MANILA - If it were up to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, martial law in Mindanao would be in effect until 2022, when President Rodrigo Duterte steps down.
Alvarez, who represents Davao del Norte’s 1st district, believes an extended martial law would allow the President to resolve the problems, particularly rebellion, in Mindanao.
"Bilang taga-Mindanao, sinusuportahan ko 'yung martial law even until up to 2022 para lang matapos itong gulong ito," he said, clarifying this is not the House of Representatives' official position.
"Alam mo 'yung rebelyon, kung di nila naintindihan, mahigit 40 years na 'yan. Hanggang ngayon di tapos o. Kahit sa Mindanao lang matapos na 'yan," he added.
Alvarez further explained that the problem in Mindanao is not limited to terrorism, as other groups have been involved in rebellion in Mindanao for years.
"Alam mo di lang naman kasi ISIS ang problema diyan. Di lang 'yan ang rebelyon. 'Yung NPA, ilang taon na 'yan... rebelyon 'yan. They want to oust the government, di ba rebelyon 'yan?," he said.
Government troops have been fighting the Maute group in Marawi for over a month now. As of July 7, 366 terrorists, 87 government troops, and 39 civilians have been killed.
Thousands of families meanwhile have been displaced from their hometown as the war wages on. The military has been conducting air strikes to flush terrorist snipers out of their hiding places.
In a decision last week, the Supreme Court upheld the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, which was declared after the attack on Marawi by the Maute group.
Duterte's martial law declaration expires on July 22, based on the 60-day constitutional limit. This is just a couple of days before the President delivers his second state of the nation address (SONA).
The President may seek an extension from Congress if he deems this necessary. The House Speaker, however, said the President has yet to discuss there matter with Congress.
While Alvarez believes an extended period of martial law is needed in Mindanao, the lawmaker does not see the necessity of expanding it to Luzon and Visayas.
"Hindi naman masyadong nararamdaman dito 'yan eh. Lahat ng travel advisory talong-talo kami.... Palaging do not go to Mindanao 'di tapusin natin gawin nating mapayapa yung Mindanao," he said.
The House Speaker also expressed support for the rehabilitation of Mindanao, eyeing a possible supplemental budget or realignment of the current budget for Marawi.