Lawmaker questions martial law declaration over entire Mindanao | Inquirer News

Lawmaker questions martial law declaration over entire Mindanao

/ 06:17 PM May 24, 2017
Carlos Zarate

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate. (File photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate questioned the need to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao, while two other House members hit the Duterte administration for failure of intelligence, which allowed the Maute Group to attack Marawi City.

In an ambush interview with reporters on Wednesday, Zarate questioned the need to declare martial law in the whole Mindanao region when the attack was contained in Marawi.

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Zarate added that that the claim of the military that the situation was under control contradicted the need to declare martial law in the entire region.

“If the situation is under control. why resort to an extreme response?” Zarate said.

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READ: Marawi mayor, cops holed up at city hall; tension down but threat not over | Martial law declared in Mindanao; Duterte to fly back home from Moscow

He expressed fear that the military generals in Duterte’s Cabinet influenced Duterte to declare martial rule to address terrorism, at the same time scuttling the administration’s peace talks with the communist rebels.

Among the retired generals in Duterte’s Cabinet are Eduardo Año in the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Roy Cimatu in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Both served as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

With 10 former military officials occupying top positions in the Duterte administration, Duterte even joked once that he had completed a junta in his government.

READ: Ex-military men joining Cabinet alarm groups

“There is a growing influence, militarization of the President’s Cabinet,” Zarate said. “We can’t discount na mayroong influence (that there is influence). But of course in the final analysis, sana call ng Presidente yan (I hope it’s the President’s call).”

He also expressed concern about the President’s declaration that his martial law would be as “harsh” as that declared by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

“Nababahala tayo sa ganung statement,” Zarate said. “Masama ang naging karanasan sa batas militar.”

(“We are concerned about that statement. The country had a bad experience under martial law.”)

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In a news conference Wednesday, Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, the minority leader, said there was a failure of intelligence because the Maute Group was able to infiltrate Marawi City at a time the top government officials like Duterte are out in the country in Russia.

“This is an intelligence failure… Nasan ang intelligence fund natin? Bakit hindi niyo nakita ito? Napakaliit ng grupong Maute. Dapat yung movement nila, track na track na ninyo,” Suarez said.

(“Where’s the intelligence fund? Why didn’t they detect this? The Maute group is a small one. They should have tracked their movements),” Suarez said.

Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. also said there was a failure of intelligence, noting that all the deparment heads were in Russia at the time the Maute Group’s attack in Marawi happened.

“Considering all of the heads are in Russia, there is a failure of intelligence, kung hindi nila alam ano mangyayari sa Mindanao (if they didn’t know what would happen to Mindanao),” Garbin said.

READ:  Militant solons oppose Duterte’s martial law declaration

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Duterte’s closest ally in Congress, said there was basis for the chief executive to declare martial law, because he had to quell the rebellion in the Mindanao 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.

READ: Alvarez: Martial law justifiable to quell Marawi conflict

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 will have to report to Congress within 48 hours on the declaration of martial law. Congress will then approve or revoke the martial law declaration in a majority vote of its members.

Due to lessons learned from the Marcos martial law regime – which was marred by human rights violations, including 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.

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.”

Before his plane took off bound for Manila from Russia, Duterte said his martial law would not be any different than that of Marcos. He has always raised the specter of martial law to solve the country’s ills, including the drug menace.

In a Facebook live interview with Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Duterte said: “Martial law is martial law. So kayong mga kababayan ko, you’ve experienced martial law, it would not be any different from what the President Marcos did. I’d be harsh.” /atm

READ: Mindanao martial law to be ‘as harsh’ as that of Marcos — Duterte

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TAGS: Carlos Zarate, Marawi siege, Maute group, Mindanao martial law
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