Martial law extension is Duterte’s Christmas gift

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Congress has approved President Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao.

Duterte and Congress cited the alleged overwhelming support of the people of Mindanao for the extension, which basically betrays their insecurity in a regime where the president is one of their own and who, despite loud calls for law and order, cannot seem to impose it in his own region without extraordinary—and very expensive—measures.

To be sure, it is not only the people of Mindanao who will pay for martial law but the entire country. All because of the insecurity fostered by their security-conscious “kababayan.”

Ironically, the President has contradicted himself when he claimed that rebellion has persisted in the region while citing a report on the neutralization of members of terrorist and communist groups, the dismantling of guerrilla fronts and the surrender of loose firearms.

It is fallacious for Duterte to attribute the improvement of the region’s economy and the reduction of crimes to his military rule, as these “achievements” should be made by competent and honest public administration that is, through civilian rule, and not through martial law. They should be made through ordinary rule. After all, Filipinos pay taxes exactly for that and not to be lorded over by the military.

The Constitution says the President has the power to place the country or parts of it under martial law when he deems it necessary, but with the concurrence of Congress. But the state of martial law is not something normal for any civilized country, and it is worrisome when Duterte’s Mindanao supporters feel that they can have martial law to assuage their insecurity when they know that such an emergency costs millions to be shouldered by the entire nation.

Martial law is an overkill solution that does not solve the problem; it merely provides a false assurance that everything would be all right. And martial law in the country’s case may be a mask that obscures the incompetence of its leadership.

We should remember that martial law was imposed on Mindanao as a result of the Marawi siege by Islamic State (IS) and Maute radicals, whose presence had been warned before by American intelligence but which was ignored by Duterte and the AFP even if the Maute fundamentalist group had already been cited in Bohol island.

In fact, Duterte was in Moscow dancing with his idol despot Vladimir Putin when the Isis and Maute laid siege on Marawi. True to form, he tried to hid his incompetence and that of the military by imposing martial law on Mindanao, Putin—and Marcos-style!

Duterte may say that he needs martial law in Mindanao to contain the communist threat, but he was the one who dug the communists from the grave and revived them by reuniting with his Lyceum mentor, communist boss Jose Maria Sison. Weren’t Duterte and Alan Peter Cayetano the beneficiaries of the leftist-led farmers’ raid on Mindanao rice warehouses during the 2016 campaign?

Mindanao people should confront the irony of their situation. Because of the incompetence of Duterte and the AFP, Isis and Maute extemists laid Marawi to waste. Because Duterte reunited with his socialist mentor, he revived the fortunes of the communists and New People’s Army.

Now, to control the insurgencies, Duterte has called on the AFP to lord it over Mindanao–the AFP which hasn’t won one single war–not the the war against secessionists, not the war against the communists, and certainly not the war against external threats, like China, which has successfully penetrated a Trojan horse in the Philippines who goes by the name of “Rodrigo Duterte.”

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