THE ARMED FORCES of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are set to begin their assessment of the implementation of martial law in Mindanao next week, according to AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr.
In a press briefing at the Palace on Thursday, Mr. Galvez said it is too early to decide whether martial law in Mindanao should be extended. “We will just still wait for the assessment, because I don’t want to preempt iyong ating (the) assessment,” he said.
Last Monday, PNP Chief Director-General Oscar D. Albayalde said that if President Rodrigo R. Duterte is “inclined to extend” the martial law, his agency “will support it.”
At the Palace press briefing, Mr. Galvez said: “Next week, we will start the assessment with the visitation of EastMinCom (Eastern Mindanao Command) and the WestMinCom (Western Mindanao Command)….We need to know, we need to assess further, considering that the assessment coming from the AFP should be jointly [done] with the PNP.”
As for the indicators that the extension of martial law could be recommended, he said: “[First] is the threshold ng (of) elections. During elections, for the first time [in] Marawi, there [was] no single violence that happened and there was no failure of elections in all the direct four barangays….The barangay and SK (Sangguniang Kabataan) elections this 2018 is one of the most peaceful. They declared the most peaceful in the sense that there was no declaration again of failure,” Mr. Galvez explained.
He added: “And second…in Davao, I believe we have an increase in the GDP (gross domestic product) of 10, and also in GenSan (General Santos) — 8. So, there is a growing trend in the business sector, especially in Cagayan De Oro, GenSan, and also even in Iligan. There is a commensurate correlational increase of business activity because of the seemingly relative peaceful conditions in the area. Secondly, last week, Archbishop Martin Jumoad — who is one of the very vocal archbishops, who also happened to be the Bishop of Basilan — he also supported the extension of martial law because of the good implementation by the PNP and the AFP.”
He also noted that Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian and “most of the congressmen living in Mindanao [are] also supporting” the extension of martial law in the area, which is set to expire on Dec. 31.
For its part, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said in its Thursday press statement that it “agrees” with Mr. Galvez “that, at this point, it is premature to recommend the extension of martial law.”
“There is a need for a thorough assessment of its effectiveness and a clear response to alleged cases of human rights violations, including the continuing condition of internal displacement in the region,” CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline C. de Guia said.
She added that “there is a need to be cautious of compounding justifications for its extension, considering that a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence was also declared in Mindanao prior to the martial law declaration.” — Arjay L. Balinbin