MANILA - At least two lawmakers from the House of Representatives expressed concern on Thursday over the third extension of martial law in Mindanao.
More human rights violations could happen with martial rule in effect in the southern region until the end of next year, said ACT-Teacher Party-list Rep. France Castro.
Castro was recently detained in Davao del Norte along with former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo for alleged kidnapping and human trafficking. She voted against the extension of martial law in Mindanao when it was tackled by both houses of Congress on Tuesday.
"Ang main na concern namin sa Congress with the extension of martial law is the more and more human rights violations pa rin. 'Yun 'yung nangyayari," she told ANC's Headstart.
(Our main concern in Congress is that there would be more human rights violations. That is what's happening.)
She said while life in the cities look normal, it's a different scenario in the remote areas.
In the 19 months martial law was implemented in Mindanao, Castro said they have listed "several" human rights violations, including forced evacuations, closure of schools, and arrest of teachers.
"Yung mga teachers ay binabantaan. May mga kinulong na nga na teachers na binabantaan ng Red-tagging at kung ano-ano pa. They were charged with common crimes, 'yung mga crimes na hindi na mabe-bail," she said.
(The teachers are threatened, some are imprisoned after being red-tagged. They were charged with common crimes that are non-bailable.)
For Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, the extension of martial law may lead people into believing it is necessary for the improvement of the whole country. He said he does not believe martial law is the solution to the peace and order problem in the region.
"Ngayong we're talking of maintenance of order in Mindanao and protecting the security of the people in Mindanao. Kailangan ba natin ng martial law dun? Baka nagde-develop na tayo ng thinking na martial law ang kailangan para sa ating buong bansa," he said.
(Now that we're talking of maintenance of order in Mindanao and protecting the security of the people in Mindanao, do we still need martial law? We might be developing a thinking that martial law is needed in the whole country.)
"That is wrong, because martial law will not be good for us as martial law was not good for the Filipinos from 1972 to 1984 or 86," he added.
This kind of thinking might also instill in the youth, who did not experience martial law during the years of President Ferdiand Marcos, to simply accept it as a fact.
"Martial law is going to be destructive for the Philippines at ito ay hindi nagdulot ng kabutihan--absolute power corrupted absolutely," he told ANC's Headstart.
A total of 235 lawmakers voted in favor of extending martial law again, 28 voted negative, and only one abstained.
In his request for a third martial law extension, President Rodrigo Duterte asked Congress to allow martial law to remain in place in Mindanao to quell terrorist groups that "continue to defy the government by perpetrating hostile activities."
Duterte cited several fatal bombings in the south, including the ones in Lamitan City in Basilan, Isulan in Sultan Kudarat, and in General Santos City in the past few months.
He first declared martial law in Mindanao when firefights erupted between state troops and terrorists in Marawi City in May 2017.
Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra said another extension of martial rule was "needed as long as the rights of our people are being respected."
"I would say 6 months to one year is enough for us to really contend resurgence of another Maute group," he said.
"Hindi lang kasundaluhan o kapulisan ang dapat makilahok dito, kundi pati rin ang mga sibilyan ay dapat tumulong. We have to be socially responsible and accountable."
(The military and the police are not the only ones who should be involved, civilians should also help. We have to be socially responsible and accountable.)