MANILA, Philippines – Why fear martial law?
This was the question posed by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa to the public on Monday, December 18, after reporters asked him if he would recommend the nationwide expansion of martial law, currently in effect in Mindanao. (READ: Who's afraid of martial law… in Mindanao?)
"As I have said, depende sa kanya (President Rodrigo Duterte). Desisyon niya 'yan, hindi ko siya papangunahan, it is dependent on his own determination. Anyway, bakit, takot na takot ba kayo sa martial law?" Dela Rosa said after their Christmas party inside Camp Crame.
(As I have said, it will depend on [the President]. It is his decision, I cannot preempt him. Anyway, why are you so scared of martial law?)
This comes a week after Congress granted the one-year extension of military rule in Mindanao, following the recommendation of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). (READ: AFP chief on nationwide martial law: 'We can never tell')
Dela Rosa, a native of Davao, said skeptics should go to Mindanao or ask Mindanaoans themselves how they feel about the imposition of martial rule.
"My neighbors, my friends, my relatives will say na wala namang pagbabago (that nothing has changed). Sa mga peace-loving people, walang pagbabago kung may martial law (For peaceloving people, there is no change if there is or there is no martial law)... Pero sa masasamang tao, malaki ang epekto sa kanila (But for bad people, the effect is huge)," he said.
Dela Rosa himself claimed before that he was tortured during the infamous Marcos Martial Law era, but he insisted that Duterte's martial law was different.
The top cop said terrorists have been restrained and forced into hiding with martial law, but the day-to-day lives of "law-abiding citizens" remain as is.
Condition for PH-wide declaration
According to Dela Rosa, he still sees no reason for declaring martial law nationwide, but he gave a condition when he will recommend the measure to the President.
"When my subordinate commanders sa ground 'yung ating regional directors sa Visayas at sa [Luzon]... lahat ng regional directors na 'yan, if they are in unison, and recommend," he said. (If Visayas and Luzon regional directors, in unison, recommend it.)
He also said he checks on his regional commanders from time to time, but has not reached out to them ever since martial law was extended. They also have monthly meetings, or "command conferences," where they assess the PNP's policies and security in the country.
The PNP chief then defended their recommendation of extending martial law in Mindanao, denying that it was an admission that they would fail to crush terrorism without it. (READ: Marawi residents crying for justice fear extended martial law)
"Mas kayang sugpuin kung may martial law (We are more enabled to stop [terrorism] with martial law.) . Kaya naming sugpuin without martial law (We can stop it without martial law), but it will give us a favorable working condition, a favorable operational environment. Kung merong (If there is) martial law, that will make our job a lot more easier," Dela Rosa said. – Rappler.com