ILOILO – Should Western Visayas provinces be placed under martial law to contain the possible spread of killings in Negros Island?
There is no need to rush it, said San Enrique, Iloilo’s Mayor Mediatrix Fernandez who is also the president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines – Iloilo chapter.
The series of killings allegedly mounted by communist rebels sparked fear of a possible imposition of martial law in Negros Island and even in the whole Region 6.
Western Visayas is generally peaceful, said Fernandez.
Incidentally, today the country is marking the 47th anniversary of the declaration of martial law in the country by then President Ferdinand Marcos to supposedly quell communist rebellion.
Fernandez described as isolated the spate of killings in Negros and that these could be addressed by the military and police there.
In July, the Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed over 300 elite Special Action Force (SAF) troops in a bid to restore peace and order in Negros Island.
“Kinahanglan i-assess anay. Karon kon martial law na, ang economic growth mangin apektado, ilabi pa nga kanami sang Iloilo,” Fernandez stressed.
No less than PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde himself said in July that the violence was “confined in an area” and had not spread to the entire Negros Island.
“Ang instruction niya (President Rodrigo Duterte) is to finish the problem of insurgency,” Albayalde added.
Fernandez said one situation where martial law may be declared is when “grabe na gid bala ang war and may fear or threatened kita sang New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas.”
“Siguro if our way of life is affected, then declaring martial law may be the fastest way to solve the problem,” she stressed.
For his part, Mayor Ronilo Caspe of Cabatuan, Iloilo said there is no big reason to place the whole Western Visayas under martial law.
Only specific areas with severe insurgency or peace and order problems should be placed under military rule, he stressed.
Placing under martial law even relatively peaceful areas of the region would have adverse effects, Caspe said.
Western Visayas in general has no peace and order problem, he stressed.
Since January 2017, 87 civilians have been killed in Negros Occidental and Oriental, according to Defend Negros #StopTheAttacks network.
This year, deemed the bloodiest day was July 25 – seven died in separate shooting incidents
NPA rebels blamed “death squads” of policemen, soldiers and paramilitary but the police and military pointed to the insurgents as behind the attacks./PN