ESPERON: MARTIAL LAW EXTENSION, ‘LAST RESORT’
MANILA — The extension of martial law in Mindanao should be “a last resort”, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said on Thursday, stressing that there should be extensive study on the proposal.
“We have had discussion with that in the national security cluster but we still would like to think that the extension of martial law should be on a last resort basis,” Esperon said in a press briefing at the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse.
Esperon said the primary concern should be what the people of Mindanao need at the moment.
“Kailangan hindi ‘yun ang uunahin nating iniisip kung di isipin natin kung ano ‘yung kailangan doon sa (It shouldn’t be what we think about first, what we should think about first is what the people need in) Mindanao and we are getting all the feedback from the people,” Esperon said.
He, however, pointed out that majority of Mindanaons were in favor of extending martial law but stressed the need for its further review.
“It may interest you to know that majority of the people of Mindanao want it. Nonetheless, we want the study to be extensive,” Esperon said.
Esperon acknowledged the statement of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), expressing support for a martial law extension but considered these as recommendations.
Earlier, the PNP said crime rate in Mindanao significantly declined since martial law was implemented last year from the 8.79 percent crime rate in Mindanao in 2017, it went down to 5.92 percent from January to September this year.
“We are aware that the PNP has come out with a statement of support for the extension as well as the secretary of the Interior and Local Government (Eduardo Año). Let that be part of the recommendations that will go up to the President when it is time to decide and ask Congress for an extension for another period how long it will be,” Esperon said.
“It is an instrument for us that will be considered as a last resort but if it is needed as dictated by the situation and the desire of the people, then so be it. Susundin atin ‘yan (We will follow it),” he added.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte declared martial law on May 23, 2017 in Mindanao, following attacks launched by the Islamic state-inspired Maute Group in Marawi City.
In a special joint session in July last year, the Congress granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2017 upon the President’s request.
In another joint session in December last year, Congress granted the Chief Executive’s request for the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2018. (PNA)
Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler