Mindanao solons back Duterte’s martial law declaration
Mindanao lawmakers on Wednesday said they are willing to support the declaration of martial law in the south following the attack of the Maute group in Marawi City.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez met the lawmakers who comprise the Mindanao bloc in the House of Representatives on Wednesday to come up with a consensus on the vote when President Rodrigo Duterte’s report about the martial law arrives in Congress.
Alvarez refused to talk with the media after the meeting.
Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sema said the Mindanao bloc can be expected to support the President’s declaration of martial law.
“We see the problem and if the President feels that is the necessary step to do, then we as Mindanaoans will support it,” the Maguindanao representative said in an interview.
“You can expect the Mindanao bloc to support the agenda of the president in addressing peace especially in our areas,” she added.
Sema said there is not much opposition among the Mindanao lawmakers on the martial law declaration in the entire Mindanao, even though the Maute attack was limited in Marawi City.
“I think everybody sees the imperativeness of putting peace back or security back,” Sema said.
Surigao Del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said he hopes the declaration of martial law would restore peace and order in Mindanao.
“We fully support the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao. Ang Mindanao talaga, problema talaga ang peace and order situation (The problem in Mindanao really is the peace and order situation),” Pimentel said in an interview.
In a statement, 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.
Surigao Del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers urged his colleagues to support the President in his martial law declaration to address terrorism and rebellion in Mindanao.
“I urge my fellow lawmakers to be one with the President in these trying times. Attacks may happen anywhere in the country and we must do everything to annihilate terrorism,” Barbers said in a statement.
“Martial law, in this current situation, is vital if we wish to restore peace,” he added.
For his part, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate questioned the need to declare martial law in the whole Mindanao region when the attack is contained in Marawi City.
Zarate, who hails from Mindanao, expressed fears that the military generals in Duterte’s Cabinet are influencing Duterte to take martial rule means to address terrorism, as well as to scuttle the administration’s peace talks with communist rebels.
Among the military generals in Duterte’s Cabinet are Eduardo Año in the Department of Interior and Local Government and Roy Cimatu in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. They both served as Armed Forces of the Philippines chiefs of staff.
With 10 former military officials occupying top positions in the Duterte administration, Duterte even joked he is complete in forming a junta in his government.
“There is a growing influence, militarization of the President’s Cabinet. 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),” Zarate said in an interview.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Duterte’s closest ally in Congress, said there is basis for the chief executive to declare martial law 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. Alvarez represents the first district of Davao Del Norte.
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.
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.”
Before his plane took off bound for Manila from Russia, Duterte said his martial law would not be any different than that of the dictator Marcos. He has always 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, 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. JE
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