Lorenzana ‘admits’ not recommending martial law

Camille Elemia
Security officials told senators in a private briefing that the military could neutralize the Maute Group even without martial law, the Senate minority bloc says

NO RECOMMENDATION. The Senate minority bloc says Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted to senators that the military did not recommend the declaration of martial law to President Rodrigo Duterte. Malacañang file photo

MANILA, Philippines – Security officials admitted to senators that they did not recommend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The 6-member Senate minority bloc revealed this in a news conference on Tuesday, May 30. The senators said the security officials made the admission during a special briefing for senators on Monday, May 29.

“Pero ‘yung briefing pa rin ‘di pa rin na-exhaust o na-settle ‘yung mga grave concerns at mga tanong. ‘Yung mismo nag-briefing sa amin, sinabi na kaya nila sugpuin ang Maute sa Marawi kahit walang martial law. [Kaya] nga lang, nakapagdesisyon na ang Presidente. Obligado sila mag-implementa. All the more i-check and balance iyon,” said Senator Risa Hontiveros.

(The briefing did not exhaust or settle the grave concerns and questions. The one who briefed us said that they could neutralize the Maute in Marawi even without martial law. But the President had already made a decision so they were obliged to implement it. All the more, it should be subject to checks and balances.)

Asked who among the officials said it, Hontiveros, seconded by her colleagues, said it was Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. 

“When asked, the security officials said hindi sila ‘yung nagrekomenda (they were not the ones who recommended it),” said Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also recalled how Lorenzana told senators that the military could end the problem with the Maute Group even without the martial law proclamation.  

“Yesterday, it was a closed-door briefing. But we sought permission of caucus, [because] many of those were in contained in the report. One particular issue, question was asked pointedly by Senator Trillanes. Can we contain Maute without martial law? The answer of Secretary Lorenzana, ‘Yes we can,'” Drilon said.

Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr also told reporters in Moscow ahead of the declaration that the military was in “full control” of the situation in Marawi City.

The minority bloc reiterated its call for a joint public session with the House of Representatives to deliberate on Duterte’s proclamation, saying it is Congress’ mandate.

“The joint session will address fake news, misinformation,” said Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV.

“All of these questions really point to the need for the joint session where the hearing can be done para sa (for) transparency. Many of those mentioned were contained in the report,” Drilon said. (READ: LOOK: Duterte’s report to Congress on martial law)

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao last May 23, following the clashes in Marawi City and threats from the Islamic State (ISIS) group

Duterte is the 3rd Philippine president to declare martial law since Marcos declared it in 1972, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who declared martial law in Maguindanao in 2009 after the Maguindanao massacre. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com