There should be no preconditions attached to the non-extension of martial law in Mindanao by the end of the year, progressive lawmakers in the House of Representatives said Tuesday.
In a statement, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate said that President Rodrigo Duterte's decision not to request another extension on martial rule in Mindanao should not be in exchange for the passage of the Amended Human Security Act.
Otherwise, such a move is nothing but a "cheap" yet "brazen and fascist" blackmail that will only place a "de facto martial rule" in the entire country, he said.
"Kapag ganito ang nangyari ay pinakagat lang nila tayo sa patibong na lalo pang sisiil sa inaatake ng mga karapatan ng ating mamamayan," Zarate said.
"With the proposed amendments to the HSA, along with the PNP and AFP's push for the revival of the Anti-Subversion law and the militarization even of campuses, this would effectively make our country a de facto police state," he added.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte decided not to extend martial law in Mindanao following the assessment of his security and defense advisers, with the “weakening of the terrorist and extremist rebellion, a result of the capture or neutralization of their leaders, as well as the decrease in the crime index,” being among the factors considered.
Kabataan party-list Representative Sarah Elago insisted that neither martial law nor the Amended Human Security Act is the solution to ending armed conflict in Mindanao. Instead, she said, they will only result in numerous human rights violations, militarization of communities and extrajudicial killings.
"This administration must know that our nation’s peace and security is not only limited to choosing between Martial Law and the Human Security Act," she said.
"Instead of intensifiying attacks on people’s lives and livelihood, the Duterte administration should address the roots of conflict by heeding the genuine demands of the people, lift the Martial Law in Mindanao and resume the peace talks now," she added.
For her part, Gabriela Women's Party Representative Arlene Brosas said the lifting of martial law in Mindanao will not exonerate those who are responsible for the abuses and violations that it has caused.
"Such decision should not sweep under the rug the numerous rights violations against women, children and their families committed via military bombings, strafing, and hamletting of communities," she said.
"They must and will be held accountable for all these grave human rights violations," she added.
Meanwhile, Anak Mindanao party-list Representative Amilhilda Sangcopan welcomed Duterte's pronouncement that he will no longer request a Mindanao martial law extension.
"As a Moro advocating for peace, it is a comforting thought that the government doesn't see the extension of martial as necessary and relevant—especially now when the wheels of Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is in place and rolling," she said.
"I have faith in the promise of BOL. I believe that it has the capability to bring peace in Mindanao, the kind we are ardently praying for, for years," she added. — BM, GMA News