QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is not convinced that an extension of martial law in Mindanao is necessary at this point.
CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon said they have been opposing the imposition of martial law in the region because they believe that the power of the President is enough to solve the problems of terrorism in the country.
“Kasi nakalagay sa Saligang Batas, only in cases of actual invasion or rebellion. Hindi po kasama dito ang tinatawag na lawless violence. At patuloy po kaming naninindigan na sa extensions nito ay hindi rin kailangan,” Gascon said.
CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline De Guia, meanwhile, believes the government troops are fully equipped for the job and extension of martial law is no longer necessary.
“It has been the position of the Commission on Human Rights that our security forces are fully capable of addressing lawless violence in the country without the need for martial law,” she said.
She added that: “As such, there has to be a strong reason should the government move for another extension—based on the sound recommendation of our Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police on the real situation on the ground.”
Gascon, meanwhile, stressed that the situation at present is different compared with the martial law during the regime of the late President Ferdinand Marcos in terms of intention.
Nevertheless, the CHR vows to be vigilant in monitoring for possible violations of human rights along the way.
For his part, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay fear the extension of martial law may only be utilized by people with much interest for charter change.
“So exactly the same story that we have during Marcoses time na martial law can be used to expedite charter change,” he said.
But Malacañang clarified that the proposal to extend the implementation of martial law in Mindanao region remains under study by President Rodrigo Duterte. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)