Mangudadatu says Sotto ‘misinformed’.
MAGUINDANAO Rep. Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu is backing the call of Mindanaoans for the continuation of martial rule in the entire Mindanao saying “scaling down” the military’s control and presence at this point can only “embolden” armed extremist groups to launch more “deadly attacks” against government and civilian targets.
Addressing his concern to Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III, the 3-term lawmaker and close friend of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, Mangudadatu averred the Senate chief is being “given wrong feedbacks” that made the latter favor the lifting of martial law in Mindanao.
“I hold my highest respect for Sen. Sotto… but scaling back military control and presence in the southern island at this moment might embolden extremists, leading to more deadly attacks.
“That’s why letting the validity of martial rule to elapse on December 31 is illogical,” Mangudadatu said, referring to Sotto’s position that the Upper Chamber may no longer agree to further extend martial rule in Mindanao.
“I respectfully disagree with Senate President Sotto that my fellow Mindanaoans no longer need martial law,” the solon further said.
“I live in Mindanao, I mingle with our people there. They are now actually sleeping soundly at night because they know that martial law is their defense against terrorists and criminal elements.”
He added the recent bombing attacks in Sultan Kudarat and Basilan “show that local ISIS fanatics still have the ability to strike even after the Maute Group’s defeat at the hands of the military in October last year.”
President Duterte, with the approval of Congress, placed Mindanao under martial law in May 2017, after over 1,000 armed members of the Maute/ISIS terrorist groups attacked and tried to take over the city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur that same month.
Again, with the concurrence of Congress, martial law has been granted two extensions, the last of which is to expire at the end of the year.
Mangudadatu believes that with “proper focus,” authorities in Mindanao can also address rising prices of local commodities such as rice under martial law.
“Martial law is all about monitoring and looking after the welfare of the citizenry.
“This should include clamping down on abusive traders who take advantage of their kababayans by hoarding cheap rice in the market; what remains is the commercial rice variety which continues to become expensive because there is no available alternative,” said the solon who is also among those being considered for the senatorial ticket of the administration.
Mangudadatu said a further extension of martial law can also bolster the government’s war against illegal drugs down South.
“The war on illegal drugs continues in Mindanao. Terrorist threats should not distract authorities from going after these drug suspects. We can’t afford to surrender the gains we’ve made in this fight under the Duterte administration,” he said.
He noted that the first big success by the government against illegal drugs personalities in Mindanao, the neutralization of the Parojinog clan in Ozamiz City, was achieved under martial law condition.