Even as President Rodrigo Duterte and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have noted a tapering off in the exchange of gunfires between government troops and terrorists in Marawi City, proposals have been made to extend the 60-day martial law in Mindanao and expand it to cover the entire country. One proposal coming from Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was even to extend martial law up to 2022 which is the end of the term of Mr. Duterte, which immediately drew protests from members of Congress themselves and various sectors of the country.
The proposals were aired following the Supreme Court decision upholding the proclamation of martial law. Others pointed out the success of the martial rule in Mindanao especially in the peace and order situation, the campaign against armed groups and illegal drugs. This is borne out by a Social Weather Station survey which showed that 57 percent of respondents favoured martial law, although many oppose the expansion to the Visayas and Luzon.
Even the Armed Forces itself said the idea of expanding martial law has never crossed the collective mind of the military. AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said he himself does not see the need to place the entire country under martial law but at the moment, the AFP is reviewing the situation and coming out with its recommendation after its assessment. Once the assessment is done along with their recommendation, it will be then forwarded to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the Martial Law administrator, who will then forward it to President Rodrigo Duterte who will then review and act on it.
Martial Law in Mindanao was declared night time of May 23 shortly after the attack of the Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City. Under the 1987 Constitution, Martial Law is only limited for 60 days or up to July 23 and needs the approval of Congress for its extension. Careful and thorough assessment of the situation and consideration of all factors, including that of the international community, should be ensured to be able to come out with a wise decision for the good of the majority of the people and that of the country.