Mindanao martial law may not be extended if Human Security Act is amended, also depends on LGUs - Esperon
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said on Friday that martial law in Mindanao might no longer be extended if Congress passes the amendments to the Human Security Act.
In a press briefing in Malacanang, Esperon said the extension of martial law in southern Philippines after it expires this December 31 would also depend on the recommendation of the local government units in the region.
"We are looking at some developments that could give some guidance to us. If the Human Security Act as amended will be passed, then we may not need to ask for any extension of martial law. We may not need any martial law of - this kind of martial law," he said.
He noted that the current martial law has a lot of limitations compared to the martial law declared during the Marcos regime.
"The martial law that we used to know could close Congress and suspend a lot of things, including the Constitution. But this martial law that we have now has a lot of limitations among which you have to get the permission of Congress and you can only detain suspects for a period of three days maximum," he said.
Esperon said the three-day maximum detention is one of the limitations of the existing martial law.
He added some provisions of the Human Security Act of 2007 or Republic Act No. 9372 are "not user-friendly."
"If you commit a mistake in arresting somebody, detaining somebody with all the files that you have and later you are not able to prove it in court, you will be fined 500,000 pesos a day, which is about 10,000 dollars a day, which is approximately my salary a year. So, it’s so unfriendly, so it is a disincentive to law enforcement," he said.
He said if the amended Human Security Act is passed, "then that is a better tool for us."
But Esperon said they did not want to dictate to Congress when it could pass the new law.
He added that another consideration on whether to extend martial law in Mindanao is the position of the LGUs.
"If local government units or executives would say we don’t need it anymore, then we’ll take that into consideration," the official said.
He cited the case of Davao City, which passed a resolution asking President Rodrigo Duterte to lift martial law in the city.
He said Davao City could probably have a very good security system in place to protect itself.
"Other cities might also opt not to have martial law anymore, so we’ll take that into consideration," he added.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao in May 2017 due to the Marawi siege. Celerina Monte/DMS