LEGAZPI CITY, May 29 -- A random interview with Bicolanos from the cities of Legazpi and Naga and the provinces of Albay and Catanduanes showed support for the declaration of martial law by President Rodrigo Duterte as they believed it was meant to keep the people safe from the terrorist groups.
They said they have friends in Mindanao who had shared that their feeling of security had been buoyed by the presence of the police and soldiers in their areas.
Rosalieh C. Luces of Legazpi City in Albay, said “martial law is for the safety of the people of Mindanao. It is needed because of the extreme violence of the Maute and terrorist groups in Mindanao.”
“The terrorists should be wiped out so they would not increase in number and get more outside support that would heighten their influence,” she said.
Kristine Lagman of Tabaco City, Albay, an architect and former president of the United Architects of the Philippines, Tabaco City chapter, said “violent extremism should be stopped at the soonest possible time”.
“I am more afraid of the terrorists than the imposition of martial law,” said Lagman who shared that her friends in Mindanao had told her they felt safer because of the declaration.
Maureen Cezar Camposo, a resident of Naga City in Camarines Sur, who had lived in Mindanao “for so long,” said her friends and relatives in Mindanao felt safer and more at peace due to presence of police and soldiers everywhere.
She said the declaration could cause immediate change as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) could easily suppress lawlessness.
Camposano believed “the President will not abuse his power.”
Orpha Barba, a resident of Bato, Catanduanes said President Duterte knew what would be beneficial to the people.
“The imposition will also stop the sympathizers of the lawless group in Mindanao," she said.
Barba said the AFP found it difficult to suppress the lawless group because of some people who had helped them escape.
“The visibility of the military and the full alert status of the PNP and AFP (in some areas) are ways of keeping the civilians safer,” she said.
Glee Pedrico, who has roots in Catanduanes but is now a teacher of Rang-ay Integrated School in South Cotabato, shared her experience with martial law. "There is martial law here but honestly “hindi malupit ang mga sundalo or kapulisan” (the soldiers and police are not cruel).
She said “they are only strict in the checkpoints and ask all passengers of private and public vehicles to disembark and show valid IDs.”
"We left for Davao from South Cotabato at 12:00 a.m. but there was no untoward incident that happened and we did not sense any danger (hindi naman magulo or delikado).”
Atty. Jeffrey Louis G. Ilagan, who regularly visits his relatives in Albay, said the effects of martial law would ultimately depend on the government who should uphold its mandate to serve and protect the people while the people must keep a watchful eye against any form of abuse that may be committed by the forces implementing martial rule.
The President, in his report justified the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus by citing the possibility other terror groups operating in Mindanao would take advantage of the situation, Ilagan added.
"The development may be considered as catalyst for salvation, it could be strong remedy that could swiftly end the extremist insurgency in Mindanao", the lawyer added. (Connie B. Destura/PNA)