DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines- The Mayors of Negros Oriental are for martial law.
At least five of them are for it, especially the Mayors where there were dead in their areas in the spate of killings that prompted Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to mull using his emergency powers to declare martial law in the province.
For Mayor Erwin Agustino of Ayungon, he is in favor of martial law declaration to attain a stable peace and order situation in their town and province.
He said, like in Mindanao, he also believes that martial law would work well.
“Actually I’m more in favor of martial law. It can help more in our peace and order not only in our town but in our province too. Imagine like Mindanao,. the feedback so far is that martial law is good,” Agustino told reporters in a mix of English and Cebuano in an interview.
He is one of the Mayors whom the Police Regional Office (PRO 7) Regional Director Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas has visited to know the sentiments of the Mayors in the province first hand.
Last July 18, four policemen were ambushed and killed in Sitio Yamot, Barangay Mabato, which angered Pres. Duterte because the autopsy on the bodies of the victim revealed that they sustained traumatic injuries.
The President raised a bounty of P5 million for the capture of the killers of the policemen, dead or alive.
The Mount Cansermon Command-New Peoples Army (MCC NPA) admitted killing Corporal Relebert Beronio, Patrolman Raffy Callao, Patrolman Roel Cabellon and Patrolman Marquino de Leon allegedly tagging them as intelligence officers who worked against them.
Aside from the killing of the four policemen, former Ayungon Mayor Edsel Enardecido and his cousin Leo were also gunned down last July 27 in Barangay Tampocon 1 of the town.
For his part, Canlaon City Mayor Jose Chubasco Cardenas said that he is also not opposed to a martial law.
Suspected NPA’s killed Canlaon City Councilor Ramon “Bobby” Jalandoni and Panubigan Barangay Captain Ernesto Posadas one after the other last July 27 also.
“The people of Canlaon is law-abiding if martial law is implemented and the military will take over (Negros first district or Negros Oriental), for as long as it is line with the law we have no problem with that,” Cardenas said.
In Guihulngan City where a school principal and his sister were also killed apart from a barangay captain, Mayor Carlo Jorge Joan “Guido” Reyes said he also favors the imposition of martial law.
“If that is the decision of the President, I will agree,” Reyes said, adding, like the Marcos era, he saw for himself how martial then during the presidency of former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos had instilled discipline to the constituents.
Reyes said that among the measures of martial law that he favors is the imposition of curfew which he said will curb crimes and thus maintain peace and order.
If martial law is implemented, Reyes also foresees effective governance because public officials specifically politicians will have second thoughts in committing abuses.
For Mabinay Vice Mayor Ernie “Jango” Uy who spoke in behalf of his wife, Mayor Joeterry Uy, said like what he saw in Mindanao as he is originally from Oroquieta City, he is optimistic that to have martial law in Negros Oriental will result to having lasting peace and order.
The Vice Mayor who used to be the town Mayor for 3 terms revealed that in their Municipal Peace and Order Council (MPOC) meeting yesterday, all the 32 barangay captains in their town and their sectoral group leaders agreed that martial will have a good effect for their municipality and their province.
“We need peace and order. You could hardly develop, you could hardly introduce improvements, you could hardly invite investors if we have problems with peace and order,” the Vice Mayor said.
Like the three officials, both Mayor Marianne Gustilo of Vallehermoso and Mercedes Goni of Bais City also supports the planned martial law implementation.
“Truthfully yes, for Negros. I think right now we need it (martial law),” Goni, when asked for her part, said.
Goni confirmed that there are a presence of armed groups believe to be NPA’s in their mountain barangays and she believed that these armed groups will not anymore disturb the peace of her residents if martial law is implemented.
“Actually, the hinterlands I’ve been hearing reports that they see a lot of long-armed people passing by and our people, of course, are just very simple people. They just close their windows so that they will not be harmed. They usually asked for food but sometimes they will take advantage of asking for more,” Goni revealed.
For Sinas, he will abide whatever are the directives of his superiors and that of Malacanang.
“We will support whatever is the instruction of the President. If the President says we will have martial law then we will support. Whatever the decision whether he will implement his emergency powers, etc, we will implement and follow the directives,” Sinas said.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said earlier that Pres. Duterte is contemplating, of declaring martial law in Negros Oriental to address the spate of killings in the province.
Panelo, however, clarified that the declaration would largely depend on the recommendation of security officials./AAJ