In the light of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez dropping more than just hints tilting toward an extension of up to five years for the martial law declared over the whole of Mindanao, several quarters, not the least of which is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), have come out with a perspective that is not entirely synchronous.
This is happening even as President Rodrigo Duterte has affirmed that the extension or non-extension of the effectivity of his martial law edict would be dependent on the recommendation of the AFP as well as the Philippine National Police (PNP).
For its part, the military reckons that its recommendation could come out as early as this week.
What’s more telling in the military’s punto de vista, however, is that the five-year frame of Speaker Alvarez seems on the long side.
This is in the face of Alvarez’s insistence that there is a swell tide of favorable sentiment toward continuing martial law. Speaking in Visaya, Alvarez said: “I was in Davao and asked the folk there. ‘Are you in favor of making martial law last until 2022, until the end of the term of our President?’ They said they were in favor. They said life is better now. And there is nothing to fear. This is nothing like the Marcos martial law at all. We feel secure.”
Alvarez said he is ready to marshal his fellow legislators for the purpose of extending martial law “in order to give this administration enough time to resolve the problem of terrorism in Mindanao.”
But for the AFP, five years seems too long, even as Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said: “Hindi ko alam kung anong pinagbabatayan ni speaker. Maaring may impormasyon siya na hindi namin hawak, at kami naman, and pinagbabatayan namin is yung mga threats na hinaharap natin ngayon (I don’t know what is the basis of Speaker Alvarez in taking that position. He may know something that we don’t. As for us, we are reckoning from an appreciation of the threats that we are facing).”
Padilla elaborated that the military’s assessment is still ongoing but is close to being wrapped up.
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