Congress called to review martial law declaration
Calls are mounting for Congress to convene a joint session to review President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold its legality and amid recommendations to extend it by another two months.
“Since it’s safe to assume that there will be calls for the extension of martial law in Mindanao, it’s important that we first get a report from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police of the actual gains delivered by martial law in the fight against Maute and other terrorists,” Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said.
Extend martial law
Baguilat, one of the petitioners against Proclamation No. 216 issued by Mr. Duterte, argued that government forces could still effectively fight the terrorists “even without the extraordinary powers of martial law.”
On Tuesday, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he would support proposals to extend martial law beyond the 60-day period mandated by the 1987 Constitution. The period expires on July 22.
But this time, Alvarez said, Congress in a joint session would have to approve the extension, unlike the first time when the two chambers opted to separately issue resolutions expressing support for martial law.
Vice President Leni Robredo joined calls for a congressional review of the proclamation, saying this was a “constitutional duty.”
Waiting for word
Sen. Richard Gordon told reporters that he expected Mr. Duterte to extend martial law.
“He should send us a communication that he is extending it and we can approve that for a period to be determined by us,” Gordon said.
In seeking an extension, the President would give Congress a chance to support his fight against terrorism and involve all three government branches, according to Sen. Francis Escudero.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that aside from dismantling Islamic State-allied terrorists, the military also had orders “to degrade the capabilities” of the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) after the rebels launched attacks against the government.
“They issued a directive that said you should heighten or enhance the attack against the PNP and the Armed Forces. So that was just in answer to that,” the AFP spokesperson said. “It’s a tit-for-tat.”
Padilla maintained this did not mean an end to peace talks. “Actually, the NPA and the Armed Forces are in a talk-and-fight and fight-and-talk situation,” he said.
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold martial law was met with mixed feelings in the Catholic Church.
“The majority of the people of Mindanao are happy. Truly we want peace and martial law is the ultimate instrument to give us peace here,” said Ozamiz Archbishop Martin Jumoad.
Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes called the declaration “overkill” and “a sign of incapability of our Armed Forces to control lawlessness and terrorism.”
“It gives a bad image of our country and scares tourists,” Bastes said.
In a statement, the leftist Bagong Alyansang Makabayan warned: “The extension of martial law will no doubt bring about more abuses by state security forces. We have received several reports of illegal arrests, arbitrary detention, filing of trumped-up charges and militarization of communities in Mindanao. The Supreme Court becomes complicit in the abuses now taking place in Mindanao.” —With reports from Christine O. Avendaño, Philip C. Tubeza, Jaymee T. Gamil, and Julie M. Aurelio
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.