MANILA, Philippines – Even before martial law in Mindanao is set to expire in December, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte wants her father President Rodrigo Duterte to lift martial law in her city.
Sara first bared her plan in her speech at the 5th Davao Investment Conference (Icon) in Davao City on Thursday, June 20, saying she made the decision after her discussion with ambassadors and officials of other countries who attended the event.
“Earlier, I had a productive chat with the honorable ambassadors and we discussed the situation of martial law in Mindanao and Davao City, and [I] ” Sara said.
She said she would make the request formal by asking the Sangguniang Panlungsod to pass a resolution to this effect.
Among those who attended Icon were European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen, Romanian Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Mihai Sion, Swedish Ambassador Harald Fries, Dutch Ambassador Saskia de Lang, and Hungarin Ambassador Jozsef Bencz.
She was spotted talking with the ambassadors prior to her speech.
Sara said that martial law should only be imposed in areas where peace and order remained unstable. In the case of Davao City, she said, “We have a relatively stable peace.”
Sara said, however, that the city’s peace and order “became more or less stable with the imposition of martial law.”
While she would be writing a letter to the OP, Sara said she was unsure if exempting the city from martial law would be possible.
Sara said on Friday, June 22, that she would first write to the military for a document attesting to factors that make the lifting of military rule in the Mindanao hub – as well as in Samal Island – favorable.
“We are set to write the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) Eastern Mindanao Command, 10ID PA (Infantry Division of the Philippine Army), and PRO XI (Police Regional Office in Region 11) for a favorable indorsement for the lifting of martial law in Davao City and Island Garden City of Samal, if Mayor Uy will consent,” she said in a message to Rappler on Friday.
“Thereafter, if we get the favorable recommendations, we transmit a City Council resolution to the OP (Office of the President),” she added.
Responding to questions, Sara hoped that Davao City would be exempted from martial law coverage even before it lapses on December 31, 2019, or that the city be excluded in the next Malacañang request – if one would be made – for another extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“Yes, we will try with that, but leave it to the final decision of the national government,” said Sara, adding that she wants to submit the documents as soon as possible.
When martial law was imposed in May 2017, Sara was among Mindanao officials who said it was necessary, especially with the problem on terrorism and the communist New People’s Army.
In August 2018, she said she would welcome its extension and that she “follow(s) the decision of the Office of the President, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), and the PNP (Philippine National Police) because they are better informed by the intelligence units on the need to extend martial law in Mindanao.”
The extension being sought then came in the wake of a bomb attack in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, that killed two people and wounded over 30 others in the same month.
In December of that year, martial law in Mindanao was extended for the third time, or until December 2019 – through an act of Congress.
The National Economic Development Authority in Southern Mindanao had claimed that the declaration of martial law in the island-region since May 23, 2017, was beneficial.
For Davao City, the uptick in tourist arrivals for 2017 was a positive indication, according to Ma Lourdes Lim, the NEDA regional director.
The City Tourism Office has reported that in 2017, the tourism figure had reached two million from just 1.7 million the year before. It further increased to 2.3 million last year.
But Sara herself had also admitted that while martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus helped with Davao City’s peace and order, it continues to worry tourists and event organizers. – Rappler.com