THE Senate and the House of Representatives yesterday granted the request of President Rodrigo Duterte to extend for another year martial law in Mindanao.
With 235 affirmative, 28 negative votes and only one abstention, the motion to further extend martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus in the entire Mindanao was approved in a joint session.
On the part of the Upper House, 12 senators voted yes, five said no and President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto abstained.
Meanwhile in the Lower Chamber, 223 solons voted in the affirmative while 23 voted in the negative. No one abstained.
Members of both Houses convened in a joint session to deliberate on the request of President Duterte to extend anew the implementation of martial law in Mindanao from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019.
This is the third time martial law was extended since it was imposed in May 2017, as a result of the terror war of the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf in Marawi City.
Both the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recommended the third extension.
Responding to the queries of the solons, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said that extension of martial law is still needed due to the threats of terrorism.
‘”If we allow these terrorist groups and rebels to regroup, this government won’t be able to function fully, basic services to the people will be hindered and the safety of the general public will remain to be under constant threat,” Medialdea said.
In addition, AFP Public Affairs chief Colonel Noel Detoyato said the “overwhelming sentiment” of the people of Mindanao for martial law as well as the ongoing armed rebellion in the region led them to recommend another extension.
Need for ML
In making a motion to grant the President’s request, Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said the House believes that the claims of the military and police of continued terrorism and violent incidents in Mindanao are valid.
Andaya said the President also reported that at least 342 violent incidents, ranging from harassments against government installations, liquidation operations and arson attacks occurred in Mindanao, killing 87 military personnel and wounding 408 others and causing P156 million worth of property damage.
The House leader also said that the House of Representatives believes that the security assessment submitted by the AFP and PNP indubitably shows the continuing rebellion in Mindanao which compels further extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“The further extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus will enable the AFP, and all other law enforcement agencies, to finally put an end to the on-going rebellion, continue to prevent the same from escalating in other parts of the country and hopefully avoid a catastrophe similar to what happened in Marawi City,” Andaya said.
No to Martial Law
Opposition leader Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman stressed that there is no constitutional and factual basis for the extension because rebellion does not persist in Mindanao and public safety is not imperiled.
Lagman said sporadic incidents of lawlessness and terrorism do not make a rebellion.
Likewise he said the extension of Proclamation No. 216 has no factual and constitutional anchorage because what is being extended is now functus officio after the President announced on October 27, 2017, more than one year ago, the liberation of Marawi City from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists and their influence, and the subsequent announcement of Martial Law Administrator Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the cessation of combat operations.
“The alleged remnants of the defeated terrorist groups are quixotic and phantom fighters who are unable to revive a vanquished ‘rebellion’ or launch a new one,” Lagman said.
“An extension of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus will prolong inordinately the regime of Martial Law to a total of 951 days. This contravenes the prescription of the 1987 Constitution delimiting the period of martial law to a short duration since the original proclamation should not exceed 60 days,” he added.