Psychological effect on AFP? Senators slam reason for martial law extension
MANILA, Philippines – Martial law needs to be extended for a year for its psychological effect on soldiers.
According to the minority bloc, security officials told this to senators during the briefing on the proposed one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao on Tuesday, December 12.
“Apparently, the Armed Forces has recommended the extension of martial law for its psychological impact. I’m afraid that is not a valid basis for the extension or martial law,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon told reporters after the meeting.
Drilon, in a separate interview, said the exact term used by the security officials was “gulpi de gulat” (suprise action).
Minority Senators Francis Pangilinan and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV also opposed the justification for the extension, saying it is not in the 1987 Constitution.
According to Article VII, Section 8 of the 1987 Constitution, the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, can only be done "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it."
“Hindi… Sa Saligang Batas walang psychological basis (There's no psychological basis in our Constitution),” Pangilinan said.
“'Yung iba sinasabi kailangan para sa kanilang psychological boost pero malinaw po wala iyan [sa batas] (Others say it is needed for their psychological boost but it is clear we don't have that in the law),” Aquino said.
Asked about it, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon had a different interpretation. He said the “psychological effect” is more on the people of Mindanao – contrary to what the 3 minority senators said.
“By psychological we mean it’s really to the liking of majority of mindanaoans. Theres not much ovjection to it esp by Mindanao people. So in operations, if you say martial law, it still has an effect. Actually not so much. Anything we could get out of the kind of martial law we have, we can fully use it as we have done sa Marawi,” Esperon told reporters.
"Psychological... that's one characteristic of martial law. But what we are trying to do here in Mindanao, what do we want? Defeat terrorism, pursue war on drugs," he added.
It was not the first time the administration raised the so-called psychological effects of martial law. During the oral arguments in June, Solicitor General Jose Calida told the SC that the declaration of martial law would give President Rodrigo Duterte "psychological" advantage against terrorists. (READ: Calida says martial law declaration meant to make terrorists 'listen')
"It's like a sentence, instead of a period, there's an exclamation point....It's psychological, an exclamation point – you better listen to me now because I imposed martial law," Calida earlier said.
One year is too much
The opposition said one year is too long a time as there are no more fights in Marawi City. They also maintained that soldiers could perform their task well even without military rule.
"Yung suporta sa military, nandyan po yan, di pinagdedebatehan. Ang tanong, talaga kailangan ba ang martial law para magawa ng AFP ang kanilang trabaho? Many of us feel they can do their jobs properly with or without martial law,” Aquino said.
(Support for the military is given. The question is, is martial law realy needed to help the AFP do their job?)
As early as now, the minority has conceded they are likely to lose in the voting in Congress. But they believe the issue would be brought before the Supreme Court, which earlier ruled in favor of the first extension.
Other senators earlier expressed support for Duterte's proposal, saying the martial law now is different from the military rule under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. (READ: 'Mas masaya': Pacquiao favors martial law extension in Mindanao) – Rappler.com