Ibrado eyes lifting of ML in Maguindanao before Christmas

December 10, 2009 11:19 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Dec. 10 — Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado on Thursday evening said there is a "good possibility" that he would recommend for the lifting of Proclamation 1959, which placed the province of Maguindanao before Christmas and New Year.

"There is a good possibility that martial law is lifted before Christmas. We are heading towards that," said Ibrado in an interview with reporters during the dinner break from the joint session of Congress.

"We have accomplished so many things already. We have arrested so many already and we have recovered so many firearms and ammunition in several places in Maguindanao," he said.

Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, during interpellation with lawmakers, said Article 7 Section 18 of the Constitution provides that the President can declare martial law. It is the exclusive prerogative of the President.

"The President has exercised her sound judgment. Martial law is an extraordinary power of the President addressing an extraordinary situation," she said.

With the imposition of martial rule in Maguindanao, Devanadera said, government forces "were able to make arrests unimpeded and unhampered."

At least 83 of the 100 suspects in the gruesome Nov. 23 massacre have already been arrested and charged with multiple murder, of which 24 of them, mostly suspected leaders, are facing rebellion charges, she said.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita supported the DOJ testimonies, saying that it was only after the declaration of martial law that witnesses came out.

"It was only that after (the declaration of) martial law that some of the witnesses came out," he said.

"Pati mga judges (Even the judges) in the area are not willing to issue arrest warrant," he said.

Meanwhile, Ibrado said the military top brass would be meeting to assess the situation in Maguindanao.

"We will have to make an assessment on what’s actually happening on the ground so that we can decide for the early lifting of martial law. We have done a lot already and we have almost achieved our purpose. We will know soon enough if we could recommend to the President the lifting of martial law before Christmas," he said. (PNA)

RMA/LGI

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