Lawmakers gather for a special joint session tp decide on the possible extension of martial law in Mindanao on Saturday, July 22, 2017. Martial Law was declared by President Rodrigo Duterte last May 23, for 60 days following the siege by Muslim militants

Mindanaoans had mixed reactions to the extension of martial law in their region until Dec. 31, 2017, as approved by Congress in a special joint session held on Saturday.

In Marawi City, Zia Adiong, the spokesperson of the Lanao del Sur Crisis Management Committee, hoped that the extension of martial law would “accelerate the rehabilitation plan for Marawi City and Lanao del Sur.”

“In order for us to completely eradicate the presence of terror groups in our country and to successfully win this war against radical extremism, which is the very purpose for the extension of martial law, we mustn’t continue to relegate the sufferings of our IDPs as mere secondary concern, only next to our security efforts so as to avoid isolating them further and unwittingly serving the propaganda of these terror groups to attract a much larger audience,” Adiong said in a statement.

“The extended martial law must not mean the extended displacement of our people,” he added.

In Iligan City, Luis Jumawan, a car-for-hire driver, said he was in favor of the extension because “this would give the government more power to finish the terrorists.”

But Vennel Chenfoo, Northern Mindanao coordinator of the Kabataan partylist, told the Inquirer in Cagayan de Oro City that they were against it because “the survivors of the Marawi crisis, their sentiments is against the extension of martial law.”

Wildon Barros, secretary general of the Kilusang Mayo Uno in Northern Mindanao, said they had anticipated Congress’ move.

But he warned the extension would further drive away the Moro people from the government.

“Instead of ending the Maute, it will fuel more Moros to fight the government,” Barros said.

But Cagayan de Oro fisherman Vicente Escobido, 53, said Duterte should be given a chance to finish the Maute Group. The extension of martial law would help the President achieve that end, he said.

Forty-eight year old farmer Belinda Yucatan said she would rather leave it to government to deal with the Marawi crisis.

“My only hope is that human rights will be respected and violence will not spill over to other parts in Mindanao due to martial law extension,” she said.

In Digos City, where several hundred Maranao people also reside, Mayor Joseph Peñas said for so long as there would be no abuses, he would back the extension of martial law.

Retired teacher Mike Montesa said he believed that the extension would also enable the government to prevent the possible spread of the Maute terror.

School teacher Madeline Franca said there were many benefits that martial law brought in to her town of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, such as a lower crime rate and less trouble among residents.

“Barangays have become peaceful and people have become more disciplined,” Franca said.

Antonio Tuyak, spokesperson of a banana workers’ group in Tagum City, said they fear that human rights violations would increase in the city and surrounding areas.

“Farmers and civilians in communities are the ones who would bear the brunt of military abuses due to suspicion they are NPA sympathizers,” Tuyak added.

But Christian Hope Tac-an, a 19-year old college student, said they felt safer when martial law was implemented.

“No more loud karaoke singing until 10 p.m. because of the curfew,” Tac-an said. –Reports from Richel Umel, Jigger Jerusalem, Eldie Aguirre, and Frinston Lim


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