Solons to SC: Extending martial law ‘like killing a fly with a sledgehammer’
Extending martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018 just to go after remnants of rebel groups is akin to killing a fly with a sledgehammer, according to opposition lawmakers.
In a 29-page petition filed with the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday, minority lawmakers, led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, said the government had gone overboard in using martial law to suppress rebel threats.
The military, the lawmakers said, should have learned from the Marawi conflict on how to quell threats posed by rebel groups without seeking to extend martial rule.
“The extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus against remnants of terrorists groups is akin to killing a fly with a sledgehammer,” the lawmakers said.
“The Marawi siege should have taught the military and police forces how to diffuse a terrorist attack, how to engage in counter-terrorism, and how to foreclose recruitment efforts of terrorists without seeking the extension of martial law,” they stressed.
Without extending martial law in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte has the constitutional power to direct the Armed Forces of the Philippines to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion in Mindanao, according to the lawmakers.
The opposition solons pointed out that “skirmishes” with rebel groups would not necessarily constitute a public uprising against the government.
“They may only indicate banditry, lawless violence and terroristic acts of remnants or residue of vanquished combatants,” the petitioners said.
The Duterte administration’s advisers and allies, they said, “have molded the so-called remnants or residue, minuscule as they are, into apparent menacing ogres.”
“Why not altogether obliterate these remnants or leftovers by regular military and police operations, instead of seeking the extension of martial law?” the lawmakers asked.
“There is more reason for the President to exercise his “calling out” power to prevent and subdue the threats of lawless violence by mere remnants or residue of vanquished terrorist groups,” they said.
Aside from Lagman, the other petitioners are Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., Capiz Rep. Emmanuel Billones, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, and Akbayan Rep. Tomasito Villarin.
Congress, during a special joint session on Dec. 13, voted 240-27 to approve Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year. /atm
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