Martial law and terrorism
There is hardly any doubt that the Maute terrorist group who continues to wreak havoc in Marawi City is a significant security threat to neighboring areas, but for President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire country under martial law may be stretching it too far.
Not unless there is a force majeure or a calamity so devastating that it had substantially affected most portions of Luzon or the Visayas. At past 10 p.m. last Thursday, an earthquake occurred that affected portions of Luzon, including Manila.
While we hope that it won’t be followed by the much-feared “Big One,” such an occurrence would paralyze the metropolis and require the government to place the affected areas under emergency or even martial rule.
We hope that doesn’t come to pass and we likewise pray that the ongoing Maute attacks in Marawi City would also be quelled quickly so that President Duterte can lift martial law over Mindanao and would not have to include both the Visayas and Luzon in the event the crisis gets protracted.
Armchair generals and loyalists of the past administration question the President’s decision to declare martial law throughout Mindanao, citing then president Noynoy Aquino’s decision to confine the emergency in Zamboanga City when it was overrun by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
They may have failed or conveniently overlooked the aborted Abu Sayyaf operation in Inabanga town, Bohol province, that started in the days leading to the Holy Week and ended sometime in the middle of this month.
Though there was no martial law declared in Bohol province, the bandits proved to be far more resistant than usual even when they were hiding in unfamiliar territory, making it hard for the troops to overrun them.
Only a vigilant citizenry helped turn the tide for the military, and it was them who eventually showed to the Abu Sayyaf bandits their arrogant folly in trying to sow terror and violence to the residents and visitors of Bohol province.
Marawi City is a lot more different since not only was it their preferred terrain, but the residents there have been cowed into submission by the Maute Group whose leader had tapped snipers, broke into and took residents as human shields and had prepared for contingencies to make it harder for the troops to defeat them.
It had been said that 95 percent of Marawi City’s population had cleared out, making it easier for the troops to do their job at the cost of dislocating the residents, who would need shelter and assistance in the neighboring cities of Iligan and even Cagayan de Oro which, except for a bombing or two, had largely been protected from terrorist violence.
It is to the best interests of the people of Luzon and the Visayas that the Maute Group be vanquished and dealt with decisively lest President Duterte finds grounds to expand martial law in these island groups too.
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