Leftist bloc mulls leaving House coalition over martial law

LEAVING? Representatives Ariel Casilao, Sarah Elago, Carlos Zarate, Antonio Tinio, France Castro, and Arlene Brosas are 6 of the 7-member Makabayan bloc. File photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

LEAVING? Representatives Ariel Casilao, Sarah Elago, Carlos Zarate, Antonio Tinio, France Castro, and Arlene Brosas are 6 of the 7-member Makabayan bloc.

File photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The left-leaning allies of President Rodrigo Duterte in the House of Representatives are “reevaluating” their alliance with the so-called supermajority in the lower chamber in the wake of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

“We are reevaluating [the alliance]. This declaration of martial law is very serious. Even if it is limited to Mindanao, the President has crossed the line. We need to weigh our alliance with the administration,” said ACT-Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio.

During the session on Monday, May 29, the Makabayan bloc said they will move to lift the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus.

Groups allied with them also plan to question the declaration before Supreme Court (SC).

“Congress will not be effective in checking the abuses of the martial law power [of the President]… the speedier way to do it under the Constitution is to question it before the SC,” said Tinio. 

Tinio, together with Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago, Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao, Gabriela Representatives Emmy de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, and  Bayan Muna representative Karlos Zarate expressed their opposition to martial rule, saying the hunt against terrorists in Marawi City could just be a cover-up for something bigger.

“[Defense chief Delfin] Lorenzana has said that 60% of the armed groups in Mindanao are NPA (New People’s Army). They are just using the Maute group to hide their true intentions of flushing out critics,” said Casilao. 

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, whose political arm is holding peace talks with the Duterte administration. The administration and guerrillas are set to hold the 5th round of peace talks from May 27 to June 1 in The Netherlands.  

Casilao said their decision to stay with the majority will depend on the results of the 5th round of talks, where the rebel panel will raise martial law as an agenda.

“This is an urgent issue that will be presented in the agenda at hand. Whatever response the government would make will determine our stance [on the alliance]. That response will make us decide on the status of our alliance with President Duterte,” Casilao said. 

The Left is among the staunchest critics of martial law, as most of its members were detained, tortured and killed during the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ authoritarian rule. (READ: Finally, Martial Law victims receive 1st tranche of money

They, however, continued their alliance with Duterte even after he approved Marcos’ hero's burial last year.

Under the 1987 Constitution, a declaration of martial law can be approved or revoked by Congress or reviewed by the SC. (READ: Martial Law 101: Things you should know

The Constitution also provides that the President must  report to Congress “in person or in writing” within 48 hours after declaration. 

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III has said that they are unlikely to revoke Duterte's martial law in Mindanao. 

Malacañang is expected to submit a written report to Congress on Thursday evening. 

House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas earlier said the House and the Senate won’t be convening for a joint session since Malacañang, he said, is set to submit a written report on the situation anyway.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is currently in Davao City with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III for a meeting with Duterte. – Rappler.com 


Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.