Malacañang on Monday, December 11, expressed hope that Congress would see the need to extend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao to ensure the island’s security against remaining rebel groups.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. in a press briefing said the President’s request for an extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is based on reports from the ground that local terrorists are still committing acts of rebellion.
Citing a letter sent to the President by Defense Secretary and Martial Law Administrator Delfin Lorenzana, Roque said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had recommended extending martial law for another 12 months, taking into account its current security assessment.
Roque said the President’s decision, as explained in his official communication to Congress, seeks to put an end to the ongoing rebellion in Mindanao, and to ensure the total eradication of all terrorist groups in the region, including armed lawless elements, communist rebels, their coddlers, supporters, and financiers.
“Public safety after all is our primordial concern. We must unite against these evil forces,” he stressed.
The Palace Spokesperson reported that at least five terror groups continue to operate in the region and there is also an ongoing recruitment by remaining Maute members.
Apart from these, Roque said the government is expecting more intensified attacks by members of the New People’s Army (NPA), whom the President recently tagged as terrorists.
“[T]he act of rebellion is a continuing crime. So for as long as… they don’t lay down their grounds, they are committing a criminal act… we need to ensure that they no longer present a threat that all acts of rebellion emanating from them had ceased,” he said.
Roque also responded to critics expressing opposition to the martial law extension. He said they could always challenge the declaration in court, albeit stressing that the Supreme Court already upheld the Palace’s position on martial law twice.
“Well, we are relying on what the commanders and the troops are saying, and these commanders and troops are on the ground. We’re not in a position to second-guess them,” he said.
“In any case, they are free to challenge martial law anew in the Supreme Court. But please note that there’s been two challenges and in both instances, the Palace has been upheld,” Roque added.
Palace hails Fitch upgrade on PH’s credit rating
In the same press briefing, Secretary Roque welcomed Fitch Ratings’ upgrade of the Philippines’ Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating from “BBB-“ to “BBB”.
In its recent report, the credit rating agency cited the Philippines’ stable outlook and gave a forecast that the country would have a real GDP (gross domestic product) growth of 6.8 percent in 2018 and 2019, owing to the government’s expected higher infrastructure spending.
“Our stable outlook comes after the country’s strong and consistent macroeconomic performance, sound policies which support high and sustainable growth rates, and strong investor sentiment due to concrete domestic demand and inflows of foreign direct investment,” Roque said quoting the report.
Fitch also cited that investor confidence in the country remains unaffected by incidents of violence associated with the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs. ###PCO-Content