Alvarez: Martial law justifiable to quell Marawi conflict
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the closest ally of President Rodrigo Duterte in Congress, is welcoming the decision of the president to put under martial law the whole Mindanao, saying this is to stamp out terrorism in the region.
“As a Mindanaoan, yes. I fully believe na talagang may basehan yung pagdeklara ng martial law (that there is basis for the declaration of martial law),” Alvarez said in an ambush interview on Wednesday.
Alvarez said the President did what was right in declaring martial law in Mindanao to contain the attack in Marawi City by the Maute group, which has alleged connections with the international terror group ISIS.
“Mayroon palaging pangangamba. Pero para sa akin, I welcome yung talagang resolve ng ating pangulo na gawin kung ano yung tama to address once and for all yung terrorism na lumalala hindi lang dito sa Pilipinas kundi pati na rin sa ibang bansa (There will always be concerns. But for me, I welcome the president’s resolve to do what is right to address once and for all the worsening terrorism not just in the Philippines but in other countries as well),” Alvarez said.
Alvarez allayed fears that the declaration of martial law in Mindanao would be subject to abuse.
“Tama lang yung ginawa ng ating Presidente sa aking pananaw bilang isang taga-Mindanao ay talagang merong kaguluhan na nangyayari doon at ito ay matagal nang dinudusa nung ating bayan ano, (The President is right in my view as a Mindanaoan. There really is chaos going on there, and the country has long suffered because of this),” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said Duterte’s declaration of martial law is in line with the checks and balances enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.
“Base naman sa ating Saligang Batas, ang ating presidente ay binibigyan ng karapatan o kapangyarihan para magdeklara ng martial law sa kung anong bahagi ng ating bansa, if not sa buong bansa (The declaration is based on what is contained in the Constitution, where the president has the right or power to declare martial law on any part of the country, if not the whole country),” Alvarez said.
Lawmakers from the majority and even the minority bloc in the House of Representatives are bent on approving Duterte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao.
Representatives have come out to support the declaration of martial law for 60 days in Mindanao after the attack of the Maute group in Marawi City, reflecting what could be an overwhelming approval of the declaration once the president reports it 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.
Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, a former Customs chief and the son of former military chief Rodolfo Biazon, said it was only right for the president to declare martial law to finally weed out the terrorist groups in Mindanao.
Biazon said the declaration of martial law in the whole Mindanao region is only appropriate to contain the attacks in Marawi City and to prevent it from spreading to nearby areas.
“I think yung martial law naman na dineclare ng pangulo ay appropriate para sa crisis na hinaharap natin ngayon. Dun sa question na bakit sa buong Mindanao, importante yun para matiyak natin na sa ibang lugar ng Mindanao ay mananatili ang katahimikan (I think the martial law declared by the president is appropriation to address the crisis we are facing now. As to the question why it covers the whole Mindanao, it’s important to ensure that other areas in Mindanao would remain peaceful),” Biazon said.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles said he is “100 percent sure that the people of Mindanao are behind President Duterte in his decision to declare Martial Law in the region.”
“The attack in Marawi is a clear case of rebellion, and to preserve public safety in Mindanao and ensure that clashes do not spill over to other parts of the island and the Philippines,” Nograles, chairperson of the House appropriations committee, said.
“President Duterte was correct in placing Mindanao under martial law. We appeal to the people to stay calm because democracy and our way of life will continue,” he added.
His brother PBA Rep. Jericho Nograles said Duterte’s declaration of martial law is a “necessary reaction” to the attack in Marawi by the Maute group.
“The President is definitely doing the right thing by sending the unmistakable message that this government acts decisively to suppress any form of invasion, rebellion and lawless violence. It is clearly meant to contain the damages caused by lawlessness on precious lives, properties and the nation’s image,” Nograles said.
He added that Congress would be willing to fulfill its check and balance role enshrined in the Constitution on the president’s martial law declaration.
“We are ready to perform the check and balance role of Congress that includes the power to revoke the martial law declaration or shorten its period,” Nograles said.
Minority leader Danilo Suarez said he trusted the president’s good intentions in declaring martial law in the south.
“Knowing the president, on my own observation, to be trustworthy and good intention, ginawa niya ito para mahawakan niya at ma-control ang situation (he did this to contain and control the situation),” Suarez said.
Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. lauded the president’s swift action in declaring martial rule in Mindanao.
“We fully support the swift action of the President in calling out the Armed Forces of the Philippines to suppress and prevent further escalation of rebellion in that area,” Garbin said.
Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said the 1987 Constitution provided the checks and balances to prevent another dictator like Ferdinand Marcos to use martial law for a one-man rule.
“As mentioned by the minority leader, he (Duterte) has very good reasons to declare martial law in Mindanao,” Atienza said, adding that the executive branch has no exclusive power in declaring martial law under the Constitution.
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.
The President is required to report within 48 hours about the declaration of martial law to Congress, which would then revoke or approve the proclamation in a majority vote.
“Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President,” it added.
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 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.” JPV
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