Davao biz leader fears prolonged martial law will create ‘atmosphere of tension’

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Nov) – A business leader feared that the prolonged implementation of martial law will give prospective foreign investors the wrong impression about the security situation in Davao City as it creates an “atmosphere of tension and insecurity.”

A member of Task Force Davao checks IDs of commuters coming into the city, one of the measures implemented after declaration of martial law. MindaNews file photo by MANMAN DEJETO

“When people analyze the measures that we are adopting to address the security situation, they’ll consider, well, martial law is the one used so the security situation must be very, very difficult. That is why our security forces are requesting a very extreme counter measure. But the question is why extreme? It gives the atmosphere of tension, it gives the atmosphere of insecurity,” said lawyer Samuel Matunog, president of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Davao Council.

Matunog earlier asked Duterte to lift martial law in Mindanao because it is affecting the city’s bid to become the next premiere destination for new investors in the business process outsourcing (BPO).

But National Security Adviser Heremogenes Esperon Jr. said in a press conference last Monday that the people should rather focus on the benefits that the martial law brings such as lowering the crime rates in Mindanao.

He claimed that the safety of the people in Mindanao is getting better.

On the appeal of the ICT-Davao Council, Esperon said: “I recognize them but there are bigger players who are coming in.”

He claimed majority of the people from Mindanao favor the extension of martial law.

Matunog said while it could be true that there are investors entering Mindanao, some industries like the ICT are affected in terms of new BPO players.

“We do not believe that our national security are in dire straits without martial law,” he said.

Matunog added they believe the police and the military are “capable of a more nuanced and calibrated approach, imposing martial law or extending it only when inevitable, making certain that we project a posture of strength rather than weakness.”

The BPO industry in Davao employs about 50,000 workers.

The absence of big and new BPO locators benefits existing players in the city due to lack of competition over qualified workers, Matunog said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said threats are not completely eliminated even with martial law in Mindanao implemented immediately after the armed encounters erupted between government forces and Islamic State-inspired Maute Group in Marawi City on May 23, 2017.

“By first week of December, we are going to send our recommendations to the President,” he said.

Based on the Constitution the declaration was supposed to lapse on July 22. But four days before that, the President announced he was extending it until December 31, 2017 because “rebellion in Mindanao will not be completely quelled” within a shorter timeframe.

Congress approved another one-year extension of martial law on December 13, 2017.

Lorenzana said they would also want the extension to ensure a peaceful plebiscite for the ratification of the Organic Law for Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM) on January 21 and the midterm elections on May 13, 2019. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)