With martial law extension, VP Leni asks: Listen to Marawi folk, ensure respect for rights

July 23, 2017 - 5:08 PM
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VP Leni Robredo
Vice President Leni Robredo (file photo)

MANILA – Vice President Leni Robredo underscored on Sunday the need to respond to the concerns of residents displaced by the clashes in Marawi City, and ensure that their human rights are respected.

VP Leni made the call anew after Congress—via a joint vote—overwhelmingly approved the extension of martial law in Mindanao up to December 31, 2017, upon the request of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Ang isinisigaw lang naman nila: ‘Pakinggan niyo kami. Isali niyo kami sa usapan. Nandito kami, tanungin niyo kami kung anong mahalaga para sa amin,'” she said during her weekly radio program. “Tingin ko, mahalagang mensahe iyon dahil sa anumang kaguluhan, anumang proyekto, mahalaga talagang pinapakinggan iyong mga taong maaapektuhan.”

VP Leni likewise underscored the importance of government and civil society exerting all efforts to ensure that human rights are fully protected even under a state of martial law.

“Mayroong mga alegasyon na mayroong paglabag ng mga karapatang pantao. Tingin ko kailangang tingnan din ito para hindi na lumala pa,” she said.

VP Leni said she raised these concerns with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the administrator of martial law, following one of her visits to evacuation centers in Balo-i and Iligan City.

“Kahit noong meeting namin, ito, sinabi ko na ito kay Secretary Lorenzana, sinabi ko sa mga taong kailangang makaaalam. Pinaabot ko sa kaniya iyong pinaabot din sa akin. Tingin ko iyong pamahalaan kailangang tingnan ito, kasi iyong pinakakinatatakutan lang naman sa martial law, iyong ating karanasan natin noong mga nakaraang panahon, noong panahon ng diktadurya, na noong nagkaroon ng martial law, nagkaroon ng maraming karahasan. At ayaw nating maulit ulit iyon,” she said. “Palagay ko mahalaga sa pagpatuloy na pagtiwala ng ating mga kababayan sa demokrasya at sa proseso na siguruhin na iyong masasamang nangyayari ay hindi na muli mauulit pa.”

“Sinabi ko sa kaniya, ‘Sec, ang pinapakiusap lang po ng mga tao doon na isali naman sila sa usapan. Pinapakiusap lang po na konsultahin naman sila.’ At ito ay ipinangako naman ni Secretary Lorenzana,” she added.

The Vice President reiterated that the residents need to be consulted not only about their needs as evacuees, but eventually when the national government rolls out its rehabilitation efforts for the city, where fighting between government troops and the Maute terror group is still ongoing.

“Sabi ko, lalong lalo na sa rehabilitation phase, lalong lalo na sa pag-asikaso ng pangmatagalang solusyon. Hindi puwedeng kami-kami lang, o tayo-tayo lang, ang nag-uusap. Sana pakinggan talaga sila,” she added.

Joint session

While disagreeing with the approval of the five-month extension of martial law, Robredo nonetheless expressed appreciation for the fact that numerous resource persons, including representatives from people’s organizations in Mindanao, were given an opportunity to speak during yesterday’s joint session of Congress.

“Bihira itong mangyari.. Pinagdebatehan, pinakinggan iyong mga resource persons,” she said.

She lauded, in particular, the testimony of Samira Gutoc Tomawis from the Ranao Rescue Team, who aired the concerns of the Maranaos during the session. VP Leni noted that the concerns Tomawis raised reflected the sentiments of the evacuees she met during her visits to Lanao.

“Pero iyong isang mahalagang bagay doon, pinayagang magsalita iyong isang representative ng Marawi. Isang babae. Nandoon siya sa Ranao Rescuers, isang grupo na
tumutulong din sa mga evacuees natin. Mahalaga iyong mensahe niya. At ito din iyong
mensahe na… Noong pang-ilang baba ko na sa Mindanao, ito din iyong pinaaabot sa akin,” she said.

End to the conflict

VP Leni likewise echoed the call made by a number of advocates and lawmakers to work for the resolution of the conflict in Marawi in the soonest possible time.

“Bawat bisita ko doon, iyong pinakaunang tanong talaga ng mga evacuees sa akin, hindi iyong ‘Nasaan iyong pagkain namin?’ Pero ang unang tanong nila, ‘Kailan ito matatapos?'” she said.