Lawmakers to Duterte: Even with drug war, no need for martial law
MANILA, Philippines – Like their counterparts in the Senate, several congressmen see no need for President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law, given the administration's pronouncements that it is winning the ongoing war against drugs.
"It doesn't inspire confidence when the PNP (Philippine National Police) brass says they're winning the war against drugs and crime and their boss talks about martial law if [the] situation becomes virulent," Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr told Rappler in a text message on Monday, January 16.
"Illogical. If we're destroying the drug apparatus, why would you say it's getting virulent and why would you threaten the mayors? Either illogical or giving [a] subliminal message," added the lawmaker, who belongs to the opposition bloc.
Two days ago, the President had once again talked about declaring martial law if the situation in the country becomes "virulent." (READ: Duterte: I will declare martial law if I want to)
Duterte made the statement even after PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said in September 2016 that the government is "winning" the drug war.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar already said the media had "misreported" Duterte's latest remarks on martial law.
For Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin, Duterte should not declare martial law "as it won't help the public see through his policies."
"A 'virulent' drug problem will never be a justification for such declaration, either constitutionally or plain common sense. What drives him to repeatedly raise that threat?" Villarin, another opposition lawmaker, told Rappler.
"People are saying that poverty is the main problem, not drugs. The police are saying they have been successful in the war against drugs. Business groups want political stability and not martial law for our economy to improve. The Mindanao and Bangsamoro concern is for just and lasting peace. So, is the President saying that all of them are wrong?" he added.
Opposition lawmaker and Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman shares the sentiments of his colleagues, saying "no amount of virulence of the drug menace can be a constitutional anchor for the imposition of martial law."
"Aside from heeding the restrictions of the Constitution, President Duterte must also respect the overwhelming consensus of the people, 74% of whom say in a recent nationwide survey that they are against the revival of martial law to solve the nation's pressing problems," said Lagman.
The 1987 Constitution allows the President to declare martial law in cases of invasion or rebellion and when the public safety requires it. Within 48 hours of the president's declaration, he or she is required to submit a report to Congress, which may then revoke martial law if it sees fit to do so.
The Supreme Court may also review the factual basis for the martial law declaration when a citizen files the appropriate case in court.
No rebellion or invasion now
Two of Duterte's allies in the House of Representatives also see no reason for the President to declare martial law.
"Of course, ang basic premise ng (the basic premise of) martial law is that it can be suspended in cases of rebellion or invasion and when public safety requires it. At this point in time, I cannot see the connection yet," said House justice panel chairperson Reynaldo Umali in a press conference.
The Oriental Mindoro 2nd District representative, however, does not believe Duterte intends to clip the powers of Congress with his recent pronouncement.
"'Di naman. Parang [he's just saying] (No. I think he's just saying), 'I can do this, I can do that.' Pero (But) rule of law will prevail. He is that bold perhaps because of [the] gravity of the problem that he sees [in the] war on drugs. Sabi ko nga sa inyo kanina, baka meron siyang alam na 'di natin alam kasi tayo naman (Like I said, maybe he knows something we don't because for us), we're from the outside looking in," said Umali.
Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro, meanwhile, believes the bigger issue at hand is the constitutionality of Duterte's reasons should he declare martial law.
"Yes, the President may declare martial law anytime he wants, but whether or not it will stand the constitutional test is the more important issue to be resolved," said Castro in a text message.
"Under this premise, whether or not [the] virulent drug problem falls within the ambit of the mentioned constitutional ground/s is for Congress to determine on the basis of the report that the President is constitutionally mandated to submit to Congress within 48 hours or by the Supreme Court in accordance with the Constitution based on action filed by a citizen," he added. – Rappler.com