MANILA, Philippines – Luzon local government officials will be included in a meeting that will tackle extending martial law in Mindanao, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said on Tuesday, November 6.
According to Año, they will convene a meeting with the regional peace and order councils (RPOCs) of Mindanao “at the end of November” to get a “consensus” on extending martial law. President Rodrigo Duterte and, curiously, Luzon RPOCs will also join in the meeting.
RPOCs consist of the following:
- All governors
- Mayors of highly urbanized cities
- A representative for all component cities
- Presidents of local leagues of municipalities
- 3 representatives from the private sector appointed by the chairman
- Military commanders and police officials based in the said region
What is the meeting for? RPOCs are mandated to regularly meet to address security issues, but this meeting is special, as according to the DILG chief, Duterte will get the opinion of local officials face-to-face on whether military rule should be extended in Mindanao beyond December 31.
“I-co-convene namin ang lahat ng RPOCs ng buong Luzon at Mindanao sa isang venue sa Davao. It would be attended also by the President. So ito ngayon ang pinakamagbibigay ng consensus kung ano ang kanilang magiging recommendation,” Año said.
(We will convene all RPOCs of Luzon and Mindanao in one venue in Davao. It would be attended also by the President. So this now will give the consensus what their recommendation is.)
Why include Luzon? Asked to clarify why Luzon was included, Año said they wanted to include the Luzon RPOCs because they have failed to convene the councils recently.
“Supposedly kasi talaga Mindanao yung aming gaganapin doon. Separate. But because the President is interersted to attend, so sabi namin mas maganda itong opportunity para makajoin ang RPOC ng Luzon na ‘di pa namin naiconvene sa separate date,” Año said.
(It was only supposed to be with Mindanao RPOCs. Separate. But because the President is interested to attend, so we decided that it would be an opportunity for Luzon RPOCs, which we haven’t convened to join.)
Another reason? The former military chief said Luzon also encounters security threats same as Mindanao’s, specifically the communist insurgency, which has also been cited as a threat in his latest martial law extension request to Congress. (READ: Duterte’s proposed martial law extension also targets NPA)
“Kasi meron din tayong problema sa Luzon eh, meron ding mga affected areas, communist-affected areas sa Luzon (Because we also have problems with Luzon, there are also affected areas, communist-affected areas in Luzon),” Año said.
Asked if this means that the administration is considering expansion of martial law to Luzon, Año told Rappler in a text message, “No. ML (martial law) is only for Mindanao.” – Rappler.com