THE Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police will recommend to President Duterte the extension of martial law in Mindanao citing its positive impact on the region’s economy and peace and order condition from May 2017 to date, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
According to AFP chief of staff, General Carlito G. Galvez Jr., they are also making the recommendation to the President amid a positive response from local government officials and their ground forces in Mindanao.
He said there is really a major need to extend martial law in Mindanao to sustain its gains including a more than 50 percent increase in tourist arrivals in Davao alone and to completely defeat terrorism and threats posed by the New People’s Army and other lawless elements in the region.
He, however, did not say how long the extension would be but maintained it will be according to the ‘pulse of the people.’
The AFP chief cited the positive impact of the martial law on Mindanao’s economy. In the Davao region alone, he said, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 10.9 percent last year, the second fastest growth among 17 regions.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, Davao region’s growth was higher this year than the 9.5 percent recorded in 2016.
Citing a significant reduction in major crimes in the region from May 2017 to date and public satisfaction over it, PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said they are inclined to recommend martial law extension in Mindanao.
“Personally, If I would be asked by the President, I would say yes to it. That would be the agency’s position too,” the PNP chief.
Gen. Albayalde said based on public impulse, majority of Mindanao residents also want martial law in the region be extended. “We see an improvement of peace and order in Mindanao as a result of the martial rule. Actually, it’s a very different martial law, there’s no oppression, only a great number of checkpoints,” he said.
PNP Director for Operations, Director Ma-o R. Aplasca said martial law in Mindanao since May last year has proven to have a great impact on the peace and order situation in the region as evidenced by the 36.12 percent reduction of eight focus crimes except homicide in the Southern Philippines.
Comparative figures released by the office of Aplasca showed that crimes in Mindanao significantly went down from May 2017 to August this year compared to the figures collated from January 2016 to April 2017.
President Duterte had said the extension of martial law would depend on the recommendation of the AFP and the PNP. The former Davao City mayor declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017, following the government’s campaign against the ISIS-inspired Maute militants’ siege on Marawi City.
The extension of martial law after the first expiration in June 2017 was granted by Congress in July last year. In another joint session in December last year, the Senate and House of Representatives granted the Chief Executive’s request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus until Dec. 31, 2018.
Both Generals Galvez and Albayalde said that the ongoing implementation of martial law in Mindanao has brought peace and many other benefits to the island with Gen. Albayalde maintaining they are still to receive any complaints about abusive acts by security forces implementing the presidential order.
Since its imposition, nearly 6,700 loose firearms have been seized by the police and the military or were surrendered by their holders to security troops in the region too.
“Movements of known terrorist groups such as the New People’s Army, Maute Group, and the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) have also been constricted. In Eastern Mindanao alone, 11,333 CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines) members and supporters have been given an opportunity to experience a more peaceful and productive way of life,” the AFP chief explained.
The PNP-DO said the total volume of eight focus crimes in Mindanao decreased by 36.12 percent during the comparative period or from 47,171 to only 28,218 crimes during the May 2017 to August 2018 period.
Overall, murder cases in the region went down by 39.83 percent or from 4,697 to 2,826; physical injury cases decreased by 27.78 percent or from 10,635 to 7,681; rape incidents went down by 11.44 percent or from 2,466 to 2,184; robbery cases decreased by 42.77 percent or from 7,319 to 4,189; theft incidents went down by 46.09 percent or from 15,101 to 8,141; carnapping of 4-wheeled motor vehicles decreased by 25 percent or from 88 to 66; and carnapping of motorcycles went down by 43.22 percent or from 3,255 to 1,831 only.
However, cases of homicide in Mindanao increased by 103.13 during the comparative period or from 640 to 1,300.