CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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Continued martial law in Mindanao legal Supreme Court says

MANILA (UCAN): The Supreme Court of the Philippines ruled on February 6 that there were sufficient grounds for the extension of military rule in the region following a terrorist attack in the city of Marawi last year.
 
“Public safety requires the extension (of martial law) as shown by facts presented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” the Supreme Court ruling said.
 
However, human rights groups warned the ruling “will create a favourable condition for the military to continue its rampage on people’s rights with impunity.”
 
Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of human rights group Karapatan, said her office has already documented cases where soldiers have used martial law to intimidate people.
 
In January, legislators approved a request by the president, Rodrigo Duterte, to extend martial law across Mindanao to “totally eradicate” terrorist groups in the region.
 
The whole region has been under martial law since an attack by Islamic State-inspired gunmen on Marawi in May 2017.
 
Congress first extended military rule up to the end of last year, then extended it again to December 31.
 
Opposition legislators contested the legality of the move before the Supreme Court, saying it was against the constitution because there was no actual rebellion or invasion in Mindanao.
 
Critics of the government warned that the court ruling would justify “perpetual martial law” in the region.
 
Redemptorist Father Amado Picardal, a vocal critic of the Duterte administration, said military rule would not bring peace to the island and would only “escalate the spiral of violence.”
 
He said, “It will justify crackdowns on any group identified as threat to national security.” 
 
Father Raymond Montero Ambray of Tandag Diocese in Mindanao, said martial law “had already wreaked havoc on tribal and farming communities.”
 
He said extending military rule would give the military “more license to terrorise” communities that oppose mining and logging operations.
 
The military welcomed the Supreme Court ruling, saying that it would boost the morale of the troops and allow them “to better safeguard public safety in Mindanao.”
 
Delfin Lorenzana, secretary of defense, who is the martial law administrator of Mindanao, said the government can now fully pursue “with great vigour its efforts to end continuing rebellion” in the region.
 
He said the ruling would also give aid agencies the “necessary space to undertake the rehabilitation of Marawi unhampered.”
 
Military spokesperson, Colonel Edgard Arevalo said it was a “vote of confidence” in the soldiers.
 
“We would like to assure our people further that your (armed forces) will faithfully perform its duty to protect the people,” he concluded. 

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