The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday said crime rate in Mindanao significantly declined since martial law was implemented last year.
Citing PNP data, PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde said that from the 8.79 crime rate in Mindanao in 2017, it went down to 5.92 from January to September this year.
“We can attribute that basically to the imposition of martial law. Martial law actually just strengthened the peace and order operations like the checkpoints and military operations,” Albayalde said during a press briefing.
The six-month extension of the martial law rule in Mindanao is set to end next month. Mindanao was placed under martial law following the attack of ISIS-inspired armed men in Marawi City in May last year.
Albayalde was quick to clarify, however, that Malacañang has not yet asked the PNP if it is supportive of another extension of martial law.
“If they ask the opinion of the PNP, if ever that they will ask for the agency’s position, we will support the extension especially with the incoming elections mas maganda yan,” he said.
Albayalde also expressed doubts that there would be abuses, saying it did not happen while Mindanao was under martial law the past months.
He said most of Mindanao residents are even supportive of the martial law.
“As for us, if only we want to maintain the peace and order and if only, they want to have a peaceful plebiscite, martial law is good because it is not the Marcos-time martial law. There is no curtailing of freedom there. We only see massive checkpoints and surrender of firearms. Also, based on the feedbacks of the people, they want martial law,” the PNP chief said.
Earlier, Col. Noel Detoyato, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, said troops in the field are still gathering data to determine whether martial law in Mindanao would again be extended.
Detoyato said the review on the possible extension of martial law in the region had been ongoing since it was first implemented.
Last Nov. 2, Malacañang announced the possibility of further extending martial law in Mindanao which was discussed when President Rodrigo Duterte recently convened the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EC-NSC).
“Taking into account the lingering terrorist and communist threats, the EC-NSC committed to put into study the possible lifting or further extension of martial law therein,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo said among the factors initially considered during the EC-NSC meeting was the outlook of the people of Mindanao, an overwhelming majority of whom support martial law “in view of the present situation they are in.”
Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2017 following attacks launched by the Maute Group in Marawi City.
Congress, in a special joint session in July last year, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2017 at the President’s request.
In another joint session in December last year, the Senate and House of Representatives granted the Chief Executive’s request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus until Dec. 31, 2018. (PNA/Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)