Congress failed to identify martial law 'endgame' - analyst


Posted at Jul 23 2017 03:58 PM

MANILA - Lawmakers should have been more rigorous as they discussed martial law extension in Mindanao for nearly 7 hours on Saturday, a political analyst said on Sunday.

Former Ateneo School of Government dean Tony La Viña said the special joint session of Congress on Saturday was not able to list down the particular objectives for the extension of the martial law.

"I don't think the discussion gave us an idea of where the endgame is, how this will end, and when we'll be able to say the work is done and martial law now can be lifted," he told ANC on Sunday.

As the 60-day imposition of martial rule in Mindanao lapsed on July 22, Congress voted overwhelmingly to extend martial law until December 31 on President Rodrigo Duterte's request.

La Viña said that the majority should have created an ad hoc commission that reviews and monitors human rights under martial law after a Maranao leader narrated alleged incidents of human rights violations perpetrated by government forces in Marawi City.

"I am from Marawi City. Please ask us what do we feel? Please ask us how do we stand up and arise?" said Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, a former member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

Following Tomawis' testimony, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and General Eduardo Año, who are the administrators of martial law in Mindanao, assured the public that they will not tolerate abuses.

La Viña lamented that Tomawis was the sole Maranao voice in the Congress' special session held on Saturday to discuss martial law extension. He said Maranao law makers should have presented their case in the plenary.

"We did not really hear the Maranao voice except for a non legislator... That was the Maranao voice yesterday," La Viña said of Tomawis' emotional plea.

La Viña, who is also from Mindanao, said according to his Maranao friends, there's a lot of resentment on the extension of martial law due to the uncertainties it brings.

Martial law not needed in rehabilitation of Marawi

For his part, La Viña believes the conflict in Marawi remains a compelling reason to extend martial law, at least in the city. But he stressed military rule should not extend until the rehabilitation phase.

"Rehabilitation cannot be the excuse for martial law. The worst thing you can do is to rehabilitate Marawi under martial law," he said, stressing it could be a leeway to abuses and corruption.

The task of rebuilding Marawi, said La Viña, should be left in the hands of the Maranaos and only with the help of the government, without martial law.

"Marawi cannot be rebuilt by the government. Marawi can be rebuilt with the help of the government but it can only be rebuilt by the people of Marawi by the Maranaos themselves," he said.

"But if you are going to impose martial law on them, you're going to put the gun in front of them as they rebuild. They are not going to be able to rebuild it properly," he added.