Mayor Sara to ask President Duterte to exempt Davao City from martial law

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 June) – Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio will request her father, President Rodrigo R. Duterte, to exempt Davao City from his declaration of martial law and only place areas under military rule where peace and order is unstable because “it doesn’t have to be the entire area of Mindanao.”

Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio meets with European envoys during sidelines of the 2019 Davao Investment Conference (Davao ICon) at the SMX Convention Center Thursday (20 June 2019). From left: Mihai Sion, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Romania; Ambassador Saskia de Lang, Embassy of the Netherlands; Ambassador Harald Fries, Embassy of Sweden; Ambassador Jozsef Bencz, Embassy of Hungary; and European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen. MindaNews photo by ANTONIO L. COLINA IV

Carpio was responding to the query of Swedish Ambassador Harald Fries on the two-year-old martial law declaration in Mindanao during the mayor’s meeting with European ambassadors around 2 p.m. at the sidelines of the 2019 Davao Investment Conference (Davao ICon) at the SMX Convention Davao.

Fries asked specifically the mayor how long Mindanao would be under martial law.

The mayor admitted she did not know when martial law would be lifted. But she that the consensus among mayors of Mindanao is that “peace and order became more or less stable with the imposition of martial law.”

“But with Davao City, what they are enjoying now, we enjoyed it before martial law,” Carpio pointed out.

She admitted that martial law has always been one of the concerns of tourists, businessmen, and international event organizers who plan to hold major activities here.

Carpio said that in her city, they saw the effect of martial law – like less visitors coming – in the first few months.

“But after about two months, everything picked up,” she noted. The mayor said that visitors apparently did not see “the reason why the whole island of Mindanao was put in martial law in relation to our situation here in Davao City.”

She said that visitors and some sectors are not used to being militarized.

Carpio told reporters shortly after that meeting that the city’s exemption from martial law would be possible since it can be declared to specific areas.

“I will write the President to exempt Davao City from the declaration of martial law in Mindanao since martial law can be localized in one or two areas. It doesn’t have to be the entire area of Mindanao,” she said.

The President declared martial law and suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao on May 23, 2017, in response to the attack made by the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group in Marawi City. Congress approved the request of the President for the extension of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus for the third time in December last year until the end of 2019.

Carpio said she would ask the City Council of Davao to come up with a resolution requesting the President that martial law be lifted in the city.

In her keynote speech before the 600 delegates to the Davao ICon around 3 p.m., the mayor reiterated her plan to request the Office of the President to reconsider and review martial law declaration in Mindanao. But this time she emphasized that it be declared only to areas where peace and order is unstable.

Mihail Bujor Sion, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Romania, agreed with Carpio, saying it would be better to “do it by pieces” and declare martial law in areas where there is “real threat and conflict” as he believed 80 percent of the areas in Mindanao are safe and that it will be easier for the European governments to send aid to Mindanao.

“That will be good for us, embassies which are responsible, and also for the tourists because they will go anyway. The travel advisory, it’s not mandatory, it’s optional. They can listen to us or they can go on their own,” he said.

“We advise them to travel, of course, follow the rules of martial law but we consider 80 percent of Mindanao is safe. I don’t think 80 percent of Mindanao should be under martial law. If the government could look and go region by region, this will help us helping you,” Sion added. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)