Former Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Neri Colmenares, on Tuesday, said that the administration’s extension of martial law in Mindanao aims for a nationwide declaration of the military rule.
For Colmenares, a Leftist, President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration’s problem is its failure to explain the need for an extension of martial law and that it is a way of conditioning.
“The moment now that everyone accepts martial law kailangan sa (is needed in) Mindanao… I think the main reason is the plan is really to impose martial law later in the whole country. Sa amin, sa tingin ko (For us, that is what I think) at least,” he said in an interview with ANC.
“Anong puder ang hinahanap nila sa (What part of) martial law (are they looking for) to justify it? So they’re using a lot of arguments on this,” he added. “The target talaga dito (here really) are the opposition and dissent. Kasi si (Because) President Duterte is very intolerant of dissent.”
He was referring to critics slamming the President on issues of human rights, martial law, and others.
Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Atty. Salvador Panelo who was present during the interview, defended that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) have laid out their reasons and that the critics seem to be forgetting that the Supreme Court – the “highest court of the land” – has “validated” these reasons.
The President has also formally endorsed the proposal to the House of Congress.
Furthermore, Panelo emphasized that the AFP and PNP reasoned the existence of a rebellion from different groups like the New People’s Army (NPA), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), and the martial law extension will help the government forces for arresting these rebel groups.
“The armed forces has found out that the members of the Maute group are still recruiting and the NPA has declared in fact an intensive fighting against the government forces,” Panelo added.
However, Colmenares countered that even without martial law in Mindanao, these groups can still be arrested and that the government can at least suspend the writ of habeas corpus instead of a martial law extension.