(Explanation of South Cotabato 2nd district Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez’ vote for the third extension of martial law in Mindanao and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus until 31 December 2019. Delivered at the Joint Session of Congress on 12 December 2018. Hernandez also voted YES to the first and second extension)
As the end of the implementation of martial law in Mindanao approaches; and with another request made by the Commander-in-Chief for its continuation, we are again tasked to determine whether there is sufficient ground to extend the effectivity of Proclamation No. 216.
It can be easily remembered that the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao was triggered by a series of lawless and violent attacks highlighted by the infamous Marawi Siege wherein the Maute Group, along with other rebel groups, took up arms and committed public uprising in an attempt to remove Mindanao – starting with Marawi City – from its allegiance to the duly constituted government of the Philippines and deprive the President of his power, authority, and prerogatives over the land.
The proclamation allowed our armed forces to conduct swift and effective operations which ultimately led to the liberation of the City of Marawi in a few months’ time.
Since then, peace has been relatively restored. Trade and commerce resumed; and investors regained their confidence in conducting business in the island. The military has been performing its mandate of upholding our sovereignty and protecting the people while respecting civilian authority and human rights. Contrary to the fears of its detractors, there are no abuses and the implementation of martial law has been generally peaceful.
However, rebellion still persists in other areas of Mindanao. Elements of the Daesh or ISIS inspired remnants of the Dawlah Islamiyah group, as well as members of the Abu Sayyaf, the Maguid and Turaifie Groups, to continue their armed and violent uprising, posing a serious threat to the security and safety of our brothers and sisters. This past year saw a string of bombings in different areas of Mindanao, including South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, causing death and injury to innocent people. These events, along with other circumstances backed by credible intelligence reports and data show that the rebellion still endures and that public safety requires the continued implementation of martial law.
To be sure, this sentiment of support is not the voice of only a single person. In fact, there is a huge clamor from most, if not all, of Mindanaoans, including local chief executives and district representatives, for the extension of martial law. This only proves that the operation of martial law has brought positive effects in the whole island.
For the foregoing reasons, this representation expresses his support for the extension of martial law in the whole of Mindanao for the recommended period and we applaud President Duterte for his will and decisiveness in bringing lasting peace and prosperity in Mindanao.