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Martial Law improves Mindanao economy — AFP

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The current active economic activities and development in the island of Mindanao can be attributed to the implementation of Martial Law, according to Col. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson.

“There is a sense of security in terms of commerce, which means our economy is becoming active and booming. Overall, if we ask those from Mindanao who are experiencing it, they will tell you that they appreciate the enforcement of martial law (and) if possible, continue implementing martial law,” he said.

Meanwhile, Arevalo said the AFP would first validate claims made by groups that they have suffered abuses and harassment due to the implementation of martial law in Mindanao.

Contrary to these claims, he said individuals and sectors interviewed by the military have conveyed positive opinions of martial law.

“We should know first who are those speaking about the matter. Let’s validate and confirm if they are real victims because if we interview those who are from Mindanao, the ones who are directly experiencing the effects of martial law, what they say is they welcome martial law,” Arevalo said.

This is because it gives them an added sense of security, despite the inconveniences caused by checkpoints, for instance, he said, adding that with security, they could move freely.

In a forum at the University of the Philippines on Saturday, various groups from Mindanao, including Lumad students, claimed experiencing displacement, torture and trauma due to the ongoing martial law in Mindanao.

The groups also called on ousted Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to help them voice their opposition to the implementation of military rule in the region.

Sereno was one of the five SC magistrates who voted against the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23 following attacks launched by the Maute Group in Marawi City. Congress, in a special joint session in July, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2017 at the President’s request.

The Senate and House of Representatives, convening in a joint session early December, granted President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.

A total of 240 members of Congress voted to approve the resolution of both houses calling for martial law extension in Mindanao, while only 27 voted against it. There was no abstention.

A total of 14 senators voted in favor of the motion and four were against it, while 226 House members approved the motion and 23 rejected it.

Last February, the High Court, voting 10-5, upheld the year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao.

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