Vice President Leni Robredo is calling on members of Congress to ensure a proper scrutiny of President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao for another year.
VP Leni reiterated her trust in the assessment of the Mindanao security situation by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense, led by Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, the administrator of martial law.
However, she underscored that it is important to discuss the details of the President’s request, in order to address any apprehensions from the public, and to ensure that the AFP gets the support it actually needs. These include the duration and scope of the declaration, its supposed effects on addressing security concerns in the region, as well as the pending rehabilitation of Marawi City, the center of months-long skirmishes between government forces and the Maute local terror group.
“Tiwala tayo sa AFP, tiwala po tayo sa DND—kay Secretary Lorenzana—sa kanilang assessment kung ano ang kailangan para ma-secure iyong Marawi, ma-secure iyong Mindanao. Gusto po nating bigyan ng suporta. Pero iyong sa akin lang po, sana sa hearing, mapag-usapan iyong mga tanong na nasa isip nating lahat,” she said in an interview on Tuesday, during her office’s Metro Laylayan visit in Barangay Tumana, Marikina City.
“Iyon ay kailangang itanong natin. Parang sa atin lang po, inaasahan natin iyong ating mga senador at mga kongresista, itatanong iyong mga nasa likod ng isip natin para klaro kung bakit kailangan, gaano katagal talaga, at ano iyong puwedeng asahan habang na-e-extend iyong martial law,” she added.
VP Leni also emphasized the need for the administration to present concrete plans to Congress on what it intends to do during the proposed extension. She noted that safeguards against abuse must be put in place, as officials claim that martial law will shorten processes for rehabilitation efforts in Marawi.
“[S]ana mapag-usapan sa Kongreso. Sana po maitanong, maitanong sa pamahalaan, kung mayroon na bang plano kung anong gagawin doon sa isang taon? Kasi tingin ko po karapatan naman nating malamang lahat,” she said.
VP Leni issued the comment a day after the formal request was submitted to Congress.
In his five-page letter, President Duterte noted the threats posed by groups influenced by Islamic State, as well as the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the New People’s Army.
The Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to discuss the said request in a joint session on Wednesday morning.