Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte wants her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, to lift martial law in her city before it is lifted in the whole of Mindanao in December.
She first bared her plan in her speech at the Fifth Davao Investment Conference (Icon) in Davao City on Thursday, saying she made the decision after her discussions with ambassadors and officials of other countries who attended the event.
“Earlier, I had a productive chat with the honorable ambassadors and we discussed the situation of martial law in Mindanao and Davao City,” Sara said.
She said she would make the request formal by asking the Sangguniang Panlungsod to pass a resolution to that effect.
Among those who attended Icon were European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen, Romanian Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Mihai Sion, Swedish Ambassador Harald Fries, Dutch Ambassador Saskia de Lang, and Hungarian Ambassador Jozsef Bencz.
Sara was spotted talking with the ambassadors before to her speech.
Sara said martial law should only be imposed in the areas where the peace-and-order situation remained unstable. In the case of Davao City, she said, “We have a relatively stable peace.”
But she said the city’s peace-and-order situation “became more or less stable with the imposition of martial law.”
While she would be writing a letter to the Office of the President, Sara said, she was unsure if exempting the city from martial law would be possible.
Sara said she would first write to the military for a document attesting to the factors that make the lifting of military rule in the Mindanao hub―as well as on Samal Island―favorable.
“We are set to write the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] Eastern Mindanao Command, 10ID PA [Infantry Division of the Philippine Army], and PRO XI (Police Regional Office in Region 11) for a favorable endorsement of the lifting of martial law in Davao City and Island Garden City of Samal, if Mayor Uy will consent,” she said in a message to Rappler on Friday.
“Thereafter, if we get the favorable recommendations, we transmit a City Council resolution to the OP [Office of the President].”
Responding to questions, Sara hoped that Davao City would be exempted from martial law coverage even before it lapses on Dec. 31, 2019, or that the city be excluded in the next Malacañang request―if one was made―for another extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“Yes, we will try with that, but leave it to the final decision of the national government,” said Sara, adding she wanted to submit the documents as soon as possible.
When martial law was imposed in May 2017, Sara was among the Mindanao officials who said it was necessary, especially with the problem on terrorism and the communist New People’s Army.
In August 2018, she said she would welcome its extension and that she “follow(s) the decision of the Office of the President, the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and the PNP [Philippine National Police] because they are better informed by the intelligence units on the need to extend martial law in Mindanao.”
The extension being sought then came in the wake of a bomb attack in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, that killed two people and wounded over 30 others in the same month.
In December of that year, martial law in Mindanao was extended for the third time, or until December 2019, through an act of Congress.
The National Economic and Development Authority in Southern Mindanao had claimed that the declaration of martial law on the island since May 23, 2017, was beneficial.
For Davao City, the uptick in tourist arrivals for 2017 was a positive indication, according to Maria Lourdes Lim, the NEDA regional director.
The City Tourism Office had reported that in 2017, the tourism figure had reached two million visitors from just 1.7 million the year before. It further increased to 2.3 million last year.
But Sara herself had also admitted that while martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus helped Davao City’s peace and order, it continued to worry tourists and event organizers.
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