2 solons blast plan to extend martial law in Mindanao for 3rd time
Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman and Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin denounced on Tuesday the possible extension of martial law in Mindanao for the third time, saying it lacks constitutional basis.
“A third extension of martial law in Mindanao mocks the Constitution for wanton absence of constitutional bases which are the presence of actual rebellion and public safety requires the extension,” Lagman said in a statement read during a press conference.
“Rebellion does not persist in Mindanao and consequently public safety is not imperiled,” he added.
Villarin, meanwhile, warned Congress from kowtowing to the whims of Malacañang, specifically chiding House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. for supporting the proposed martial rule extension in the southern region.
“It is deeply troubling that no less than the House majority leader himself has affirmed to continue the pattern of this chamber’s subservience to the militaristic whims of Malacañang, instead of asserting the independence of the Lower House,” he said.
On Monday, Andaya said if President Rodrigo Duterte asked for another extension of martial law in Mindanao, “then chances are it shall be given.”
The Chief Executive has yet to make a stand on the issue but Gen. Carlito Galvez, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), as well as Philippine National Police (PNP) Director Gen. Oscar Albayalde, said they would want another one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao, which is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2018.
The President is vested with the initiative for the extension of martial law and Duterte has not communicated to Congress his desire to prolong the martial law regime in Mindanao.
Duterte first declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017, after the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorist group attacked Marawi City. The Congress, upon his recommendation, later extended it until the end of 2018 despite the government’s declaration of an end to fierce urban fighting in the war-torn area.
Since Congress is set to adjourn for the Christmas break on December 14, Lagman warned against fast-tracking the extension.
Lagman further argued that Galvez and Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana were “foot-dragging” in recommending another martial law extension because it appears that this move was “not of critical immediacy” and another extension would mean “an admission that the military has failed to achieve the purported objectives of the previous martial law extensions.”
The justification of Galvez that there is a public clamor for the extension is also “flawed” as it is not a ground for martial law or its extension, according to Lagman.
“Moreover, the alibi that ‘terrorists are still lurking in the area’ is not also a basis for extension because terrorism is not rebellion and the threat of terrorism, like the imminent threat of rebellion, is not a constitutional ground for martial law or its extension because ‘imminent threat of rebellion’ has been obliterated as a ground in the 1987 Constitution because ‘threat’ is contingent, self-serving and nebulous,” the Albay congressman added. /jpv
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