Press Release
December 13, 2017


After attending the briefing conducted by the country's top national security and defense officials at the Senate yesterday, I am convinced that the extension of martial law is a necessary means of upholding the sovereignty of Republic of the Philippines and defending the people of Mindanao from the vicious attacks of rebel terrorists. Therefore, during the joint session of Congress held today, I voted in favor of granting the President's request for a one-year extension of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.

We must note that martial law in Mindanao is nothing like the martial law that was imposed across the entire country decades ago. Indeed, the Commission on Human Rights itself reported to us that there have been no confirmed cases of human rights violations tied to its implementation. Meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority told us that martial law has not had the adverse effect on the regional or national economy that some sectors expected.

All in all, it is clear that Duterte government has administered martial law judiciously, with great care to protect the rights of our citizens. I trust that this administration will continue to implement martial law with prudence, in pursuit of the best interests of our country.

I am sure that critics from the opposition will leap at this chance to attack the administration and its allies once more. Well, I wasn't thinking of them while casting my vote. I was thinking about the people of Mindanao, who have suffered under the inescapable shadow of violent extremism for half a century now.

The perpetual state of war in Mindanao has stunted economic growth, perpetuated poverty, and visited terrible tragedies upon our countrymen who live there. This heartbreaking state of affairs has gone on for far too long. Mindanaoans deserve the chance to live in peace.

Martial law may be a severe means of achieving peace, but desperate times like these call for desperate measures. Mindanaoans have suffered enough. We need to bring the forever war in Mindanao to an end, whatever it takes.

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