June 18, 2018, 11:30 pm
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Martial law forever?: Military chief says Mindanao people ‘love’ martial rule

MINDANAO residents want martial law to be implemented in their area “forever” because of its positive effects on the peace and order situation, Armed Forces chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said yesterday.

“We talked to the people, they love martial law. The peace-loving people have witnessed what we call remarkable improvement on the peace and order,” Galvez told a press briefing in Marawi City.

President Duterte declared martial in the entire Mindanao on May 23 last year, hours after members of the Maute terror group attacked the city. Martial rule has twice been extended, the last one was for one year or until December 31 this year.

Galvez said the Mindanao residents are no longer seeing loose firearms in the streets. He noted the military has recovered 6,000 of some 30,000 loose firearms in Mindanao since January this year.

The seized guns, he said, are only a small part of the loose firearms in Mindanao, and martial law is “definitely” needed by the military to recover the remaining illegal weapons.

“We need to get all the 80 percent of the firearms (remaining) so that we will remove the possibility of using these for lawlessness and criminality,” said Galvez.

“We are seeing that in Mindanao, martial law is appreciated. Others are even saying they want martial law to be forever in Mindanao,” said Galvez, without saying if the military supports the residents’ sentiment of being under martial rule forever.

“They’ve witnessed that martial law is being implemented against lawless elements. If you are a peace-loving person, you should be favorable and comfortable with martial law,” Galvez said.

Galvez did not say how many residents who are supposedly in favor of martial law were consulted by the military. 

Col. Noel Detoyato, chief of the AFP public affairs office, said information about favorable civilian reaction to the implementation of martial law was based on the observation of different military units.

Detoyato said the military has two unified commands in Mindanao -- the Western Mindanao Command and Eastern Mindanao Command. These commands include Army, Air Force and Navy units.

“All of them are giving us feedbacks from the populace they are serving and in contact with. One third of our forces are residents of Mindanao. They are the sources of our information,” said Detoyato.

“I am also from Mindanao and all of my relatives are happy with the implementation of martial law. There are no rallies in Mindanao against martial law. If there are (rallies against martial law), they don’t represent the majority of the Mindanaoans. We support the martial law because it makes our mission accomplishment efficient and faster,” said Detoyato.

Galvez said martial law is an effective tool for the Armed Forces as they can search houses even on mere suspicion that firearms and other illegal materials are being hidden there.

LESS CRIMES

Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesman of the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command, said there was “significant reduction” in crime rate in Mindanao because of martial law. He did not give figures.

“Relatedly, the movements of terrorist groups and other threats have been limited, thereby preventing the occurrence of possible sabotage and terror attacks. Further, it also led to the arrest of different terrorist personalities in Eastern Mindanao during the implementation,” he said.

Balagtey said martial law also contributed to the successful conduct of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque reiterated martial law would be lifted when it is no longer needed.

He also said those accusing the military of committing human rights abuses under martial law should show proof and file complaints.

Unless they do so, they should just “shut up” as they have never sacrificed for the country, like the soldiers and heroes of Marawi did, he said.

The five-month Marawi conflict left 168 soldiers and policemen dead. – With Jocelyn Montemayor
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