Speaker to support any bid to extend martial law in Mindanao
As the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of martial law in Mindanao, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said on Tuesday he would support proposals to extend its imposition beyond 60 days.
But this time, he said, Congress would have to approve the extension of Proclamation 216 in joint session, unlike the first time when the two chambers opted to separately issue resolutions expressing support for martial law.
“Yes, as a Mindanawon, I share the same view and you are correct, Congress shall approve it in joint session,” Alvarez told the Inquirer in response to a question on whether he agreed with Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa’s recommendation to extend martial law.
The 1987 Constitution states that Congress, upon the initiative of the President, “may extend such proclamation [of martial law] or the suspension [of the writ of habeas corpus] for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”
On Tuesday, the high tribunal dismissed petitions questioning the legality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s proclamation.
On May 23, the President placed the entire Mindanao under martial law following the siege of Marawi City by armed militants from the Maute group, a band of terrorists that had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State.
Martial law remains in effect in the region as fighting continues between government forces and the terrorist elements, leaving hundreds dead and displacing thousands of residents.
Opposition lawmakers said they would vigorously resist the possible extension of martial law.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, a leader of the “Magnificent Seven” bloc and one of the petitioners, said he would have to study the grounds cited by the Supreme Court in its decision.
But he said an extension of martial law would be a “draconian step to institutionalizing a dictatorship and must be opposed by democracy defenders in Congress.”
“This can be a springboard to expanding [martial law] to the entire country considering how easy Congress bends to Malacañang’s will and now that they know SC isn’t allergic to use their constitutional powers to affirm martial law,” Baguilat said.
Akbayan Rep. Tomasito Villarin warned of a “creeping authoritarian rule” in the guise of public safety and security.
“Now that he is cloaked with such authority, President Duterte might push it to the limit and declare a drug-induced nationwide rebellion by terror groups. Martial law becomes a hard habit to break,” he said.
Villarin noted that the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines just stated that they wished to extend martial law by two more months.
“The war on drugs took a backseat when the Marawi incident happened but is now back in full swing. Duterte earlier tagged the Mautes to be in cahoots with the drug lords,” he said.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, also one of the petitioners, cautioned that with the high court’s decision, “the military will be emboldened to carry out aerial strikes, indiscriminate firing and in using rape as a tool of war against civilians.”
“The decision sets the ground for the arbitrary declaration of a nationwide martial law, as it upheld the presence of rebellion based merely on inaccurate and fake reports by the military on an alleged siege of Marawi City by the Maute group last May 23,” she said.
Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque, a member of the minority bloc, said he supported the Supreme Court’s “exercise of judicial restraint in its validation of President Duterte’s Proclamation 216.”
“I am happy that the Court respected and acknowledged the information that is readily available to the executive, which the High Tribunal does not have access to. And in the absence of its ability to discern for itself the factual basis for Martial Law, it should to accord the executive the presumption of regularity of discharge of function, which in this case it did,” he said.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, a member of the House majority, said: “We should respect the SC decision. I also think there is really factual basis for the declaration as can be seen by the situation in Marawi.” JPV
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