ROUGH CUTS| They are for Martial Law, but…

WE strongly support the position of Davao business leaders Stephen A. Antig of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), Vicente T. Lao of the Mindanao Business Council (MBC), and the executives of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) and the Information Communication Technology (ICT) Council urging the government not to repeat “history” on Martial Law.

     While all of them have expressed support to the President’s declaration of the military rule in the island “if it will solve the worsening peace and order in Mindanao,” according to PBGEA executive director Antig, the business leaders are one in manifesting their apprehension that some elements in the government that are part of the implementing sectors of Martial Law might abuse the power given at their disposal.

     MBC’s Lao suggested that President Rodrigo Duterte who hails, ironically, from Mindanao, has to be “vigilant against opportunistic elements that will use the Martial Law as an excuse to further their bad intentions.”

     Yes, it is heartening to hear from Davao’s business leaders their position on the bold move of the President, as well as in their open manifestation of their apprehension on the possibility that some unscrupulous groups or individuals will take advantage of the Martial Law regime and undertake their greedy intentions using the imposition of the military rule as vehicle.

     And like us, the herein-mentioned Davao business leaders seem to have no doubt that the President’s intention to impose the extreme measure is to, once and for all, put an end to the decades old problem of secession attempts by our Moro brothers, and of late the onset of Islamist extremism that has its seed in the Middle East countries and is already conquering borders through indoctrination.

     So, the President might have already seen it fit to nip the extremist movement while it is still in the bud as far as the country is concerned.

     But then again, like any war that will have to be fought, there will always be collateral damage. And what is worst is that it is the non-combatants that will be the first casualty. And perhaps even more destructive is when the war, as is being given a face in the Martial Law regime in Mindanao, take its toll on the economy of the areas covered by the declaration.

     When this happens, the places that are not even the sites of armed encounters would also be badly hit not by bullets or rockets or bombs from the belligerents but by the crippling impact of a shattered economy.

     This week for example a company operating in Mindanao and a member of a large corporate conglomerate, has to put on hold three major activities resulting to the cancellation of booked flights of several of its officials from as far as Baguio City and Metro Manila, as well as its executives from Cebu. The same company has to cancel reservations for hotels and other venues for their planned big group activities. And because of the situation prevailing in Mindanao the airline companies or their agents, and the hotels as well as venues for the company-planned activities, could not even charge penalties for the cancellation.

     From our estimate of the expenses that the said company would have incurred if the activities were not cancelled due to the declaration of Martial Law, and the report of bloody encounters, the economy of Davao City in particular, and Mindanao in general could have received a whooping over a million pesos. But with the cancellation the injection of more liquidity to Mindanao’s economy is literally washed down the drain.

     But like our friend Stephen said, “if it (Martial Law) will solve the worsening peace and order problem in Mindanao” we too are for it with basically the same reservations as those of the business leaders. And now that the measure is being put to use in flushing out the terrorist Maute group, let the campaign be carried out to the fullest and in the shortest possible duration. However, the government must make sure that its objective in declaring Martial Law will be achieved. That is, the leaders of the extremist groups in Esnilon Hapilon and the Maute brothers and their relatives, either captured or slain in the campaign and the group as well as the idea behind it be totally annihilated.

     By merely driving them out of Marawi City or even from the confines of the Province of Lanao del Sur cannot be claimed as an iota of success of Martial Law. The scattered remnants of the extremists can still re-group and perhaps launched even more devastating attacks in the future.

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