MANILA, Philippines – Some lawmakers questioned Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez's proposal to extend martial law to 2022, saying the Davao del Norte 1st District representative should not be preempting the President.
Opposition lawmaker and Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman said on Monday, July 10, that only President Rodrigo Duterte can initiate the extension of Proclamation No. 216, which put Mindanao under martial law starting May 23.
"Why are some senators and representatives talking about extending martial law in Mindanao when the President has not even officially initiated such extension?" said Lagman.
"Under the Constitution, while an extension needs the concurrence of the absolute majority of the members of the Congress voting in joint session, any such extension shall be upon the initiative of the President," he added.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao after government troops clashed with members of the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group in Marawi City on May 23. The police and military had attempted to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, the supposed "emir" in the Philippines of international terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS).
Over the weekend, Alvarez said he would "push for an extension" of martial law in the region until the end of Duterte's term in 2022, citing the threat of insurgency and terrorism. (READ: SC upholds Duterte's martial law in Mindanao)
Under the 1987 Constitution, the President may declare martial law for a maximum of 60 days – or July 22 in this case.
Duterte would need approval from both the House and the Senate to extend martial law. Most lawmakers in both chambers are his allies.
Both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) chiefs already said they would likely recommend the extension of martial law given the continuing conflict in Marawi City.
But AFP spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said Alvarez's proposal for a 5-year extension of martial law may be "too long."
Lift martial law
Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said the extension of martial law in Mindanao was merely Alvarez's "personal opinion," but he disagrees with it.
"Martial law should not be extended because it is like giving premium to a grave failure and tolerating incompetence," said Zarate, adding Proclamation No. 216 should already be lifted.
"Mindanao's peace and development do not hinge on martial law or its extension or expansion; rather, these depend on how the historical wrongs and injustices that bred so much poverty, inequality, and rebellions are being addressed," he added
ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio said Alvarez's proposal was an "appalling prospect, but not unexpected."
He said the Marawi siege was "merely the pretext" to put Mindanao under martial law, which would supposedly allow Duterte and his allies to implement projects that would be detrimental to farmers, the Lumad, and the Moro people.
Lagman as well as Tinio and Zarate filed separate petitions before the Supreme Court against martial law in Mindanao, but they were turned down by the justices. – Rappler.com