HOUSE SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday expressed support for martial law in Mindanao, which is due for congressional action upon Malacañang’s move for its extension.
“I support martial law in Mindanao. I’ll support what the President does because I’ve been president and I believe that he does not need a peanut gallery to tell him what to do,” Speaker Arroyo told reporters in an interview.
The remarks followed Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea’s pronouncement that extending martial law in Mindanao is an “option” after the festival bombing in Isulan town, Sultan Kudarat. It was reported the blast left three dead and at least 36 others wounded.
This is also the second bombing in the region in under a month after the car blast in Lamitan City, Basilan.
House Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. supported this, saying “the declaration of martial law is the call of the executive.”
“The President declares or extends, Congress concurs. If the President will ask for it, then it shall be given,” Mr. Andaya said in a statement Thursday.
In addition, the Majority leader proposed that the Palace should also hold a meeting with the National Security Council or Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) to discuss Marawi’s rehabilitation as well as implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
“What are the financing bottlenecks, for example? Bottom line, the people of Mindanao should be consulted,” he said.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte first declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017, following the siege of Marawi City by the Maute terrorist group. Two months later, Congress extended martial law to the rest of the year, and thereafter approved anew a full-year extension covering this year.
For his part, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said in a statement on Thursday that the bombing in Isulan “only suggests that neither martial law nor the Bangsamoro Organic Law could guarantee peace in Mindanao.”
“Instead, it is my view that the National Security Council and our ground security forces should take a hard look at their security plans and strategy, especially in the South, and try to avert the vicious cycle of talking peace with one tribal group while alienating the others,” Mr. Lacson also said in his statement.
“Thus, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front came into being and developed themselves into the dominant armed force in Mindanao after we dealt peace with the Moro National Liberation Front. As it may be shaping now, as we make peace with the MILF, a breakaway group is sowing terror.”
“Having said that, I filed a Senate bill to enhance the Human Security Act of 2007, which has not been proving itself effective in addressing terrorism in our country.”
In a separate statement, Mr. Lacson said Senate Bill 1956, the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2018, enhances the Human Security Act of 2007.
Among the bill’s salient provisions are the formation of the Anti-Terrorism Commission (ATC) from the present Anti-Terrorism Council, as well as judicial authorization to conduct surveillance as authorized by the ATC and to instruct the Department of Information and Communications Technology to compel the telecom and internet service providers to produce all customer information and call and text data records of any person suspected of terrorist attacks defined in the bill. — Charmaine A. Tadalan