Pres­i­dent wants martial law ex­tended


MANILA, Philip­pines — Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte has asked Congress to ex­tend martial law in the coun­try’s south by an­other year amid con­tin­u­ing con­cerns over pos­si­ble mil­i­tant at­tacks, al­though democ­racy ad­vo­cates fear it could worsen hu­man rights con­di­tions.

Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Sal­vador Panelo said Fri­day that end­ing martial law could un­der­mine progress by gov­ern­ment forces in quelling in­sur­gents “and may even strengthen the re­bel­lion and pro­pel it to other parts of the coun­try.”

De­fence Sec­re­tary Delfin Loren­zana said he, along the mil­i­tary and po­lice, backed the ex­ten­sion of martial law in the coun­try’s south­ern third, be­cause Mus­lim ex­trem­ists, in­clud­ing five to 10 for­eign fighters, con­tinue to plot bomb­ings and other at­tacks.

Duterte placed the south­ern Min­danao re­gion un­der martial law af­ter hun­dreds of Is­lamic State-linked mil­i­tants be­sieged the Is­lamic city of Marawi on May 23, 2017.

Af­ter five months, Philip­pine troops quelled the siege, which left more than 1,100 com­bat­ants and civil­ians dead and dis­placed hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple.

The gov­ern­ment has suc­cess­fully asked Congress twice to al­low an ex­ten­sion of martial rule in the south, the home­land of mi­nor­ity Mus­lims and site of decades-old Mus­lim sep­a­ratist in­sur­rec­tions.

“With martial law in place, we have achieved sub­stan­tial progress in ad­dress­ing the re­bel­lion in Min­danao,” Panelo said. “A halt may only frus­trate the progress we are wit­ness­ing in Min­danao and may even strengthen the re­bel­lion and pro­pel it to other parts of the coun­try.”

Op­po­nents ar­gue that ex­tend­ing martial law is un­con­sti­tu­tional be­cause it’s an “ex­treme mea­sure” that can only be im­posed when an ac­tual re­bel­lion against the gov­ern­ment ex­ists. They ex­pressed con­cern that the move could be a pre­lude for Duterte to de­clare martial law through­out the Philip­pines.

The left-wing Kara­p­atan group said a martial law ex­ten­sion would be a hu­man rights “night­mare,” cit­ing claims of dozens of ques­tion­able killings of civil­ians by troops, dis­place­ment of vil­lagers by mil­i­tary bomb­ings and il­le­gal ar­rests un­der martial law in the south. The mil­i­tary has de­nied such claims.

Filipinos re­main hy­per­sen­si­tive to threats to democ­racy and civil lib­er­ties af­ter they ousted dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos in 1986.


Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte is ask­ing leg­is­la­tors to ex­tend martial law across the na­tion’s south­ern third through the end of 2019.

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