, tourism chiefs downplay impact of martial law in Mindanao)

Duterte placed the whole of Mindanao under martial law on May 23, following the attack of terrorists on Marawi City. He earlier threatened to expand the scope of martial law nationwide to address any possible spillover of the ISIS threat.

Limited the scope of martial rule in Mindanao may help in “attracting tourists and investors as we have experienced for the first part of this year,” said Go. 

The DCCCII president thinks there are security threats everywhere but these can be addressed with public vigilance and cooperation with the Armed Forces and Philippine National Police – the same position taken by Supreme Court Justices who partially granted or fully granted the petitions to nullify Proclamation 216.

Increasing security measures and lifting martial law in some parts of Mindanao, like Davao City, would send a “positive message,” the local business leader said.

“If it is possible to eventually lift martial law in areas such as our city, it would send a positive message to those who do not know what is truly going on here in Davao,” he said.

Malacañang said it is Duterte’s choice to act on the DCCCII president’s appeal.

“It will be his prerogative to respond to that,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on Tuesday.

Asked if Duterte will consider inputs on martial law from other sectors, not just from security officials as the Chief Executive himself had mentioned, Abella said, “He’s a person who listens.”

Defense chief and martial law administrator Delfin Lorenzana admitted during a July 3 media interview that the only added value of martial law is to “scare” people.

“The added value is it has a bigger impact on people. ‘Oh, it’s martial law,’ they will get scared,” he said.

The ability to arrest suspects even without warrants can still be provided to security personnel with the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, which can be done without a martial law declaration.

Martial law is set to lapse by July 22, a few days before Duterte delivers his second State of the Nation Address.

Lorenzana is set to hand over the military and police recommendation to Duterte on whether to lift martial law or ask Congress for an extension.

Military and police chiefs had expressed their inclination o recommend an extension of martial law since the Marawi crisis has not yet been resolved.

A recent Social Weather Stations survey found that a majority of Filipinos support Duterte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao with Mindanaoans making up the highest proportion of supportive respondents.

However, the same poll showed that 6 out of 10 Filipinos don’t think it should be expanded to Visayas or Luzon. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.