Robredo trusts military on martial law extension in Mindanao

Mara Cepeda
Robredo trusts military on martial law extension in Mindanao
But Vice President Leni Robredo says lawmakers should ask the government about its specific plans for the rehabilitation and security of Marawi City, and how the declaration of martial law would help

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo trusts the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) when it sought the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao. But she said concrete plans on the rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City must be fleshed out clearly.

This was Robredo’s response when asked to react to lawmakers receiving security briefings at the Senate and the House of Representatives on Tuesday, December 12, regarding President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao for a year. (READ: Robredo supports Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao)

The extension was recommended both by the military and the police. Congress is set to hold a joint session on whether or not to grant the extension on Wednesday, December 13.

“Iyong sa akin po kasi, tiwala tayo sa AFP, tiwala po tayo sa DND (Department of National Defense) – kay Secretary [Delfin] Lorenzana – sa kanilang assessment kung ano ang kailangan para ma-secure iyong Marawi, ma-secure iyong Mindanao. Gusto po nating bigyan ng suporta,” Robredo told reporters in Marikina City. 

(I trust the AFP and the DND – Secretary Lorenzana – on their assessment about what is needed to secure Marawi and the rest of Mindanao. We want to support them.) 

But she is hoping lawmakers would ask security officials about their specific plans for the whole year. 

“Unang una, bakit kailangang isang taon? Sunod, bakit kailangang buong Mindanao? Pangatlo, ano ba iyong mga dagdag na kapangyarihan na puwedeng ibigay ng martial law sa pamahalaan para makatulong… para ma-fast-track iyong rehabilitation ng Marawi [at] pangalawa, ma-ensure iyong seguridad sa lugar?” said Robredo. 

(First, why a one-year extension? Next, why does it have to be the entire Mindanao? Third, what additional powers can martial law grant the government that would enable it to fast-track the rehabilitation of Marawi and secondly, ensure the security of the area?)

She also hopes lawmakers would ask what safeguards the military and the police are planning to prevent abuses under martial law.

On May 23, government troops clashed with homegrown terrorists from the Maute Group and a faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Marawi City, sparking a months-long battle that destroyed the city. This prompted Duterte to declare martial law over the entire Mindanao, which is set to expire on December 31. (WATCH: Marawi: 153 days of war)

The President declared Marawi City “liberated” from terrorists on October 17. Combat operations officially ended on October 23.

Now, Duterte is seeking to extend martial law in the region until December 31, 2018 “primarily to ensure total eradication of Daesh-inspired Da’awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq (DIWM), other like-minded Local/Foreign Terrorist Groups (L/FTGs) and Armed Lawless Groups (ALGs), and the communist terrorists (CTs) and their coddlers, supporters, and financiers.” – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.