The Makabayan Bloc in the House of Representatives on Wednesday thumbed down National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon’s proposal to extend martial law in Mindanao for one more year, citing recent bombings in the island.
Esperon said he would recommend the extension of martial law in Mindanao for another year. Mindanao has been under martial law since 2017.
But Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said extending martial law in Mindanao anew may result in what he described as “unlimited martial law.”
“The government is using the Sulu bombing to justify the extension of martial law in Mindanao. If that is the case, should there is any bombing that may occur in every area of the country, the entire archipelago might end up being under martial rule,” Zarate said.
Zarate, a Mindanaoan, said martial law was the reason for the continuing poverty in the region.
ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, agreed, saying that extending martial law in Mindanao, was bereft of any constitutional basis.
“The government has enough power to respond to the so-called lawless violence in Mindanao,” she said.
GabrielaWomen’s Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas also expressed opposition to extending martial law in Mindanao.
“By citing the recent bombings in Mindanao, Esperon is removing the time element in extending the extraordinary use of state powers. He is practically saying that martial law in Mindanao should be declared based on circumstances that happened last month or even prior, not based on the actual situation come end of December,” Brosas said.
“This exposes the whimsical, and arbitrary nature of the martial law declaration with gross disregard for factual basis,” Brosas added.
But over at the Senate, Senate President Tito Sotto said he needs to listen first to the reasons on the plan to extend Martial Law in Mindanao.
Specifically, Sotto said he needs to hear the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) briefing before deciding.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said he is not against Martial Law and it’s extension.
However, Recto agreed with Sotto that he also needs to have an open mind and listen to the country’s security experts.
“They will have to explain their position convincingly. Will not be that easy,” Recto said.
On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that instead of extending martial law, it is time to lift it in Mindanao.
“We cannot tolerate an ‘unli’ martial law. The continued placing of Mindanao under martial law would set a dangerous precedent, not to mention its economic and social implications,” Drilon said.
Drilon said it has been “too long” since martial was declared in Mindanao, affecting the everyday lives of Mindanaoans.
“Is martial law now the new norm in Mindanao?” he asked. “We are calling on the government’s security cluster to study the situation in Mindanao and consider the dangerous mindset that the continued declaration of martial law in Mindanao may give rise to,” Drilon said.
“There is no perpetual martial law. There must be an end to this. As I said before, martial law is like an antibiotic, and antibiotic, when used excessively, becomes ineffective,” he added.
The minority leader explained that the framers of the Constitution understood the danger of a prolonged martial law, hence the 60—day limit and a regular review by Congress are clearly provided in the Constitution.
Section 18 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution allows the President to place any part of the country under martial law for a period not exceeding sixty (60) days.
The same section provides that “upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”
Drilon said that there is nothing that shows actual rebellion and armed uprising in the region to justify the extension, which is required by the Constitution.
He noted that even Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said she was considering asking that her city be exempted from the declaration of martial law.
The Senate minority leader explained that the framers of the Constitution understood the danger of a prolonged martial law, hence the 60–day limit and a regular review by Congress are clearly provided in the Constitution.