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Military to recommend ending martial law if enemy strength down to 30%

MANILA, Philippines – Military chief Lieutenant General Benjamin Madrigal told the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, January 29, that they will “gladly recommend the lifting of martial law” when enemies have been reduced to just 30% of their original capability.

During the oral arguments on the 3rd extension of martial law, Madrigal told Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza that if they have “degraded” the capability of the enemies by 70%, meaning beat them to a remaining strength of 30%, the crisis would have been “brought down” to the level of the police.

“(PNP Chief Oscar) Albayalde and the DILG can take over? Martial law will be lifted?” Jardeleza asked. 

“We will gladly recommend the lifting of martial law,” Madrigal said.

Targets

Jardeleza then went on to reveal that the military, under its former chief Carlito Galvez Jr, had already declared that it has made headway in efforts to defeat local terrorist groups. (READ: 'Prove this is rebellion,' Caguioa says of military martial law report)

Reading from an “undated letter” of Galvez to President Rodrigo Duterte, Jardeleza said: “The local terrorist groups' (LTGs') manpower and firepower have been reduced by 62% and 45%, respectively. The letter of General Galvez continues, on the other hand, the communist terrorist groups' (CTGs') manpower and firepower have been reduced by 31% and 38%, respectively.”

Solicitor General Jose Calida backed Madrigal in saying that they will recommend the lifting of martial law when they reach a 30% degradation level.

The military’s standard should be 30% degradation of overall capability, which will take into account manpower, firearms, controlled barangays, and violent incidents.

Baseline

But what is the baseline, Jardeleza asked.

With no clear answers on hand, Jardeleza told Calida to submit to the Court a commitment of baselines in terms of hard numbers and when to start counting.

“You will give us what is the baseline, what is the manpower so that by the end of the year we would know how much progress has been made,” said Jardeleza.

But for his part, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said that due to the lack of clear baselines and goals, it could mean unlimited martial law.

“It’s possible that there’s an extension for 2020, 2021, 2022… so this is the new normal, so it is possible for the whole term of President Duterte that there is martial law,” Leonen said. (READ: What has martial law in Mindanao accomplished so far?)

Leonen went on to ask Calida whether the soldier-to-rebel ratio in Mindanao even justifies martial law.

“There are about 30,000 army in Mindanao, more or less. These are infantry, I will not even ask you the amount of armor that has been transferred to Mindanao in order to quell this insurgency. Now there are 575 only of the Abu Sayyaf, BIFF, ranged against very qualified professional soldiers. I know their level of command and level of leadership, do you need martial law in order to get 575 Abu Sayyaf, BIFF and Dawlah Islamiya?” Leonen asked.

Calida did not directly answer, mentioning something about the communist insurgency which led Leonen to another point.

“The Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples’ Army (CPP-NPA) is a nationwide movement, correct? If you’re trying to get the CPP-NPA through martial law in Mindanao, they can always transfer to Luzon and Visayas, correct?” Leonen said.

Leonen has consistently dissented to martial law in Mindanao in the past 3 Supreme Court decisions. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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