House passes resolution backing martial law in Mindanao
First published: 8:04 p.m., May 31, 2017
The House of Representatives on Wednesday expressed its full support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216, declaring martial law over the whole of Mindanao, finding no reason to revoke it.
During the plenary session, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, the majority leader, read the report of the Committee of the Whole House, which met the whole day on Wednesday in an executive session with members of Duterte’s Cabinet to tackle the chief executive’s martial law report.
In its report, the Committee of the Whole House recommended the adoption of House Resolution No. 1050 to express full support for Duterte’s martial law as it found no reason to revoke it.
READ: Alvarez calls on colleagues to support Duterte-imposed martial law | House committee holds executive session for martial law report
“During the said briefing, and after interpellation, the Members of the House of Representatives determined the sufficiency of the factual basis for the issuance of Proclamation No. 216,” the resolution read.
The House took its cue from the Senate, which earlier issued a resolution supporting the President’s proclamation.
In that resolution, 15 senators said there was no compelling reason to revoke martial law in Mindanao.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Fariñas had earlier said there would be no need for Congress to convene if it had no intention of revoking the martial law declaration in Mindanao.
Alvarez also said it was not the President’s duty to listen to Congress, and that it was Congress that had the duty to listen to the chief executive.
READ: No need for Congress to convene on martial law report – Fariñas | Alvarez says no need for Congress to convene on martial law report
Laying groundwork for extension?
In an interview after the Committee of the Whole hearing, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said Congress was laying the groundwork for the declaration of martial law beyond the 60-day period provided for in the Constitution.
“I believe so. Noon pa man ang direction talaga ng Pangulo ay magdedeclare ng martial law, at naghahanap lang siya ng kadahilanan (Even before the direction of the President is to declare martial law, and that he is looking for a justification),” Alejano, a vocal critic of the President, said.
In a statement, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reiterated his statement that he did not recommend martial law to the President.
“The resource persons from the executive department and the military and police authorities have not established a credible factual basis for the declaration of martial law,” Lagman said.
National security adviser Hermogenes Esperon, who attended the Committee of the Whole briefing, admitted he once recommended to the President the declaration of martial law after the bombing in Davao City.
The bombing, which left 14 dead, prompted Duterte to declare a state of lawlessness in the country.
But Esperon denied recommending it when the terror group Maute laid siege to Marawi City.
Esperon said it would be up to Congress if it would want to extend the martial law in Mindanao beyond the 60 days allowed by the Constitution.
“Ang martial law nga 60 days nga lang. Kung 60 days nga lang limitation sa Congress, yun lang kunin natin. Kung kailangan natin ng karagdagang araw, tanungin natin ang Kongreso kung magbibigay ba sila (Martial law is only for 60 days. If the limitation is 60 days, then we’ll take it. If we need more days, we can just ask Congress if they would give it),” Esperon said.
He assuaged fears about martial law, urging the public not to compare Duterte’s martial law with that of Marcos, who cemented his one-man rule through martial law.
Esperon said the latest declaration of martial law did not abolish Congress and Supreme Court, and that there are safeguards in the Constitution to prevent abuses.
“Alam mo kasi pag sinabing martial law, akala niyo yung martial law pa nung 1972. Iba ito. Nandyan ang Congress, hindi in-abolish. Nandiyan Supreme Court… Ibang iba itong martial law. Bakit kayo matatakot sa martial law? Kaya nga nilagay yan sa Constitution, para kung kailangan ay kunin natin, gawin natin,” Esperon said.
(“You know, when martial law is raised, people always think it was the martial law in 1972. This is different. Congress is there, it’s not abolish. The Supreme Court is there… This martial law is different. Why are you scared of martial law? That’s why it’s in the Constitution, so that we can resort to it if needed.”)
Siege of Marawi City
Last May 23, Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216, “Declaring a State of Martial Law and Suspending the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Whole of Mindanao,” shortly after the Maute Group put Marawi City under siege.
Members of the terrorist groups burned buildings, hostage people, and flew flags of the Islamic State.
Duterte warned that he had given government troops a shoot-to-kill order and that warrantless arrests could be carried out in Mindanao. He also warned that martial law there would be no different and as harsh as that declared by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
He added that he was even considering imposing martial law nationwide if terror groups inspired by the Islamic State should gain a foothold in Luzon and the Visayas.
According to the 1987 Constitution, the president as commander-in-chief of all armed forces may declare martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus to “prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion” for 60 days subject to approval of Congress
“In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law,” the Constitution states.
The President is required to report within 48 hours about the declaration of martial law to Congress, which may vote jointly to revoke the proclamation in a majority vote.
Congress may also extend the proclamation or suspension of martial law upon the initiative of the President “if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”
The Supreme Court may also review the need for a declaration of martial law or suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus upon an appropriate proceeding filed by a concerned citizen.
The Constitution states that a state of martial law “does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.” /atm
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