Economy may take hit if martial law leads to abuses: analyst


Posted at May 24 2017 09:13 PM | Updated as of May 25 2017 01:40 PM

MANILA - The Philippine economy may take a hit if the imposition of martial law in Mindanao results in human rights abuses, according to a Singapore-based political analyst. 

Malcolm Cook, a senior research fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute told ANC's Market Edge that President Duterte's declaration of martial rule over Mindanao is not expected to have a big impact on the national economy yet. 

"Fortunately for the Philippine economy as a whole, even though Mindanao is 25 percent of the population, it has a much smaller share of the economy," Cook said. 

But he added that markets may be affected by uncertainties over how long martial law will last and if it will be limited to Mindanao. 

Cook also warned that investors may react negatively if there are abuses while Mindanao is under martial law. 

"If there are signs that martial law in Mindanao is leading to widespread human rights abuses above and beyond what the war on drugs is involved in, then that will be bad for the country and hence for investor confidence in the country."

Cook, however, also doubts that putting Mindanao or the entire country under martial rule will allow Duterte to solve the problems of terrorism or drugs. 

He noted that last year, Duterte placed the entire country under a state of emergency after the Davao bombings, but this did little to reduce the threat from the Abu Sayyaf or the Maute group. 

"So it's not clear why an escalation to martial law will achieve something that the state of emergency clearly failed to do," Cook said.

He added that for the short term, Mindanao's economy, especially tourism, will be affected by the imposition of martial law over Mindanao. 

Philippine Airlines has already announced that it is offering refunds to passengers who booked flights to Mindanao.

Cebu Pacific, meanwhile, said its guests flying to and from Mindanao from May 25 to 31 may rebook their flights.