Militant solons oppose Duterte’s martial law declaration
Representatives from the militant Makabayan bloc in Congress on Wednesday opposed President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, vowing to vote to revoke the proclamation once the President reports to Congress.
In a statement, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas and Emmi De Jesus said they condemned the Maute group’s siege in Marawi city that compelled Duterte to declare martial law in the entire Mindanao region for 60 days.
“Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) strongly condemns the ongoing siege of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur by members of the Maute group. Civilian lives are at great risk as reports of road blockades and burning of schools and the city jail have been confirmed. It should be noted that the crisis in Marawi was preceded by the military’s failed manhunt against ISIS leader Isnilon Hapilon. This raises more questions than answers in the developing crisis situation in the predominantly Islamic city,” the women’s representatives said.
However, the lawmakers said martial law is not the answer to the situation in Mindanao, adding that such a declaration allows the military blanket authority to crack down even on legitimate dissent.
“At the same time, we oppose President Duterte’s declaration of martial law for the entirety of Mindanao as it signals the full-throttle militarist solution to the crisis, endangering more civilian lives and communities. We do not see the basis of putting the entire Mindanao under the scope of the declaration when the Maute group’s attacks are only being carried out in Marawi City,” they said.
“Such blanket declaration enables the military crackdown on perceived terrorists and enemies of the state not just in Marawi but in other Mindanao cities and provinces as well,” they added.
The Gabriela representatives said they would vote against the martial law proclamation once the President reports to Congress.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the President within 48 hours would report to Congress about the declaration of martial law. Congress would then approve or revoke the martial law declaration in a majority vote of its members.
For her part, Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago opposed the declaration of martial law “because it is open to all sorts of abuses by government troops notorious for human rights violations.”
Elago said martial law would create more problems than solutions, and would give the military blanket authority to conduct warrantless arrests.
“It is a blanket endorsement for so many abuses including warrantless arrests, searches and seizures,” Elago said.
Elago said she feared that the martial law declaration would allow the government to crack down even on legitimate progressive organizations who may be perceived as enemies of the state, quoting Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
“Martial Law will just create more problems than solutions… It’s open to persecution of other groups who have legitimate concerns that are rooted in the decades-old problem of poverty, inequality, discrimination and violations of the right to self-determination,” Elago said.
“The government will surely take advantage of the situation to attack progressive organizations. Lorenzana even said Martial Law will allow them to conduct more extensive counter-insurgency operations in Mindanao. It enables military crackdown on perceived terrorists and enemies of the state… Martial Law will not solve anything and will only worsen the situation,” Elago added.
Due to lessons learned from the martial law regime of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos marred with human rights violations, torture, and enforced disappearances, the 1987 Constitution provided checks and balances by allowing Congress and the Supreme Court to step in on the martial law declaration.
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 stated.
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 Constitution stated.
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 says 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.”
Before his plane took off for Manila from Russia, Duterte said his martial law would not be any different than that of Marcos. He has repeatedly raised the specter of martial law to solve the country’s ills, including the drug menace.
“Martial law is martial law. So kayong mga kababayan ko (So my countrymen), you’ve experienced martial law, it would not be any different from what the President Marcos did. I’d be harsh,” Mr. Duterte said in a Facebook live interview with Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson of the Presidential Communications Operations Office. IDL
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.