Philippines: Decisive martial law declaration also risks Mindanao peace: analyst – 24 May 2017

  • President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law declaration showed decisiveness but, if mishandled, could also give rise to more Islamic extremists and compromise peace efforts in southern Philippines, a Mindanao-based scholar said on 24 May 17.
  • Duterte warned that martial rule in Mindanao would be “harsh” similar to the one declared by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr. nearly half a century ago.
  • But Marcos’ iron fist rule “fuelled the rebellion” in the south, said lawyer Benedicto Bacani, executive director of the Cotobato-based Institute for Autonomy and Governance.
  • Duterte placed the entire Mindanao region under martial law following clashes between government troops and the ISIS-inspired Maute terrorist group in Marawi City on 23 May 17.
  • Bacani said the president should clarify the scope of his declaration and take into account existing peace efforts, including that with communist rebels.
  • Giving the military “blanket authority” will also “weaken the system of checks and balances,”” he said. “It can compromise even those groups that are in a peace process with government,” he added.
  • He added that Duterte could not implement a Marcos-style martial rule given existing safeguards in the constitution, which requires the president to report to Congress within 48 hours.

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