DAVAO CITY, Philippines — After the post-SONA (State of the Nation Address) press briefing, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. told reporters that he will recommend another year of martial law due to “sustained rebellion in the region.”
In response to Esperon’s plan, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo also said that Duterte will listen to the advice of the security officials.
Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region secretary general Jay Apiag told Davao Today in an interview on Wednesday that it’s no surprise if President Rodrigo Duterte and his military officials seek another extension for martial law.
“We’re expecting for Duterte and his military cronies in the Cabinet, like Esperon and Defense Secretary [Delfin] Lorenzana, to really push for the extension of martial law up until 2022,” Apiag said.
Martial law has not yet been lifted since it was declared in 2017 during the Marawi siege. Duterte requested for its extension for three times, and was granted by the Congress.
Karapatan is also expecting Congress to again agree to the further extension of martial law in Mindanao, with Duterte allies backing its policies.
Contrary to the military’s claim that it seeks to end rebellion, Apiag said that under the martial law, it’s the civilians, especially farmers and Lumad, that are victimized by human rights violations.
In the southern part of Mindanao, Karapatan has documented the highest number of political killings since Duterte took oath in his office.
Apiag bared that 96 activists were killed in Davao Region, 66 of which, happened under Duterte’s Martial Law in Mindanao. Most of the victims were also farmers, the group noted.
Also, Apiag claimed that soldiers and police are parading hundreds of civilians and members of progressive organizations as “fake” rebel surrenderees.
In his fourth SONA, President Duterte did not mention Martial Law, but said that law and order must be maintained for developmental gains to be felt by Filipinos.
He said that as the head of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, he assigned a Cabinet member to each region “to harmonize government efforts in attaining national development [and] security.” (davaotoday.com)